Busta Rhymes / Rampage / Rampage The Last Boy Scout

Woo Hah!! Got You All in Check

Composed by R. Smith / Trevor Smith

Song Review by

The debut single by Busta Rhymes, "Woo-Hah!! Got You All in Check" catapulted the former member of the Leaders of the New School into solo superstardom upon its release in 1996, simply because there was no other rapper who could match his inspired lunacy. It wasn't just his persona, either; Busta was a gifted rapper with a distinctive way of phrasing in relation to the beat (partly inspired by Jamaican dancehall toasting) -- you never knew quite where the lyrics were going to fall with Busta's rapid-fire stutter, or when he was going to draw a particular syllable out into a sung note. He was an inventive lyricist, too, going pretty far afield for some of his rhymes and associations, thereby adding to the song's infectious unpredictability. It all made for an utterly unique package that immediately defined one of hip-hop's strongest personalities. The title was lifted from a line in the Sugarhill Gang's "8th Wonder," but Busta's twisted transformation bore little resemblance to straight-ahead old school. The production was spare, with the main musical elements (some sampled from Galt McDermot's "Space") consisting of a wildly off-kilter, angular bass line and a chromatic keyboard sample. The two bounce off of each other like flubber over the simple drum track, which functions as a straightforward foundation for the rest of the song. Busta first enters singing another angular melody in a gonzo style slightly reminiscent of Biz Markie's warbling on the chorus of "Just a Friend," except that Busta is right on key -- it's the melody itself that's dissonant. Samples of his cackling laughter pop up in the background periodically, which subtly reinforces his madman persona (as if that were necessary). The "woo-hah!" exclamations during the chorus are overdubbed to sound like a full posse shouting along, and they always echo into the distance -- it's an effect, of course, but it makes them sound that much more powerful. While the end result was certainly weird, it wasn't inaccessible for being that way -- it was more like a wild party that had managed to spin out of control while keeping its good vibes intact. For a song like this to achieve its desired effect, the performer has to maintain a high level of energy the whole way through, and Busta is more than up to the task -- in fact, he makes it sound so natural and effortless that he barely seems to have come from this planet. Although he was well on his way to becoming one of the most (deservedly) popular rappers of the late '90s (the single hit the Top Ten and went platinum), "Woo-Hah!! Got You All in Check" shows his talents already in full force.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
The Coming 1996 Elektra 4:31
blue highlight denotes editor's pick