Nas’ skill as a lyricist is undeniable, and he is unparalleled in his storytelling ability. However, he had dreams of being an actor in the early-2000s and in the 2002 Roc-a-Fella film.
Although Damon Dash, alongside the epic Jay-Z, co-founded Roc-A-Fella as a record label in 1995, by 2002, the empire had grown so large that the company entered the film industry. The first film released by Dash was called Paid In Full.
Nas was a legend in the 1990s, and his debut project, Illmatic, is still considered a classic. Moreover, his sophomore body of work, It Was Written, is also regarded as legendary. However, few people knew that he tried out for a well-known role in Paid in Full.
A clip of Nas (real name Nasir Jones) recently resurfaced, and it was an audition tape that showed the King’s Disease rapper reading for the role of Rico — a character based on Harlem gangster Alpo Martinez.
The tape was recorded in 2001, and according to some reports, the audition took place mere months before Jay-Z recorded his Mobb Deep and Nas diss track ‘Takeover’, which then led to the iconic ‘Ether’ from Stillmatic.
The role of Rico eventually went to Cam’Ron. However, While in Washington DC, wearing $200,000 worth of diamonds, local thieves recognised Cam’Ron as the felon from the film and attempted to rob him. The Harlem artist told The Washington Post, “I got shot three times, and my album comes out November 22nd. It was a sloppy job on their part. They didn’t get anything. I still got my car and my jewellery.”
Paid In Full was based on Harlem drug lords Rich Porter, Alpo Martinez, and Azie “AZ” Faison’s time as the kingpins of the New York City drug trade in the 1980s. AZ is the only surviving member of the three.