Busta Rhymes: Anarchy

Like Ice Cube, another star drowning in a sea of extracurricular activities, actor, clothing designer, Flipmode kingpin, and Mountain Dew pitchman Busta Rhymes seems less a rapper than a walking, talking advertisement for the Busta Rhymes brand. On Anarchy, his fourth solo album, Rhymes coasts far too heavily on his undeniable charisma, the potent power of his voice, a superhumanly raspy growl, and his frenetic, over-the-top delivery, the aural equivalent of a row of exclamation marks. For all his cartoonish personality, however, Rhymes' work often seems impersonal and perfunctory, with lyrics a mere afterthought. Through much of Anarchy, he substitutes volume for substance, jumping from genre to genre and hot producer to hot producer with maximum intensity but minimal coherence or ambition. At 22 tracks, Anarchy is at least eight songs too long, with four lazy, water-treading, chest-thumping cuts courtesy of Ruff Ryders' production camp and one forgettable teaming with producer Rockwilder that's further undone by self-indulgent guitar wankery from Lenny Kravitz. But buried within Anarchy's massive running time and abundant filler are a few genuinely memorable songs. "Get Out" is the token infectious single, while other highlights include a handful of tracks pairing Rhymes with the subdued production of Jay Dee and "The Heist," a Ghostface Killah-Raekwon collaboration that replicates the sound and form of classic Wu-Tang narratives. Like many of his peers, Rhymes just doesn't challenge himself enough, and even when Anarchy works, it still feels familiar. Somehow less than the sum of its parts, Anarchy is an occasionally inspired but bloated victim of its own excess—proof, once again, that bigger isn't always better.

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