Busta Rhymes Owes Me Fifteen Dollars

February 7, 2014 (Fri)



30 Minus 2 Days of Writing (2014)
Day 7: “Hint, hint”

Back in 1996, I was a young kid in high school navigating the turbulent waves of adolescence when the now-legendary hip hop artist, Busta Rhymes, released his debut solo album, The Coming. This album was hot. There was a special quality to Busta’s music that made it strangely unifying among young fans of all different genres of music. I knew people my own age who swore they hated rap, but they couldn’t get enough of Busta’s first single, “Woo Hah!! Got You All in Check“.

The nineties were the era of the compact disc; and as a young music lover, I made it my teenage obsession to collect as many albums on CD as I could. So one day in 1996, I visited my local Wherehouse Music store and spent $15 plus tax on the new Busta Rhymes album. Eager to bump my new music on something loud, I rushed home to my trusty Panasonic RX-DS620 stereo system, unwrapped the packaging plastic around the album, inserted the disc, and hit Play.

It took me less than a minute to realize that something was very wrong. All of the curse words were scratched out of the audio. With horror, I snatched up the CD jewel case and inspected the album cover, confirming my worst fear. The album was missing the Parental Advisory Label. I had accidentally purchased the “clean”, edited version of the album. To say the least, I was pretty annoyed.

I don’t mean to suggest that curse words are what make a rap song great. But when you’re listening to any kind of music, the last thing you want to hear is a bunch of scratches and audio dips inserted into the recording for the sake of censorship. Censored music sucks.

So I took the disc back to store in a futile attempt to return it, even though I knew that Wherehouse Music, like most retailers, refused to accept returns on opened media. I pleaded my case with the store manager, but she turned me away without a refund. I was upset, but I understood. I had the money to buy an uncensored copy of the album that day, but doing so would have been such a waste. So instead, I took my CD back home, and I resolved to live with my mistake. I listened to that CD a good number of times over the next few months, doing my best to ignore the censored dips and garbled lyrics. Busta’s music was still enjoyable, but a little piece of me died whenever I heard his voice cut out on a curse word. I only lasted six months before I got fed up, and I bought the uncensored version of the album.

It’s been years since I made that stupid mistake, but it still eats at me whenever I hear a Busta Rhymes song. I’ll be the first one to admit that I shoulder most of the responsibility for that stupid, mistaken purchase. By that point in my life, I was a seasoned music consumer, and I knew better than to purchase a rap album before checking for the Parental Advisory Label. But I’m still kind of annoyed that neither Wherehouse Music nor Busta Rhymes’ record label, Elektra Records, took any of the usual precautions to help consumers distinguish the censored albums from the uncensored ones. Most other censored albums that I’ve seen in my time have been clearly marked with warning stickers that say “Clean” or “Censored” on them. I saw none of that when I bought the censored album from Wherehouse Music that day. A little warning would have been nice.

I realize it would be completely unfair of me to hold any of these problems against Busta Rhymes himself, but there’s this emotional, irrational part of me that can’t help but feel that Busta kind of ripped me off. Even so, that never stopped me from buying the rest of his albums.

Come on, Busta, take a hint. I’m clearly a fan, so don’t do me dirty like that. After all of your success and fame over the years, I think you can afford to finally give me that refund which Wherehouse Music denied me so long ago. All I’m asking for is fifteen dollars. The tax is on me.

30 Minus 2 Days of Writing (2014)
A painful exercise in forced inspiration brought to you by
We Work for Cheese


  1. Diana Mueller          
    February 8, 2014 at 2:31 am Reply

    I don't think Busta packaged his own CD. I believe the CD store owes you the money. Personally, I think censored is bullshit. Bad words are spoken all over the place and honestly, they are just words. People need to stop being uptight about curse words. Songs with bad messages like "I'm gonna bust a cap in yo ass then piss on your moms face after I have a 10 way orgy with bitches an ho's cause I'm a hardcore gangsta". If we were talking about songs like that then maybe I can be swayed towards censorship. But just simple bad words here and there. Meh. People need to stop being so emo about small shit like that.

    • KZ          
      February 8, 2014 at 10:26 am Reply

      Thankfully, Busta is not a rapper of the "gansgsta" variety. He's just quirky, and creative, and insanely lyrical.

      Also, regarding the refund, I don't think Wherehouse Music is around anymore. Besides, it's just more fun calling out Busta on something stupid like this.

  2. Ziva          
    February 8, 2014 at 6:39 am Reply

    I think you should write Busta Rhymes and tell him your story of woe. He seems like a reasonable guy, I'm sure he'd give you your fifteen dollars back. Or he might bust a cap in yo ass. Who knows.

    • KZ          
      February 8, 2014 at 10:28 am Reply

      Thanks for the suggestion, Ziva. I should do that. Or you know, maybe we can get this blog post to go viral like LM mentioned. If it ever got big enough, Busta would have no choice but to respond. One can dream, huh?

  3. laughingmom          
    February 8, 2014 at 6:43 am Reply

    I'm certain that by posting this on the web, it will go viral by tomorrow, being reported on national media, and by next week they will be flying Busta in to give you your own personal concert in the backyard. So, don't worry about your $15.

    • KZ          
      February 8, 2014 at 7:18 am Reply

      That was precisely my hope! Let's share this post with the world and make it happen.

  4. Linda Medrano          
    February 8, 2014 at 10:11 am Reply

    Okay, KZ, I love Busta Rhymes! I also loved "Too Short", and "Tim Dawg" and Dre and Snoop and the whole motley crew. Tupac was a genius. Okay, I am old school and have loved rap since you were probably just a glimmer in your daddy's eye.

    I hate "censorship". Let me hear, see, and read what the creator of the art wanted me to hear, see, read or feel. There was a track by "Ghetto Boyz" called "My Mind's Playing Tricks on Me" that is probably my favorite of all time. There was a line "It was dark as F**k on the street and my hands were all bloody from pounding on the concrete", that got changed to "It was dark as death on the street" in the CD. Actually, not bad but not what the GBz rapped either. Good post!

    • KZ          
      February 8, 2014 at 10:23 am Reply

      Linda, the more I learn about you, the more I like you. I love all of the hip hop artists you mentioned. And that Ghetto Boyz track you're talking about is one of my favorite songs ever. You are a lady of impeccable taste.

  5. Boom Boom          
    February 8, 2014 at 12:51 pm Reply

    Censorship is wrong. If you don't like the lyrics, you shouldn't listen to the song at all. Enough said!

  6. Conrado          
    February 8, 2014 at 1:15 pm Reply

    It's terrible to listen to edited music. On Spotify, until recently, they didn't make it obvious by the album cover which is the edited version. Nas' Nastradamus only comes edited which is why it is the only Nas album I haven't listened to.
    The absolute worst is the Jay-Z song "Streets is Watchin'". The entire album is explicit but every version of that song is edited.

  7. P.J.          
    February 19, 2014 at 9:24 am Reply

    If I was Busta, I'd say thanks for the money, Fool! Read the package!


    Or maybe he'd send you an autograph?

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