‘The Masked Singer’s Dragon on Competing Now: ‘Everything Felt Right’
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the Season 4 premiere of The Masked Singer.]
A few things are different for The Masked Singer Season 4, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the unmasking of a celebrity at the end of each episode. And for one of Group A’s contestants, the fire was extinguished in the premiere.
While Sun, Popcorn, Giraffe, and Snow Owls are advancing to the Group A Playoffs, Dragon, after performing LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out,” was unmasked as multi-platinum rapper Busta Rhymes.
While he had watched the show before, this was the first time he was approached to be a contestant. “This was the right situation, the way everything was worked out. They were beyond accommodating and it was just wonderful,” Rhymes tells TV Insider. “The whole production, the staff, everything was just a really well put together organized situation, so, professionally, it was phenomenal as an experience, and personally, it was phenomenal as an experience.”
Not only did he like the timing, but he respected the way he was approached, too. “The opportunity was presented to me by my management and my agent, so it came through the proper business protocol and everything about it was handled in the most incredible way professionally,” he explains. “When things are presented in that way, it’s just a confirmation of how serious not only the opportunity is but the people you are dealing with are concerning how they handle business and how they go about doing things. Everything felt right.”
What was also very right was the costume. He has the 2012 studio album, Year of the Dragon, as well as a couple mixtapes with it in the title, but he’s also been representing the dragon throughout his career. “It’s just a part of what I’ve always done and who I’ve always been or tried to share symbolically and metaphorically what it is that I embody as an energy, and the dragon is the best representation of that,” he says.
That, too, goes back — to his childhood, with the artwork of his father’s Bob Marley and the Wailers album Confrontation. His father also took him to see Enter the Dragon with Bruce Lee in the theater. “The way he was watching Bruce Lee as a showman in the movies and his strength and his resilience and his focus and his sense of humor and his ability to whoop everybody’s ass,” Rhymes says. “He was one of my first superheroes. I try to exemplify that energy from how I perform traditionally. [From my concerts] to visuals when I’m doing my videos, when I’m performing my recordings, I always try to be consistent with giving people that same combined formula of showmanship, intense energy, passion, conviction, [and] focus.
“I feel like all of that is the embodiment of the dragon, and just representing that throughout my entire life, from just being a fan of that from childbirth to now, becoming an artist and being in the space where people have grown to know and love that side of who I am, I don’t try to fix anything that isn’t broken, so representing that has always worked beautifully for me. Why stop now?”
While panelists Jenny McCarthy and Ken Jeong’s guesses were wrong (DMX and Michael Phelps, respectively), Robin Thicke and Nicole Scherzinger’s were right, and that didn’t surprise the rapper, given his history with both. “I figured they would be more likely to know because I did records with the both of them, and I’ve had strong friendships with both of them for years,” he says. “They would know what I sound like better than anyone else because of our friendship and we worked together.”
Rhymes has a new album coming out soon he calls an “11-year work in progress” that he thinks could be his “best body of work.” “It just feels like the stars are aligned,” he says. “I trusted that process [to know when the timing was right] more so than ever.” And speaking of music, he wouldn’t reveal any other songs he had in mind to perform on The Masked Singer. “I hope the opportunity comes around to do it again because I learned some lessons from this last experience on how to disguise better, how to make it a little more challenging for people to figure out,” he says.
The Masked Singer, Wednesdays, 8/7c, Fox