Label They Almost Signed To: Def Jam
Label They Ended Up Signing To: Columbia
Circa: 1992

Nas’ debut album, Illmatic, is looked at as not only the album that launched his career but also one of the best albums ever. Apparently, not everyone always saw it that way. As a young rapper in the early 1990s, Nas struggled to find a deal. With Illmatic basically finished, he was close to inking a deal with Def Jam but Russell Simmons passed on a young Nasty because he felt Illmatic would flop commercially. Though Russell was right—Illmatic didn’t fly off the shelves—the album was critically acclaimed and launched an amazingly successful career. Nas chronicles all his early label troubles on his song “Surviving The Times,” saying, “Russell said I sounded like G, the nigga fronted.” Don’t worry about it Russ, even legends make mistakes.