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Hip-Hop Artist Busta Rhymes To Headline Spring Weekend

By Steve Hoberman

It's official: as of Friday, Busta Rhymes is booked to perform April 23 as part of the MIT Spring Weekend. Rhymes, a rising star in the world of hip-hop, is probably the weekend's most prominent singer in several years. Rhymes will be paid $32,000 for his appearance.

Rhymes, an east coast rap artist, debuted in 1990 as a member of Leaders of the New School, a rap group. Last year, Rhymes launched his career as a solo artist with the hit album "The Coming." He has collaborated with Boyz II Men, TLC, and Tribe Called Quest. Most recently he has worked with Janet Jackson and appeared on Saturday Night Live. His most recent album is "When Disaster Strikes."

Two months ago, Busta Rhymes was arrested and charged with a third degree felony for weapons possession. Rhymes says, however, that he is trying to "maintain my focus" and move on.

Increased funding for student activities helped to secure Busta Rhymes. Last year administrators tripled the student activities budget, bringing the total funding to about three hundred thousand dollars.

From this grant, $50,000 have been set aside by the Undergraduate Association and the Graduate Student Council for one major event each semester. Spring Weekend represents this semester's event. Pubudu Wariyapola G, a member of the Graduate Student Council, said that Busta Rhymes' contract with the Institute is worth $32,000.

Students Divided

Students' responses to Busta Rhymes were mixed. While nearly everyone interviewed had heard of the singer, not all of these students were familiar with his music. "I'd go," said one junior, "[but] I don't listen to that kind of music that often." "I might stop by," said Jim Matysczak '99.

Other students know and love his work. "Busta Rhymes, whoa!" said Gabe A. Reinstein '02. Another freshman, Eduardo L. McLean '02, is also a big fan. "I guess Gimmie Some More' is his best song," said McLean. Miguel Rivera '02 agreed. Patricia R. Morales, a sophmore, was enthusiastic "He's phat," she said.

Many students would rather listen to other singers during Spring Weekend. Favorites of those polled included Aerosmith, U2, and Dave Matthews Band. However, preferences were diverse. "Yeah, Phish!" said one senior. Rachael A. Butcher '99 replied that she would rather listen to "Anybody else."

While Busta Rhymes' appearance has been anticipated for a month, contract negotiations and legal issues delayed the final agreement until last week. Other details of the Spring Weekend are also beginning to take shape. Tickets to the concert will be ten dollars in advance and twelve dollars at the door. One thousand students are expected to attend the event.

If Spring Weekend has waned in the last two years, this upcoming event could herald a new beginning. In 1996, Soul Coughing was the featured band, and several years before They Might Be Giants performed. The 1997 and 1998 bands were not as well known, and attendance and enthusiasm for the event dropped accordingly.