Nas, “Made You Look” (2002)
What transpired between Stillmatic, and God’s Son was turmoil for him, and myself. While we were working on Stillmatic, my mom had passed. That week I had worked on a Sade remix, and I had actually put him on the Sade remix. It was before the funeral even, and I was still working. Stillmatic was when he was going through all the stuff with Jay-Z. He was kind of in that underdog spot but he still handled it. Unfortunately the whole situation with Hot 97 showed up next summer, to the point where he was even at odds with Flex and Angie, who were not just people I know. That’s like talking to my brother. He knew that I was that tight with Flex and Angie, so at first he started the album and made his anti-Hot 97 records without me being around.
The inception of “Made You Look” was: what did it sound like when Rakim had his “I Ain’t No Joke” video, and that was the first time you saw him, and Flavor Flav is in the video, and the whole energy of “Run’s House,” and then BDP busting on stage in the “My Philosophy” video. Between those three visuals, what did that music feel like. I was chopping up [classic breakbeat] “Apache” for Ricky Martin. I was working with him when I first moved to Miami. It was gonna go, “den-den-den-den-den-den…Ricky! Ricky!” That’s what I was going to do. And then I slowed it down as I was chopping the sample up. I called [Nas] and left him a voicemail that had the beat on it. He hit me like yo, come through. He was in Orlando, I had just moved to Miami, so I packed up my truck and stayed in the house they had out there. I left for a day and he Rakim-ed it: “Let’s get it all in perspective…” You can actually hear how Ra would have sounded on the track. I sat there for about three or four days [doing] edits, putting the glass breaking and the reverses, and just messing with the track.
His birthday party, Sept. 14, was the first time we played it publicly, and everybody’s face was just like what the fuck just happened. We tweaked it a little more did the mixes, his whole crew was in Miami and they did the “BRAVEHEARTS” and just made it feel good, and when it eventually came out, I went and personally talked to Flex, let’s squash the beef, and Flex, because he and I were so close for that amount of time, he entertained the conversation differently, and was like alright, it’s squashed. Then I went and erased the song that was dissing Hot 97, actually. But “Made You Look” was created out of the tension going on in his life and his career, and at the same time showing how cool he was in the middle of the tension. When people say “play some real hip-hop,” they play that, because it stands up. It was the accumulation of a lot of tension, moms dying, his mom, my mom. I never articulated it as I just said, but that’s what it really was. All the crazy New Yorkers, the Mobb Deeps were making R&B records. Irv Gotti and them were winning at the time, they were controlling the radio. I just moved out here to Miami, walking around with sandals all day calling them my Jesus Tims. I literally had sandals on and shorts when I made that…