The historic rivalry between Jay-Z and Nas has been one of the most enduring topics among rap fans dating back to the late ’90s when the two were vying for the “King of New York” crown. During a recent appearance on the Drink Champs podcast, Murder Inc. Records founder Irv Gotti revealed that Nas was supposed to costar alongside Jay-Z on the song “Can I Live” from Hov’s debut album Reasonable Doubt. However, the collaboration would never come to be, as Nas never showed up to the studio to record his verse, according to Irv.
“We was waiting for Nas to get on ‘Can I Live,’” Gotti told cohosts N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN. “Ni**a, no one knows [this] — yeah, they know now. We was waiting for Nas to do the second verse! … He didn’t show. That’s the end of the story!”
Although it’s been rumored that Nas was intended to appear on “Bring It On,” another Reasonable Doubt track and that his voice is sampled on “Dead Presidents II,” Irv was asked if he was sure “Can I Live” was the song in question.
Gotti—who worked extensively with Jay-Z during that period of his career and produced “Can I Live”— assured that his recollection of the story is an accurate one. “I’m sure, n***a,” Gotti said in response. “I was there, I was in the studio.”
While Nas wouldn’t appear on Reasonable Doubt, the two ultimately collaborate in 2006 on the song “Black Republican” from Nas’ eighth studio album, Hip Hop is Dead. The pair have since appeared alongside each other on multiple occasions, most recently on the 2021 track “Bath Salts” from late rap star DMX’s posthumous album, Exodus.
Watch Irv Gotti’s (and Ja Rule’s) Drink Champs interview below.