For all of the changes hip-hop has undergone in the 30-some-odd years since its birth, some things remain constant. One is the unfortunate prevalence of overstuffed, overweight albums packed to the brim with half-baked ideas, irrelevant skits, and other pointless noise. Busta Rhymes is guilty of all these things, having crammed every release since 1997’s When Disaster Strikes… with similarly uninspired, unneeded material. Back on My B.S. is Busta’s follow-up to 2006’s The Big Bang, where “Touch It” proved that rap minimalism could eat up the charts just as well, if not better, than bombast. Yet those expecting something new, exciting, or even dangerous will be disappointed with B.S., a fat collection of meandering experimentation and revolving-door guest spots. With so many random ideas and faces coming along for the journey, B.S. sounds less like one artist’s voice and more like an overcrowded carnival ride.
Bus-a-Bus was once endearing by way of his overblown apocalyptic imagery, a trademark he has long abandoned in favor of typical materialist swagger. Atop an overworked-if-dependable production, he spits the usual industry bravado as fiery as a thirtysomething rapper can muster. Album opener “Wheel of Fortune” tells us all we need to know about B.S.: Filled with equal parts outlandish crowing and purposeful schizophrenia, the track is a stumbling mess. Songs “Respect My Conglomerate” and “Arab Money” follow suit—the former relying on Lil Wayne’s contribution like a steel crutch, the latter milking a tired Auto-Tune chorus. Thus, beyond rare gems like the crunchy, synthy, vocally-spliced “I’m a Go and Get My…,” Busta takes few real chances.
In truth, B.S. offers nothing that wasn’t already tried on 2001’s Anarchy, from the confused genre-crossing pieces (the Eurythmics-like disco opus “World Go Round”) to top-heavy collaborations that are much less than the sum of their parts (the crowded “Decision,” featuring no less than Jamie Foxx, Mary J. Blige, John Legend, and Common). More often than not, Busta is content to recycle well-worn material, hoping that enough polish and guest-star participation will wick away the album’s dusty content. They don’t, leaving B.S. as nothing more than filler.