Nas Shares Story About Tupac on New Album ‘Magic 2’

On July 21, Nas released his new studio album Magic 2, executively produced by esteemed hip-hop instrumentalist Hit-Boy. His fifth studio album so far in the 2020s decade, Magic 2 includes fascinating collaborations with 50 Cent and 21 Savage, as well as an intriguing anecdote on the LP’s tenth song “Pistols On Your Album Cover.”

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Inspired by the 1987 album Criminal Minded by Boogie Down Productions, a group of New York rappers KRS-One, D-Nice, and DJ Scott La Rock, “Pistols On Your Album Cover” is riddled with sampled vocals of KRS-One from his 1993 song “Sound of da Police.” At one point in the song, while KRS-One’s lyric, I know the light is bright but keep on watchin’ me, loops on the beat, Nas recalls the moment he introduced Tupac to the liquor Hennessy.

I remember I put Tupac onto that Henny
Howard University, Howard Homecoming, D.C.
He’s like, “What’s this?”
He drank that shit though, word
Crazy, super hard, fact, facts, super facts

While Nas doesn’t specify when this moment happened, it likely came before the rivalry between East Coast and West Coast rap erupted in the mid-1990s, ultimately leading to the deaths of both Pac and The Notorious B.I.G. In fact, less than two weeks before Pac was gunned down in 1996 in Las Vegas, he had a run-in with Nas at the MTV Awards. During this instance, Nas addressed rumors that Pac was planning to diss him on his upcoming album, The Don Killumanati: The 3 Day Theory, under the alias Makaveli.

“[Pac] was in New York and there was a lot of tension flaring,” Nas told Ebro Darden during a Hot 97 interview in 2021. “Where I was coming from really wasn’t an all-love place ‘cause there was a rumor Makaveli [was] coming out, so I really wanted to check the temperature with him… It was necessary for us to address the situation… We had to step to our business. We had a great convo… He thought I was dissing him on the song ‘The Message.'”

What Nas is referring to is his July 1996 song “The Message,” which landed on his sophomore album, It Was Written. On the song, Nas rapped a verse about being shot in the leg early in his career, which Tupac felt was directed at him, following the five gunshot wounds he sustained in 1995.

Heard shots and dropped, son, caught a hot one
Somebody take this biscuit ‘fore the cops come
Then they came askin’ me my name, what the fuck?
I got stitched up, it went through
Left the hospital that same night, what

Their conversation at the MTV Awards was meant to clear this up and have Pac and Nas maintain a relationship, but they were never able to fully reconcile due to Pac’s murder in the following days.

“‘Me and you are never supposed to go at it. It was just that things got misconstrued,’” Nas said during a 2012 interview with Steve Stoute, that Tupac told him. “‘Me and you are brothers. Me and you are never supposed to go at it, but I heard you was dissing me on mixtapes.’ I’m like, ‘I heard you was dissing me on this [upcoming] Makaveli album.’ We both knew we were supposed to continue that conversation and probably just squash the whole thing. I was scheduled to meet him in Vegas. You [Stoute] and Jimmy Iovine called me at 4 a.m. and told me he might not make it [the shooting].”

Ultimately, after passing away in September 1996, Tupac’s first posthumous album would come in the form of The Don Killumanati: The 3 Day Theory in November 1996, and would include the rumored Nas diss on the song “Against All Odds.”

I just appeared in the crowd, all you seen was troops
This little n***a named Nas think he live like me
Talking ’bout he left the hospital, took five like me
You live in fantasies, n***a, I reject your deposit

Regardless, Nas still has fond memories of Pac, evident on “Pistols On Your Album Cover.” Listen to the song below.

Photo by Daniel Knighton/Getty Images

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