Here’s How Busta Rhymes Grew His $20 Million Fortune

From the mid-1980s into the early 2000s, anyone who was a fan of hip-hop music heard the name Busta Rhymes making waves in the mainstream music world. Born Trevor George Smith Jr. on May 20th, 1972, he had the privilege of rising in an era in hip hop which highlighted major rap celebrity names like The Wu Tang Clan, P. Diddy, the legendary rapper/entrepreneur DMX, Nas, Jay-Z, and many other rap musicians who hailed from the state of New York. Throughout the duration of his rap career, Busta Rhymes has sold over 9 million music albums as of 2019, but he has also shone his star in other fields of expertise like the movie industry, where he starred in movies with Hollywood stars like Jamie Lee Curtis, Tyra Banks, Omar Epps, Michael Rapaport, and Samuel L. Jackson. Here is how this Busta Rhymes grew his $20 million empire throughout his career.

Becoming Busta Rhymes

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As we mentioned earlier, Busta Rhymes was born in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York to Jamaican parents in 1972. Smith moved around quite bit with his family and, at the age of twelve, moved to Long Island. For a short while, he attended the George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School at the same time as other future stars in the hip hope genre, such as Christopher Wallace better known as The Notorious B.I.G, and Jay-Z, who were both his classmates.

In the early 1980s when Busta was twelve, he also spent close to two summers in Morecambe, Lancashire, England. The diversity in culture must’ve had a huge impact on the way Smith chose to express himself through rap, which helped to create his unique sound and delivery. He also credits his rap delivery, style, and public image to the influences of the Jamaican culture.

Driven by the recognition he was receiving for him unique sound and eccentric personality, in 1986 Busta, Bryan Higgins, James Jackson, and Sheldon Scott came together to form the hip hop group Leaders of the New School. The group received their biggest breakthrough when they were made an opening act for another East Coast hip hop group that was quickly rising in popularity, Public Enemy, headed by Chuck D (Carlton Douglas Ridenhour) and rapper/hype man Flavor Flav (William Jonathan Drayton Jr.). Chuck D would actually go on to give Smith the name “Busta Rhymes,” which was inspired by the NFL player George “Busta” Rhymes. Busta easily became the most popular member of the group after the release of their debut album, A Future Without a Past, in July 1991. According to Albumism, A Future Without a Past ranked among the best released of 1991.

Then, in 1993, the group released their second album, T.I.M.E. (The Inner Mind’s Eye), which wasn’t as successful as their first album, but paved the way for Busta to begin working on his solo career, as the Leaders of the New School group split up due to internal problems surrounding their popularity.

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Attaining Solo Success

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Before the group officially split in 1993, Busta was already doing solo projects and began showing signs of moving in that direction. In 1992, he began featuring on songs by major headlining artists such as Big Daddy Kane, Notorious B.I.G, KRS-One, and guest appearances on R&B albums like Mary J. Blidge’s debut What’s the 411 and TLC’s CrazySexyCool album. There was no denying his star power, which Busta went put on open display in other entertainment ventures, such as in movies like Strapped, directed by Forest Whitaker, and co-starred opposite Ice Cube and Omar Epps in John Singleton’s film, Higher Learning, which grossed close to $40 million at the box office.

In 1994, he only proved to push the envelope with his solo career, featuring on songs with more trending artists such as P. Diddy, LL Cool J, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, and the lyrical genius Nas. He simultaneously began working on his debut studio album, The Coming, which was released in March 1996 and went platinum, selling over 1 million copies according to Best Selling Albums. The hit single Woo-Hah!! Got You All in Check peaked at number 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 on the US Hot Rap Singles charts. Busta was putting the entertainment world on notice that he was here to stay. He wasted no time releasing his second studio album in 1997, titled When Disaster Strikes, featuring artists like Anthony Hamilton, Eryka Badu, Puff Daddy, and the rapper-turned-pastor Mase, which again went platinum selling 1.1 million albums between the U.S and the U.K.

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His prolific work ethic brought about his third studio album by 1998 titled Extinction Level Event: The Final World Front, which produced the hit singles Gimme Some More and What’s It Gonna Be?! featuring the singer/songwriter Janet Jackson, the latter peaking at number 3 on the US Billboard Hot 100. This would be Busta’s third consecutive album to sell over 1 million records and go certified platinum. Busta Rhymes was on a roll and there was no stopping him!

A few of his more recent albums include Anarchy (2000) which featured artists like Jay-Z, musician Lenny Kravitz, DMX, and Ghostface Killah, Genesis (2001) featuring Puff Daddy, Kelis, and Mary J. Blidge, and It Ain’t Safe No More (2002), featuring hit singles like I Know What You Want featuring the iconic Mariah Carey, and Pass the Courvoisier, Part II featuring Puff Daddy and Pharrell Williams.

In the years that followed, he would also release songs with Eminem,, T-Pain, the British singer Estelle, Chris Brown, Lil’ Wayne, Rick Ross, Trey Songz, and singer/songwriter Robin Thicke. Across the span of his career, Busta has released ten studio albums, many of them going either platinum or gold. There’s no denying the fact that he has made an indelible mark on the entertainment industry as a rap artist and an actor.

Conquering The Big Screen

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Busta Ryhmes, as we know, took his influence from hip hop to the big screen and was one of the first rappers to begin acting on major movie labels. Taken from Celebrity Net Worth, some of his other movies he’s appeared in include Finding Forrester (grossing $80 million at the box office) co-starring with Sean Connery and Matt Damon, Halloween Resurrection (grossing $37 million worldwide), Narc (grossing $12.6 million worldwide) starring the late Ray Liotta, Breaking Point starring Tom Berenger and Arman Assante, and Shaft (grossing $107 million) starring Samuel L. Jackson.

Busta Rhymes continues to remain an active public figure and rap artist. His most recent album was released in 2020 titled Extinction Level Event 2: The Wrath of God, which featured guest appearances from Mariah Carey, rapper Kendrick Lamar, Rick Ross, and the Jamaican dancehall artist Vybz Kartel.

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Sources: Celebrity Net Worth, Albumism, Best Selling Albums


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