A couple weeks ago, Busta Rhymes and Eminem took to the internet to surprise (not really) fans with their highly-anticipated collaboration, “Calm Down.” Over some Scoop DeVille production, both emcees take turns doing what they do best. Throwing out everything they got in order to avoid being outdone.
On the phone with Complex, Busta breaks down the creation process and reveals just how competitive things got.
Scoop Deville gave me the beat and I loved it. I immediately made a song to it called “Calm Down.” It was just two 16-bar verses. After marinating on the record for some time, I felt like this would be an incredible record for Eminem to get on. I called my manager, Chris Lighty, and I asked him to set up a meeting with Paul Rosenberg, Eminem’s manager. This was actually one of the last meetings I had with Chris before he passed away. We left the song with Paul Rosenberg but we didn’t actually get any feedback about whether [Eminem] was going to jump on it.
About six weeks passed by, my partner Shaheem Reid reached out to Riggs Morales, who was an A&R at Shady Records at the time. He came by the studio to hear the song, and two weeks later, we finally got a confirmation from Paul that Em had got the beat and that he’s fucking with it. A few months passed by, and I got a call from Paul. He wanted to meet me in the studio. He came and played Em’s verse, and I was blown away. What was interesting to me though was that Em did a 42 bar verse. Because we’re known for pretty much fucking everybody up when we get on records with other artists, it became a competitive process.
My hat is off to Eminem because he genuinely still cares about the music. He very much cares about being a thoroughbred MC.
I went back and I wrote 50 bars. We then scheduled a mix session for the song and when I got to Detroit, he listened to my verse, heard that it was 50 bars, he went back and turned his 42 bars into a 60 bar verse. At that point I went back and turned my 50 bar verse into a 62 bar verse. And then Em made his verse a 64 bar verse. [Laughs.] It started off from just doing a dope, high energy hip-hop record into us respectfully competing and damn near battling each other.
Now that you’ve had a few weeks to let it settle in, who comes out of “Calm Down” victorious?