I love music videos. I used to watch them frequently and discovered a lot of great music doing so. Every now and then I will post about an interesting video to recall those times, hence Music Video Throwback.
When I think back to my prime music video watching days, there is no question Busta Rhymes was one of the most significant and creative artists. Today's installment of Music Video Throwback is devoted to "Dangerous," to me, his most memorable video (though "Pass the Courvoisier" is up there for the Mr. T cameo alone). I feel like no one can stake a better claim to the King of Late 90s Rap Videos crown than Busta. He may not have had the highest amount of hit singles, but his visual sensibility in music videos, the dominant vehicle for those singles, was the most well-suited to the era.
The Busta Rhymes of the late 90s was likely the closest we've ever come to a real life cartoon. His unbridled energy, his wild gesticulations, his colorful, often shiny, wardrobe, his warp speed flow and spastic voice, and let's not forget the hair that seemed to be a living creature of its own, all made Busta come across as not quite human. Like his eyes could bug clear out of his head if the right beat hit him, or he could pull out an Acme black hole, throw it on the wall, and dive into it should the need ever arise.
The pairing of Busta with Hype Williams and his trademark fisheye lens couldn't have been a more perfect match. What's more emblematic of 90s rap clips than Busta mugging for the camera in his shiny silver bubble coat or the blue star-sunglasses? Or the absurd chase scenes that involve the most exaggerated running ever? It all looks fun, creative, awesome, and yes, a little dangerous. The two made variations of this video multiple times, but the caper aspect here makes this my favorite.
In "Dangerous," Busta and Hype created situations that allowed them to call attention to their style. There's the running of course, but the most indelible scene might be the bus escape with the black-haired character dangling off the side. The lens and frenetic style make the capture sequence a little more intense because the motion augments the violent blows. Yet the very same approach makes the dance showdown in the club more humorous since the moves are jagged and inelegant. Also, I did know back then that Busta was playing both characters in the narrative but I never realize the video was an homage to Lethal Weapon.
Musically, the song matches the visual style. The verses are primarily a simple drum machine beat and a pulsing, back-and-forth bass line that are both rhythmic but jerky, and that squiggly, gurgling synth figure, which gives an odd bounce to the flow. It fits the almost stop-motion look of the action and maneuvering. On the chorus there is that swirly part of organ (maybe?) and percussion that always makes me think of a mysterious chemistry lab. The track is a little unorthodox in its components and assembly but functions as a compelling whole. So does the video, and even Busta himself really. Oh, and I dig the syncing of the criminal's escape through the back windshield with the bass coming in.
Busta Rhymes seemed so huge at the time entirely based on music videos; I cannot remember ever hearing this song on the radio. That could be related to where I lived and the kind of stations we had, of course. Still, I think Busta's emergence and success was undeniably connected to his video presence, which is something that now strikes me as very 90s (OK Go and the occasional viral video aside). He probably could have gotten far on his unique voice alone, but adding the distinctive visual flair certainly was a boost. He definitely made enough of an impression on me that I still think about and enjoy this.