Hip-Hop veteran Busta Rhymes tells us the story of the ‘end of the world’ as it’s happening in 2020, as only he can, on new album ‘Extinction Level Event 2: The Wrath of God.’ Whilst it’s not particularly optimistic, features from the likes of Q-Tip, Anderson Paak., Kendrick Lamar, Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Mary J. Blige make it a much more appealing proposition.
On the follow-up to 1998’s ‘Extinction Level Event,’ we’re experiencing the reckoning; the so-called ‘Wrath of God.’ With the help of Rakim in the intro, Busta notes that despite the number of years that have passed, our problems have not only remained, but heightened, with issues such as disastrous global warming and prevalent anti-Blackness in America:
“See, back in ’98 when I dropped the first Extinction Level / I was fightin’ inner demons with personal scores to settle / They put it in a movie ’cause they knew that we ain’t really know / Funny how they tried to tell us 22 years ago … / Even Mother Nature’s gettin’ ill, it’s gettin’ real / When millions get killed when that deadly weather spill … / That you have inflicted on so many lives since the beginning of time with your colonization / Fuck your systematic oppression, the systematic racist oppression.”
The album certainly feels timely; it’s references to plagues and illnesses playing into the current collective feeling of unrest. Whilst Busta perhaps dramatises a little for artistic sake, it is still looming over for many of us, and Rhymes’ is persistent in his detail thereof. It’s prophetic, if not a little daunting. Tracks like ‘The Purge’, produced by Swizz Beats, hypothesise that doomsday isn’t far away with its wailing siren and tales of looting in the streets.
Despite being in-depth, full of bravado and technically complex, the album can feel inconsistent, with some songs just feeling like they fall short of the mark. ‘Slow Flow’ is a good example; laid out over a questionable Gameboy-style synth it’s perhaps meant to sound futuristic, but simply does not. Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s contribution, of course, is always more than welcome. The intense ‘Apocalypse Now’ style of Gospel preaching and the addition of what feel like horror-movie sound effects make it a little hard to digest at times. That being said, the beat and rhymes are, as ever with Rhymes, catchy and on point, like this excerpt from ‘Don’t Go’:
“Every time I touch a microphone you know I’m a blessed / N****s with the shit that you feel in your gut and your chest / Now I’m ’bout to knock the building, leave this shit in a mess / I’m finished fucking up the spots so now it’s back to the rest.”
As expected, tracks featuring rap-royalty feel mighty, and are cleverly produced. The aforementioned Q-Tip-featured cut is a slower track that brings welcome brief relief on an album with such a heavy sound, whilst ‘YUUUU’ [ft. Anderson Paak.] showcases both rappers at their brilliant best. Elsewhere, ‘Outta My Mind’ is a welcome change; taking us back to the ’90s amidst the chaos of the current world, thanks to a sample from Bell Biv Divoe’s iconic R&B track ‘Poisin.’ Kendrick Lamar’s feature, released before the album to high acclaim, feels so classic it may even outshine the rest of the album. Strap in, and stream below via SoundCloud.