This might be the longest Busta Rhymes has stayed quiet since he took his raga-inspired rasp solo almost a decade ago. His dreadlocks and manic rhymes have made him hip-hop's second-most-recognizable icon; only Snoop is more readily identified. Yet since departing J Records unhappily after 2002's It Ain't Safe No More and signing with Dr. Dre's Aftermath imprint, Busta has seldom been heard. He did guest on "Don't Cha," the recent chart-busting single from the Pussycat Dolls, but his seventh outing, The Big Bang, has been MIA since an internet leak earlier this year. The disc, originally scheduled for summer release, has been pushed back to November -- which means believe it when you hear it.
But at least Busta's tourmates on the Kool "New Jazz Philosophy Tour" are a more eclectic bunch than usual. Besides the Israeli-born "hip-hop violinist" Miri Ben-Ari -- who just made her solo debut after guesting on tracks by Jay-Z and Kanye West, among others -- the bill includes Baltimore's All Mighty Senators, a rock and soul act with the punk-funky sound of Fishbone and the satirical spirit of early Zappa.