I Know What You Want
I just wanted the right... sexy overall feeling. She was perfect for that.
- Busta Rhymes
Written by Trevor George Smith, Jr., Rashia Fisher, Roger McNair, Ricardo Thomas, William A. Lewis & L. Jones
Produced by Rick Rock
4:12 Mariah Carey Album Version (Edit featuring Flipmode Squad)
5:24 Busta Rhymes Album Version (featuring Flipmode Squad)
ABOUT THE SONG
How did you stretch yourself creatively on this record?
Busta: I feel like I introduce another level of my creative ability on every album. I base my new creative approaches on what I feel I haven’t done. The Mariah Carey song [“I Know What You Want”], for example, is something that people ain’t used to hearing me doing.
Did you write it with her in mind?
Busta: Yeah, I definitely thought Mariah was the perfect person for it. That was the initial idea. I just wanted her to add her sexiness to it. I didn’t want nothing over the top or nothing elaborate. I just wanted the right vibe and the right voice tone, the right feel and the right breathing — the right sexy overall feeling. She was perfect for that. She’s one of the greatest people I’ve met — she’s sweet. It ain’t no bullshit with her. It’s just real genuine love. - Rolling Stone “Busta Rhymes Raps Political” by Colin Devenish, December 4, 2002
Carson Daly: You're re-releasing Charmbracelet this summer. I heard one track that you did with Da Brat. What else is different that's on there?
Mariah: Well the new addition to the album has some things that were not released from the original like, a song called "There Goes My Heart" with 7 Aurelius, the producer, who also did "Subtle Invitation", another song from this album. We did it in the Bahamas and it's like one of those live instrumentation songs and it's kind of like a feel good R&B record then we have the song I did with Da Brat and Elephant Man, who is a reggae artist, and it's called "Got A Thing For You" and I love it. Then I did a remix of "The One" with Jermaine Dupri and Bone Crusher. That was a fun thing to do and then we have "I Know What You Want" with me and Busta. So, they're getting a lot of big bang for the buck. - Carson Daly Most Requested June 18, 2003
Busta Rhymes rolled deep with his Flipmode Squad for the 2002 posse cut. The track, penned by Busta Buss and produced by Rick Rock, appeared on Rhymes' sixth LP It Ain't Safe No More. The Flipmode signees who lent their verses to the Mariah-assisted track were Rah Digga, Spliff Star, Baby Sham and Rampage -- below, Rick, Rah, Sham, and Rampage talk about how the monster hit came together.
Rick Rock: I had a track that I originally did for Jermaine Dupri, for Jagged Edge. He was dragging his feet on the record, so I sent it to Busta -- he loved it. He's one of those types that when he gets excited, he gives you all his energy. That's how it first came to Busta.
Rampage: Rick Rock, he did his thug thizzle to that production. That beat is super crazy. When we got it from Rick, I was in the studio first, and then Busta and Spliff came in. I listened to [the beat] about 15 times, then laid my verse -- I was the first one to lay my verse on the record.
Baby Sham: When Buss brought the beat in, everybody already had that feeling -- that this should be something more heartfelt, more personal. Everyone wrote a song about their significant other. That's why everyone's verses are so...you can hear the person they're supposed to be about. For me, it was a no-brainer. Once everybody felt like it should be personal, they jumped in the booth, jumped out the booth, jumped in the booth, jumped out the booth -- because it was so easy.
Rah Digga: I prefer all my hardcore aggressive songs, so it might have taken me a little longer to wrap my brain around getting mushy on the joint. But I don't ever want to be in a box either -- I'm still a human being with feelings and emotions, so that's what I gave it. I stated facts.
Baby Sham: Once everyone had their verse, Buss was harmonizing the hook. As he did that, I came in like I was a female -- repeating what he was saying. He felt it, and we both started bugging out. Next thing you know, [late hip-hop executive] Chris Lighty came in (God bless his soul), and me and Buss harmonized the hook for him. He was like, "Wow, that's a go -- it sounds beautiful."
Rah Digga: Busta sang it first, and we loved it. Like, great, that's an awesome hook! But then it was like, wait -- do we want Busta Rhymes singing the hook? [laughs]
Rick Rock: He had the whole hook idea, and we were just trying to figure out a singer. He was like, "I want to get Mariah." And I was like, "What?!" 'Cause I was a relatively new producer at the time -- I was grateful. I flew to New York from California, I was excited to get to meet her. But she didn't come to the session -- her people were like, "Nah, man. Her assistants won't wake her up. She has to sleep ten hours for her vocals." We had the studio session, we had the engineers, Busta kept calling back and forth. Of course my dreams were unraveling because I was like, "OK, it's not going to happen." I stayed that night, left the next morning and I believe she started recording that next night.
I never got to meet her. I've seen her sing the songs. I've seen her win an award [for the song]. I was like, yeah, she really is the diva.
Baby Sham: I think Buss already had an idea of who to put on the song, who he was reaching for, but he didn't say anything at the time.
Rampage: We were gonna put somebody else on there -- I think we were gonna put Usher on it where Busta's parts were -- but for whatever reason, that didn't happen.
Baby Sham: The crazy thing is, when he was doing the reference, he didn't give it his all. For one, he's not a singer. His idea was to put a female singer and a male singer on that hook -- we were going through different R&B singers to do the male part. She must have been like, "You gotta keep that." It was just a reference, and it came out like a masterpiece.
Rick Rock: Busta had his parts: the low, the mid, the high. He understands structure.
Rah Digga: We were working on a Flipmode Squad album at the time, but you know [how it is] when you get to the fourth quarter, and the label needs the star album -- so Busta got bumped up the calendar. It was like, we might as well go in guns blazing. Mariah was probably more likely to get on a Busta Rhymes record than a Flipmode Squad record so, win-win! [laughs]
Rampage: When we got it back, it was just a good feeling, man. I felt it, in my soul, that the record was gonna go. I didn't know how far it was gonna go, but I knew anything with Mariah on it -- you're on fire. It was definitely a moment that changed my life. It went from here to 100 real quick.
Rah Digga: We were out in California shooting the video, and for a whole day, I felt like a diva. Hats off to Mariah for being committed enough to the song to see it to its fullest capacity. She did a Summer Jam with us, we did a festival for her -- it was nice how both worlds were able to piggyback off each other. That made me, I think, technically the first female rapper to perform at Yankee Stadium. I was feeling myself -- thank you Mariah, I'm feeling myself!
Baby Sham: I was happy to be there. The outfit that I have on in the video, it was a different outfit [than the one I wanted to wear]. That was something that was in the back of my mind. For some reason I got stuck with the outfit I had on.
Rampage: Mariah's real cool, man. That's the homegirl, for real. She do the damn thing. Working with her...she's an icon. She's real vibe-able -- she'll tell you what she think. There's nothing Hollywood about her. To be on those levels -- I'm proud to be a part of history. For years to come, that record is gonna keep moving up. I'd been on hit records, but when it comes to a record like that, it's just a little bit higher than the rest of them. Not too many people get to record a record with Mariah Carey, you know what I'm saying?
Baby Sham: It came out, and it forever escalated. During the peak of it, I had to change my number at least like, 15 times. People started asking me, "Yo, are you on the run? Why is your number always changing?" That song was actually the peak of the careers of the Flipmode. - Billboard: April 12, 2016 “We Belong Together: Mariah Carey's Collaborators Share Untold Stories Behind 8 Classics” by Natalie Weiner and Adelle Platon
Q: You’ve worked with Mariah, Janet, Beyoncé - do you have any favorite female collaboration that you’ve ever done?
Busta: “My most fun was with Mariah because she’s the homey in the studio and the competition isn’t the same. So I don’t have to be on pins and needles with her and the excitement and the anxiety and the same as it is with Rah Digga, but that’s a different type of fun ‘cause I enjoy that experience as well. But with Mariah, it’s a little more easy because she really is the homey, like, super diva to the world, and super diva in the personal space. When she’s able to loosen up, you get to really see the home girl and being in that space with her is relieving because that’s the balance that allows the magic to happen with the music,” he explained, “because she’s willing to embrace all sorts of inspiration as long as it feels right.” - US Magazine “Busta Rhymes on Working With ‘Super Diva’ Mariah Carey: ‘She Really Is the Homey’” by Emily Marcus July 19, 2018
2002 Released on Busta Rhymes’ It Ain’t Safe No More… album.
2003 Included on the Charmbracelet Tour Edition album.
2003 Included on The Remixes compilation.