Hip-Hop | Rap
[disclaimer: this is a written review for the standard edition of Extinction Level Event 2, which means any of the tracks that can only be found on the “Reloaded” edition will not affect my final verdict]
Up to the a point that was very close to this album’s release, I had only known New-York born M.C Busta Rhymes as the icon that he is. In other words, he has the kind of artist whose discography was still yet to be delved into by myself, but I’m still able to instantly recognise classics like “Break Ya Neck” and “I Know What You Want”.
But fast-forward to last friday, and the gem that was “Look Over Your Shoulder” appeared on my release radar. And with that track featuring Kendrick Lamar, who is an artist that I had been longing to hear from for a while, It was only natural that this specific aspect of the track became the main motivation to give it a listen.
But not only did Kendrick show that he hasn’t lost one shred of his insane lyrical talent, but Busta Rhymes definitely had my attention as well.
I loved the track so much, in-fact, that I went ahead and shared it with a friend of mine, only to find that on that very same day, was the release of Busta Rhymes’ 10th studio album, titled Extinction Level Event 2: The Wrath Of God.
As the title suggests, this is the sequel to Busta Rhymes’ third studio album, 1998’s Extinction Level Event: The Final World Front. And judging by the 2011 album Before Extinction Level 2, the series definitely didn’t seem like something that Busta Rhymes wasn’t ready to give up on. The start of this 2020 sequel definitely has that kind of important sequel vibe to it, thanks to the intro, “E.L.E 2 Intro”. With a duration of over seven minutes, being separated into what seems like three main segments.
But not only does this intro open the experience of the album, you could also say that it serves as a taste of what listeners can expect, in terms of the album’s hefty build. With a total of 22 tracks, and a runtime of 1 hour and 17 minutes, there is definitely a lot to swallow in the case of Extinction Level Event 2. But the metaphoric big pills aren’t just composed of the length of this album, but the incredibly wide range of styles and moods that it covers as well.
Whether it be gritty gangsta rap, soul-rap, or nostalgic noughties rap, this album covers all areas. But does this affect the album positively or negatively? In my mind, it’s somewhere in the middle. But while Extinction Level Event 2 has a handful of both hits and misses, I would argue that the hits do outweigh the misses. Not to mention that the hits in question are some of the finest Hip-hop tunes I have heard this year, as to be expected from the “god M.C”.
Making that aforementioned claim is the American actor, comedian, TV producer, and film-maker Chris Rock (or as I like to refer to him as, the dude who voices the Zebra in DreamWorks’ Madagascar). But in the case of this album, his role is to tie the tracks together somewhat with soundbites that are scattered across the album. And while this is a good thing in regards to adding a bit more of a narrative to an otherwise chaotic album, it was occasionally off-putting for me. The biggest offender of this, would have to be at the end of the closing track “Satanic”, which would’ve been a solid closer, and a keepable track, if not for Chris Rock’s cringy chant.
But Rock’s sound bites ae fortunately not the only thing that takes my mind off the stylistic chaos of this album; Busta Rhymes himself champions nearly every single song on this album, carrying a vast majority of this album’s weight upon his broad shoulders.
But if I had to pick a set of tracks that Busta Rhymes champions the best, it would have to be the jazzy, soul-rap tunes, which make up the majority of this albums highlight, and serve as almost the sole reason as to why I felt comfortable ranking this album as highly as I did. Not to mention that it’s these kinds of tracks where Busta Rhymes addresses racial injustice in his lyrics, which always makes for tracks that the listener can truly feel. I have to tip my hat to the producers in the case of these tracks, as many of the beats succeed in every manner.
All in all, while I agree with many other reviewers out there, that this album is a chaotic amalgamation of different subgenres of Hip-hop, I would still say that fundamentally, it is still a project whose enjoyable moments felt abundant.
Favourite Tracks: Master Fard Muhammad | Look Over Your Shoulder | You Will Never Find Another Me | Freedom?
Least Favourite Track: The Don & The Boss
The Conglomerate Entertainment, Inc. | EMPIRE