Because Suge Knight has boasted a fearsome reputation for nearly the entirety of his professional career and beyond, it seems a rare feat to evade the tough exterior and achieve his high esteem, but that's what Irv Gotti said he and his Murder Inc. collective managed to do years ago.
In a recent Drink Champs interview, the record producer and label co-founder detailed to hosts N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN how an unintentional but genuine phrasing from Ja Rule led to Suge giving his co-sign on a Tupac sample free of charge.
It all began after Gotti sought approval from Interscope Records co-founder Jimmy Iovine to use 'Pac's second Me Against the World single "So Many Tears" on Ja's "The Pledge (Remix)," but was redirected. "I thought 'So Many Tears' was Interscope 'cause he wasn't on Death Row at that point," Gotti explained. "[But] no, Suge took everything. So once Suge took 'Pac, I called Jimmy at Interscope and he's like, 'Irv, you gotta call Suge.'"
During a phone call between the two producers, Suge invited himself to a studio session Gotti was holding. And though he remembers readying himself for the Death Row exec's arrival, it was Suge who would end up being surprised. Gotti says, "I'ma be honest, Suge's coming over. Y'all heard all the stories. Everyone get ready. Ain't no punkin' shit going on. We gonna be cool. We ain't gonna overdo it. But I ain't gonna lie. It was like 20 niggas in the studio. It was a gangsta session....Suge comes in and he's got like five of his niggas or whatever and he's smoking cigars and seen the shit and niggas is just there. We ain't on no bullshit, but he could see the temperature of the thing: this ain't, like, security, this is niggas."
Gotti recalls, "First thing he said is, 'Oh, y'all niggas ain't on no Hollywood shit, are you?"
During their meeting, Gotti says Irv turned to Ja and asked a question that would eventually seal the fate of the sample.
"He asks Rule a question," Gotti remembers. "This is a true story....He asks Rule, 'So, where you see yourself in five years, homie?' And Rule, you know, he's smoking his blunt. He said, "Man, sky's the limit, nigga. Sky's the limit."
It was a phrase that would ring familiar for Suge.
"Suge shed a tear," Gotti says. "He said, 'Nigga, that's the same exact what my man [Tupac] said.' And he got emotional....And it was a moment. Me and Rule are like, 'It's all good, he watching over you' or whatever like that. And after that he was like, "Man y'all can have that sample.' Nigga didn't charge me a penny."
'Drink Champs' airs on REVOLT TV on Thursdays at 10pm ET.