Busta Rhymes was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2023 BET Awards on Sunday (June 25).
Ecstatic applause filled the room as the rapper stood on stage, looking on proudly in a moment of silence as he basked in his moment. Busta was very vulnerable during his ward acceptance, even revealing that the tribute did make him want to cry. He then removed his sunglasses and wiped joyful tears from his eyes.
During the hip-hop legend’s tearful acceptance speech, he dished on where it all began with his ’90s hip-hop group Leaders of the New School. Sharing an anecdote of trial and victory, Busta admitted that he was scared when the group broke up because, at the time, he had a child to feed.
“I ain’t never wanted to be a solo MC,” Busta revealed. “I ain’t like the responsibility of making a full song. I’m good with getting to the 16 bars and busting everybody’s a** and getting up out of there.”
The rapper formulated a strategic plan that he says came with a drive and determination that he attributes to being raised in a Jamaican household. Interestingly enough, the ace up the rapper’s sleeve turned out to be weed, and he was successful in his cheeky endeavor.
“I made sure that when my weed was moving around in that studio, I would quickly whip up a 16-bar verse before the weed came back to me,” he explained. “And I was able to do that quick enough for them dudes to want to hear my verse. When they asked me what was I doing, I said, ‘Let me go in the booth and do it. I ain’t telling you my rhyme until you let me in the booth.'”
“I’d go in the booth and I’d spit, and come out the booth; they couldn’t hear the song without the ‘rah rah’ no more. I did that three, four times a week. I’d go back to the Violator office and tell Mona Scott and Chris Lighty, ‘yo send that invoice for 5 grand, send that one for 10 grand, send that one for 15 grand.’ Thirty, forty thousand dollars a week, I ain’t gotta split it up with nobody in the group, I liked that.”
Eventually, Busta Rhymes says he, by default, “pioneered the feature” by showing up to studios and hopping on other MC’s tracks. The iconic fast-spitting rapper went from worrying how he would feed his child to becoming one of the most successful hip-hop solo acts of all time, eventually having five more children.
Near the end of his speech, the BET Lifetime Achievement Award recipient gave an emotional shoutout and expressed his gratitude to Spliff Star, who he regards as his “best friend,” and longtime collaborator DJ Scratch, who both stood behind him on stage alongside Swizz Beatz. “I gotta say this, there’s nothing that I do that is as great as I do it without my brother Spliff Star,” he said tearfully.
Busta Rhymes also denounced violence among hip-hop artists and called for unity. “We gon’ stop these little petty beefs that we be doing in rap. Y’all messing up the bag, y’all messing up the energy,” he said. “I don’t like when I talk to these dudes that run these streaming platforms and they be talking about we turning the consumer off … We gon’ stop that, we gon’ love each other and we gon’ 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-shaking and how much drugs we sold and how much dudes we tied up, how much drugs we doing, you know what I’m saying?”
A passionate Busta Rhymes could not help but express how much more he wishes he could say if he had the time. The rapper’s fans and critics alike think the long overdue award is well deserved making this the most auspicious moment for him to drop gems. He did, however, get the chance to encourage young rappers and OGs to bridge the gap and help each other to bring hip-hop forward.
Busta continued, “It’s important. We want y’all to pull up and we want to give you the information because when I needed it, [Big Daddy] Kane let me come to his million-dollar crib, EPMD let me used to come to their crib and see all of their real estate, Chuck D used to sit me down and give me the jewels.”
“I got the arm put around me to school me and show me how to be groomed and well-raised. Learn what to do, and take it and apply it and do it, secure the win. Y’all gotta do that now and we gonna do it with y’all ’cause we still bustin’ a**!”
Busta Rhymes delivered an exhilarating performance during the award show in honor of 50 years of hip-hop. During his performance, the rapper hailed Kool Herc, hip-hop’s early pioneer, and shouted out Jamaica, where it all started. The performance, which saw M.O.P., Remy Ma, Swizz Beatz, Rah Digga assisted, and Coi Leray join Busta on stage to treat the audience, wrapped up with a dancehall segment featuring the likes of Dexta Daps, Spice, and Skillibeng.