Review Summary: The Misleader & The Disappointment
It should be a surprise to no one that Busta Rhymes can spit. While he has spent the last couple years reasserting himself in the mainstream as a rap titan through the gimmick of light speed syllable gymnastics on Tech N9ne and Chris Brown tracks, he cut his teeth on straight boom bap, and even in recent years, features on Raekwon tracks and his New York ilk have proven to heads that Busta’s still got it. So it’s wildly unfortunate that after left field track-of-the-year contender “Thank You,” what quickly became a hotly anticipated mixtape was ultimately served up as a cunning prevarication – merely a compilation tape recounting the eminence of two greats in the 90s. The Abstract and the Dragon
, which should have served as an official renascence comes out almost as a brash reminder that the man still exists, oh, and that ELE 2
is on its way. Most of the tape consists of Busta and Tip’s classic collaborations – a nostalgic saunter through the reeds of the past but hardly the 2013 wildfire we expected. There’s roughly 10 minutes of new content on this colossal compilation – none of it from Q-Tip. In fact, if it wasn’t for Tip ad-libbing part of the hook on “We Takin’ Off,” (one of the few fresh cuts), one might speculate whether Tip even cosigned the tape or if Busta just plastered his name across the top for the exposure. On the few new tracks that are present, Busta rhymes serviceably, gliding over A Tribe Called Quest-esque beats, occasionally with his new school deadpan delivery and sometimes with his trademark tenacity – similar to what we heard on “Thank You”. But where’s Q-Tip in all this? The Abstract and the Dragon
muscles its way in blatantly as a tape by Busta Rhymes for Busta Rhymes fans, a hopeful reminder of his pre-sell out days and an assertion – an insistence even – that he’s still capable, but it quickly becomes an almost unmitigating recitation of yesteryear and the result is an eccentric compilation that ultimately falls on its face as a mixtape. As we’ve said for the past decade: maybe next time.