Completely uninspired forgettable albums like Year of the Dragon will do nothing to sully the legacy / legend of Busta Rhymes. Near 20 years in the game with hit records, great albums, classic cameos, genre defining videos, and considerable influence, it would take some Men In Black type technology to erase Busta from hip hop’s memory. Year of the Dragon is nothing more than Busta making music because it’s his life’s passion and he can afford to. But really I’d rather listen to Kitty Pryde (‘cause it’ll have beats by Beautiful Lou) than endure Busta’s 1985 Beemer with half a tank of gas and in need of an oil change ass album. Yes, the rapper born Trevor Smith Jr. attempts to sound like he’s hungry being gruff, shouting, and flipping rhyme styles on the mic, but it’s a poor simulacra of the man who gave us gems like “Abandon Ship”.
Busta’s ninth studio album is a going through the motions long player by a rap elder statesmen whom seems more like local body builder celebrity, than one of rap’s most fun artist. The beats are either triumphant synth-based rattlers, or minimal with the 808 boom lacking any charisma. All of the canned energy of the songs falls flat on their face along with the contrived guests like Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Gucci Mane, Trey Songz, Cam’ron and Maino. Every single one who comes off like they are at convention about how dope they use to be. There are no captivating sonic cinemas like “Trip Outta Town”, anthems like “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See”, enjoyable radio singles like “I Know What You Want”, or album stand outs like “Turn Me Up Some”.
There is absolutely nothing that sticks, and worst of all, these aren’t terrible songs. They are just here: beats and rhymes about lavish living, smacking punks, fucking woman, and feeling generally awesome with no direction or cohesion. The only semi-memorable moment is the lead single “King Tut”. Busta needs a better executive producer and some one to give him Harry Fraud, Young L and TNGHT’s numbers. Instead of latching onto the latest generic trends in the sound of rap, Busta should just do him and make the type of records that contributed to him being one of rap’s visionaries. Yet, that is a big hope being that his last three full lengths have been long on hits and misses because Busta is doing what he thinks is profitable. There is literally nothing to be seen or heard on Year of the Dragon, it’s all been done and said by Busta (and others) bigger and better.