Today, Busta Rhymes released his ninth solo album, Year of the Dragon. The New York rap veteran went a different route to release it, though. He paired with Google Play, who funded the project and made it available, for free, this morning.

“I’m leading the new shit,” Busta declares, calling into to Complex to talk about the project. Usually, it’s newer artists anxious for buzz and attention that release free, low-budget albums. But Busta’s latest is far from cheap, featuring Cam’ron, Lil Wayne, Robin Thicke, Rick Ross, and more.

Busta checked in to chat about some of the album’s highlights, why he got with Google, and forthcoming LP—his Cash Money debut.

Interview by Brad Wete (@BradWete)

“Pressure” is like a secret weapon on this album. Lil Wayne has a great verse.
Me and Wayne, we’ve been friends for a long time. I’m a big fan of Wayne. He’s one of the illest MCs in this rap shit. You know that when you get him on your track, he’s going to deliver. I like to connect with artists I’ve got a good vibe with and that I respect. At this stage in my career, I don’t want to do anything that doesn’t feel good. If I’m fuckin’ with you it’s because the vibe feels right. It’s not just because it’s cool for you to rock on the record. So that type of beat and song, Wayne just thought he’d have a good time dancing on it, poppin’ the type of shit that we pop on it.

 

I like to connect with artists I’ve got a good vibe with and that I respect. At this stage in my career, I don’t want to do anything that doesn’t feel good.

 

It sounds like you had a similar vibe with Robin Thicke on “Love-Hate,” as well.
I’m a big fan of Robin Thicke. He’s a rare type of artist. He still embodies the soulfulness of those artists that came from the ‘60s. When he sings, the shit just takes me back to a moment in time. But it’s still current and right now. He’s a real creative dude. I was inspired by my experience in the studio with him. I was able to watch him work. Dude is a talented motherfucka.

What other records should people pay attention to on the album?
I love the record with my Conglomerate artists. I love Reek Da Villian on “King Tut.” Obviously, that’s the first single. And I love “Till We Die” with Rick Ross and Trey Songz. I really love the whole album. It’s just hip-hop. I wanted to exemplify the slapping, boom-bap sound we all want right now.

I want to make sure people know what it is that Busta Rhymes does. I continue to give that music that made you fall in love with hip-hop. People always refer to the ‘90s as the golden era, but our newer fans need an opportunity to experience that, too. It’s only right that we deliver that to them.

Why’d did you choose to partner with Google for a free album?
It’s important to always be in a position to inspire the new direction and revolutionize the way new shit is done. Even if I’m not doing that completely, I’m doing my part. We have to challenge ourselves and not be afraid to experiment. That’s what growing is about. I was always told, “You can’t get new results trying the same shit.”

 

It’s important to always be in a position to inspire the new direction. We have to challenge ourselves and not be afraid to experiment.

 

I’ve done so much amazing shit and I’ve been blessed tremendously. It’s time to do other amazing shit in new ways. That’s where I’m at. I’m about constantly elevating. I’m not with maintaining shit. That sounds like stagnation, homie. That gets boring. Nothing is guaranteed, but I’m definitely going to get to new levels. I’m still learning.

How’s your Cash Money debut coming along?
I’m almost done. Like 75% done. I just have to make sure I get all of my thoughts off. Once I get these thoughts, the dreams I have and such off, if I can articulate these ideas, it’s going to be special.

What’s going to be the difference between Year of the Dragon and that musically?
You’re going to get a better album. As I grow and create, the music grows. You’re definitely going to get something else with the Cash Money album. I just want y’all to evolve with me.