Busta Rhymes rocketed to superstardom in an alarmingly short time, simply because there was no other rapper quite like him. Nobody else in his position had his wild sense of humor, reckless fashion sense, and, most importantly, willingness to take risks. Yes, underground rappers like the Jurassic Five and the entire Wu clan relentlessly pushed the boundaries of hip-hop, but they operated at the fringes of pop culture. Busta placed himself smack in the middle of middle America, gleefully taking cameos on Cosby and recruiting both Janet Jackson and Ozzy Osbourne to appear on his third album, Extinction Level Event (The Final World Front). Where this could seem like pandering by some artists, there's no condescension or crass commercialism in his approach. Busta's party is careening out of control because he doesn't see a reason to exclude anybody. That's the reason why Executive Level is a richer listen than most contemporary hip-hop records -- it has hard beats, weird samples, unpredictable musical juxtapositions and collaborations, and sharp, intelligent rhymes. Like any artist who attempts so much, Busta occasionally falls flat (the rewrite of "Iron Man" wasn't a great idea), but there's so much happening on Executive Level that the missteps don't really matter -- especially since Busta has come up with a party record that doesn't just sound the end of the millennium, it feels like it.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
feat: Flipmode Squad
feat: Janet Jackson
feat: Ozzy Osbourne