Busta Rhymes emanated cool in the ‘90s. He was an unlikely golden child with a demented style and a charming sense of humor. He did interludes for TLC and Missy and hooks for Brand Nubian and A Tribe Called Quest. Yet he was angry, almost frothing at the mouth on some of his early appearances. He managed to reel in that rage and stay relevant for more than two decades. When I first started paying attention to Busta, he was rapping about Courvoisier and stomping on Monique’s toes. I was instantly sold.
Today Busta celebrates his 43rd birthday, so to remind him of his youth, we take a look back at some of his best guest appearances.
20. Keith Murray – “Yeah” (Feat. Erick Sermon, Busta Rhymes, Redman & Jamal) [Prod. by Erick Sermon] (1996)
Busta sounds so at home on a Sermon beat. He can do some very nerdy-sounding raps without sacrificing an ounce of attitude.
19. The Fugees – “Rumble In The Jungle” (Feat. A Tribe Called Quest & Busta Rhymes) [Prod. By Lauryn Hill & Wyclef Jean] (1996)
This is the definition of a mediocre song, but Busta brings some lightning to the track as he drops knowledge about Desmond Tutu and Joseph Mobutu.
18. Jamecia – “Keep’n It Real” (Remix) [Feat. Busta Rhymes & Dres] (1995)
Adrenaline, comedy, imagery. Busta was the complete package, even on R&B features.
17. Adina Howard – “It’s All About You” (DJ Clark Kent Remix) [Feat. Busta Rhymes & Mr. Cheeks] (1995)
Whose idea was it to pair the relatively bland Mr. Cheeks with the colorful Mr. Rhymes here? You also ever notice how the second rap verse on R&B songs is always better than the obligatory intro rap verse?
16. Various Artists – “The Points” (Prod. By Easy Mo Bee) 
Busta said, “Hit you with fatness, represent my blackness / Run up on devils like a savage in pursuit of happiness.” This verse is hard as nails.
15. Pharoahe Monch – “Simon Says” (Remix) [Feat. Lady Luck, Redman, Method Man, Busta Rhymes, & Shabaam Sahdeeq] (Prod. by Pharoahe Monch) 
Busta killed his other verse on this album too, but here he bats last on one of the biggest remixes of the ‘90s, channeling his early energy into a maniacal finish.
14. Bounty Killer – “Change Like The Weather” (Feat. Busta Rhymes & Junior Reid) [Prod. by Erick Sermon] (1996)
Busta’s Jamaican descent makes him a shoo-in for reggae songs like this and the Buju Banton song “Wicked Act.” No one has a patois-tinged delivery like Bussa Bus.
13. SWV – “You’re The One” (Bad Boy Remix) [Feat. Busta Rhymes] (Prod. by Puffy & Stevie J) 
Busta was a great choice for R&B cuts because his humor was his biggest appeal, so even though he brought an overload of energy to the track, he still sounds like a player.
12. A Tribe Called Quest – “One, Two Shit” (Feat. Busta Rhymes) [Prod. by A Tribe Called Quest] (1997)
LOL. Busta, along with Dilla, was the most exciting part of Tribe Called Quest in ’97/’98. It shows on “One, Two Shit.” Tip and Phife don’t sound their most inspired, but Busta has fun with a fat burger and fries.
11. George Clinton – “Flashlight” (Groovemaster’s Remix) [Feat. Busta Rhymes, Ol Dirty Bastard & Q-Tip] (1996)
Busta drops the most unexpected dope verse in the middle of this forgotten George Clinton remix. ODB goes haywire and Tip stays conservative, but Busta drops a Funkadelic reference and holds the whole thing together.
10. DJ Skribble – “Everybody Come On” (Feat. Consequence, Busta Rhymes, Spliff Star, Rampage & Ed Lover) 
Busta has a way with rhythm that has yet to be duplicated by any rapper after him, and his verse in the middle of this cut proves it.
9. Slum Village – “What’s It All About” (Feat. Busta Rhymes) [Prod. By J Dilla] (1995)
This was the beginning of what would become a fruitful relationship between Dilla and Busta. Dilla’s beats were both lively and smoked out, and Busta’s versatility was a perfect fit.
8. KMD – “Nitty Gritty” (Dog Spelled Backwards Mix) [Feat. Busta Rhymes & Brand Nubian] (Prod. By KMD) 
A young Busta was still finding his solo voice, and since Dante Ross was working with both Leaders Of The New School and KMD at the time, he probably had a hand in making this happen.
7. Big Daddy Kane – “Come On Down” (Feat. Busta Rhymes & Q-Tip) [Prod. By Big Daddy Kane] (1991)
No one was really checking for BDK’s Prince Of Darkness in ’91, but he was smart enough to recruit new wave rappers like Busta and Tip. Here the similarities between Busta and Ol Dirty Bastard become obvious, as Rhymes takes a roundabout approach to the beat. Busta’s style was indirect and visceral, so he pulls it off with charm.
6. Notorious B.I.G. – “The Ugliest/”Dangerous MC’s” (Feat. Busta Rhymes & Rah Digga) [Prod. by J Dilla]
A true gem. Busta’s verse is instantly memorable. “Smoke a little, and we cut coke a little, and we skim a little off of the top.”
Note how this isn’t the doo-doo version found on that doo-doo posthumous Biggie album. Busta killed that one too, though.
5. Heavy D & The Boyz – “A Bunch Of Niggas” (Feat. 3rd Eye, Busta Rhymes, Guru, Notorious B.I.G. & Rob O) [Prod. By Jesse West] (1992)
22 years before Fetty Wap said, “Hey, what’s up, hello,” Busta was screaming, “HELLO, HI, HELLO HELLO, HOW YA DOIN?” Bugged was the steez, through and through.
4. Craig Mack – “Flava In Ya Ear” (Remix) [Feat. The Notorious B.I.G., LL Cool J, Busta Rhymes & Rampage] (Prod. By Easy Mo Bee) 
We could use a Busta Rhymes-like character in rap right now. Peep how he brings electricity to the smothered-in-smooth lineup for this remix. Busta was magnetic because he was a true artist willing to be as “weird” as possible to express himself. People think playing it safe and being traditional is the ticket. Busta Rhymes proved them wrong.
3. Artifacts – “C’mon Wit Da Git Down” (Buckwild Remix) [Feat. Busta Rhymes] (1994)
Artifacts was cool and all, but Busta has more vigor on one guest verse than Tame One and El Da Sensei could muster across 13 songs. Hence why Busta was able to shuttle between the underground and the mainstream; he had the charisma of a star with the flow of a rapper’s rapper.
2. Boyz II Men – “Vibin” (Remix) [Feat. Treach, Craig Mack, Busta Rhymes & Method Man] (Prod. By Tim & Bob) 
This is a pure gem, and a testament to how easily Busta slips into all kinds of production.
1. A Tribe Called Quest – “Scenario” (Feat. Busta Rhymes, Charlie Brown, & Dinco D) [Prod. By A Tribe Called Quest] (1991)
Perhaps the single most infamous guest feature in rap history. Busta breathed fire over this Low End Theory closer, growling like a dungeon dragon and demonstrating the raw power of the unhinged MC. He might have made his name with L.O.N.S., but “Scenario” reintroduced Busta to the world as a star.