At one point, he said that he felt like you were spending too much time with Jay. Did that cause friction in your relationship?
I refer back to my previous answer, you go through a period of time in a relationship and he didn’t have to say that. Any aspect of the relationship in which we didn’t see eye to eye would bother me.
It didn’t make a difference whether it was hanging out with Jay too much or the fact that he didn’t like that his album came out in March when he felt like it should have came out in September. It don’t matter.
You don’t want to have any disagreements with a friend. You know? Not disagreements that become public record and that you still have to answer questions about 10 years later. [Laughs.]
You guys are legendary figures, that’s why you get questions about it 10 years later.
No, I understand.
Another thing that was interesting from your book was about when you were putting together the Will Smith song from Men In Black and SWV’s Coko didn’t want to be in the video even though Will Smith was a big movie star. Were artists afraid to be associated with him at that time?
It’s even worse than that. Nas wrote rhymes on “Gettin’ Jiggy With It” and stopped writing. Nobody wanted to get down with the whole Will Smith thing.
Well, Nas did get down with it.
Yeah, he could have got down with more of it. It was like dragging, kicking, and screaming. The artist was so compelled to be hardcore at the time that anything that felt commercially viable, was not adorned.
Nas wrote rhymes on “Gettin’ Jiggy With It” and stopped writing. Nobody wanted to get down with the whole Will Smith thing. It was like dragging, kicking, and screaming. The artist was so compelled to be hardcore at the time that anything that felt commercially viable, was not adorned.
So, an R&B group like SWV was like, “That’s too corny for me. I’ll sing with Wu-Tang, but I’m not singing with him.” So they didn’t show up at the video. I used that example in the book to show you the sign of the times. “Really? They would actually do that?” Yes. Big movie, international superstar and they wouldn’t stand next to him.
Cause now if that opportunity came up with the new Nick Cannon or whoever they—
They would do handstands. Kanye West raps with Katy Perry.
When you say “kicking and screaming” you meant you literally had to be like, “Dude, just do this. Trust me, it’ll be worth it.”
And he only wrote the one record, right?
He may have written pieces of another song, I can’t remember the whole thing.
But he could have written a lot more of it.
Yes! And Will Smith was like, “Look, man. I am a great instrument to sell a lot of records. I want the dudes that are talented with the pen to come be a part of my team to help write those songs.” And he didn’t want to do it.
Did he get in the studio with him, once they were written?
I think they may have gotten in the studio a couple of times, but it wasn’t what it could have been.
There was an interview where Cormega was saying that you had a role in him being kicked out of The Firm.
He was never in The Firm, man. He should have never been in The Firm. Believe me, he wasn’t. He and Nas truly didn’t get along.
Even when Nas was shouting him out on “One Love” they weren’t cool?
That was cool. He’d just got out of jail. It took him a while to get acclimated to what was going on.
Like in a business sense?
I have arguments all the time with Jay and Puff, would The Firm album have been more successful than The Commission album? We know what The Firm album did and didn’t do, but we never knew what The Commission album was.
In a business sense, and his manger at the time, a lot of different things. He’s actually a really good guy, but he felt like Nas owed him too much and felt like he was too important. He wasn’t a guy that was really driven by a team, at that time, and that caused a problem.
So even when he was on “Affirmative Action,” he wasn’t actually a part of The Firm?
Well, he was at the time. The idea did surround him and he just bugged out. That project should have been fantastic. I have arguments all the time with Jay and Puff, would The Firm album have been more successful than The Commission album? We know what The Firm album did and didn’t do, but we never knew what The Commission album was.
Well, it would have been Jay and Big. So...
It would’ve been Jay, Big, and Kim. But at the time, Nas was much bigger than Jay.
Yeah, he was. But Big…
Nas was big. Foxy was huge.
Yeah, Kim was huge too
Not like Foxy. Foxy’s first album—Jay wrote the album—are you kidding me? Foxy’s first album was crazy. I mean, crazy. Foxy sold more records than Kim, Foxy was huge. Nas was huge. AZ was good. Nature came in and Nature was talented. We had Dr. Dre on the production and Trackmasters.
But we didn’t make the right album and we had people arguing. I want to make the argument from my heart but the reality is that I couldn’t get these guys working together.