Busta Rhymes’ album rehashes old themes

Tired of hearing about the millennium? Too bad. Busta Rhymes’ third solo album, Extinction Level Event (Elektra), provides another surmise about the year 2000, as if audiences didn’t get the apocalyptic warnings of his other platinum solo albums, The Coming and When Disaster Strikes.

By continually pumping out albums with redundant themes, Busta Rhymes seemingly targets mainstream audiences just to generate another dollar. But the result is that music listeners have difficulty pinpointing Busta Rhymes’ true talent.

Listeners who remember his explosive solo performances on A Tribe Called Quest’s classic “Scenario” and the Craig Mack remix “Flavor in Ya Ear” know Busta Rhymes’ lyrical acrobatics, creativity and eclectic sense of style. But Busta Rhymes performed those songs when he was considered underground, pre-Flipmode Squad and pre-commercial days.

Extinction Level Event, however, lacks the same strength, ferocity and originality of his past performances. The 19-song album attempts to enlighten listeners about the presumably cataclysmic millennium, as the album’s intro, “There’s Only One Year Left,” strongly suggests.

“Tear Da Roof Off” and “Party is Goin’ On Over Here” stand out as the album’s highlights. Both guarantee to keep things hopping with a pounding bass and catchy chorus lines. The album’s finest cut is a duet with superstar Janet Jackson on “What’s it Gonna Be” in which Busta Rhymes’ commanding wordplay and Jackson’s sensual performance glide over a slow, sexually grooved bass line.

The album’s weakest track is a duet with Ozzy Osborne on “This Means War,” a remake of the classic rock tune “Iron Man.” It’s a mechanical piece that makes Busta Rhymes seem as if he’s too eager to jump on the trend of hip-hop-heavy metal infusion.

With the exception of a few cuts, Extinction Level Event should be tossed aside as another weak project about the millennium – a topic with which Busta Rhymes seems overly concerned. You’ve got to wonder what Busta Rhymes will do after the year 2000.

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