Irv Gotti Describes The Night Nas Stood Up JAY-Z

Irv Gotti has been a close associate of JAY-Z for decades. As a DJ, producer, and record executive, the New Yorker worked with Jay during his ascent to stardom. In 1995, DJ Irv produced “Time To Build” for his artist Mic Geronimo. The song from The Natural featured JAY-Z, DMX, and Ja Rule. A year later, Gotti was among the producers who worked on Jay’s Reasonable Doubt debut, producing “Can I Live.”

In his latest appearance on Drink Champs (alongside Ja), Gotti recalled the making of “Can I Live.” At 2:05:00, he spoke to the song’s roots in reality. “The great story with ‘Can I Live’ [is], I’m waiting for him in D&D [Studios], ’cause he’s coming home off of I-95.” Jay had allegedly just exited the interstate that flows the Eastern coastline. The Midtown Manhattan recording studio was home to Gang Starr, Boot Camp Clik, and D.I.T.C., and was later purchased by DJ Premier ahead of its 2014 closure. “He’s comin’ from gettin’ to the bag. And we’re sittin’ there waitin’ for him, and he comes in and does his JAY-Z [freestyle delivery], and writes ‘Can I Live’ [in his head]. But that’s why Reasonable Doubt is so f*ckin’ raw! It’s so raw ’cause this ni**a was still a drug dealer while making the album. So all that sh*t you’re hearing–the crack aroma in the room, ni**a, he just finished sellin’ f*ckin’ 90 bricks of cocaine! And now he’s on his way to the studio with a bag of money. If that ain’t realer than real, then what the f*ck is? And we made ‘Can I Live.'”

Memphis Bleek Recalls A Wild Story About JAY-Z’s Early Stash Of Cash (Video)

Irv then drops another jewel. “Here’s another tidbit: we was waitin’ for Nas to get on ‘Can I Live’!” While Drink Champs hosts N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN react in astonishment, Irv confirms that he’s sharing a rarely-discussed fact. “No one knows [this]—well, they know now.” Irv says that Nas was to follow Jay’s first set of bars. “We was waiting for Nas to do the second verse.” Gotti alludes that this may be featured on an upcoming episode of his BET series, Tales. At the time, while working with Def Jam and managing Mic Geronimo and Ja Rule, Irv was an essential figure to JAY-Z’s movement. “I was Jay’s consigliere; I was helping him maneuver sh*t.” At 2:09:00, as EFN asks for more information surrounding Nas’ absence from Reasonable Doubt, Gotti says, “He didn’t show; that’s the end of the story.” Ski Beatz had sampled Nas’ “The World Is Yours” for Jay’s “Dead Presidents.” A sequel to that song appeared on Reasonable Doubt. The week after Jay’s debut, Nas released his sequel, It Was Written.

By 2001, Jay and Nas entered a high-profile beef. The two men, who had toured together in the early 1990s, became opponents in one of Hip-Hop’s most high-profile battles. During that period, Nas appeared publicly with Murder Inc., though he never released an album with Gotti’s famed imprint. Jay and Nas would make peace, then begin recording a series of collaborations over the last 16 years, starting with Nas’ “Black Republican.”

Akinyele Suggests An Unkept Promise Planted The Seeds For The Nas & JAY-Z Beef (Audio)

In this interview section, Irv also says that Jay’s 1995 verse on “Time To Build” included a diss to its collaborator, DMX. Jay and X, who battled during the 1990s, were two artists with years of paid dues that looked to catch attention in ’95. Jay reportedly wanted the final part of the Blunt/TVT Records song. His verse begins, “Yeah, fresh on the scene-a with a ‘f*ck-the-next-ni**a’ demeanor,” alluding to DMX, who comes after him on the song. Jay, Ja, and X would work together again in the following years—even forming a brief group. Jay also appeared on Mic G’s sophomore LP, Vendetta.

In the interview, Irv Gotti discusses his relationship with Ashanti, reacting to DMX’s 2021 passing.

Irv Gotti Explains Why Nas & Murder Inc.’s Brief Union Was A Huge Mistake (Video)

#BonusBeat: An Ambrosia For Heads original video that examines what if JAY-Z had stuck to his plan of retiring after Reasonable Doubt: