A simple game plan was hatched five years ago. [a]Busta Rhymes[/a] and his beneficiaries would amass as much capital, real estate, stocks and bonds as possible by the year 2000....

A SIMPLE GAME PLAN WAS hatched five years ago. Busta Rhymes and his beneficiaries would amass as much capital, real estate, stocks and bonds as possible by the year 2000.

Even if this meant having to become the clown prince of hip-hop and a mainstream darling, the larger-than-life Jamaican from Brooklyn and his crew The Flipmode Squad would do whatever was necessary to achieve their aims. One year from the cut-off date and Rhymes is a recognisable figure and voice around the world, and he wants to get even more massive. Hence, 'Extinction Level Event', essentially an aggressive party album bookended by two warnings of utter chaos, death and depravity at the dawn of the millennium.

The Busta Rhymes business consortium have an eye on the widest possible market and their subsequent gifts for fans of surrealism include a steamy rub-down tune with Janet Jackson ('What's It Gonna Be?'), plus the ridiculous spectre of a rewrite of Black Sabbath's 'Iron Man' with Ozzy Osbourne along for the ride.

Numerous theatrical skits stitch the songs together, alarmingly funny for a while, but with a tendency to overshadow some tracks. Where Busta Rhymes really breaks new ground is on the verbal war with Mystikal, 'Iz They Wildin With Us...', where the speed of the rap flows and the Deep South fried beats threaten to give the coronaries to the weak-hearted. He also nods towards his Caribbean roots on 'Take It Off', as a distinct strain of overtly sexual lyrics and salacious grooves finally goes for broke.

Take the long view and it seems that 'ELE' will reward repeated listening, despite a surfeit of verbal and aural information. But that's Busta Rhymes all over: an over-the-top phenomenon who can barely be contained on a compact disc.

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