One Of JAY-Z’s Most Infamous Crimes Was A Lie
Since 1999, the world has been led to believe that JAY-Z stabbed record executive Lance “Un” Rivera in the back due to Jay’s belief that Un had bootlegged and leaked JAY-Z’s Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter album weeks before its release date. The incident occurred at an album release party for Q-Tip’s Amplified, that was held at New York City’s Kit Kat Club.
JAY-Z allegedly had been told by different sources that Rivera, the co-owner of Undeas Recordings which he founded with The Notorious B.I.G. and which served as the label home to Junior M.A.F.I.A. and Lil Kim, was responsible for the album leak. Having just left his own album release party that November 1999 evening, the MC born Shawn Carter encountered Rivera at Q-Tip’s party at the Kit Kat Club, and confronted Rivera about the allegations.
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In his 2010 memoir Decoded, JAY-Z said of the incident “One night I went to Q-Tip’s solo album release party and at some point in the night, I ran into the guy everyone’s been telling me is behind the bootleg. So I approached him. When I told him what I suspected, to my surprise, he got real loud with me right there in the middle of the club. It was strange.”
Jay continued, “We separated and I went over to the bar. I was sitting there like, ‘No the f__k this n___a did not…’ I was talking to people, but I was really talking to myself out loud, just in a state of shock. Before I even realized what I was doing, I headed back over to him, but this time I was blacking out with anger. The next thing I knew, all hell had broken loose in the club. That night the guy went straight to the police and I was indicted. There was no reason to put my life on the line, and the lives of everyone who depends on me, because of a momentary loss of control. I vowed to never allow myself to be in a situation like that again.”
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While JAY-Z does not outright admit to stabbing Lance Rivera in the shoulder on that night, he eventually pled guilty to a lesser charge of third degree assault after facing a much more serious charge of felony assault in the second degree. Years later, on his song 2005 song “Dear Summer,” he effectively claims the crime when he raps “N___s back up, they know I’m not no fronter / I don’t talk s__t, I just flip it Un’ ya / Sorry Lance, I’m just trying to advance my quotes / I ain’t making you the butt of my jokes.” Since Jay’s catalog is filled with tales of the things he did in the streets prior to his Rap career, there was never a reason to believe he was not behind the stabbing until now.
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In a recently released interview with DJ VLAD, Rivera discussed the night of his assault, and he explicitly says that JAY-Z was not the person who stabbed him on that fateful night. “Jay, a bunch of us is in there,” he says of Q-Tip’s party. “I ended up getting surrounded by a bunch of people. It was probably 10 knives that I knew of, and I ended up getting stabbed at the Kit Kat Club.”
When VLAD asks Rivera if JAY-Z was the person who stabbed him, Rivera flatly says “No. JAY-Z was not the guy that actually stabbed me that night.” Rivera confirms that he and Jay did have a conversation that night, but provides his perspective on the encounter. “Me and JAY-Z had a conversation right before I got hit in the head with a champagne bottle. It was a brief conversation and I was looking at him like, ‘What are you talking about? You know you f___ing the money up right now.’”
Rivera continues by expressing incredulousness about how the rumor about JAY-Z even got started. “I don’t know where people got JAY-Z stabbed me from because if anybody knows JAY-Z, JAY-Z’s a nice guy. He’s an artist. He’s a poet, He’s gifted and it’s never been his history.” He drives home his point by suggesting that had JAY-Z been the assailant, he would have suffered dire consequences. “If JAY-Z had stabbed me, y’all wouldn’t have got The Black Album because through my whole history, I’m an eye-for-an-eye type of guy.”
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Amazingly, Lance Rivera then says proof of JAY-Z’s innocence has been hiding in plain sight since 2001, by way of Nas’ scorching JAY-Z diss record, “Ether.” On that song, Nas raps “And your man stabbed Un and made you take the blame.” Un says of the line, “The reality to it is Nas, and I don’t know why didn’t nobody believe him, on ‘Ether’ he talked about the incident. He let people know like, ‘Yo, your man stabbed Un and you took the blame for it.’”
Given Rivera’s revelations, the question remains why JAY-Z would shoulder that blame (no pun intended). Rivera does not reveal who the actual assailant was, but perhaps it was one of Jay’s associates and he did not want to be seen as snitching. Given JAY-Z’s references to the incident in “Dear Summer,” the charge might also have been seen as a boost to JAY-Z’s street credibility. Perhaps, Jay, himself, will shed more light on the incident now that Rivera has come forward.