Kool G Rap Reveals Def Jam Passed On Nas Because He Sounded Too Much Like Him (Video)
There are few, if any, record labels that have a more storied tradition than Def Jam Recordings. The company started by Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons would be the musical home of countless Hip-Hop legends over time, including LL Cool J, Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Redman, Method Man, Jay Z, DMX and more. In a different iteration, post acquisition by and consolidation with Universal Music Group, Def Jam also would become the distributor for Nas’ music, but, in an interview with DJ Vlad, Kool G Rap reveals that the record label had the chance to be affiliated with Nas from day one, but passed.
More than an influence on Nas, G Rap was a mentor to the younger Queensbridge MC. “When I was working on my second album with Large Professor, he was telling me about a young kid from Queensbridge that’s like bananas,” said G Rap. “He was like ‘Yo, G. This young kid, yo. He go crazy hard. He remind me of you and all that.'” Kool G continues, “Eventually, I ended up meeting Nas. Everything was like what Large Professor said. Nas, he showed a lot of promise. Young kid that showed a lot of promise, and I wanted to work with him. I wanted to make sure he get himself out there and known to the world.”
G Rap was not just paying lip service. He actually struck out to help Nas launch his career, introducing him to a number of powerful people in the industry who could help the young MC. When asked if he tried to set up meetings with Lyor Cohen and Kevin Liles, the two most senior executives at Def Jam, G Rap responded “I ain’t try to set up meetings. I set up meetings with them. I actually brought a demo tape I had on Nas. I had him recording some songs at my house and all that. I had brought some songs. I played it for them, and they was like ‘Yeah, G. He’s good, but, you know, he sounds a little too much like a G Rap.'”
G Rap understood where the two men were coming from, and, while he acknowledged having some influence on Nas, by no means did he see him as a copy cat. “I do hear a lot of influence, but then again, I hear the influence of Rakim in him. I hear that too. I hear that side of Nas,” he says. Addressing Cohen and Liles’ comments specifically, G Rap says “I understand I may have been an influence on Nas, but I heard his originality, as well. Maybe I might have heard something they didn’t hear at that point. But, I know they had to regret that later.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Kool G Rap discusses the work that he and Nas did together, including “Fast Life,” from G Rap’s 4,5,6 album and the unreleased version of “Holla Back,” which also featured AZ. The track was originally for G Rap’s The Giancana Story, but legalities prevented its release.