Nas Auditioned For A Lead In “Paid In Full” According To Dame Dash (Video)
In the early 2000s, Roc-A-Fella Records was fast expanding its film division. The label, founded by Jay Z, Damon “Dame” Dash, and Kareem “Biggs” Burke was also entrenched in one of the most exciting Rap battles of the last 15 years, thanks to Jay’s beefing on wax with Nas.
In a recent appearance with N.O.R.E. (a former Roc-A-Fella artist) and DJ EFN’s Drink Champs Podcast, Dame Dash revealed that despite the beef, Nas was in close proximity to the company at that time. In 2002, Roc-A-Fella Films released Paid In Full, a crime drama set in late 1980s Harlem, New York. The Charles Stone, III-directed film was said to be inspired by the real-life friendship of drug dealers Azie “AZ” Faison, Rich Porter, and Alpo Martinez. Those personalities whose real names were never officially used in the film, would be portrayed by Wood Harris (“Ace”), Mekhi Phifer (“Mitch”), and Cam’ron (“Rico”). Faison would join Dame, Jay, and others as a Paid In Full producer.
“A lot of people don’t know, I came to audition [to play] ‘Alpo’ in Paid In Full. I didn’t do good [in the casting audition], and I was fat,” begins N.O.R.E. at 1:50:00. The Capone-N-Noreaga MC joined Cam’ron (as well as Kevin Hart, Beanie Sigel and Charlie Murphy) in appearing in Dash’s Paper Soldiers earlier in 2002. Dame then reveals, “Nas came out for that [part] too.” Further questioned on that note, the podcast guest repeatedly affirms his statement.
“Not the day I was there,” says Noreaga, who did make a film cameo. “I don’t know what day it was,” replies Dash. Asked if this incident took place amid the Roc and Nas beef, Dame interrupts, “Why would you say I’m beefin’? What are you talkin’ about? That [beef] wasn’t real to me, man. It was fuckin’ music. You think I really take that shit serious, beefin’ over music? […] What kinda nigga you think I am? Y’all think I’d get mad over a record? Do niggas get mad over records? They’re records.”
In 2001, Jay and Nas had traded disses on records including “The Takeover” and “Ether,” respectively, among others. By the mid-2000s, as Jay Z became President at Def Jam, he would sign Nas, and begin a collaborative relationship and public friendship.
N.O.R.E. presses on to understand why Nas, who had starred in 1998’s Belly, did not get the part. “Because [Cam’ron] got it,” bluntly states Dame. “[You and Nas are] from Queens. The character [he would have played] is not from Queens. [‘Rico’] was from Harlem. So why would I have a dude from Queens playin’ a guy from Harlem? That doesn’t make logical sense. And Cam did a hell of a job.” Cam’ron was then a flagship artist at Roc-A-Fella. “Honestly, it would have made sense if I would have brought a Queens character in and Nas would’ve played that role. That would’ve been dope.”
Dame, who remains active in film making, hopes the Queens perspective is told theatrically some day. He adds that onetime Roc producer Irv Gotti is one person who could have a film perspective. “One thing happened [in Harlem] and it affected a lot of different people [all over]. Like, I could’ve done Paid In Full from my perspective, I just decided to do Azie’s.” N.O.R.E. then brings up that producer Azie Faison has since reported some inconsistencies with Paid In Full from the real-life events. “Listen, A quarrel isn’t when somebody says something on a show, or something. There’s no action, so that’s not a quarrel. There’s no quarrel; I don’t know of any,” Dash responds.
Nas would appear on DJ Clue’s The Professional 2, which Roc-A-Fella Records released in early 2001. Jay was on the same gold-certified compilation album.
Elsewhere in the two-and-a-half-hour Drink Champs conversation, Dash describes his accounts of Jay Z and DMX’s mid-1990s Rap battle, his longtime relationship with Big L, and the announcement of Cam’ron’s Roc-A-Fella vice presidency causing internal problems at the label.