Reflection Section: Behind The Music – Busta Rhymes, Duran Duran

by Jordan Mark

In this Reflection Section, I’m going to look into the next two episodes of the new rendition of Behind The Music. These episodes showcased Busta Rhymes and Duran Duran, respectively. It just so happens that the next two artists to evaluate are a rapper and a rock band, but nonetheless, it’ll be a fun journey seeing these careers for what they are worth.

On to Busta Rhymes. The quick spitfire rapper that was part of the Leaders of the New School, Busta Rhymes’ reflection would be 20 years in the making (and counting). Growing up with divorced parents, his mindset was that his father still had an obligation to connect with him. Co-parenting however, like many things, is just not easy to accomplish, and it wouldn’t be clear to him until he ended up in a similar situation.

Whether or not the accusations of him not taking care of his kids financially had any truth to them, the switch from doing stuff he did for the fun of it as a kid to doing stuff he had to do to support his kids greatly impacted him. In his eyes, his work as a rap mogul was something he had to do because it ensured a residual for his kids (though he also knew the importance of being present as well). That mindset did cost him, though, because when all work finishes, it just leaves someone with their thoughts. Thoughts that could mess with their mind. In his case, it was the aftermath of his father and manager’s deaths. Rhymes’ thoughts would soon be joined by rounds of alcohol, which contributed to polyps in his throat, which isn’t ideal for spitting lightning-speed bars, or any bars, for that matter.

From that point forward, Rhymes was determined to get better. Another mission for the sake of his children, he lost a whopping amount of weight and gained a whopping amount of muscle through his transformation. Gaining a clearer state of mind, as well, he used it to its fullest force when he completed his long-awaited tenth studio album, much to the joy of people like new interviewee O.T. Genasis. Though he continues to secure the bag for his kids and others surrounding him, his security within himself has propelled him to succeed in ways that can’t be done otherwise. That is priceless.

The majority of Duran Duran’s episode focused on The Fab Five: Nick Rhodes, John Taylor, Roger Taylor, Simon Le Bon, and Andy Taylor. Duran Duran has had other members beyond The Fab Five throughout their career, but the episode centered on the most known lineup. As Andy has departed the band, the episode only had new interviews of the others, though older interview footage of Andy is dispersed within the episode. It’s disappointing that there isn’t any updated footage for Andy, considering he was a prominent member. However, as he left the band a while back, it’s unnecessary to bring him back if he has nothing to do with what Duran Duran is currently doing. Still, I always like seeing all of the important, well-known members in music groups to be represented fairly, but that’s just something that realistically doesn’t occur often in media.

Duran Duran’s sound was meticulously made. A rhythmic blend of rock and synth, their sound captivated audiences, showing what music can become when musicians don’t shun genres. As with Huey Lewis and the News, the creation of MTV increased their success. Add their visual flamboyant appeal, and The Fab Five label was granted to the Birmingham boys. Now, comparing anyone to The Beatles is nothing short of amazing, but any time the media tries to label an artist within the first few years of their career, it feels so premature and corny to me, and this is coming from someone who loves to categorize. The Fab Five sounds like something the media tried to quickly come up with to solidify their perception of them. In their defense, they could only go off what was present at the time, but it just makes it laughable when their career went beyond that stigma. In other words, it didn’t feel genuine.

Under the growing music brand of new wave/Romantic/whatever technical term it is, Duran Duran had leverage, but what was stopping them from leveraging further would be the interpersonal relationships. Likewise with Busta Rhymes in his Leaders of the New School days, the conflicts that were initially used as fuel for success would later just be conflict. Two different side projects led to an indication of the group not seeing eye-to-eye, and an event to stop African famine would end up stopping the group from performing together for a long while.

Having tread water between both side projects and gaining a volatile level of uncomfortableness with fame, Roger exited the group. Andy would also depart as the group’s oddly cohesive unity no longer existed. The remaining three would venture forth for a while until 1997 when John left for personal growth. At that point, Le Bon and Rhodes were the only original members, and the future looked dim for the two to continue as Duran Duran. However, a resurgence with all the original members in the early 2000s got them back to that unity.

Though the second iteration with all original members would only be short-lived as Andy would depart again, the group transformed themselves to being a base for other producers and artists, like Janelle Monáe and new interviewee Mark Ronson, to enhance in their own ways. As Chic’s Nile Rodgers said back when the band had only three people from the original lineup, the spirit of Duran Duran is bigger than the players. Though Le Bon’s point of not having enough original members dispels a spirit from existing has its own validity, when there are enough, the spirit thrives. It’s hard to say if a spirit can exist without any original Duran Duran members, but what is easy to say is Duran Duran is ever evolving. Their openness for change keeps them from not being a stale act. Duran Duran is a dazzling treasure to witness, plain and simple.

The next post of Reflection Section will showcase Bret Michaels and New Kids on the Block. Until then, I hope you enjoyed reading this edition of Reflection Section.