Album Review | Busta Rhymes – Year of the Dragon

This album was released on August 21st in 2012. This is a weird ass project. It was released by Google Play for free, and now it’s not available anymore. I had to get this shit off Datpiff. I think you can probably find it on YouTube too though. Anyway, I remember listening to it when it first dropped 8 years ago. In fact, I’m pretty certain this is the first Busta Rhymes project I ever listened to. I remember thinking it was bad, but I don’t really remember the full extent of its wackness. I’ve seen some people say it’s worse than Back on My B.S. though, so that’s obviously not a good sign. Part of me is hoping that I’ll at least like a handful of songs, but my expectations are very low.

This shit is really bad. However, there actually are two whole songs that I enjoyed, so I’ll talk about those real quick before explaining why I hate this album. The first track that I enjoyed is called Make It Look Easy, and it features Gucci Mane of all people. It’s one of four songs that I actually remembered from my first listen of the album 8 years ago. Yes, Gucci Mane & Busta Rhymes is a super strange combination, but it worked. The reason it went over so well is because Busta brought Guwop into his world instead of vice versa. This isn’t Busta Rhymes hopping on a Trap beat, which is kinda strange now that I think about it because he does it later on in the record, but I’ll get to that. The song is produced by Ted Smooth, and the beat is basically just the instrumental to Just Playin’ by the Notorious B.I.G. The only noticeable alteration is the increased pitch, but aside from that it’s the same beat. Personally, I never really liked the original song from Biggie, not only because of the content, but actually because of the beat too. I just don’t think it sounds that good. I find it boring. I don’t really mind it here though. I think Busta Rhymes’ energy prevents me from getting tired of it to be honest. He sounds good over it in my opinion. The main aspect of the song that I just don’t really care for is the hook, which is pretty annoying. It’s definitely not bad enough to ruin the song for me though. The actual rapping is the selling point for me. I think Busta’s rapping on this project is a lot better than it was on BOMBS. The opening verse was nice, and the second one was even better. It’s mainly his flow and delivery that stand out, but I don’t think it’s wack lyrically. Gucci Mane killed this shit though. It’s so strange to hear him over this type of production, but it’s awesome just because we never really hear this kinda shit.

Lethal injection, electric necklace
Flexing, so check that off the checklist
I'm hungry, I'm eating rappers for breakfast
Respect me, one verse will leave you breathless
I'm rapping on a Biggie beat, they didn't expect it
Fucking with me, expect the unexpected

I mean, it’s not the most amazing verse I’ve ever heard obviously, but it’s just awesome to hear this. This collaboration shouldn’t have worked, but it does. I think it’s pretty good. The only other song I like from this album comes right after. It’s called Pressure, and it features Lil Wayne. I remember this being my favorite song all the way back in 2012, but it’s actually a lot better than I remembered. I do think that the hook is a little lame, but it’s nowhere near as bad as some of the others. I actually really like the beat too. I’m not really familiar with Pop & Oak, but they did a nice job here. As far as the lyrical content goes, they’re really just flexing, but I think they did it well. It’s not the kinda flexing that makes me roll my eyes, ya know?

I'm short for breath, drowning in money rushes
Fuck a blunt, bitch, I'm inhaling muffles and smoke from buses
I defend my money like soldiers, I come to punish
Defense mechanism from infections, the way that pus is

If you pay close attention you’ll notice that Busta Rhymes’ flow is completely synchronized with the beat, which is really goddamn cool. The final couplet in his verse was a little lame, but that’s just a nitpick. Considering the year in which this album was released, I was afraid that Weezy’s verse would be complete ass, but I’m assuming it was recorded at least a few years prior. I feel like Busta was probably holding onto it for a while because Wayne killed this shit.

If he got beef, watch me sprinkle salt & pepper on 'em
No Spinderella just plenty metal for any fellow
Semi settle everything for me, and everything's for me
Smoking on that G13, and everything funny

Wayne was not rapping like this in 2012, so this was the most pleasant surprise on the whole album. I actually think the song’s dope as hell to be honest. I have no super critical gripes. That’s it as far as good songs on this project though. However, there are moments where he comes close. I think the opening track had a lot of potential. It’s called I’m Talking to You, and it’s one of the four tracks that I remember from my initial listen of the album back in 2012, along with Pressure & Make It Look Easy. I actually really like Ty Fyffe‘s production here to be honest. I think the way he flipped that Tears for Fears sample was really damn cool. The song unfortunately just didn’t come together very well. I have no idea where that “MAKE SOME NOIIIIISE” vocal clip comes from, but it’s so fucking annoying. That’s really the main thing that ruined the song for me to be honest. That was such an awful choice for a hook. The beat itself is awesome to me though. It’s just disappointing that the song didn’t end up being very good. I think Busta’s verses are solid though.

Back to apply the pressure
Body up on the stretcher
Hot like a lot of pepper
Most of you niggas soft
Cotton and polyester
You know how I go off
Legend like Robert Nesta

The sample of Missy Elliott yelling “HOLLA” was a little weird, but it’s not a huge issue for me. I kinda wish he switched his flow up a bit more, but the verses were cool for the most part. The hook is just super irritating though. That really ruined this track for me. It’s a disappointing way to start the album, but I wouldn’t say it’s wack. I just think it’s mediocre. It’s followed by ‘Til We Die, which is a lot worse in my opinion. It features Rick Ross & Trey Songz. I think the loud, grandiose production from Dready is decent. I don’t even think the sung hook from Trey Songz is terrible or anything. It’s just not particularly enjoyable for me personally. It’s definitely one of the more tolerable hooks on the album. The song just sounds very over the top. It just sounds gigantic. It sounds like it’d go crazy at a concert to be honest. I can imagine this loud ass beat playing in a stadium. Nothing about the song is outright terrible to me. It’s just very commercial sounding. Nothing about it really pulls me in. The opening verse from Busta is fine, but I don’t care for the hook. Even though the beat sounds larger than life, it’s not actually really enjoyable for me. It’s just fine. I’ve never been into Rick Ross, and his verse here is exactly what he always does. The song probably didn’t need to be four and a half minutes by the way. Since it’s so loud and over the top it just gets annoying after a while. Again, nothing about the song is really awful to me, but it’s just not my kinda thing. I mean, I actually do think it’s kinda bad just because I find it annoying. The hook is really my least favorite part of the song to be honest. I just don’t think it sounds very good. The singing itself is fine, but the melody isn’t very entertaining. The song is wack to me, but far from the worst moment on the album. It’s followed by Do That Thing, which is also not that great to me. Although to be fair, I actually think Focus…‘s production is pretty goddamn great here. The hook is just weird to me. It was fine until he started doing that weird scatting. I don’t even know if scatting is the right way to refer to it. I don’t think it sounds awful. It’s just bizarre to me, and not particularly enjoyable. I feel like he could’ve cut that whole section of the hook out because it really adds nothing to the song. The beat is great though, and I actually think the first verse is pretty dope. It’s really just the lame hook that tarnishes the song for me. The second verse was unfortunately not as entertaining as the first one, mainly because of this off-key melodic flow Busta employs about halfway through. The rest of the verse is actually pretty cool though.

I’m comin’ and killin’ and causin’ you niggas to lose it
While I'm asking for challenges, I line 'em, I’m smacking 'em stupid
Assault and battery, the booth, boy, I love to abuse it
You see the high-beam when I’m comin’, motherfucker, move it

I wouldn’t say it’s a bad song, but to me it’s super mediocre. Like, I definitely wouldn’t argue with someone if they told me they thought it was trash. Not that I usually argue about that kinda stuff in the first place, but still. Anyway, track 6 is called Love-Hate, and this is where the album really just goes to shit. Mr. Porter‘s production is okay, but the sung hook from Robin Thicke is absolutely unbearable. I’m so glad that dude’s career died. It’s not that I get off on his misfortune in life. I’m just glad I never have to hear from him anymore because he’s awful to me. His hook here is terrible, and it lasts so fucking long. I guess I can kinda relate to some of the lines in the song from Busta, so the content did resonate a little bit to some extent. I just don’t really have any interest in hearing about this in a song. Well, that’s not entirely true. I feel like it’s definitely possible for a rapper to make a good song about the negative aspects of a relationship. I just don’t think Busta is the artist that I want that from. Robin Thicke certainly isn’t. The production is really the only aspect of the song that I kinda like. I think this shit is fucking awful to be honest. It’s wack af to me. The following track is even worse though. It’s called Grind Real Slow, and I actually think it’s a strong contender for the worst song Busta Rhymes has ever made. I don’t know. I’ll have to give it more thought because I’m still not even sure if it’s my least favorite song on this album. It’s produced by Bink!, and it features an artist named Jayms Madison. I usually like Bink!, but this beat is horrible. It reminds me of that wack ass #TWERKIT song that Busta dropped a few years ago. Okay, well it’s not that bad. You know, as much as I hate this song, I don’t think Busta will ever make a song worse than #TWERKIT. Let me not jinx it though. This song has a super generic early 2010s club beat. It’s trash. The hook is fucking horrible too. The worst aspect of the song is actually just Jayms Madison though.

You like what you're seein? Round of applause?
Ass so big, chewin on my draws
You wanna climb up in it? Tryna make it yours?
Ass so big, chewin on my draws
Ass so big, chewin on my draws
Ass so big, chewin on my draws
You wanna climb up in it? Tryna make it yours?
Ass so big, chewin on my draws

I was fucking disgusted listening to this shit. I guess this song is specifically meant to be played at strip clubs. I’m not that type of person that would ever be in that kind of environment though, so I don’t know why the fuck I would wanna listen to some shit like this. There’s not a single salvageable aspect of this song. Everything about it is absolute trash. I think it’s a dogshit song. It’s followed by King Tut, which is the fourth song that I actually remember from my initial listen of the album 8 years ago.

I remember it because it was the lead single. I don’t like it, but I do think it had potential to be a dope song. I actually really like the production from Jahlil Beats. Where the fuck has he been at by the way? I feel like I haven’t seen a placement from him in forever. This beat is hard though. I remember not being crazy about it when it first came out, but I actually love it now. I do think the hook is kinda stupid, but it works. I even like the opening verse from Busta Rhymes. The real problem for me is honestly just the guest verses from J-Doe & Reek da Villain. To this day I’m not really sold on those dudes. I feel like Busta’s artists are very inconsistent in quality. We have guys like this who aren’t that great, but then he’ll turn around and give us a Roc Marciano, Lord Have Mercy, or Stove God Cook$. I don’t know. Maybe J-Doe & Reek are dope, and I just haven’t heard their best shit. I didn’t like them on this track at all though. Reek performed the second verse, and I guess his flow was cool, but I just wasn’t feelin’ his bars at all.

Okay, I'm ridin' through your city, blowin' diddies of that icky
Got your wifey in the passenger, I'm ridin', now she lick me
I get money like Mark Cuban and know my bank is heavy
And I grip the 31 like Jason Terry when I'm shootin

It’s just pure mediocrity. I feel like I could go to any random bodega in New York and find some dude who could rap like this. The J-Doe verse is even wacker though. He just sounds so lame to me here.

Okay, now stupid ass stacks in my pocket
Test me, best be faster than a rocket
I ain't got no time if it ain't about a profit
If you send me my deposit, I will have your city rockin'
I get the hottest beats, niggas wish that they could rhyme on it
I got the hottest watch, ain't even set the time on it
The way I'm killin' niggas it look like a crime, don't it?
I got the light with a little bit of lime on it

Would it be unfair for me to classify these as struggle bars? This is just the most generic shit… He had the nerve to use that wack ass “stupid ass stacks in my pocket” line twice too. He sounds like a fuckin’ douche to me. Like, his bars are way too conventional for him to have the type of ego he has. Just because your brags happen to rhyme doesn’t mean you’re a good rapper. I feel like these are the kinda bars I would’ve written when I was in middle school. Am I being harsh right now? I don’t know, man. His verse just really bothered me for some reason. I think it’s wack. Overall, the song is super mediocre to me. I see why it didn’t chart at all. I feel like even if the features were good, it’s just not that exciting of a track. The hook could use some work. The beat honestly does get kind of old by the time the song ends too. I don’t think it’s a wack song though. Just mediocre. The following track makes it look like a masterpiece though. This one is called Sound Boy, and it has a feature from Cam’ron and production from Boi-1da & Matthew Burnett. I’m a big Boi-1da fan, so I was expecting the production to at least be really dope, but this is actually a terrible beat. The sung hook on this song from Busta is absolutely annoying too. It sounds so bad. The opening verse from Cam’ron is wack as fuck too.

Lenox Avenue, awww Shucky Ducky
Seen Paid In Full, now everybody do the dougie
When I do the dougie, I'm talkin dougie lime
Pistol whip a nigga while you lookin buckyeye
Had the buggy eye, it was hard to see it
Now the headlights ch█nky like the car Korean

This is way worse than anything J-Doe did. In fact, this might actually be the wackest verse on the whole album. It was already bad enough, but then he added that casual racism to the gumbo and fucked it up even worse. I don’t even really like Busta’s verse on this track either to be honest. He had a line where he said “unleash the kraken,” but the saying is “release the kraken.” Obviously that’s probably just a nitpick, but it bothered me more than it should have. His verse was definitely nowhere near as bad as that of Cam, but I still didn’t care for it. There’s really not a single aspect of this track that I do like to be honest. I think it’s a dogshit song. The following track is thankfully slightly more tolerable, although I still think it’s pretty bad. It’s called Doin’ It Again, and it features another verse from Reek da Villain, as well as a bizarrely dated-sounding hook from a singer named Chanel.

This sounds exactly like one of those late 90s, early 2000s Hip Hop & R&B crossovers. It sounds like something Ashanti would’ve done with Ja Rule. I was never into that sound at all, so this just isn’t for me. I also just don’t really care for the Ted Smooth production at all, nor do I enjoy any of the verses. Reek da Villain in particular had a very weak performance. The song’s wack to me. Track 11 is called Wine & Go Down. Honestly, considering the song title, as well as the feature from Vybz Kartel, I was fully expecting this to be the worst song on the album. It’s not though. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still an awful song. It’s just not the steaming pile of dogshit that I was expecting it to be. I think a lot of it has to do with the beat from Dready, which is actually kinda decent. I think Busta was okay on this song too to be honest. Vybz Kartel though… I know he’s considered a legend by Jamaicans and Dancehall fans, but I cannot stand anything the dude has ever done. I just never really liked Dancehall personally though. I think that shit is absolute trash. It’s just annoying as fuck to me. Vybz Kartel is one of those artists whom I would classify as “shit-tier.” I cannot stand him at all, and you couldn’t pay me enough to sit through an album of his. If this was a solo track from Busta, I’d still think it was wack, but it would be much more tolerable. Busta slid some very questionable lines in there though.

You see the way I come in and how I creep up behind 'em
Like I'm aimin with a rifle, comin' & seekin' to find 'em
So many mami's let me go & just wine 'em and dine 'em
Ass big, now I'm ready to go mountain climb 'em

I don’t know why the fuck anyone would brag about creeping up behind a woman. That is not something you should be doing. I mean, it’s possible to “creep up” behind someone without doing anything really bad. You’re just being needlessly creepy though, which I suppose is bad enough. I think the song is borderline unlistenable to be honest, but the decent production is keeping me from completely tearing it apart. It’s still wack af though. The following track is so much worse. It’s called Movie, and it features J-Doe as well as production from Donut & Young Yonny.

This song is a fucking trainwreck. This is a steaming pile of dogshit. The hook from J-Doe is annoying as fuck, and the beat is a mess. Even Busta’s rapping is terrible here.

Y’all corny niggas always talk y’all shit
But y’all only remind me of an asshole
Baby girl, get up on that damn pole
And tell your friend hating is for losers
Drop your nigga off in a manhole
You love the way I move my George Lucas?

J-Doe’s verse was trash too, but at least his flow switched up a couple times. He still has zero interesting things to say unfortunately. You know why this song ended up being so bad? I think it’s because it sounds like a J-Doe song featuring Busta Rhymes. Sure, Busta had two verses, but J-Doe did the hook and the middle verse. It sounds like he did all that shit, and Busta heard it, and then decided he wanted to put it on his album. This makes me never want to even consider listening to J-Doe’s music. Somehow Busta’s verses were just as bad as that of J-Doe too. This song is complete and utter dogshit. I can’t stand it. The penultimate song is called Crazy. Part of me was expecting it to be a blasphemous Hip Hop version of the Gnarl’s Barkley single, which is one of the best songs of all time. That thankfully isn’t what this is though. I unfortunately think the production from Dready here is annoying as shit. It sounds like one of those EMD adjacent crossover tracks that Tech N9ne would spit over. Busta’s flow is oddly slow paced though. I feel like a beat with this kind of energy definitely warrants a more speedy cadence. What he lacks in flow he thankfully made up for in delivery. I really love how angry and aggressive he sounds at certain points. He almost sounded like he was growling, which I would love to hear more of from him. His bloodthirsty delivery is really the only aspect of the song that I enjoyed even a little bit though. I think the beat is trash, and same goes for the hook. His flow was underwhelming, and none fo the bars stood out. The song is terrible honestly. I think it’s super wack. The closing track is thankfully actually not too bad in my opinion. It’s called Bleed the Same Blood, and it has a nice feature from Anthony Hamilton. I wish more rappers would work with that dude because I think he’s got a fantastic singing voice. I actually love his hook here. I think the production from K. Figz is pretty good too. For whatever reason, the first verse on this song is performed by Maino, which just seems like a super random feature to me, especially to have on the closing song of this album. I’ve never really been a fan of him at all. That Hi Hater song he had was wack af. The verse he did here is okay I guess. It just feels so out of place. I don’t wanna say it ruins the song because it’s not that bad. I just feel like I would’ve enjoyed this more if Busta handled all the verses himself. Speaking of Busta, I think his verses were cool. They aren’t amazing or anything, but they’re sufficient. I wouldn’t come back to this song though. I really think Anthony Hamilton is the star of the show here, but his “yeah” ad-lib that comes in after almost every line in each verse gets old pretty quickly. It’s just super annoying by the time the song is over. However, aside from that, I think his performance here was phenomenal. The song is just okay to me overall.

This album is terrible. I do think it’s a slight improvement over BOMBS, but honestly I feel like I could make a better album than BOMBS myself, so that’s not saying much. It’s really starting to look like Busta completely fell off at this point, at least in terms of his own music. He was still slaughtering all his features when this came out. This album is embarrassing though. It’s just such a bizarre project. I don’t know how involved Google Play was in the composition of this record, but it just seems like them being part of the equation was… I don’t know. It’s just weird. It almost doesn’t feel like a real album. In fact, when I first started this Busta Rhymes Marathon I didn’t think I’d be covering this album because I always looked at it more like a mixtape than anything. I just think Busta is out of touch. He has such an odd taste. I don’t know how he heard that Movie track and thought it would be good. I just don’t get it. I just feel like he’s almost fallen into that Eminem, Tech N9ne type of territory. I mean, he’s not just rapping really fast all the time. I’m just talking about the quality of his music. He goes for that super gaudy, loud, larger than life production, but it’s never actually good. This album felt like one of those shitty Fast & the Furious movies, but in the form of music. It’s like a giant, commercial, blockbuster Michael Bay film. It’s very flashy, but there’s no real substance here. This shit is trash. If you’re a Busta fanatic I guess it’s worth skimming if you keep low expectations. I just think most people should steer clear of it. It’s super wack.



Grade: F

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