Queensbridge legend and Illmatic creator Nas is considered one of hip-hop’s greatest lyricists and has never been a crew or collective member at any point during his career. However, it was once unveiled that in the 1990s, he was in the running to be a member of Junior M.A.F.I.A.
Although acts such as Nas, the Wu-Tang Clan and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony were prevalent during the 1990s, the decade was undoubtedly dominated by Bad Boy Entertainment and Death Row Records. That said, according to Lance’ Un’ Rivera, Nas was close to being signed to Diddy’s label.
In 1991, an A&R named Faith Newman signed Nas to Columbia Records after hearing several demos he had recorded at the legendary Power Play Studios in Queens. However, after hearing word on the street about the King’s Disease musician shortly after, Rivera was looking to draft him into Junior M.A.F.I.A., the supergroup he was creating with Biggie Smalls.
In an interview with DJ Vlad for Vlad TV, Rivera recalled, “What happened was is that he just got his record deal. This is when Faith Newman had him. The first time I seen Nas through the ‘It Ain’t Hard To Tell’ video, I said, ‘Yo B.I.G., this kid is perfect for this group!’ Now, this is how the universe and the story is working.”
He continued, “I never met Nas at this moment in time. But as we was shopping Junior M.A.F.I.A., Daddy-O took me to Faith Newman’s office, and she had just signed Nas. And Daddy-O introduced me as this brilliant marketer, director, visionary type, and she gave me Nas’ second single and said can I come up with a video treatment for it. And I wanted Toni Braxton, who’s hot at the time, to be the girl in the video.”
However, a minor issue arose when Rivera got Biggie and Nas a joint show. Recalling the concert, the Undeas founder detailed, “So the next thing you know, Biggie and Nas do a show somewhere in their early careers. This is when B.I.G. had ‘Party and Bullshit’, and Nas might’ve had ‘Live At The BBQ.’ They end up doing the show, and Nas start liking [Lil] Cease’s sister. ‘Cause I used to say, ‘Why does B.I.G. hang with Cease?'”
According to Lance ‘Un’ Rivera, both Biggie Smalls and Nas began to have feelings for Lil Cease’s sister, and it added a bit of fuel to their then-rivalry, which led to Nas becoming completely incompatible with the Junior M.A.F.I.A collective.
You can listen to the crew’s creator speak about Nas in the video below.