Busta Rhymes, whose real name is Trevor Tahiem Smith, Jr., was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York.
Busta is a Muslim. He surprised a lot of people in 2007 when he came out with it. In response to the question, “You’re so blessed in your life, what do you do spiritually to stay grounded,” Busta said:
I try to really understand every aspect of the most high. For me, the most high is Allah. All praises due to Allah, the Lord of all worlds, the greatest, the beneficent, the merciful… I live my life by Islam.1
But what kind of Muslim or how devout Busta is could be up for interpretation. He offended some Muslim groups with his song “Arab Money” in which he raps about the excesses and luxuries of the oil economies. But in response to criticism, Busta remixed the song with Qur’an verses in it, even further offending Muslims–some of which are opposed to the use of the Qur’an in music.2 It got his music more attention than if he had shied away from controversy–which might have been the point.
Beyond Islam, there is much speculation that Busta Rhymes is a “5 percenter,” or member of the Nation of Gods and Earths. Busta has admitted that exposure to the Nation of Gods and Earths at the age of 13 or 14 got him initially interested in Islam–and seems to know a lot about the 5 percenters3 –but the organization is so mysterious that it’s hard to tell if someone is a member of if it and is it a religion or more of a secret society.
Busta appears to be a liberal Democrat, which seems to somehow conflict with being Muslim. In response to the news that a fellow rapper Frank Ocean is gay, Busta said:
From hip-hop all the way down to the common man that walks the streets on the Earth every day, we’re at a place in life where we gotta respect and accept what people choose as their path that they wanna walk in life, because ultimately you want people to respect what you choose as your path and your journey in life.4
And Mr. Rhymes has been a staunch Obama supporter since his bid for presidency in 2008. When Obama won the election, Busta said at a party:
We the mother fucking champions right now… All that Republican shit, eat a dick.5
His eloquence is mind-boggling.
Busta has addressed social/political issues in his songs as well. His song “Intro–There’s Only One Year Left” paints a bleak picture of the end of civilization and even mankind, speaking of renegade cyborgs, religious prophecy, and the collapse of the western nations.6 And his song “No War (Obama)” features a backdrop of an Obama speech superimposed over lyrics like:
Stop the senseless killing, trample the war/Hey you people your backs against the walls/The way that we’re living we’re bound to get a fall/Why can’t we get together and tear down the walls?7
The final analysis is that Busta is a contradictory figure, who seems to take his faith and spirituality, society and politics very seriously on one hand and on the other hand, he’ll cause controversy for publicity, talk about cyborgs destroying the landscape, and tell Republicans to “eat a dick.” You be the judge.
- Busta Rhymes converts to Islam. Live Leak. [↩]
- Busta Rhymes Offends Arabs, Then Muslims. Religion Dispatches. [↩]
- Busta Rhymes on 5 Percenters & Nation of Islam. YouTube. [↩]
- Bust Rhymes On Frank Ocean Coming Out: “We Gotta Respect & Accept What People Choose. Boxden. [↩]
- Busta Rhymes Obama Victory Speech. YouTube. [↩]
- Intro – There’s Only One Year Left – Busta Rhymes. Lyrics Freak. [↩]
- Busta Rhymes – No War (Obama) Feat. Barrington Levy & Offishall Lyrics. Elyrics World. [↩]