By 1997, hip-hop was in full reconstruction mode. This was due to the “East Coast-vs-West Coast” rivalry that not only severely tainted hip-hop’s image, but also sadly took away two of the genre’s all-time great MCs in 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G.
While the genre was going through some painful soul searching, it was also a time that many MCs saw that they could get their names out there and bring the genre back from the brink of extinction. One of those rappers was Busta Rhymes, who was coming off of a killer debut on The Coming that, almost overnight, put him near the top of the hip-hop game.
When Disaster Strikes followed with a release on Sept.16, 1997, and it was just as raw and powerful as his debut.
The album followed in the same vein as his debut, with ominous messages of the end of days sprinkled throughout the 19-track LP. Granted, the albums wasn’t for everyone, and it remains that way today as some will probably be turned off by sometimes terrifying lyrics.
But in a lot of ways, it was that theme that made When Disaster Strikes such a classic hip-hop record. Rhymes’ lyrics are one that you have to listen to at least three times in order to understand his message, and that was the sheer beauty of his sound. The music here isn’t one that you can make up a dance too. This is an album where the lyrics powered the LP, and you just don’t see albums like this anymore.
This is a hip-hop record that will make you think, make you listen, and although some won’t have the patience for such an album, if you’re yearning for a true hip-hop album When Disaster Strikes will foot the bill and then some.
The LP was one of the biggest hits of ‘97, going to the top of the R&B/Hip-Hop charts and heading to a number three showing on the Billboard 200 in early 1998. The LP made Busta Rhymes a superstar, and, more importantly, it helped reshape the hip-hop game for it to survive for years to come.