For two decades now, Busta Rhymes has drawn on a very specific and spastic type of energy—somewhere between craft-oriented party rocker and frothing-at-the-mouth apocalyptic paranoiac. On first listen, Busta’s ninth effort, Year of the Dragon, might seem subdued by comparison, as he’s mostly abandoned the hypertechnical fast raps in favor of more deliberate and menacing rap styles. But even in this restrained capacity, Busta operates at a higher intensity level than just about any of his peers, seething or shouting every word. He’s adaptable too, comfortable whether jumping into the clap-happy energy of current-day rap radio on “Grind Real Slow” or trading bars with Southern rap eccentric Gucci Mane over an old school James Brown beat on the aptly-titled “Make It Look Easy.” Andrew Nosnitsky, Google Play
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