Busta Rhymes Is Moved To Tears By His Lifetime Achievement Award

Moments ago tonight (June 25), Busta Rhymes received the BET Awards’ Lifetime Achievement Award before delivering an emotional speech. B.R. was presented the prestigious award by Marlon Wayans and Swizz Beatz, who spoke before and after a video vignette featuring testimony from Diddy, Pharrell Williams, Mariah Carey (who praised M.O.P.’s “Ante Up (Remix)” with Busta and others), Chuck D, Dave Chappelle, and others.

Busta accepted the award, joined on stage by longtime Flipmode Squad family Spliff Star and DJ Scratch as well as Swizz. From the podium, an emotional Busta spoke about a meaningful career pivot. Notably, Trevor Smith pointed back 30 years ago to getting fired from Leaders Of The New School. Although he shouted out Charlie Brown, Dinco D, and Cut Monitor Milo in his speech, the MC recalls that losing his spot in a group challenged him. Busta recalled raising a young son (his first child of six) and having to make ends meet. “By default, I pioneered the feature,” proclaimed Busta—who has become a master of the artform in addition to his respected catalog. Having already delivered a standout verse on “Scenario” alongside his then-group, Busta stayed in the inner circle of fellow Native Tongues artists, A Tribe Called Quest. He also worked with Craig Mack and others to keep his name hot.

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B.R. spoke of calling studio receptionists and maneuvering into other artists’ sessions. Showing up with herbal goodies, Busta reveals how he used a relaxation session to write to the beat and get a spot on songs. The artist says he supported his family off of feature dollars between 1993 and 1996, a three-year hiatus between getting ousted from L.O.N.S. and delivering his solo debut, The ComingThe artist reveals that he has reunited with the Elekta Records executive who staked him then, Sylvia Rhone. Now, the exec and artist are reunited at Epic Records—where Busta just released a new single, “Beach Ball” alongside Bia. This latest development follows years with Cash Money Records and years working with Dr. Dre, as well as a 2020 tenure with EMPIRE for the acclaimed Extinction Level Event 2.

He then challenged Hip-Hop to do better and stop the violence. “One thing I need y’all to know: we gonna stop these little petty beefs that we be doin’ in Rap.” He urged, “Y’all messin’ up the bag. Y’all messin’ up the energy. I don’t like when I talk these dudes that run these streaming platforms and they talkin’ about, ‘we’re turning the consumer off because there’s so much little this and little that goin’ on with you rappers.’ We’re gonna stop that. We’re gonna love each other, and we’re gonna get to this money. Executives, start promoting everything that can be great in the music, too. It ain’t just gotta be about the ass-shakin’ and how much drugs we sold, and how much dudes we tied up, and how much drugs we doin’. I’m from the Chuck D era and the [Big Daddy] Kane era, but I’m a timeless great.”

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In the extended speech, Busta credited Chuck D, Big Daddy Kane, and EPMD for their mentorship of his career at the onset. Then, he shouted out the leaders of Rap’s new school. “Everything about me is about leading the new; that’s why my group was called Leaders Of The New.” He bigged up Ice Spice and Coi LeRay as well as Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole, before praising Wu-Tang Clan and Nas for remaining active and prolific. “We’re gonna stop this narrative like we don’t love each other,” Busta said, referring to generations. “This divide thing—that’s corny. It’s tired; it’s wack. What’s really happening [is] they’re scared [of] us to get together. We might give y’all too much information. We might give y’all too much information, but we ain’t goin’ nowhere.” Busta then spoke about learning some things from the O.G.s in Brooklyn. Now an O.G., Busta celebrated his class’ health and wealth, while peers like E-40 smiled from the crowd.

Moments after the speech, Busta performed a medley of his hits, including the “Ante Up Remix” with M.O.P.’s Billy Danze and Lil Fame, plus Remy Ma. Past BET Awards Lifetime Achievement Award winners include Queen Latifah, Diddy, Michael Jackson, Prince, James Brown, and Whitney Houston.

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#BonusBeat: A late 2020 episode of Ambrosia For Heads’ What’s The Headline podcast that declares Busta Rhymes’ ELE 2 a classic: