N.O.R.E. may be known for conducting memorable interviews on his “Drink Champs” podcast, but he wants it to be known that he once reigned supreme in the rap game as well. Recently, the “Superthug” emcee joined former NFL pros Brandon Marshall, Chad Johnson, Channing Crowder and Jared Odrick on the “I Am Athlete” podcast, where he made a bold claim about his performance in 1998.

The year saw albums from JAY-Z, who dropped Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life, and DMX, who delivered both It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot and Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood. Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Outkast’s Aquemini and Big Pun’s Capital Punishment were among some of the colossal projects, but N.O.R.E. claims he was the best emcee out at the time.

“I was the hottest rapper in the world! I could’ve held out, but I wanted a million dollars,” he said before following up with supportive statistics. “In 1998? Who was it? Me, DMX, Big Pun, Cam’ron,” he went on. “I was the hottest at the time I signed. And, other than DMX, I sold the most in my first week. DMX did 220[K], I did 163[K] — plus the other 18,000 that they pre-sold from me!” he said of his platinum-selling self-titled debut album. “Because they bootlegged it, and they still counted it!”

N.O.R.E. — who revealed he gave up his publishing rights early on in his music career — also opened up about the recurring conflict between artists and their record labels.

Hip hop is not meant for the artist to win,” he said. “It’s never been meant for the artist to win and the more and more you learn, the more and more you read your contracts, the more and more it’s disturbing.”

“And that’s why labels like [Quality Control] is winning because they own it and they’re trying to put their artists on the game,” he continued. “That’s what a real—like when you hear that JAY-Z gave Rihanna back her masters, that’s a real move, ‘cause that’s sayin’, ‘I don’t only want my own shit back, but I want something. I want other people to have it back as well.’”

See N.O.R.E.’s appearance on the “I Am Athlete” podcast below.