"Yo! MTV Raps" meant so much to so many people. More than just a weekly video show, "Yo!" brought fans into the then-undocumented worlds of their favorite rap stars.
" 'Yo! MTV Raps,' just in a nutshell, gave everybody an opportunity to look at artists as real people," Busta Rhymes told MTV News of the groundbreaking series, which will make a return on Sunday on MTV2 at 12 a.m. ET. "You saw us when we were upset, you saw us when we were happy, you saw us when we were beefin', you saw us when we were celebrating some sh--."
For Busta, who started his career as a member of the 1990s Long Island, New York, rap quartet Leaders of the New School, "Yo! MTV Raps" documented one of the most pivotal moments in his career. "Leaders of the New School broke up on 'Yo! MTV Raps,' with Fab Five Freddy hosting it," Busta recalled. "I'll never forget that day."
It was 1993 and LONS had just released their second album, T.I.M.E. (The Inner Mind's Eye), which was anchored by their #1 Billboard Hot Rap Single "What's Next." Still, despite their growth as a group, Busta Rhymes and member Charlie Brown began collaborating with other acts as soloists. Bus had already delivered a scene-stealing verse on A Tribe Called Quest's 1991 "Scenario" and appeared on Heavy D's "A Bunch of N---as" with a then-unknown Notorious B.I.G. Brown had opened up doors for himself as well, also appearing on "Scenario" and Funkmaster Flex's "Nuttin' but Flavor" with Ol' Dirty Bastard and Biz Markie.
"Me and C. Brown, we ain't really dig each other for a long time," Busta said, citing a silent competition between him and his former bandmate.
During the 1993 episode of "Yo!" all the members introduced themselves for the camera, shouting out Leaders in the same breath — all except Brown. "Just lounging, getting to know myself and what my capabilities are and what I'm gonna do in life," he said.
"The cameras is rolling and we're looking at each other like, what the f--- this n---a talkin' about," Busta recalled. "We're steppin' to Brown beefin' like, 'What is this?' [And he's like,] 'I don't wanna be in the group no more.' "
Busta Rhymes went on to release his solo debut The Coming in 1996 and has enjoyed one of the most storied careers in hip-hop. On November 17, the Dungeon Dragon announced his latest deal with Cash Money Records and Google Music, but despite all of his highlights, the LONS split ultimately made Busta who he is today.
"That was just a big moment. That was a defining moment for me," he said.
Watch "MTV2 Presents: Yo! MTV Raps: Classic Cuts" on December 4 at 12 a.m. ET, immediately after the "2011 Sucker Free Awards."