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I blow like a missile

Render of an AGM-65A Maverick Air-to-Ground missile

Image: Taylor Peake via Unsplash

  • Track: Psycho
  • Artist: Busta Rhymes feat. Cassidy and Papoose
  • Album: Mick Boogie Presents Busta Rhymes + J Dilla – Dillagence
  • Year: 2007

Sometimes I’ll be settling down to a nice cuppa and a bit of hip-hop of a Sunday afternoon, and it’ll dawn on me that I’ve been quite remiss. An artist will come on the playlist (‘Sunday simile vibes’) that I can’t quite believe isn’t in the database yet. So after 33 tracks and 517 similes, it’s time to induct hip-hop legend Busta Rhymes. This should also please fans of Cassidy and Papoose, Busta’s two co-rhymers on this one. If they don’t perform together as ‘Caboose’, then like a blindfolded Debbie McGee, they’ve missed a trick.

Once I’ve decided to feature a specific artist, I’m often struck by the simile collector’s dilemma: do I focus on a solo track, or spread the love with a posse cut? I’ve chosen the latter here because it’s full of fine simile. But also because I reckon it’ll be some time before I put either of Busta’s collaborators’ solo tracks in. And that’s because, this track aside, I’ve never listened to either of them.

Born Trevor George Smith Jr. in Brooklyn, Busta Rhymes is one of the most distinctive voices in hip-hop. Not a lot of rappers go by the name Trevor, do they? Wonder why that is. Busta mixes an animated, complex flow with funny and clever wordplay – and a fondness for shouty outbursts. His early output was mostly consigned to guest appearances. But he gradually came into his own, releasing ten solo albums (the latest in 2020) and picking up 12 Grammy nominations along the way.

Although it also crops up on a digital-only Cassidy compilation album, I (and let’s face it, everybody else) know this from 2007’s Dillagence mixtape. Cut together by Mick Boogie (a great name that he no longer uses), it’s a celebration of Busta’s work with the late, great J Dilla. If you only have a passing interest in hip-hop, you’ll know his work: he was hugely influential. Thinking of what a great loss to hip-hop Dilla’s death was makes me think of some of the greats we’ve lost recently: Ty, DOOM and Biz Markie to name a few. Aww, now I’m all sad.

I know what’ll cheer me up: some tip-top hip-hop simile, and there’s plenty of that to look forward to. Spoiler alert: it’s not Busta that lights up this track, simile-wise. But he does warm things up for us.

The lyrics

View full annotated lyrics on genius.com

[Intro: Busta Rhymes]

Somebody about to be punished
Rest in peace to my nigga Izzy
Rest in peace to my nigga J Dilla
Rest in peace to my nigga J Dilla
Rest in peace to my nigga J Dilla
Love y’all niggas man
Watch what I do when honouring y’all name
Streets feel me!

[Verse 1: Busta Rhymes]

I’m nice with the lead peel your edges like slices of bread
Precise, become a poltergeist, stickin’ knives inside of your head

Good to start the track on a simile. I’m not sure what kind of bread Busta’s been buying that requires peeling though. The track is a hip-hop standard: bragging about thug life, so expect quite a lot of lyrics like this.

What’s the issue, on a roll like a roll of toilet tissue

And he Busta is indeed on a roll, with two similes in quick succession. Ok, it’s not the greatest simile in hip-hop history, but maybe he’s getting warmed up.

I continue to expose you niggas that’s so superficial
I script you your obituary then blow like a missile

Or maybe not. So much anger. What’s got Busta so riled up? Who knows, but he’s angry enough to pre-pen an obituary. That’s some commendably efficient thuggery.

Once I blow the whistle, motherfuck may the forces be with you
Come with a style, I’m wildin’, pile up my money so kosher
Then call up the sofa fuckin’ bitches in back of the Rover
Then bounce with the coca, bag up bitches outside of the Costa Rica area level, my features and carry my posters
*sigh* – niggas can’t fuck with me

I’ll admit Busta’s lost me at this point, but I’m sure it makes sense to him. The spoken line at the end is the first of several interjections he makes throughout the verses, including during his guests’ verses. Rude. But best to leave him to it when he’s in this kind of mood

Unprecedented, I cemented, you changing your flow up
While helping you grow up, niggas know you for sounding so tore up
Challenging niggas, better hold on to your bannister niggas
Fuck around I’ll stuff your body parts into cannisters niggas
Like you don’t know the half
, I’ll bust your motherfuckin’ ass
Busta buss, Cass, and Papoose is fuckin’ psychopaths

Tenuous this one, but it’s going in. ‘Cannisters’ can be any cylindrical container, but it makes me think of old camera films. Whatever cannisters Busta’s thinking about using, it sounds like it’ll be a messy job.

Time for the hook. Shame it doesn’t have any similes in it because you’ll be tired of it by the end.

[Hook: Busta Rhymes]

Making niggas wanna get hype yo PSYCHO
Making niggas wanna get hype yo PSYCHO
Making niggas wanna get hype yo PSYCHO
Making niggas wanna get hype yo PSYCHO
Making niggas wanna get hype yo PSYCHO
Making niggas wanna get hype yo PSYCHO
Making niggas wanna get hype yo PSYCHO
Making niggas wanna get hype yo PSYCHO

That’s all for Busta’s input, simile-wise. A measly four in total, but now it’s time for Cassidy. Let’s see if he can do any better. Cassidy’s birth name is Barry, which is up there with Trevor in the least-likely rapper name stakes. Even more interesting is that in 2012 he covered Gangnam Style as pro-safe sex Condom Style. It’s quite something.

Prophylactics aside, Cassidy’s verse is the highlight of this track: lots of tasty wordplay, and a jimmy hat full of enjoyable similes.

[Verse 2: Cassidy]

My nigga beside me with triggers and niggas get bodied
I lock a strip and chop a brick like I’m Mr. Miyagi

I’m going out on a limb and suggesting it’s not a house brick that Cassidy is chopping. Karate Kid is such an iconic film for people of a certain age I was a little surprised to see this was the first simile to reference it. But it is. I’m sure there’ll be more.

But this ain’t karate, I been sick since I pissed in a potty
I probably been proper since my papa put dick in my mommy
I’m a cannon man
Holdin’ the hammer man
For the loot niggas shoot niggas like a camera man
Snappin’ a picture

You get stuck like the back of a sticker
I got bars like the factory manufacturing Snickers
And I do crimes for the bread like croutons
With two nines I be layin’ clowns down like futons

Now this is what we’re all here for. Cassidy stuffs five sumptuous similes into five lines here. This section is so dense with simile it’s almost as if Cassidy knew that in 15 years’ time, some nerd on the internet would be cataloguing them.

I appreciate simple, easy to clock similes like this. Little effort is required to appreciate the imagery, and I’m as much delighted by similes that compare every day as I am by high-brow references. Really good stuff. The downside of simple similes like this is that it’s hard to think of anything interesting to say about them. So let’s crack on.

With the bullets in the rocket, my pockets is full of cream
I’m blowin’ steam, keep the steel in my hands like Wolverine

Nice simile and all, but like a pachydermophobic zookeeper I can’t ignore the elephant in the room. I’m no X-Men fanatic but even I know Wolverine’s claws are made of adamantium.

[Rude interruption from Busta]

Congratulations on the – Cass. Welcome home nigga!

Poppin’ the metal, you niggas is not on my level
I’m locking the kettle man, I’m hot like a pot and a kettle

I can’t argue with the accuracy of this one, and it’s good to use that ‘kitchenware’ tag again, it’s been a while. I have no clue what Cassidy means by locking the kettle. Judging by the rest of his verse I imagine it’s to do with the less than savoury way he conducts himself around town.

On the mic I spaz, who get as hype as Cass
And my nigga Busta, we some motherfucking psychopaths

Nice work Cassidy. He’s put in a proper shift simile wise: half of the track’s total.

[Hook: Busta Rhymes]

Making niggas wanna get hype yo PSYCHO
Making niggas wanna get hype yo PSYCHO
Making niggas wanna get hype yo PSYCHO
Making niggas wanna get hype yo PSYCHO
Making niggas wanna get hype yo PSYCHO
Making niggas wanna get hype yo PSYCHO
Making niggas wanna get hype yo PSYCHO
Making niggas wanna get hype yo PSYCHO

It’s now time for Papoose to shake loose and show us what he’s made of. Sadly, his real name isn’t Dave (it’s the disappointingly exotic Shamele), but you can’t have everything.

Papoose hasn’t got the memo, because he litters his verse full of metaphors. Some are admittedly clever (apart from the first one that makes no sense), but I couldn’t care less about them. I’m only here for the purest of the figures of speech: the mighty simile. But luckily Papoose does throw a few of them in.

[Verse 3: Papoose]

I’m an iceberg trapped in a fire I won’t melt
I’m a fetus that survived an abortion, I won’t be killed
I’m the heart of Brooklyn, New York, I’m Bed-Stuy
I’m a Christian woman’s hand on the Bible I won’t lie
I’m the code of silence in the Gotti crew
I’m an empty mag right after a shootout, I just bodied you
Got something s’up? shotgun pump, shot at you
Like Kamikaze
through, your baby mom’s feel the wop cock back
‘Cause she was sittin’ on my lap

I’m trusting the Genius transcription here, but haven’t got a clue what Papoose is on about. And I have to deduce points for another inaccurate simile…Kamikaze weren’t exactly known for shooting anything.

I stay with the oowop strap
I put your baby daddy in a body bag
When I squeeze and let the wop clap
I bag dat like Iraq

This is an interesting one, combining a ‘switcheroo simile’ (see posts passim – I haven’t got round to doing my glossary yet) with a pun. There’s another example coming up too.

[Rude interruption]

[Papoose] Hold up lemme put my gun down.
[Busta Rhymes] Ayo I know they trying to figure out what the fuck you got going on Pap.

This is my era, you niggas is losers
I’m the new era like a mistake on your computer

Papoose sure does like a pun it seems.

Got the infrared dot, bustin’ you gullible suckers too
Put a dot on your ass like www

And with that reasonably smart simile, we’re done here. Just the final iteration of the hook. It’s a bit of a waste of words if you ask me, but I doubt Busta and co. were thinking about their words per simile score when they recorded this.

[Hook: Busta Rhymes]

Making niggas wanna get hype yo PSYCHO
Making niggas wanna get hype yo PSYCHO
Making niggas wanna get hype yo PSYCHO
Making niggas wanna get hype yo PSYCHO
Making niggas wanna get hype yo PSYCHO
Making niggas wanna get hype yo PSYCHO
Making niggas wanna get hype yo PSYCHO
Making niggas wanna get hype yo PSYCHO

So there we have it. Busta’s induction to the Internet Hip-hop Simile Database is complete. He doesn’t exactly shine on this one, simile-speaking, but his two buddies more than make up for that. 16 similes in total, with a very respectable 3.71 similes per minute – pretty much slap-bang in the middle of our leaderboard.

This track’s metrics are close to the averages from all tracks so far. In other words, it’s a hip-hop simile exemplar. It’s a shame the similes are fairly average too.

The stats

Similes:16
Words:657
Words per simile:41.06
Length:4m 19s
Similes per minute:3.71
Trevors in the hip-hop hall of fame:0

Leave a comment. Bonus points for similes.