Have you ever wondered how your favorite classic rap song was made? In Complex TV's new series Magnum Opus, these monumental records from our past are revisited. With in-depth interviews from the artists involved to first-hand accounts of respected rap peers and critics of the time, viewers get a blueprint of how the song was created, what impact it had, and how its legacy continues to live on. New episodes of Magnum Opus can be found exclusively on Complex TV.
In this installment of Magnum Opus, Busta Rhymes recounts the making of his classic record "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See." Released in 1997 as the lead single from his album When Disaster Strikes... the song and its accompanying music video propelled Busta's career to new heights by tapping into his vibrant energy as a showman and his incredible lyricism.
Busta Rhymes initially started out in the four-man crew Leaders of the New School, a group name they earned at a talent show that was judged by Chuck D of Public Enemy, Hank Shocklee of The Bomb Squad, and Doctor DrĂ© of Yo! MTV Raps. The group would release two albums in the early '90s to minor success, though it became clear that Busta was performing at a higher level than the rest of the crew. His decision to go solo was inevitable. But it was met with hesitation, too. "At that time I was scared to do a solo album because I never had the responsibility of writing three verses and coming up with hooks for 12 songs," he says. "So from '93 to '96 there was no solo Busta Rhymes album because I was trying to figure this shit out."
Busta figured out the formula on his solo debut The Coming, backed by the hit single "Woo Hah!! Got You All in Check." The Brooklyn rapper gained confidence through this experience which carried into his next album. "By the time I got to When Disaster Strikes... album I was poking my chest out feeling indestructible," Busta says. He would soon hook up with Shamello, co-producer of "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See," who played him a smooth sample that they would use on the song. Seals and Crofts' "Sweet Green Fields."
Around that same time Busta also gained advice from Diddy and close friend Q-Tip. They suggested he refrain from yelling on his next single in order to broaden his mainstream appeal. It all clicked for Busta in the studio. "That beat was the first beat that made me feel like I could comfortably calm down without sounding like I'm trying to make a chick record," he says. "We knew it was a smash once I got the first verse right."
The music video, directed by Hype Williams, was just as monumental. It borrowed African elements of the 1988 film Coming to America which Busta says was playing muted in the studio while they were mixing "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See." The video became an instant hit, earning four MTV VMA nominations including "Best Rap Video" in 1998. While Busta didn't go home with a "Moonman" that year he earned something much more substantial in the process. "I just think the respect level for Busta Rhymes as an artist went through the roof at that point," he declares.
If you enjoyed this episode of Magnum Opus, watch below where Ice Cube talks about making his 1993 classic record "It Was a Good Day."