When Busta Rhymes landed at Nissan Pavilion for last summer’s Area 2 Tour, he was all but ignored by the Moby-lovin’ masses. Which was a shame, really, because as the clueless kiddies bypassed the Big Bad Wolf of rapdom in favor of trying to get laid in the PlayStation 2 Dance Tent, the mad-grinning MC proved to a sparse crowd that he’s the most shamelessly entertaining artist of his genre—and the kind of musical party-thrower P. Diddy can only dream of being. Besides making good on his promise to “Pass the Courvoisier,” the breakout cut from 2001’s gleefully inspired Genesis, Busta also showed that, save Missy Elliott, he’s unrivaled at concocting delicious hits—”Woo Hah!! Got You All in Check,” “Gimme Some More,” “What It Is”—out of interstellar beats, voodoo-dipped riffs, and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins-meets-Mad Hatter lyrics. But the Brooklyn-born rapper also has another, more sinister side—one that he neglected to reveal in concert: As suggested by some of his album titles—The Coming, When Disaster Strikes…, E.L.E. (Extinction Level Event: The Final World Front)—Busta is obsessed with the end of the world. This nagging dread has almost always been trumped by his whacked-out sense of humor, which he’s been cashing in on since his “Case of the P.T.A.” days with the Leaders of the New School. But on the new It Ain’t Safe No More…, a disc as violently doomsaying as it is musically blah, Busta and his Flipmode Squad have a much harder time partying in the face of the apocalypse. A creepy lullaby (basically a Chipmunked adult warbling, “You all gonna die”) opens the album and leads into the go-nowhere title track, which warns, “If you were making plans/I do think you gonna have to cancel.” The clumsy “What Do You Do When You’re Branded,” half Oompa Loompa chant, half TV-Western soundtrack, features 30-year-old Busta growling that the only way to “prove you’re a man” is to start shooting. And the downer mood keeps on coming: Gunshots ring out between songs, the Halloween theme is reworked to unsettling effect, and the rapper turns “Call the ambulance/Come and pick up your people/Put the body on the stretcher/ Carry they ass out” into a Neptunes-produced hook. It’s enough to make you wish he would just keep the Courvoisier for himself. There are a couple of playful, Big-Top Busta songs here, though: First single “Make It Clap” features silly flow from sidekick Spliff Star and a hands-together rhythm section reminiscent of those Hooked on Classics albums from the early ’80s. And “We Goin’ to Do It to Ya” is equipped with a “jungle shit” beat perfect for a randy Rhymes to “take it to the next morning.” But for the most part, Busta dreams up a nightmare scenario that you can’t even dance to. And hell, after unwelcome guest Mariah Carey makes like a dog whistle on “I Know What You Want,” well, Judgment Day can’t get here fast enough. —Sean Daly