Serch, who helped facilitate Nas’ first record deal with Columbia Records, spoke on his decision to offload his rights to the catalog after nearly three decades in a statement to AllHipHop.
“I have decided to sell all of the rights, including the global rights,” the former 3rd Base rapper and television producer said. “I started conversations with several companies a few months ago. For 27 years, it has provided my family through good times and bad. Now it’s time for a new chapter.”
While the 55-year-old is currently fielding several offers and expecting to find a buyer soon, he has yet to decide on which bidder he will ultimately sell to.
MC Serch, founder of Serchlite Publishing and Serchlite Music (now 4MC MultiMedia), has held a portion of Nas’ publishing rights dating back prior to the release of his debut album, Illmatic, in 1994. The album, which was added to the Library of Congress in 2021 and continues to reverberate through pop culture, is hailed as one of the greatest works in Hip-Hop history. Nas’ 1996 commercial breakthrough, It Was Written, which Serch also owns a portion of, was recently certified triple Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and is Nas’ best-selling album to date.
Ownership over Nas’ catalog first became a talking point in Hip-Hop during the Queens rapper’s epic battle with Jay-Z during the early aughts. On his 2001 track, “Takeover,” Hov slighted Nas by pointing out that he paid Serchlite Publishing, not Nas, for the usage of a sample of his Illmatic single “The World Is Yours.” However, Serch has since argued that while Jay-Z paid MC Serch for the sample, Nas actually owns a piece of Jay-Z’s publishing for the 1996 single “Dead Presidents.”
“He gave me a check for twenty-five hundred, I delivered it to [Zomba Music Group],” Serch said of Jay during a 2021 appearance on Drink Champs. “But if you look at the liner notes of “Dead Presidents,” Nas is one of the publishers. So that line can live as long as it lives, but JAY don’t own a piece of Nas’ catalog, but Nas owns a piece of JAY’s catalog. And that’s a fact though.”
The sale of MC Serch’s rights to Nas’ catalog is being represented by Richard Blackstone, Roger Miller, and Stephen S. Sidman.
Revisit Serch’s 2021 Drink Champs interview below.