Most hip-hop/R&B labels would leap at the opportunity to sign Nas, but Irv Gotti said he regrets nearly signing the rap legend to Murder Inc. in the early 2000s. He says his longtime friend JAY-Z deserved better loyalty.

“I regret that I entertained signing Nas to Murder Inc. Not because I don’t love Nas; I love Nas as a brother. If Nas was in a fight, I’m jumping in,” Gotti told N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN on the latest episode of Drink Champs. “…That said, I’ve been with Jay since 87. Me and Jay is a deeper level of brotherhood.”

Gotti has been producing for Jay as early as Hov’s 1996 debut Reasonable Doubt, but he said they had known each other for nearly a year earlier.

‘Drink Champs’ | Irv Gotti (Full Episode)

“People don’t realize, I’ve known Jay since 1987. I went to London with him and Jaz-O when I was 17 years old,” Gotti said. “Me and Jay-Z is 30 years in. Fuck the music, fuck the money, I love Jay, that’s my brother.”

Gotti revealed that he worked on “Super Ugly,” JAY-Z’s response to Nas’ treacherous diss “Ether” – and even encouraged Jay to drop his name in the song. But shortly after that, he attempted to sign Nas to Murder Inc. Gotti insists the deal was close to completion, citing Nas’ verse on the remix to Ja Rule’s “The Pledge” when he announces that he was down with the label.

“You didn’t hear him in The Pledge? He said, “first it was me, now it’s murda.” He said that, not me,” Gotti said. “I’m not a fucking ventriloquist. If I was, I’d be spitting more Nas verses (saying) murda, murda!”

But Gotti said that attempting to sign Nas, despite his own longterm friendship with JAY-Z, was wrong.

“My ambition took over me when it shouldn’t have, because I should have thought of my brother Jay,” he said. “So for the record, I’m a fool for doing this. This is one of the biggest regrets of my life.”

The full episode of the podcast of Irv Gotti’s visit to Drink Champs goes live at midnight.