28 December 2023

"Big Everything" (2023) by Busta Rhymes ft. T-Pain & DaBaby

The mistake I made with Big Everything was listening to it for the first time while concurrently watching the music video.  That's to say that the plethora of second-rate special effects and almost-naked ass shaking actually distracts from what can be considered an above-average lyrical outing.  But that reality has also granted me the opportunity to further expound on a themed we've been focusing on of late, which is how aged rappers fit into the grand scheme of the hip-hop/music industry.

Busta Rhymes (center), T-Pain (left) and DaBaby (right)
from the music video of Big Everything.

BUSTA TEAMS UP WITH DABABY AND T-PAIN

Busta Rhymes wasn't a first-generation rapper, but he can perhaps be considered second generation, having come out early in the 1990s.  To put how long Bus has been around into perspective, when his original crew, Leaders of the New School, dropped their debut album in the summer of 1991, T-Pain was only six years old, and DaBaby wasn't even born yet.

To be honest, I can't say with certainty that I've ever heard any of DaBaby's songs prior to this one.  However, I have read many of his verses and can confidently assert that he's one of the better rappers out there - a fact that's pretty self-evident considering that two of his four studio albums have managed to top the Billboard 200.  In other words, while some of his contemporaries have proven to be one-hit wonders, it's obvious that the DaBaby had a sustainable level of talent.  And for a while there, it looked like he may have even been on the way to becoming one of the kings in the rap game.

That all changed in mid-2021, when he publicly made what can unanimously be considered as anti-gay comments.  The two albums he released just prior to making those statements, 2019's Kirk and 2020's Blame It on Baby, were the ones that topped the Billboard 200.  The latter was also nominated for a Grammy Award.  Meanwhile, the (solo) LP he came out with afterwards, 2022's Baby on Baby 2, didn't even crack the top 30 of the Billboard 200.  Nor has DaBaby dropped any certified hits since 2021.

DaBaby throwing up the "OK sign", a gesture many believe.
has occult connotations, on the music video to Big Everything.

Dave Chapelle even pointed out the irony of how DaBaby actually killed someone - an incident no one seems to care about, yet the media went bonkers when he made a few statements against homosexuality.  So it can be said that Busta sorta looked out by putting him on this song, which appears as if it's being promoted as a single.

As for T-Pain, I thought he had already retired from dropping new material.  He was by far one of the hottest musicians of the late aughts, but last I heard (via a gossip site), his music career wasn't going particularly well.  So it's even more surprising that Busta reached back, if you will, to feature him on this song, though the two already have a collaboration history, including Bus featuring T-Pain on his 2009 track Hustler's Anthem '09.

"BIG EVERYTHING"

As for Big Everything, T-Pain's vocal contribution isn't as pronounced as it would have been if this track came out 15 years ago, back when he probably would have been afforded his own verse.  The focus is more on the two rappers, and it's as if they're battling so to speak, seeing which one can spit the fastest while still being understandable to the listener.

In terms of the content of their verses, this is where the debate about the presence and role of older rappers comes into play.  DaBaby uses the first verse to seemingly depict himself as having been a successful drug dealer before becoming a rapper.  Busta doesn't take an identical approach but rather uses his verse that follows to brag about getting drunk to his heart's content and his sizable cashflow.  In the final, extended verse, the two emcees team up to, most simply put, boast about their wealth, women and toughness.  And as for the chorus, T-Pain is also braggadocious but more in an inspirational kind of way, alluding to the notion that he's "been working all day and all night" in the name of generating bread.

Busta Rhymes, to my knowledge, has never been a gangsta rapper per se.  But generally speaking, there's little difference between the nature of his lyrics and that of DaBaby's, despite the nearly 20-year age difference between the rappers.  To some extent that's to be expected, since you can't have two emcees on one song taking different stances.  But this is the problem that some pundits have with many of the older rappers who are still pertinent in the game, i.e. their lyrics not reflecting a higher state of maturity.

And so it is with the music video to the track.  A few years back, HBO aired this special about Black strippers, and one of them was saying that booty dancing, i.e. twerking, is derived from traditional African culture.  Since then, I've learned that's an erroneous statement.  I heard one African elder say that back in the old days, if a woman were dancing and proceeded to shake her ass in guy's face, that would - understandably I might add - be considered an act of disrespect.  Meanwhile, look at your boy Spliff Star in the video:

I'm not against strippers in music videos per se.  For whatever reasons, strip-club culture has been thoroughly intermixed with that of hip-hop.  But I don't necessarily like watching videos - such as this one, which starts off like a cartoon - where about two-thirds of the way through, out of blue half naked asses are everywhere.

One may presume that Busta, given his age, would have opted for something classier, i.e. imagery that could be appreciated by a wider, more general audience.  But obviously, he isn't the parental type.  That said, if I had listened to the song first, I would have definitely known that twerkers were going to popup in the clip sooner or later.

Busta Rhymes' 11th studio album, Blockbusta,
was released on 24 November 2023.

CONCLUSION

If rappers from two different generations collaborate, it isn't the younger who's challenged to be more mature.  Rather, given the nature of mainstream rap, it's the elder who usually has to make an effort to appeal to a less-sophisticated crowd.

But even if some listeners don't agree with that tactic, you have to give it to Busta Rhymes for being able to hang.  If you would have asked hip-hop fans 30 years ago which emcee they thought would still be strong in the game into the 2020s, I don't think many of us would have predicted Bus.  However it's very difficult, if not impossible when looking at established precedent, to trend musically as an older rapper.  And that may be why, despite the admirable effort, that Busta's latest album, Blockbusta, didn't perform particularly well on music charts.