During his recent interview with VladTV, MC Serch recounted in detail helping Nas sign his deal for Illmatic that not only put the album in a position to become a classic but ultimately made him a wealthy man.
“I was working on my solo album and Stretch Armstrong and Daddy Reef came to the studio to check me in out,” he explained. “I was with Red Hot Lover Tone and Chubb Rock, and they brought Percy P, Riddler, Akinyele, and Nasir.” He remembers just telling the MCs they could hop on whatever.
Nas stayed low key, and at 4 a.m., he finally spoke to Serch, asking if he could look over a contract offered to him by Stretch and Reef at Big Beat. Serch said he could, pending Nas signing a temporary 60-day publishing deal, allowing Serch to represent him.
Nas agreed the next day, and Serch went to bat for the Queensbridge icon, with stops that included Russell Simmons, who passed. “He sounds like G Rap, and G Rap doesn’t sell no records. I’m not interested,” Simmons allegedly told Serch.
After going back and forth with Big Beat, Serch met with Faith Newman at Sony and then stopped by Zomba. Afterward, he returned to Nas with good news. “I go to his mom’s apartment and I handed him two checks. I said, ‘we’re done.’ he moved his mom out [of the projects].”
When all was said and done, and it came time to sign an “At Will Agreement,” which would have allowed Serch to benefit from Nas’ publishing, Esco’s lawyers allegedly refused — at first. Before Serch’s lawyer could even get a word in, Serch says he walked over to Nas said, “I wish you the best of luck,” before leaving.
“What I was asking for was extremely fair, extremely fair … way less than Puffy got for Biggie. way less than then Dre got for Snoop, way less than Baby got for Wayne,” he said before adding “I couldn’t be the Jew benefiting from the black man in front of me. I wasn’t going to be that guy.
“I couldn’t be that guy no matter how much I could have benefited, I couldn’t sleep with myself at night,” he continued. “I wanted him to win. I’ll be fine. I’ll figure myself out. And sure enough, an hour later they were like, yeah, we’ll sign. Not a problem. So he signed, and you know, the rest is history.”
According to Serch, a week after the release of Illmatic, Nas made his first million. “He sold 165,000 albums April 20th. That week he became a millionaire. He was already recouped. Everything after that, only made his wealth grow more and more.”