In the latest episode of “Drink Champs,” N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN sat down with Special Ed to chat about his extensive rap career, record labels, the 50th anniversary of hip hop, Tupac Shakur, and more.

Born Edward Archer in Brooklyn, New York, Ed made a lasting impression with his debut album Youngest in Charge in 1989. Released when he was just 17, the project saw both critical and commercial success thanks to iconic tracks like “I Got It Made” and “Think About It.” The following year, the musician released Legal, an album that showcased a more mature, evolved style as reflected in its cover artwork. It contained tracks such as “Come On, Let’s Move It” and “The Mission.”

In 1995, he dropped his third album, Revelation s. Although it didn’t achieve the success of his earlier works, it was praised for its introspective lyrics and maintained Ed’s reputation as a skilled lyricist. Throughout his career, Ed was also featured in various movies and TV shows such as “The Cosby Show” and Ganked.

Aside from his solo career, the renowned emcee was part of the Crooklyn Dodgers, a supergroup that featured a revolving door of artists like Memphis Bleek, Mos Def, and Masta Ace. They created tracks for Spike Lee’s film Crooklyn and contributed to the cultural narrative of the ‘90s via cuts like “Return of the Crooklyn Dodgers.”

Below are nine interesting facts we learned from Special Ed’s “Drink Champs” interview. Check them out, and be sure to tune into the full episode here.

1. On “Neva Go Back” inspiring JAY-Z’s “Can I Live”

“Neva Go Back” is a standout track from Ed’s Revelations album. The record sampled Isaac Hayes’ “The Look of Love.” Regarding the song, the musician shared, “[JAY-Z’s] ‘Can I Live’ sampled ‘Neva Go Back.’ I came out first with it. That was produced by Howie Tee… He changed my life… I put it out first. The way it goes in hip hop is when you hear something, and then you do it, you did it based on what you heard.”

2. On Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth’s strained relationship

Once a duo, N.Y.’s Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth rose to popularity in the ‘90s. They put out their 1994 project, The Main Ingredient, which ended up being their last studio album before ultimately parting ways to work on solo careers. In a 2014 interview with “Sway In The Morning,” Smooth said, “We’re moving in different spaces, in different times, and people are pullin’ us in different spaces.”

“That’s between them, but what I do know is that I’m family with both of them. I always encourage them to give the people what they want ‘cause that’s what it’s about,” Ed explained in regard to their separation. “The most important thing, though, is not to destroy the brand, the legacy. ‘Cause that’s what the people want.”

3. On taking the steps to get his publishing rights back

Finding himself in the same predicament as other hip hop legends like Chuck D, Snoop Dogg, and more, Ed spoke about fighting to get his publishing rights back. He released his debut album under Profile Records, which was acquired by Arista Records in 1989. Per Royalty Exchange, artists are able to reclaim their rights 35 years after it is assigned to another entity. Ed claimed, “They was trying to take everything.”

“I done filed all my paperwork for the reversion. It’s 35 [years]. You just gotta read the laws, read the copyright. At 30 [years], you can begin the process and file your paperwork. I did that ‘bout three, four, five times,” Ed said. “Right now, I still get paid 50 percent, but then they do the admin. I just finished shaking them up for my s**t. They had money for me. A lot of people sample, but the money come from different places. I get my money from Sony, but then Profile still got an interest in it.”

4. On his moniker

Despite the sometimes negative association with the term, Special Ed decided to flip the meaning of his moniker on its head. According to the rapper, he got his stage name from a close friend, and despite all the reasons not to use it, he persisted.

When asked if he was in a special education program, Ed replied, “My man E. Dot from Flatbush came to me, and he was like, ‘Yo, you should call yourself Special Ed.’ I had a personality. I wasn’t in special ed., but I had a personality like a motherf**ker… I was like, ‘You know what? F**k that, I can change the dynamics of the way it’s perceived, and for two, I’ma teach y’all motherf**kers something. And three, my name Ed, and I’m special.’”

5. On going to school with Busta Rhymes

Although they never officially collaborated on a track, Ed recalled going to the same elementary and middle school as Busta Rhymes.

“Me and Busta Rhymes went to elementary school together and junior high, Walt Whitman Junior High School, as well. We definitely went to school together, [and] came up together. And Rampage lived across the street from the school, too,” Ed noted. “He moved to Long Island, and that’s when he started rapping and came back to the hood.”

6. On the 50th anniversary of hip hop

In contrast to last week’s guest on “Drink Champs,” Big Daddy Kane, Ed believes that hip hop’s jubilee was ruined by cultural appropriation. He accused brands and festivals of using legendary acts to market overpriced venues and products.

“It’s appropriation because what they’re doing now is they’re putting these great lineups, then they go ahead and overcharge the public,” he argued. “The concerts I’m doing for the 50th is free to the public. It’s free for the people. I’m doing it with the city. I’m doing it where the people can pull up for free.”

7. On how record labels and DSPs price streams

In the past several years, the introduction of streaming platforms to the music industry presented a new concern for hip hop veterans, particularly when it comes to making money. As reported by Ditto, artists typically get paid a fraction of a penny for each listen. For older acts who can’t tailor their songs to an algorithm or playlist curator, earning revenue can be difficult without relying on brand deals, physical sales, and other ventures. “It’s marketing and selling other products,” Ed said.

He continued, “They just decided that ‘This what we gon’ pay,’ and it’s like a fraction of a penny. Everybody, I know Dres is on one… We [are] all on one, really, but they’re actually taking action. I would love to be on any action because I ain’t agree to none of that s**t neither.”

8. On acting in Juice with Tupac Shakur

Released in 1992, Juice starred notable names like Queen Latifah, Omar Epps, Khalil Kain, and, of course, Tupac. Interestingly, Ed also appeared in the movie. Although, according to him, filmmakers initially picked another actor until Pac made some calls.

“I wasn’t really supposed to be in the movie at all. What happened was I read for the part because I wanted to be in the movie at the time… So when I went to the set, I went to the set to go f**k with Pac,” he said. “When I saw who they [cast] for the part I read for, I was like, ‘How the f**k y’all get a lookalike. Why y’all aint get the real n**ga?’”

Special Ed added, “He acted like he had to do something. He was like, ‘Yo, I’ma be right back. I’ll be right back.’ So he left, and when he came back, he was like, ‘Yo, Ed. I got you a lil part in the movie.’”

9. On Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G.

In 1994, Pac was reportedly shot by two armed men in what he believed to be a hit put out by Biggie. The claims were denied; however, the latter’s “Who Shot Ya?” being released the following year only fueled tension between the two artists. Having worked with both acts, Ed blamed other people in their ears for making tensions escalate and said that they had love for one another.

“I think between them two as individuals, they was never in a problem. I think it’s more so in the things that happened, and Pac blaming B.I.G. for not warning him… or informing him. I think that’s where it got tumultuous. As men, as individuals, we all had love for each other. Period.”