V Exclusive! Busta Rhymes Talks ‘Year Of The Dragon,’ Google Partnership, Olympic Training, & ‘Leaders’ Reunion

Your recording process is a bit unique. You have an extensive relationship with solely working at Platinum Sound Recording Studios here in New York. What’s so special about that particular spot?
That studio is incredible to me because of the people that are in there, like the dude that owns the studio. His name is Jerry Wonda. He’s the boss of that establishment and a longtime friend of mine. He played the base with Wyclef [Jean]. We toured together, lived on the road together, and really got a friendship like a brotherhood. So from that, to what it is now, I’m about breaking bread with people that I got love for. Instead of me spending money in studios with people that I don’t own and do not accommodate what I need in the way that he does, I’d rather put that money in his pocket and continue to rock and feel like I’m at my home when I’m recording. Beyond all of that, the staff is unbelievably amazing.

There’s my engineer Kev-O, who’s my primary engineer in there, the assistant Chris, real name is Christian, Jamell, who’s the studio manager—it’s just a collective effort in that place that’s incredible. My man Ardin, who is Jerry’s right hand man, actually helped me build four studios with my other main engineer Ricky Saint-Hilaire down on Wall Street before the Twin Towers fell. He now works with Jerry Wonda. It’s a very close tight knit camaraderie of people who actually grew together and are actually friends. Beyond all of that, the room that I work in over there is one of the loudest, cleanest rooms in New York. People can play shit loud and it starts to distort, but here you can play it loud and the sound is still so clean, that it can be painfully piercing. I just love being in a room where, when I play my shit after it’s done, that shit is slapping like we in the block parties back in the days—motherfucking racks of speakers up on top of each other on the street that look like twin towers as a shorty looking up at all of them speakers piled up. I recaptured that sound and that feeling when I’m in that studio room. Platinum Sounds is the most incredible shit. Beyond that, in the last few years that I haven’t put out a project, a lot of my biggest collabs came out of that studio. My verse for Tha Carter 4, my verse for “Look At Me Now” with Chris Brown and Wayne, and my verses for all of the shit that I’ve been doing have primarily come out of that studio, unless I was on the road and I had to use my traveling studio to record something in the hotel. I’m primarily recording in Platinum. That’s my sanctuary over there.

How long have you been going there?
I would have to say I’ve been working in that studio diligently for the last 6 or 7 years.

Cool. Let’s get into some health stuff, your physique, and things of that nature. Over the years you went from being the young dungeon dragon to actually having the physique of one! How did you get so big over the years? Were you pumping iron, eating healthy and stuff like that?
Yeah man, I got in shape for the first time during The Big Bang album in ‘06. That’s when I really learned about the importance of health. I didn’t really learn by choice. I was experiencing health issues because I wasn’t in shape. I had become diabetic prone, because I had gained weight. I went and got blood work done, and when the doctor told me that, it scared the shit out of me mainly because my step father is diabetic. I see what it does to him. I didn’t want that and I’m too young for that, so I got my shit together. I didn’t do it because I wanted to do it; I did it because I had to do it. I didn’t really enjoy getting in shape at the time. Then I got out of shape again. The diabetic symptoms started to come again, so I had to figure out how to do this in a way that I can enjoy it. Once I enjoy it, I’m gonna keep doing it—not because I have to, but because I want to. I started to train again about seven months ago. I trained with Mark Jenkins who trained me in 06 with another brother named Jay. With addition to starting up again with Mark, I also started to train with another brother named Hit Richards. I trained with those brothers for about three or four weeks, then Mark Jenkins had to leave to start training D’Angelo and Mary [J. Blige]. Me and Hit continued to train, and Reek Da Villain started to train with us. After a about a month and a half or two months in, I stopped training with Hit and started training with Victor Munoz. Victor Munoz trained Victor Martinez, who competed in the Olympics. When I got with him, that’s when I really started to see the transformation because he’s a 53 year old, thirty-year trainer for bodybuilders. He understands diet, and the science of diets and workout, in a way that a lot of motherfuckers don’t know. Again, I’m trying to do everything in a powerfully impacted way. We started training 5 days a week, and my body started to transform from one look to another. He changed my diet. When it was time to lose the weight, which is what we focused on first, I took in high protein, complex carbs with vegetables like steam broccoli, a lot of asparagus, and a gallon of water a day. Then when I started to shed the weight, I came down about 40 pounds. Then we put on muscle mass, because now that I was looking lean and flat, we needed to build the muscle. We increased the calorie intake on the protein level, and then he started to give me some carbs like sweet potato, oatmeal, brown rice, and shit like that. The protein will swell the muscle, but the right carbs will grow it.

We stayed away from everything white—I can’t touch white bread, white rice, white potato, or none of that. I haven’t had anything white in like the last 6 to 8 months, and I’m still on the Victor Munoz regimen. With training 5 days a week, 6 meals a day, a gallon of water a day, lots of protein, and moderate carbs, the results are definitely amazing. It feels great, looks great, and I’m glad the people are seeing the sacrifices and commitment with just being the best at everything I’m trying to be and getting acknowledged by people.

That’s a really good health regimen, because I hear that Olympian workout is crazy.
Yeah, it’s very interesting. We’ve even been documenting the transformation, so I’ll be sharing that with people when I reach my peak and I get to that place where I feel like I am exactly what I always envisioned I want to be. When I get to that place, we’re going to put a nice little documentary of the regimens together for people to see so that it can inspire them to be healthy. The workouts are painful, but that’s only in the beginning. After like the first 3 or 4 weeks, you start to become immune to that shit and the pain is something that you look forward to. You know if you leave the gym, and you don’t get the right burn, you ain’t doing shit the way you’re supposed to do it. You can lose a lot of weight and not kill yourself running and hurting your knees and all that stuff. A lot of things with cardio you can do to strip that down, get the heart rate down and get the results that you want. It’s wonderful to find what works for you and what gives you the results, but you can do it and enjoy doing it at the same time.

Keeping with the subject of health, we’re all victims of trying to eat healthy but still doing stuff that’s bad for our bodies, like smoking or drinking. How have the years of industry life affected your lifestyle habits?
Well I definitely still smoke and drink, but you do the shit in moderation. Like the way I used to do it, I’m not doing it like that anymore, for several reasons. If you do too much of anything, you’re going to pay for it at some point. Now that I’m in the gym and I’m seeing these results, and I want to maximize these results, even though I still partake in those festivities—burning L’s and cigarettes, taking a little Patron—it’s done in a way different moderation. I could never do it now how I used to do it, and I don’t ever desire to do it now the way I used to do it.

Honest and respectable. Now, we spoke to Sway the other day about his dreads and the idea that, in Rastafarian culture, they’re in a sense like your personal antennas. Did you feel like that about your own dreads before you cut them off?
I feel exactly the same way and I totally agree with him 100%. But your antennas induct a lot. In order for it to be what you philosophy them to be, they have to take in a lot. The idea of an antenna is to capture a frequency and hold it so that it can channel a signal. But the good thing and the bad thing about that is that if you are channeling the wrong frequencies and the wrong energy, and the signal that you’re giving off isn’t right, then you’re conducting the wrong energy and holding that in. For me, I cut my shit because I was going through a lot of shit that I wanted to just shed and let go! At the time, I had my dreads during a 10-year back-and-forth custody battle with the mother of my children—my three boys. I didn’t want to hold on to anymore of the shit that went into that. When I won the custody of my kids, I cut my hair to shed all the negative stuff that was trapped up in it. Beyond that, the longer my hair got, the heavier the weight became. The more neck pains I was having, with pinched nerves and shit. It also became difficult on a maintenance level as well. My dreads grew down past my waistline. It was just time for me to let it go. I cut my hair and I gave it to my mother. Jonathan Mannion was the photographer that actually captured me cutting my hair. I wanted to have that moment documented. It was such a milestone moment for him because you could only capture that once. He felt so honored to be the photographer I chose to capture that. I have a box with a picture of me with my dreads standing next to me with my dreads cut off, holding them in my hand. He built a box and put those pictures inside of the box. When you open it, you see the pictures and the actual dreads right there. I gave it to my mother as a gift because she gave birth to all of this shit. She’s got it in the house in one of her places with all my awards and special shit like that. She put it right there.

(Continue On For the Last Part Of Our Interview with Busta, Where He Talks The Conglomerate Movement, Nas Ghostwriting, And Reuniting With Leaders Of The New School)