The album's title (inspired by the Chinese zodiac) and cover art were revealed on July 9, 2012. The official tracklist was released on August 8, 2012. It was released on August 21, 2012 for free download via Google play.
The album's lead single "King Tut", featuring Reek da Villian and J-Doe, was released on May 22, 2012. The music video for "King Tut", featuring Reek da Villian and J-Doe, was released on July 25, 2012. The album's second single "Doin' It Again" featuring Reek da Villian and Chanel Nicole was released on August 1, 2012. The music video for "Doin' It Again" featuring Reek da Villian and Chanel Nicole was released on September 12, 2012. The music video for "Movie" featuring J-Doe was released on October 16, 2012.
Year of the Dragon was met with generally mixed reviews from music critics. Slava Kuperstein of HipHopDX gave the album three out of five stars, saying "The problem is the same one that’s plagued just about every single Busta Rhymes album: the Dungeon Dragon cannot decide on a direction for the project. It’s not cohesive in production, styles, or subject matter. Busta’s all over the place, and does nothing to improve his reputation as one of the greatest emcees to not have a great album to his name. Here's to hoping the real album will be better."