Irv Gotti Explains Why Nas & Murder Inc.’s Brief Union Was A Huge Mistake (Video)
Irv Gotti is the latest guest on Drink Champs, and the beverages flowed in a big way. The Queens, New Yorker began as a DJ, became one of Hip-Hop’s biggest A&Rs (at Def Jam) along with a producer charging $250,000 per beat. However, Gotti is best known for founding Murder Inc., the record label responsible for the breakout success of Ja Rule, Ashanti, and Lloyd.
In the early 2000s, The Inc. would court Nas in a series of events that led many to believe the Illmatic creator signed. Nas was then in a feud with JAY-Z, and appeared in Ja Rule’s 2002 music video for “The Pledge.” Cryptically, Nas introduced the remix of the record: “In the beginning, it was me: Nas. I stood alone,” his voice echoes before Ja Rule yells, “It’s murder!” Nas continued on the track, “But now … Murder Inc. y’all. It’s Murder. It’s over now, you know that, right?“Additionally, Nas was with The Inc. in a few public appearances, including a 2002 MTV Video Music Awards label medley. However, the union did not last or even become official. Months later, God’s Son released without any involvement from Gotti or Murder Inc. It appeared back to business as usual.
On the episode, hosts N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN ask Gotti about what really happened. Irv admits he considers dealing with Nas one of his biggest regrets. At 1:25:00, he begins, “For the record, I love Nas, and I love Jungle even more,” he says, referring to Nasir’s blood brother and Bravehearts member. Visibly intoxicated, Irv continues, “I don’t like that time [in my career]. I should have never f*cked with Nas—not because he isn’t my brother, but because [of JAY-Z]. What people don’t realize [is] I’ve known Jay since 1987. I went to London with him and Jaz when I was 17 years old. It’s 2017; me and JAY-Z is 30 years in. F*ck the music, f*ck the money. Like, I love Jay. That’s my brother. I made ‘Super Ugly.’ Nas dropped ‘Ether.’ Everyone was ether’d out; Roc-A-Fella [Records] and Murder Inc. was right next to each other. Jay was in my office a lot.” Before creating the jackin’-for-beats reply “Super Ugly,” Irv produced Jay’s “Can I Live” and “Can I Get A…”
N.O.R.E. interrupts that he wonders why Nas would have been added to Irv’s roster at a time when he had exclusively been signed to Columbia/Sony Records. “It would have been immortal.” EFN asks if Nas was ever actually close to being under contract. “Yes! F*ck yeah, ni**a! You didn’t hear that, ni**a?, in ‘The Pledge.’ I’m not a f*ckin’ ventriloquist. If I was, I’d be spittin’ more Nas verses: ‘Murda, murda, murda,’ ni**a,” Irv replies. “Understand; just think about it for one second: The reason why I zoned and my ambition took over me—when it shouldn’t have because I should’ve thought about my brother Jay…so for the record, I’m a fool for this. This is one of the biggest regrets of my life. I made ‘Super Ugly’ my ni**a. I was in the studio, and I said, ‘Jay, say my name ’cause [Nas] said my name in “Ether.” Let him know where it’s gonna come from, if it comes, ni**a!'” In his diss, Nas accused Jay of hopping around friends, including Biggie Smalls, Jaz-O, Big Daddy Kane, and Gotti.
Irv continues that the near-deal transpired because of Nas’ longtime manager Steve Stoute. DJ EFN says he’s playing devil’s advocate. “Good word: ‘devil,'” Irv says with a laugh. “Nah, let me stop. Ay! Don’t edit [that out], but Steve is like one of my best friends; we talk all the time. But he’s a puppet-master, and he puppet-mastered that, ’cause he called me and said, ‘Yo, Nas wants to f*ck with you. [He is] thinkin’ about comin’ to Murder Inc. What do you think about that?'”
N.O.R.E. asks Gotti what he would have added to the roster of Ja Rule, Ashanti, Cadillac Tah, Black Child, and veteran Charli Baltimore. “It would’ve been huge. Let me explain exactly why: ’cause Nas embodies what Ja Rule did not embody. Ja Rule, [critics accused him of making pop records for women]. So we didn’t have the foundation with ni**as!” Irv then appears to call rival 50 Cent “a fa**ot,” and points out that the G-Unit honcho “f*ckin’ damaged us because we had no foundation with ni**as from the street, ’cause we was [sings ‘Between Me & You’]…Ni**as in the streets worshiped [Nas].”
Nas would release two more albums at Sony, before joining a JAY-Z-led Def Jam in the mid-2000s. Murder Inc. would score another #1 in Ashanti’s 2003 Chapter II album, along with multiple plaques to come for Ja.
Elsewhere in the nearly three-hour chat, Irv recalls Suge Knight’s support of Ja Rule. He expresses hope that JAY-Z, Ja Rule, and DMX do a Murder Inc. cypher. Gotti currently executive produces Tales for BET.