On Nas’ latest album, King’s Disease II, the Grammy award winning rapper pressed rewind on his career to reminisce about the infamous East Coast versus West Coast hip hop feud. The track is called “Death Row East.” In three minutes, Nas sums up how the west coast based label, at the height of the beef, began to start its new East Coast division. “I even saw their tees on some of my G’s,” Nas raps.
Unfortunately — as Nas explains in the song — he never had the chance to settle his differences with Tupac. He planned to do just that in ‘96 during a trip to Las Vegas for the “Street Dreams” music video, but Tupac was already in the hospital suffering from gunshot wounds.
On Friday (Aug. 27), Nas and his brother Jungle delved deeper into the story behind “Death Row East” in an interview with Ebro Darden on Apple Music 1’s “Rap Life Radio.”
“Death Row was the biggest rap company in the world,” Nas recalled. “They were bigger than everybody, they had a lot going. There was a lot of tension. There was a lot of beef that came with it. Dudes was just in their twenties, not far removed from the street, running these empires. In New York, when they came here, we was just like ‘wow it was our time’… it was myself, Pac, Biggie I’m missing somebody else. I had to do my part just by being there in New York. Things jumped off at the Radio City MTV Music Awards between my brother Jungle and Pac, and Moose. And it started from there.”
As Nas was busy presenting an award, elsewhere at the venue, ”Jungle was involved in an altercation with The Outlawz and several members of Death Row East.
“I went to get a drink and I saw this girl that looked lost,” Jungle said. “So I’m like, ‘Where are you going?’ She’s like, ‘I’m looking for my friends.’ I said, ‘Who?’ ‘Death Row.’ I was like, ‘What? When I see one of them, I’m going to take a chain.’ And then she was laughing. I was trying to make her laugh to come get a drink with me. But I was on some Queensbridge Mobb Deep shit. It’s like, yeah, Mobb Deep in the house. I’m going to take a chain.”
“I yelled it out, ‘Yo, Mobb Deep in the house. I will take a Death Row chain,’” he continued. “They came right back with Pac, and he’s looking like, ‘Who said that?’ … And I was like, ‘Oh God.’ And I was with his guy, Moose, and Moose was like, ‘Man yo, I got you. I see everybody and they don’t even know I’m with you.’ And he’s like this karate expert from Queensbridge … I said it again, ‘Mobb Deep, what’s up Pac? What’s up? I’ll take your chain right now.’ And then they surrounded me again. They surrounded me, they’re like, ‘What’s up with you?’ All of this. And ‘Death Row, we here to die. You don’t know Death Row.’ They had razors in their hands, everything… that was when it got scary a little bit… I said this is serious.”
Jungle’s account merely scratches the surface as to what really went on during that tense time in the nineties hip hop era. While films like All Eyez on Me and Notorious have reflected on the disputes from Biggie and Pac’s perspectives, Nas sees “Death Row East” as an opportunity to share his side. “You see how this is a story even to this day,” he told Ebro. “This is one song. I think we’re going to shoot a small documentary on this thing. It’s like so much into this song there needs to be a little short film.”
Listen to Nas and Jungle’s interview on “Rap Life Radio” here.