Puffy Details Stepping To Suge Knight After The Source Awards & Suge Backpedaling (Video)
On August 3, 1995, many historians believe that the East Coast and West Coast Hip-Hop Beef was declared. Accepting the Source Award in Madison Square Garden for the Above The Rim soundtrack, Death Row Records CEO and co-founder Suge Knight told attendees, “Any artist out there that want to be an artist and want to stay a star, and don’t have to worry about the executive producer trying to be all in the videos, all on the record, dancing… come to Death Row!” Flanked by Death Row’s burgeoning R&B act Danny Boy, Suge exited the stage, and the crowd went berzerk.
Twenty one years later, Suge Knight is in jail, awaiting trial on murder charges. He no longer owns Death Row Records, and has spent much of the time since 1995 incarcerated. Puff Daddy, the CEO and founder of Bad Boy Records responded that evening to Knight’s claims—believing the disses were aimed at him.
Appearing on the Drink Champs Podcast, Puffy revealed new information about that night. DJ EFN asked the executive about his initial reaction to the diss. “I really couldn’t believe it, ’cause me and homeboy were friends,” said Puff. “We gotta break some news here. [Suge Knight] picked me up from the airport and the whole entire thing. So [the 1995 Source Awards speech] kinda had me taken back because I spoke to [the Death Row Records entourage] as they were there.”
In the video excerpt, Puffy also described how he came to know the fellow early ’90s executive (and former bodyguard for Bobby Brown) from Compton, California. “First of all, I was the first young nigga in the game—from [age] 17. From then, I was the first young cat comin’ out here—Soul Train Music Awards, renting the fly cars from the African cats, out there. So I was really bumpin’ with the cats out here. I used to have the cee-lo and craps games up in my hotel room. I was from New York, and they was givin’ love. I knew to invite all the different cats from the streets and everything. So that’s kinda like how we met up. [We] stayed in touch and the whole thing. I was just networking with the brother.”
Since the early 1990s, Sean Combs believes he and Knight maintained a relationship. “I really had thought we were cool—cool acquaintances, just being respectful [as] people coming into other cities and stuff. So when he had [dissed me], I was like, ‘Whoa. I definitely feel where that’s coming from. I know that it…what? I he…? Is he crazy?’ I was like, ‘I could blow this thing up right now. I just decided…I felt it was really dangerous. ‘Cause the crowd was really, really, really wit’ me and with Bad Boy. They were just lookin’ for the word, like, ‘throw something up.’ It’s just crazy.” Later in the evening, Puffy would address the diss, assuming he was the target. Following the Bad Boy medley, he also closed in congratulating award show winners, and sent love to East Coast and West Coast in the building.
For the first time publicly, Puff Daddy reveals that he confronted Suge Knight later that August night. “We went to The Tunnel [afterwards]. Homeboy was in The Tunnel. We go and have a conversation. This is our town; we run The Tunnel. The whole bar is mine. Let’s not get it twisted; I’m ordering garbage buckets of champagne.” Puffy continues, “I ran up and I asked [Suge Knight if he was talking about me]. He said, ‘Nah, I was talking about Jermaine Dupri.'”By 1995, Death Row had dissed Jermaine Dupri, Da Brat and others in moments like Tha Dogg Pound’s “What Would U Do?” music video. Lil’ Bow Wow, a former Death Row artist, would soon be in development with J.D. and So So Def Records. Also earlier that year, Knight’s best friend and Death Row Records employee Jake “Big Jake” Robles was fatally shot at a Jermaine Dupri party also attended by Bad Boy. Historians and authors have alleged that a conflict with Puffy’s bodyguard and affiliate Anthony “Wolf” Jones took place moments before the shooting. No arrests were ever made.
Puff Daddy says that his entourage was eager to attack. “At that point, I was scared. ‘Cause I knew that the wolves that was with me, they was like real-live wolves. I didn’t get [into music] to hurt anybody. I’m from Harlem; I don’t want no violence, no danger, none of that. So I put it in my head—it gave me a reason for my ego to walk away. That’s the way that story goes from that night.”
Elaborating, Puffy reveals his thinking in the moment. “It was a business decision. It was not a bein’-from-New York-decision. And it was a cultural decision. ‘Cause I felt like the power we had was so strong and I could do something so negative that it would really kinda mess things up. So he just said it wasn’t me; it was Jermaine Dupri.”
The mogul confirms this as new public informarion. “It’s never been told. It’s just the truth.” He continues, “It was honestly the scariest situation of my life because of the level of power that we had.” The man believes the subsequent beef that is alleged to tie into the murders of at least one superstar rapper would have been “worse” had he acted that night. “It was a decision that the city was waiting for me to make.”
Puffy states his place in Hip-Hop for not further taking Knight and Death Row to task in 1995. “Me knowing that I could do mass destruction, that wasn’t something that was authentic to me. That wasn’t who I was. I just wanted everybody to get money, be fly, and dance, and have pretty girls smilin’, and have everybody getting treated with respect.”