The Real Story Behind That Nas Gif

If you’re into rap and you spend a fair amount of time on the internet, you’ve probably seen this gif before. Some online joker hooked it up a few years back and it’s been floating around ever since. But what does it mean?

Those of us with a basic knowledge of hip hop history will immediately recognize the source of this gif as classic Video Music Box footage—the only known video of Nas and Biggie rocking onstage together. Method Man gives a cursory introduction, the DJ throws on that Mary Jane Girls “All Night Long” break, and Nasty Nas proceeds to kick a routine known as “The Goodfellas,” then passes the mic to a pre-Ready to Die Biggie.

For the benefit of the culture, we reached out to “Uncle” Ralph McDaniels, the media visionary who created the pioneering hip hop TV show Video Music Box, along with Lionel C. Martin, back in 1983(!) Ralph, of course, remembers this night as if it were yesterday. So we’ll let him tell the story. Relax and take notes…

It was a birthday party for Miss Jones, in 1994. I wanna say it was at the Country Club on 86th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue. You know how we get those little spots that were friendly for us, until we fucked it up. [laughs]

O.C. was on stage right before that. Fat Joe was there. Method Man was there. Common was there, I don’t know why. Who else was there? DJ Enuff, and of course Nas and Biggie.

It was definitely like a Queens house, cause Miss Jones is from Queens. She’s not from Queensbridge, but another one of those projects down there by the water. And so it was a lot of Queens people in there. At some point a fight broke out, later on. What I always realize from that was, O.C. was so hot—that “Times Up” was on fire! But then Nas was coming out and people were just forgetting about O.C.  The buzz of Nas was so crazy that was it. This was right around the time of Illmatic, so he was the man.

What happened was, some champagne or somethin’ flew. There was a bottle of champagne kinda floatin’ around amongst, you know, 20 people. [Laughs] It probably was Nas who bought that champagne and gave it to these guys when he was getting ready to perform. And whatever happened, the shit spilled and went at Nas.

Somebody thought that somebody threw something at Nas at first [Check the 0:47 mark] And when Nas turned around, he was like, “Nah, that’s my peoples. Fuck that. It’s all love.”

“That hand that comes in is Killer B, one of Nas’ hype men along with Wiz. I guess he saw the drink hit Nas and he was the closest to him when it happened. So he’s wiping the liquid—champagne or water—off of his face.

 

Nas, Killer B and Raekwon: Image courtesy of Ralph McDaniels

We didn’t know this was a legendary moment at the time. It was just another night out. In fact, I had kind of forgotten about that footage ’til one night Nas was on the Funkmaster Flex show, and Flex asked him “Did you ever do anything with Big?” Nas remembered it and said, “Yeah, Ralph McDaniels was there. He has the footage.” So he must have seen it on Video Music Box back then. I started digging in the archives and that’s when I found it.

Thank you Mr. McDaniels! So the next time you see somebody post that gif online, make sure to school them on the real story. And let ’em know who’s really lost.

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