Thursday, May 6, 2010

May 6: Busta Rhymes, "Woo Hah!! (Got You All In Check)"

Artist: Busta Rhymes
Song: "Woo Hah!! (Got You All In Check)"
Album: The Coming
Year: 1996

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While in every genre, "trend following" or copycat music can be seen as an all too common trend, such occurrences does allow for the truly unique artists to be more obvious and shine brighter.  Though this "problem" can be found across the musical spectrum, it is perhaps no easier to see than in the hip-hop genre, and similarly, the unique artists are far easier to pick out.  Whether it is due to a distinctive voice or delivery style, these artists immediately stand out, and in most cases, their sound is so unique that though others may try, they simply cannot be duplicated.  Similarly, one can spot such artists easily over the decades, and there has rarely been an emcee with as immediately recognizable a sound as New York City's own Busta Rhymes.  Bringing an unparalleled amount of energy and speed to his delivery, Busta Rhymes made waves as part of the seminal group, Leaders Of The New School, but it was not until his 1996 debut, The Coming, that the world became truly aware of his stunning skills.  It was on his first album that Busta Rhymes truly rewrote the book on what it meant to be a "fast" rapper, and until this point, there had simply been nothing else recorded that sounded even remotely similar.  The entire record is nothing short of amazing, instantly making Busta Rhymes a household name across the globe, and the album remains fresh and largely unrivaled to this day.  Though nearly every song on The Coming is fantastic, there is simply nothing that could have prepared the world for what remains one of the most infectious singles in history, Busta Rhymes' iconic 1996 song, "Woo Hah!! (Got You All In Check)."

While the track is dominated by Busta Rhymes' amazing vocal skills, one cannot overlook the fact that the music over which he rhymes is equally memorable, and contains absolutely phenomenal hooks.  This is do to the amazing ear and production work of Rasha "Ringo" Smith, and the samples used on "Woo Hah!! (Got You All In Check)" not only lift the song to "another level," but it is also in these samples that one can find a brilliantly buried "shout out."  The two core samples on the track are taken from the song "Space" by Gait MacDermont, and the other comes from Sugarhill Gang's legendary song, "8th Wonder."  It is in this second sample that one can see just how aware of his history Busta Rhymes clear is, as on "8th Wonder," Big Bank Hank delivers the notorious line, "...see it's up my back, it's around my neck, Woo-HAH! Got them all in check..."  While this small fact is certainly lost on an overwhelming majority of listeners, those "in the know" must appreciate this reference, and be pleased that on the song, Busta Rhymes does this borrowed line justice.  Yet with the amazing music created behind him, it is little surprise that the song is so unforgettable, as even the songs' drum drop is still unmistakable to this day.  The bassline and keyboard that dominate the song seem almost as wild and unpredictable as Busta Rhymes' rhyming, yet they also give the song an amazing groove and the listener cannot prevent bobbing their head along with the music, even after countless listenings.

Yet as fantastic and well produced as the music is, there is never any question at any point during "Woo Hah!! (Got You All In Check)" that this song is all about the stunning skills of Busta Rhymes.  With his somewhat gritty, absolutely incomparable voice, there was simply no other emcee that had sounded quite like him, and there has been nobody with a similar sound since.  The wild, unpredictable rhythm with which he rhymes is also unlike that of any other previous rapper, and many emcees attempted to mimic this style, yet none have been able to hold a candle to this originator.  In many ways, the seemingly odd delivery rhythm from Busta Rhymes can be compared to the iconic speech pattern of the great Christopher Walken, as one can never guess where he will space his sentences, and yet the vocal work is truly captivating.  Along with this unique phrasing, Busta Rhymes also used "Woo Hah!! (Got You All In Check)" to show off his absolutely amazing rhyming speed.  Later in his career, Busta Rhymes would pretty much blow away any contenders who thought they could rap faster, but on this debut single, he showed his lyrical prowess as he constantly changed up the speed and spacing of his lyrics.  Rhyming on everything from "Star Wars" to his Jamaican roots, Busta Rhymes goes all over the place, presenting some of the most original and inventive rhymes ever recorded, and this eclectic mix of words perfectly compliments the similarly unpredictable music and delivery style, making "Woo Hah!! (Got You All In Check)" a song that truly has no peer.

While many have tried over the years, there has simply never been another emcee that has even come close to the brilliantly unique performance style of Busta Rhymes.  From his truly unpredictable rhyming rhythms to the almost insane sound and energy in his voice, nearly two decades after first appearing on the music scene, his overall talents still remain unrivaled.  After leaving Leaders Of The New School, it was his first single, "Woo Hah!! (Got You All In Check)" that immediately catapulted Busta Rhymes to international stardom, and it was largely due to his completely distinctive performance style.  Sometimes bringing an aggressive yell to the tracks and at other times bringing a vocal sound that is almost menacing in nature, the unpredictable nature of his vocal inflections are one of the many elements that make Busta Rhymes such a wonderfully unique talent as well as a true legend in the overall history of the hip-hop genre.  His debut single cracked the top ten on both sides of the Atlantic, and the fish-eye lens based music video was equally influential, as copies of this visual style can be seen thoughout countless hip hop videos from later artists.  Quite literally, everything on "Woo Hah!! (Got You All In Check)" is perfect, and it is the fact that from the music to the lyrics to the rhyming rhythm, it is all so uniquely paced, yet fits together perfectly, that makes the song so phenomenal.  While the hip-hop genre is usually dominated by copycat artists, there was never anything before or since that even remotely resembled the extraordinary style of Busta Rhymes, and one can find a shining example of everything that makes him so fantastic in his 1996 single, "Woo Hah!! (Got You All In Check)."

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