Busta Rhymes His Death Stopped My Career! Busta Rhymes Finally Opens Up About His Grief, Nearly Dying & How He Turned His Life Around!

Summary Notes


In a profound episode of "Diary of a CEO," music legend Busta Rhymes opens up about his life's journey with unparalleled candor. From his upbringing rooted in respect and community discipline in Brooklyn to the pivotal role hip hop played as a life-saving alternative to street life, Busta shares how his parents, neighborhood, and the elders instilled values that laid the foundation for his success. Despite temptations and hardships, including the drug trade and a family divorce, Busta found solace and purpose in music, thanks to a supportive environment and his determination not to disappoint those who believed in him. He reflects on the loss of his manager Chris Lighty and his father, which sent him spiraling into unhealthy habits, culminating in a life-threatening health scare that prompted a transformative journey back to wellness. Busta emphasizes the importance of self-love, mentorship, and the intergenerational respect within the hip-hop community, as he continues to inspire and collaborate with emerging artists on his album "Blockbuster."

Summary Notes

Early Influences and Upbringing

  • Buster Rhymes attributes his character and success to his upbringing, particularly his parents.
  • He emphasizes the community's role in discipline and respect during his childhood.
  • The community he grew up in held a collective responsibility for raising children, where neighbors disciplined kids for misbehavior.
  • Despite being in a rough neighborhood, there was a sense of respect and integrity even among the troublemakers.
  • The discipline and respect learned at home translated to the streets, where even street figures would respect well-behaved children.

"What is that honestly have to say? It starts with my mother and my father. My mother and my father was strict, you know what I'm saying?"

This quote highlights the importance of his parents' strictness in shaping his character and approach to life.

"None of the neighbors on the block would see another child that they watched grow from a little boy into becoming a teenager or something and see that kid misbehaving and not reprimand them in the street, even if they're not his parent."

Buster Rhymes reflects on the community's collective approach to discipline, illustrating the 'it takes a village' philosophy.

Choosing a Path

  • Buster Rhymes acknowledges the presence of negative influences like drugs and crime in his neighborhood.
  • Despite these negative influences, there was a balance that provided alternative paths.
  • Hip hop served as a life-saving alternative for him, and he had a strong support system that included his mother and community.
  • He delves into the duality of his actions, where he was involved in illegal activities but also had the support of street figures who wanted better for him.
  • His community's support shifted towards encouraging his passion for hip hop as they saw its potential to keep him safe.

"Absolutely, because all of those things were still there. The drug dealing was still there, the shootings were still happening, the robberies were still happening. All of that was there."

Buster Rhymes acknowledges the negative elements present in his environment and the potential to take a different, more destructive path.

"I did. I just was fortunate enough to have something like hip hop that was able to be an alternative that saved my life, changed my life."

This quote emphasizes hip hop as a pivotal alternative that steered him away from the negative path and towards his passion and success.

Impact of Parental Separation

  • The separation of his parents at the age of eleven had a profound impact on him.
  • He discusses the difficulty in comprehending their separation and the changes it brought to his behavior.
  • The separation led to increased misbehavior, disrespect, and anger due to his unhappiness with the situation and being caught in the middle of his parents' disputes.
  • His relationship with his father became strained due to the conflict between his parents and the lack of his father's presence.

"It was disastrous for me because like you said, you can't really ever wrap your head around that as a child."

Buster Rhymes describes the emotional turmoil and inability to understand the separation of his parents as a child.

"The misbehaving really started picking up. The disrespect started to pick up and intensify."

The separation of his parents acted as a catalyst for negative behavior, showing the psychological impact on a young Buster Rhymes.

Father-Son Relationship and Career Aspirations

  • Buster Rhymes contrasts his relationship with his mother and father, highlighting the support from his mother and the conflict with his father's personality and expectations.
  • His father's focus was on what he believed was best for Buster's future, which often clashed with Buster's own interests, leading to feelings of being misunderstood and unsupported.
  • This lack of support from his father in his musical pursuits led to a determination to prove his father wrong and succeed in hip hop.
  • He was forced to work with his father as an electrician, which he resented, as it took away from his time to engage in hip hop activities.

"So I always started to feel like, and having the comparison and seeing the contrast between that and how supportive my mother was for the shit that I wanted to do."

Buster Rhymes reflects on the difference in support from his mother and father, with his mother being more understanding and encouraging of his interests.

"I was trying to prove him wrong. I was so determined to prove him wrong that it forced me to excel."

This quote reveals the motivation behind Buster Rhymes' drive to excel in music, fueled by the desire to prove his father's doubts wrong.

Early Life and Introduction to Hip-Hop

  • Buster Rhymes struggled with early aspirations of becoming a superstar DJ.
  • The DJ played a significant role in hip-hop groups during his youth.
  • Rhymes faced technological challenges and wasn't adept at handling DJ equipment.
  • Transitioned into an MC by accident after facing legal troubles as a minor for selling crack.
  • His mother relocated him from Brooklyn to Long Island to escape potential further trouble.
  • In Long Island, he met future members of Leaders of the New School: Charlie Brown, Dinko D, and his cousin Milo.
  • Despite the move to the suburbs, Rhymes and others continued engaging in similar behaviors from their old neighborhoods.

"I was never nice enough to become the superstar DJ. And at that time, the DJ was super important because all of the groups had the DJ name."

This quote explains Rhymes' initial failure to become a DJ and the importance of DJs in hip-hop culture at that time.

Accidental Beginnings as an MC

  • Rhymes' initial focus was on breakdancing, popping, DJing, and graffiti, not rapping.
  • After moving to Long Island, he experienced a structured school environment with different periods and social interactions.
  • Being from Brooklyn, Rhymes received attention as the "new kid," which was a common experience for many relocated youths.
  • He was introduced to competitive school events like lip-sync and rap contests.
  • Rhymes became an accidental MC after being disrespected by Charlie Brown during a schoolyard cipher (rap circle).
  • At 13, faced with the decision to retaliate physically or maintain composure, he chose to respond through rap.
  • Inspired by LL Cool J, Rhymes wrote a rhyme to disrespect Brown in a similar manner he had been disrespected.

"I wasn't rapping yet. I was only break dancing... And then I actually became an mc by accident."

This quote highlights Rhymes' initial focus on other elements of hip-hop and his unintentional transition into rapping.

The Formation of Leaders of the New School

  • Rhymes' original rap names were "Terrible" and "Lord Tahin" from the 5% Nation.
  • Influenced by the three-part names of his favorite rappers, he changed his name to "Chill O Ski."
  • After a successful rap battle with Charlie Brown, they decided to form a group together.
  • The group Leaders of the New School was formed after replacing an original member, Mystery, with Dinko and adding DJ Milo.

"And then I destroyed Charlie Brown so bad that at the end of that night... he just came over to the side and was like, yo, we should be in a group together."

The quote marks the pivotal moment when Rhymes' performance led to the formation of Leaders of the New School.

Catalyst Moments and Addiction to Audience Reaction

  • Rhymes attributes his drive in hip-hop to the addictive reaction from audiences.
  • He describes an earlier addiction to entertaining people, starting from reenacting performances for his parents' guests.
  • The desire to entertain translated into classroom antics and eventually into hip-hop expression.
  • The defining moment with Charlie Brown combined his love for entertaining with the newfound role as an MC.
  • Rhymes' ultimate goal was to prove his worth to his father by securing a record deal.

"The first thing for me was the addiction to the reaction that I was getting from the people."

This quote explains Rhymes' primary motivation for pursuing hip-hop: the gratifying audience response to his performances.

The Psychological Drive and Family Dynamics

  • Rhymes' desire for audience approval began at an early age and was reinforced by positive reactions from family and friends.
  • He sought to avoid being sent to bed early by entertaining guests with dance routines.
  • The psychological need for attention and validation from others played a significant role in his pursuit of hip-hop.
  • Rhymes' father wanted him to join the family business for stability, leading to tension between their aspirations.
  • Despite initial resistance, Rhymes' father's intentions were rooted in love and a desire for his son's success.

"And that feeling started in the crib, and then it translated into me trying to get that attention in the classrooms."

This quote connects Rhymes' early experiences with his psychological drive to entertain and receive validation.

From Playground to Record Deal

  • Rhymes believes his success came from a combination of natural talent, hard work, and the addictive reaction from audiences.
  • He emphasizes the importance of his desire to defend himself and prove his worth, which fueled his determination.
  • Rhymes' drive was also influenced by a need to prove his father wrong and achieve success in hip-hop.
  • His unique style and energy, influenced by dancehall, set him apart and contributed to his appeal.

"I'm going to come home with so much fucking money that I'm going to be able to tell my father I told you so."

This quote encapsulates Rhymes' determination to succeed in the music industry and validate his career choice to his father.

Dancehall Influence on Hip-Hop

  • Dancehall artists exhibit a unique energy and showmanship that goes beyond lyrics.
  • The performance includes a combination of outfit, physical movements, microphone technique, flow patterns, clever lyrics, and punchlines.
  • Buster Rhymes was inspired by the animated and energetic performance style of Dancehall artists, which he felt was lacking in hip-hop.
  • He aimed to incorporate this energy and showmanship into his own stage performances in hip-hop, believing it would make him a formidable performer.

"The one thing that I saw in dance hall culture that I wasn't seeing in hip hop was the way when dance hall artists was getting busy and clashing in front of ten, $15,000 thousand people in that sting audience, the energy that they had to have to make sure that they're portraying themselves in a way that was just more than the lyrics."

The quote highlights Buster Rhymes' observation of the intense energy and comprehensive showmanship of dancehall artists, which he sought to bring into his own hip-hop performances.

Creativity and Inspiration

  • Creativity involves drawing from various sources of inspiration to create something new.
  • Buster Rhymes explains how his creative process was influenced by different aspects of culture, such as kung fu movies, dancehall clashes, and the energy of live performances.
  • He emphasizes the importance of being a student of life, observing, and learning from different experiences to fuel creativity.

"I pulled a lot of inspiration from different places, but that was when I found it. Like, looking at those clash sting clashes and jammies and killer Manjaro, like all the man from Saxon and all of that, that was out here. Tipper, Iri and all of them, man, dumb dudes raised me."

This quote illustrates Buster Rhymes' diverse sources of inspiration, particularly from dancehall culture, which played a significant role in shaping his creative identity.

Fundamentals of Success

  • The first fundamental is to identify and hone in on what you love until mastery is achieved.
  • Success is rooted in passion, not the pursuit of revenue.
  • The joy and fulfillment derived from doing what one loves is the true reward, transcending monetary gain.
  • Buster Rhymes stresses the importance of finding fulfillment in one's soul and providing for family through one's passion.
  • He believes in the potential of music to impact lives and inspire others, even leading to significant life changes and achievements.

"So the fundamentals that I would give my kids, which I've already feel like I've been given to them, is the first thing is identify with what you love."

Buster Rhymes emphasizes the importance of passion and dedication to one's craft as a fundamental aspect of success, which he imparts to his children.

Character Traits for Success

  • Being selfish, maniacal, uncompromising, and having unwavering faith are necessary traits for pursuing one's destiny.
  • The notion of being "delusional" is only until the vision becomes a reality; then it is seen as genius.
  • These traits are required to overcome challenges and achieve great rewards, which often involve significant sacrifices.

"You got to be selfish as hell. You got to be selfish. I don't give a fuck. It's the sacrifice."

The quote underlines the need for a level of selfishness in order to prioritize and commit to one's goals, even when it involves personal sacrifice.

Balancing Work and Family

  • Buster Rhymes acknowledges the guilt associated with missing important moments in his children's lives due to his career.
  • He reflects on the need for sacrifice to achieve success and provide for one's family.
  • The struggle between being present for family and fulfilling one's destiny is a complex balance, often influenced by circumstances and responsibilities.

"I've had to miss moments that we're never going to get back. I missed my oldest son's high school graduation. I missed one of my daughter's college graduations."

This quote reveals the personal sacrifices Buster Rhymes has made in his pursuit of success and the resulting feelings of guilt for missing significant family events.

Reflections on Life and Legacy

  • The conversation transitions to a reflection on the impact of one's actions and the legacy left behind.
  • Buster Rhymes wants his children to understand the importance of focusing on their passions and walking in their purpose.
  • He believes that identifying with one's gift and fulfilling one's destiny is part of the gift itself, and it allows for a lasting impact on others.

"Focus on what you love is most primary, being selfish. And when I say selfish, not just my kids, but even my woman, there might be a lot of shit she want to do. Sorry, I can't do it right now."

This quote highlights the prioritization of one's passion and purpose, even when it means making difficult decisions that affect personal relationships.

Loss of Chris

  • Buster Rhymes reflects on the significant impact Chris had on his life and career.
  • Chris was instrumental in changing Buster's financial status, legal representation, booking agents, and touring experiences.
  • The ability for Buster to support his family financially, including telling his mother to quit her job, was made possible through his partnership with Chris.

"My tax brackets changed with Chris. My lawyers changed because Chris, my booking agents changed with Chris. My touring experiences changed with Chris."

This quote highlights how Chris was a pivotal figure in Buster's life, contributing to his financial and professional success.

The Day Chris Passed

  • Buster describes the day he found out about Chris's death as terrible, noting a negative change in Chris's life due to a woman's influence.
  • He recounts the confusion and distress upon learning of the incident, leading up to the confirmation of Chris's death when the coroner's van arrived.
  • The event led to a significant emotional and professional turmoil for Buster, as he struggled without his manager and brother.

"That's when it got real. That's when it changed. Everything changed when you saw the bags."

This quote conveys the moment of realization for Buster that Chris was truly gone, marking a profound turning point in his life.

Career Management Post-Chris

  • Buster struggled to manage his career without Chris, leading to a nine-year hiatus from releasing records.
  • He shifted his focus to signing artists and had success with OT Genesis and others but was not fully satisfied with this direction.
  • It took time for Buster to establish a new support system that allowed him to feel comfortable resuming his music career.

"I couldn't get it together because I didn't feel like I had a support system that I could believe in enough to make me feel like I am psychologically able to move with the comfort, the confidence, and the support that I know I'm going to need."

The quote emphasizes Buster's need for a reliable support system to regain his confidence and direction in his career.

Personal Loss and Health Struggles

  • Buster experienced significant personal loss with the deaths of Chris and his father within two years.
  • He engaged in unhealthy behaviors to cope with grief, resulting in a severe weight gain and other health issues, including sleep apnea.
  • A wake-up call from his son and a health scare led Buster to make a life-changing decision to improve his health and lifestyle.

"I drank myself into an inability to wake myself up."

This quote illustrates the depth of Buster's health and personal struggles during this period.

Transformation and Recovery

  • Dexter Jackson, a professional bodybuilder, played a crucial role in Buster's physical transformation.
  • Buster committed to a rigorous 30-day training program with Jackson, resulting in significant weight loss and a renewed sense of pride.
  • The pandemic posed additional challenges, but it also led to the creation of Buster's new album "Extinction Level Event 2: The Wrath of God."

"I lost about 27 pounds in 30 days."

This quote signifies the tangible results of Buster's dedication to his health and fitness journey.

Mentorship and Support for Young Artists

  • Buster emphasizes his respect for younger artists and his desire to mentor and support the next generation.
  • He dismisses the narrative of older MCs not respecting new artists, highlighting his own positive experiences with hip-hop legends.
  • The inclusion of younger, up-and-coming artists on his album is a testament to his commitment to sharing knowledge and fostering talent.

"We encourage that shit, because when we was young artists, we wanted the big dudes to put their arms around us and give us game and school us and teach us shit so we could be better."

This quote reflects Buster's philosophy of giving back to the hip-hop community by mentoring younger artists.

Collaboration and Legacy

  • The album "Extinction Level Event 2: The Wrath of God" represents a collaboration between artists of different generations.
  • Buster rejects the idea of passing the torch; instead, he believes in sharing the flame and continuing his legacy alongside new talent.
  • He emphasizes the importance of bridging the past and present to create the future of music.

"Sharing the fucking Flame. You couldn't have said it better, because I ain't putting the flame out no tomorrow."

The quote encapsulates Buster's intention to maintain his influence in the music industry while empowering newer artists.

What others are sharing

Go To Library

Want to Deciphr in private?
- It's completely free

Deciphr Now
Footer background
Crossed lines icon
Crossed lines icon
Crossed lines icon
Crossed lines icon
Crossed lines icon
Crossed lines icon
Crossed lines icon

© 2024 Deciphr

Terms and ConditionsPrivacy Policy