Puff Daddy Credits Nas With Saving Hip-Hop & More In A Bold Tribute Speech (Video)
More than 15 years ago, Nas and Puff Daddy made a triumphant anthem together in “Hate Me Now.” Appearing on Nas’ third album, I Am… the record symbolically closed out the 1990s with an MC once allocated to the Underground shining as a reigning figure of Hip-Hop. Although Nas and Puff’ were not in business together, they were surviving veterans of an East Coast and West Coast war several years prior.
In 2016, Nas and Puff Daddy are mainstay upper-echelon figures of Hip-Hop and the music industry. On Saturday night (October 15), Puff’ presented Nasir Jones with the Jimmy Iovine Icon Award at the Revolt Music Conference in Miami, Florida. Although there were an array of technical difficulties in the 16-minute presentation (which also included words from Andre Harrell), Puff’ spoke from the heart and made a number of powerful proclamations about his Rap peer.
“I’m here to present the Jimmy Iovine Icon Award, which honors an innovator and a leader that impacted our culture and changed the game. Some people consider this lifetime achievement as something that should be given when people get a little bit older. But we gonna keep giving it out to people that are younger, people that are changing the game, people that are changing the world, people that are having an impact, people that are necessary, people that are sent here from God,” said the Bad Boy Records founder before an audience that included artists such as DMX and N.O.R.E. “What we do is magical—this Black thing, this Hip-Hop thing, it’s magical. Nas taught me that. What you do my brother, is something that’s truly, truly, truly special. And we gonna honor you to the fullest up here.”
Nearing the 5:00 mark, Puff Daddy retraced his friendship with Nas, which extends back to the early 1990s. “Me and Nas, just comin’ up, we was up in the clubs. Biggie rockin’, Nas rockin’, it was very dangerous in the clubs [back then]. We [were ducking for cover] on top of each other in shoot-outs in the clubs.” Notably, Nas and The Notorious B.I.G. shared a rivalry in the ’90s. While Big reportedly asked Nas to appear on a remix to 1994’s “Gimme The Loot,” the session reportedly went awry for Nas. On 2002’s “The Last Real Nigga Alive,” Nas stated that he believed Biggie aimed 1997’s “Kick In The Door” at him. Puffy recalls that as artists—who both released their debut LPs in ’94, there was a bond of solidarity. “It was really, really that crazy. But at the end of the day, we had our shows to do; we seemed to be bubbling at the same time. So we’d hang out.” Nas would later appear on posthumous Biggie LP, Born Again.
Puffy then distinctly mentions 1995 and working together during Mobb Deep’s The Infamous period. While Nas was a guest on the album, Puff’ appeared in the “Survival Of The Fittest” music video. “I pulled up [in my burgundy Range Rover] in Queensbridge. Mobb Deep was shooting a video [for ‘Survival Of The Fittest’]. They [were previously] my interns; a lot of people don’t know that. I was trying to keep [Prodigy and Havoc] out of trouble, out of school. They would come and do their schoolwork; I was trying my best to keep them out of trouble. So I’d come and I’d [appear] in their video,” reveals Puffy. Last week, Prodigy told the Rap Radar that Diddy wanted to sign Mobb Deep as Bad Boy’s first act. Continuing, Puffy says, “So I called Nas; I’m on the way. We’re in the video [together]. I’m still ‘Puff’ [at this time]. I [had] passed the seven-figure mark. I’m out in Queensbridge, by myself, no security. Nas’ll tell you. I’m out there—I’m in the video, makin’ a cameo. ‘Cause you know Puff’ ‘all in the video, all on the mothafuckin’ records,’ and now I’m here, nigga! Now, I’m here. You see it! Aiight? Take that!” In the speech, Puff Daddy mimics Suge Knight’s August 1995 Source Awards speech—which subliminally dissed him. “Take that” references “Who Shot Ya?,” a 1995 Biggie B-side with Puff’s ad-libs on it that fueled the impending beef. However, Puff adds that this is not about bad blood of any kind. “And take this one with love and God bless you if it was meant for you.”
Moving specifically to Nas’ style, the Revolt founder declares that in the ’90s, he marveled at his peer’s fashion. “There’s no way he’s from Queens, ’cause my man is just so mothafuckin’ fly. I wanted the sneakers that he [had] on. [He brought back bucket hats]. So by the time we get to the ‘Hate Me Now’ video, I’m prepared. I showed up with two tour buses and I brought all my jewelry. Everybody was wearing one chain [at that time]. But because I was from Harlem, and he was from Queens, and there was that competitive spirit, he came to the back of my tour bus, he said ‘What you gonna do?’ I said, ‘I’m gonna wear all my jewelry, nigga.'” Allegedly, on Puffy’s bus, Nas vetoed that act of stunting. “He said, ‘Nah, it ain’t goin’ down like that. It’s my video; you give me half of that.’ So that’s how the multiple cross [and] chains [came to be].”
The controversial music video’s final edit caused Puff Daddy to attack Steve Stoute, due to the inclusion of a scene depicting Nas and Puffy on crucifixes, that Puff thought was going to be cut. When he saw the version air with the crucifixion scene still in tact, Puff Daddy allegedly assaulted Stoute with a champagne bottle. Stoute, part of Nas’ management, is seated beside Nas during this speech (and referenced by Puff) during the celebration of both artists. “[In the video], we was supposed to perform that in front of the bodega. I said, ‘Fuck that! We gonna perform on top of that shit; we gonna start a fuckin’ riot. We got Hype Williams [directing this video]; we gonna’ blow this shit up! What the fuck is up, Nas? We got tigers and lions and Lou Rawls, nigga—the fuck is up? And that has been our relationship.”
Puff continues on a more serious note. “But it’s been deeper. Anybody that knows Nas knows that he’s gonna leave you with a jewel. He’s the type of person that’s gonna come and uplift the situation. He’s gonna add knowledge and add positivity to anything that he does. And he’s gonna stay authentic.” While “Hate Me Now” was a fiery hit, Puff Daddy highlights 2004’s “Bridging The Gap” single with Nas and his father Olu Dara. “For him to jump into the lane of Jazz and make a hit-hit record and show you his [personal side] with what he could do musically, he was always fearless. He was already to do something that nobody else would do to uplift his people in any way, and always put himself second.”
Since the days before Nas was producing films, Puff believes the Queens, New Yorker had cinematic imagery in his rhymes. “From the get-go, Nas was always a phenomenon—the way he was able to break down his lyrics, the way he’d have you visually see that shit in your mind. This was before Dr. Dre really started to [allow listeners] to see Compton, [Nas] had you see every last little detail, and he brought you into the Black experience, musically.”
“Always, Nas has been the one to save Hip-Hop,” declares Puff Daddy. “No matter how watered down it got, once Nas was there, we were still alright. There was still motherfuckin’ hope.” The one mogul then praised the quiet business acumen of another. “Nas, what you’ve been able to do…the way you’ve been able to out-hustle me in Silicon Valley…You got down with that Lyft shit early; that shit is poppin’, man…He’s been able to move quietly, while a lot of us—including myself move so loudly. When you think of a Hip-Hop artist, you don’t think of the poise. You don’t think of the grace. [You don’t think of the silence]. You’re the definition of chess, baby. You flyer than a mothafucka. Your lyrics can’t be mothafuckin’ even seen.” Puff cited a record that Nas no longer performs as evidence. “I’ma tell you straight up: when you and Jay Z was battling, you dropped that ‘Ether.’ I was like, ‘What the fuck is going on?’ I’m bringing up positive vibrations. Believe, I’m [talking about this] in a positive way. To see y’all two lyrically go back-and-forth and to see you drop that thing right there, it was really on and poppin’.”
In closing his toast-like presentation, Puff Daddy stated, “Nas, you represent something to us… you represent somebody for my son to look up to. My son said he wanted to be a rapper. I said, ‘Don’t talk to me until you go and you listen to Illmatic and you do a thesis on that thing, and you break that thing down to the bottom line. I don’t want to hear you talk about you want to go be an MC unless you study that. From everything that you’re doing, in multimedia and television, when you look at the attention to detail [you appreciate Nas]. You are the true example of Black excellence.”
Jimmy Iovine was the longtime Chairman of Interscope Records, a onetime distributor for Puff Daddy’s Bad Boy Worldwide, as well as Nas’ late ’90s venture with The Firm.