O Busta, Where Art Thou?

FM searches for hip hop idol and gets denied

In the 1998 film, “The Rugrats Movie,” rapper Busta Rhymes provides the voice of Reptar Wagon, a ferocious yet lovable dinosaur that transports the animated toddlers into a mysterious forest. Last Friday, at the Lavietes Pavilion, my task was simple: to find out in what ways Busta (or is it Mr. Rhymes?) is similar to and different from the animated dino.

This was but one of the questions I had planned to ask Busta for FM’s weekly “Fifteen Questions” feature—a task I took very seriously. After all, when would I ever again have the chance to meet a poet who penned such moving songs as “Break Ya Neck” and “Light Your Ass on Fire?” Among my planned questions: “What one item in your wardrobe could you not live without?”; “In the song ‘A Trip Out of Town,’ you say, ‘Them type of cats that call you because you can’t call ’em, rockin’ baseball filters with wild animal skins on ’em.’ If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?”; and lastly, “Have you ever thought of exposing yourself à la Janet to sell records?”

The night before the concert, a member of the Harvard Concert Commission sent a discouraging e-mail to FM stating that the possibility of an interview was unlikely. “Supposedly Busta’s temperamental,” the Undergraduate Council representative wrote, “So it’ll depend on his mood.” Uppity celebrity. The situation only worsened the following day when—hours before the performance —the UC rep sent a more disheartening message: “All I can say is to be here at around 7—can’t guarantee anything—most likely won’t get an interview.” Apparently I wasn’t the only person taking myself seriously.

I arrived at the Pavilion at 6:45 p.m., over two hours before the show was scheduled to begin. A small line of Busta-devotees started to form behind me, including a group of impatient women toting a large sack filled with pint-sized bottles of merlot and pinot grigio to help pass the time. When a UC rep came marching through the door I thought my moment was upon me and proudly announced my goal: “I’m here to interview Busta.” The response? “He isn’t here.”

Rather than waiting around for the temperamental rapper, I exploited my early arrival and claimed my preferred spot—front row and center. Once Busta arrived on the stage, I realized it was going to be a long night: the myriad elbows attached to gyrating ladies started banging against my arm. In their excitement, female fans pressed their breasts against my back (a gay man’s nightmare) and left me wishing I had parked it in the back.

By the end of the concert, the screaming female next to me had somehow managed to get Busta’s sidekick to throw her his towel. As she wiped the sweat off of her body with his sweaty towel, I broke for the door determined to conduct my damn interview. Alas, by the time I made it out of the crowd, Busta had disappeared into the Hip Hop sunset.

In a final attempt to force myself upon celebrity, I decided to 411 “The Palace”—the place Busta announced he was heading at the concert’s end. Did anyone answer? Of course not. Rather than getting discouraged, I 411-ed Rio Club, where—according to 98.5 FM advertisements—Busta was headed to “chill.” The club wasn’t listed. Go figure.