Busta Rhymes made waves when he dropped his latest single, “Look Over Your Shoulder.” Not only is the track built on a classic Jackson 5 sample, but it also features the first verse of the year from Kendrick Lamar. During a recent interview with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe, Busta explained how the song came together.
Busta began by recalling being stuck in Quad Studio in New York City during a snowstorm while trying to piece together the song.
“The incredible coming together of this record was a true magical experience. It started off one time with me being stuck in the studio, in Quad Studio, in Manhattan in New York. I had gotten a batch of beats from Nottz, who produced this track, and he’s been significant in a lot of the production for all of my solo albums,” he said. “But he had given me this batch of beats probably five, six months before I actually even listened to it because I get so many beats from Nottz that sometimes I don’t get around to listening to all of his shit. This beat in particularly, I didn’t really even realize I had this sitting in my hard drive because I downloaded it, put it in the hard drive, but I just never listened to it.”
Busta went on to explain that he was so into the creative process, that he actually ignored a city-wide curfew. “Finally, we are in a snowstorm in New York and they declared it a national emergency and gave everyone a curfew,” he added. “I refused to accept the curfew so I stayed in the studio. So I stayed in the studio, they shut the Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge down, they shut the Midtown Tunnel down, so I couldn’t leave the city anyway once it passed 11 o’clock. So I was like, ‘Fine. I’m going to stay in the studio tonight.’ I stumbled on the beat. When I looked at the date of when I got the beat from Nottz, I couldn’t believe that I had this shit so long the whole time. So I ended up putting a verse on it. I sent it to Kendrick. Kendrick bodied the verse, sent it back.”
Busta went on to thank Kendrick and the whole TDE family. “And I got to big-up Kendrick, I got a big-up Top Dog, the whole TDE family. I got to thank all of the people that was involved with clearing this shit for me and giving me their blessing on being able to use this,” Busta said. “And it just was unbelievable, and incredible, and just profound for me to be blessed with this gift.”
He also talked about the process behind using the sample for the Jackson 5’s classic “I’ll Be There.”
“And the crazy sh*t is, I ended up getting my hands on the original 16-track multi two-inch tape reel of “I’ll Be There” from Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five,” he explained. “It was really going exploring many different options. It just dawned on me one day that I wanted to start pushing the envelope and going deeper than just sampling sh*t. I come from the era, to this day, I have two-inch, 24 track, multi two-inch tape reels that they’re being held in temperature controlled storage facilities. Right? So I’m like, all the artists like me and before me had to do the same thing. So if I could call one of these facilities to get my two-inch tape reels sent to me so that I could digitize them to transfer them to Pro Tools sessions, why wouldn’t I be able to do the same sh*t with a Jackson Five reel? Right?”
Like most of his upcoming album, Extinction Level Event 2: The Wrath of God, Busta Rhymes has been working on “Look Over Your Shoulder” for years. He tells Lowe that he’s been tinkering with the track since 2017. He did this so that he could put together a body of work that withstands the test of time.
“I’m just saying this to say the patience in this process and during this journey of recording this album was probably one of my greatest weapons because these songs wouldn’t all be on the same project if I was putting out an album every year, or even every two years,” Busta said.
After years of perfecting the album, Busta’s Extinction Level Event 2: The Wrath of God will finally hit streaming services on Friday.