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Busta Rhymes

Everybody wants mo’ Busta

By Annie S. Choi

Johnson Athletic Center

April 23, 1999

Busta Rhymes rocked the campus last Friday at this year’s Spring Concert. Accompanied by his lively sidekick Spliff Star and backed by DJ Scratch-a-tor, Busta could have instigated a riot -- well, if it weren’t for the 2:1 security guard to student ratio.

As the 2,500 students who had bought tickets for the sold-out show filed into Johnson Athletic Center, a slew of opening acts performed in anticipation of Busta.

Members of Mocha Moves, a recently formed dance group, and the well-established Dance Troupe combined to give a sexy, sensational set of dance sequences to a variety of songs including OutKast’s “Rosa Parks,” and Foxy Brown’s “I’ll Be Good.” The all-male step team Groove Phi Groove soon followed to combine exciting dance stunts with a cacophony of thumping, tapping, and stomping on stage. After a lengthy interlude, the Boston Floorlords, descended on stage. Although the slight delay irritated an already anxious crowd, the hip-hop dance group soon captivated the audience as members both young and old displayed their break-dancing skills. The two youngest Floorlords Little Herc (age 10) and Cannonball (age 8) were the true crowd pleasers as they ripped up the stage with enough head- and back-spins to make the audience dizzy. The Floorlords were followed by two more acts -- rap artist Mr. Lis and freestyling duo 7L and Esoteric (with a guest appearance by Virtuoso). Despite their efforts, both acts made little impact on the impatient audience whose cries for “Busta” could practically be heard in Harvard Square.

Two-and-a-half hours after the doors opened at 8 p.m., DJ Scratch-a-tor finally introduced Busta Rhymes and Spliff Star, who met the fans with the attitude as would be expected from the two Flipmode Squad frontmen. From the moment they took the stage, their electric presence entertained not only long-time fans, but also those getting their first introduction to Busta.

Upon entering the gymnasium, the duo commanded everyone to “Rise,” one of the songs from Busta’s newest album, Extinction Level Event. The Flipmode Squad succeeded in firing up the crowd with a range of songs dating back to Busta’s pre-solo days, such as “Scenario,” which premiered on Tribe Called Quest’s album Low End Theory in 1991. The concert was more than just a mere succession of songs -- it was an entire show, complete with crowd participation and banter between Spliff and Busta, including a monologue addressing how hip-hop has universalized the word “nigger.”

Perhaps one of the best parts of the performance was when Busta announced that the show would turn “porno.” The duo singled out a woman in the crowd and audaciously performed finger fellatio to win her graces. As if that wasn’t enough to stir the audience, the two dropped their pants and bounced across the stage in their underwear. And, as if that wasn’t enough, Spliff and Busta mooned the crowd, which was returned by overwhelming cheers. Forget the intellectual realm of academics, the crowd went crazy over every blatantly sexual gesture and lyric.

The audience quickly jived with the Flipmode’s funk, joining in unison with the performers and their raucous behaviors, especially when they performed the catchy hip-hop hits which have defined Busta’s successful career. Songs like “Dangerous” from 1997’s When Disaster Strikes practically shook Johnson off its foundation (not one MIT building has ever seen such groove). Another favorite, “Woo Hah! Got You All In Check” off of The Coming, could have been rapped by the audience alone. Though the crowd was mixed -- with serious hip-hop fans bouncing next to students who prefer the fluffy tunes of Jewel -- everyone enjoyed witnessing the Flipmode Squad cut lose. The grand finale was “Turn it up/Fire it up” which closed a successful show, and an equally as memorable Spring Fling.

Although Busta’s antics appeared a bit brash, as in the cover photo from Tuesday's Tech, all was taken in good fun. He did not just perform mindlessly to collect some easy cash, but instead took this opportunity to display how hip-hop can unite diverse peoples.

And, despite the shameless plug for Flipmode’s upcoming projects, albums, and of course T-shirts, as Terraun L. Jones ’01 put it, “Everyone was looking for him to give ‘em some mo’.”

Jasmine Richards and Huanne Thomas contributed to the reporting of this story.