Sunday, September 1, 2013

Album Review: "The Coming" - Busta Rhymes (1996)


Busta Rhymes wasn't always making songs like "Twerk It." There was a time when he was one of the more well-respected rappers in the business and wasn't just making music for the sole purpose of making a buck. His debut album, The Coming, is representative of that time.

Of course, The Coming is not where Busta's career began. He first gained notoriety when he, along with his Leaders of The New School crew, appeared on A Tribe Called Quest's 1992 song, "Scenario." Busta Rhymes was lauded for his verse, and served as the impetus to what would end up being a very successful career for the Brooklyn native.

Busta would go on to be featured on numerous other tracks leading up to the release of his first LP in 1996, including the remix to Craig Mack's famous record, "Flava In Ya Ear," which also housed The Notorious B.I.G.

Soon enough, Busta Rhymes dropped his hit single, "Woo Hah!! Got You All In Check," building an extraordinary amount of hype for The Coming. A month later, the album was released to critical acclaim, and it would eventually proceed to achieve platinum status.

Featuring production from the likes of J Dilla, Q-Tip and Easy Mo Bee, The Coming is considered Busta's strongest LP by many and to be a hip-hop classic by some.

Let's see if it merits such praise.


1. The Coming (Intro)
This is a four-and-a-half minute intro, but at least Busta Rhymes warns you in the title. About a minute-and-a-half in, a pretty effective beat by DJ Scratch and Rick St. Hilaire kicks in, but Busta and his Flipmode Squad partners Lord Have Mercy and Rampage (of "Wild For The Night" fame) merely talk over it. What a waste.

2. Do My Thing
DJ Scratch gets full production credits on "Do My Thing." While the instrumental isn't great, it's decent enough, although it gets a bit repetitive as the song progresses. Busta Rhymes hardly sounds like the guy we have come to know in recent years. That's a good thing just in case you somehow weren't sure.

3. Everything Remains Raw
This is freaking awesome. Easy Mo Bee crafts some absolute fire here, better than anything he ever produced for Biggie. It's that good, and appropriately, Busta sounds incredibly engaged and hungry. It's too bad we never hear him like this anymore, although it's not necessarily his fault. Success tends to do that to you.

4. Abandon Ship
Busta Rhymes himself lays down the production for this cut, and you know what? He does a surprisingly solid job. There really isn't much to the beat, but it sounds pretty damn good, and he and Rampage tear it to pieces. I'm not sure I understand why the "Woo Hah!! Got You All In Check" instrumental plays out for the final minute or so of the record, though, but whatever.

5. Woo Hah!! Got You All In Check
The aforementioned hit single. I was never all that crazy about this track. I understand that it is meant to be playful in nature, but it's kind of hard for me to take this song seriously.

6. It's a Party
"It's a Party" was the second-most popular song off of The Coming. While it didn't garner as much attention as "Woo Hah!! Got You All In Check," it did reach No. 52 on the Billboard Hot 100. Plus, this Easy Mo Bee-laced cut is superior anyway. It's not fantastic, but it's solid, and the female R&B duo Zhané add a really nice touch.

7. Hot Fudge
Nothing about this track really caught my attention. The production by The Vibe Chemist Backspin (you really couldn't come up with a shorter name than that?) is hardly captivating, and Busta's mood matches that of the beat. "Hot Fudge" is, in a word, boring.

8. Ill Vibe
Q-Tip gets on the boards for this one, and he lays down an instrumental that is sufficient enough to keep the listener's interest. He chips in a verse, as well. "Ill Vibe" is adequate, but there is nothing all that special about it. This album has hit a bit of an extended lull by this point. The past few records haven't been bad; just not all that memorable.

9. Flipmode Squad Meets Def Squad
This time, The Vibe Chemist Backspin's production knocks, and a bounty of artists (six to be exact) rock over it. Busta Rhymes enlists Rampage and Lord Have Mercy, plus Redman, Keith Murray and Jamal (just like the song's title says), and each of them drop verses. Yup; all six of them. There are no hooks here; this is just flat-out rap. Def Squad goes first, followed by Busta and his Flipmode camp. Take a guess who walks away the victor. If you guessed Flipmode Squad for some peculiar reason, you're wrong. This lasts for eight minutes and 10 seconds, but it goes by pretty quickly because it's so damn awesome. Trust me; it's worth the time.

10. Still Shining
The first of two J Dilla beats on The Coming, and they are actually back-to-back. This is really freaking good, as Busta Rhymes sounds eminently content spitting over the light-hearted instrumental. "Still Shining" runs under three minutes in length, too, so it's a nice change of pace after "Flipmode Squad Meets Def Squad."

11. Keep It Movin'
No praise that I can place upon this Jay Dee-produced track can possibly do it full justice. This is just outstanding. It contains one of the more aggressive Dilla instrumentals that you will ever hear, and Busta Rhymes and his Leaders of The New School brothers shred it. Awesome, awesome, awesome.

12. The Finish Line
The third DJ Scratch production on The Coming is really insipid, and it especially sounds that way after hearing the previous three cuts. I actually found it really hard to get through this entire song, and the fact that it ran over five minutes in length made it that much more difficult to do so.

13. The End of The World (Outro)
This is an outro that contains the same beat as the intro. Nothing to see here.


The Coming is a good album, but there are just too many dull moments on here for me to label this a classic. It also doesn't help matters much that it was released in 1996, arguably the greatest year in hip-hop history. Had this dropped a year or two later, perhaps it would be looked upon more favorably. Probably not, though.

Busta Rhymes certainly put together an effective debut record. The best songs on here are really good, and he doesn't venture too far out of his comfort zone. It's clear that even from the very beginning, Busta liked to wild out and make playful, party-type tracks, as evidenced by "Woo Hah!! Got You All In Check" and the not-so-fortuitously named "It's a Party." 

Neither of those records were laughable like most of the stuff he puts out today, either (even though I said it was hard for me to take "Woo Hah!! Got You All In Check" seriously). So, again, Busta Rhymes was able to remain inbounds throughout this album.

The problem is that a solid chunk of The Coming is just flat-out boring. There is a stretch of four tracks in a row early on in the album that almost puts you to sleep, and that is not something a classic LP has.

I feel like Busta should have focused more on obtaining J Dilla beats for this project, as the two songs Dilla produced are two of the best on this album. Perhaps instead of enlisting DJ Scratch for a few instrumentals, Busta Rhymes should have turned to Jay Dee for a couple of more joints.

I don't really have much more to add about The Coming. Again, it is not a classic, but there are definitely a couple of songs on here that are worthy of receiving heavy rotation on your iPod, so I guess I'd recommend giving this a listen.


1. Keep It Movin'
2. Everything Remains Raw
3. Flipmode Squad Meets Def Squad
4. Abandon Ship
5. Still Shining  

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