According to the Murder Inc. founder, he says it all started with the 1996 Reasonable Doubt track “Brooklyn’s Finest” featuring The Notorious B.I.G. Gotti said he initially warned Hov not to do the song.
“Me knowing Jay how I know Jay, now I’ll go back to ‘Brooklyn’s Finest,'” Gotti begins. “I was dead set against it. I was telling Jay, ‘Don’t do it, don’t do it’ and he was like, ‘Why?’ I was like, ‘Big, he’s too strong. Before we take over the world, we gotta take over the West Coast.
“Before we take over the West Coast, we gotta take over the East Coast. Before we take over the East Coast, we gotta take over New York. Before we take over New York, you gotta take over Brooklyn and he owns all that.’ And I was like, ‘This n-gga’s not a wack n-gga.’ I was in fear like, ‘Yo, you may came off like his little man, you understand?'”
When Joe asked if he meant he wanted them to battle, he replied, “I didn’t want them to battle, I just wanted him to do it without his assistance because we was friends with Big. Big was at the ‘Ain’t No N-ggas’ set. We used to go these Italian restaurants and eat. Big was a friend.”
Still, Gotti had his reservations.
“On a business level, this n-gga is so hot, I don’t know if y’all be able to get him,” he continues. “If you listen to ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’ — I want everybody to go listen again. Jay did his four bars and Big did his four bars … this is just my opinion. I’m not speaking for Hov. If you listen to the record, he was getting at him. But I said, ‘Big is gonna sniff it out.'”
He raps, “‘Yeah, they told me you was holding more drugs than a pharmacy/You ain’t harmin’ me so pardon me.’ He was going right back at him. That’s why ‘Pac was shitting on Jay because of ‘Brooklyn’s Finest.’ [Raps again] ‘If Fay had twins/She’d probably have two Pacs,’ get it? and Jay’s on the record with him so now he’s like, ‘Fuck you, ain’t no n-gga like me, fuck JAY-Z’ and he starts bombing on Jay.”
‘Pac and Jay didn’t beef as hard as ‘Pac beefed with Big. But following ‘Pac’s 1996 murder, two of his posthumous tracks — “Bomb First (My Second Reply)” and “Fuck Friendz” — included some shots at Hov. Although Jay was armed with a rebuttal, longtime Jay producer DJ Clark Kent said it was never released “out of respect” for the slain legend.
“It never came out out of respect for the fact that he died,” Kent said during a 2015 podcast called A Waste Of Time With ItsTheReal. “Jay did a record going at ‘Pac, but just as it was about to come out, son died…We performed it, though. We performed it once. You have to understand. The chip on Jay’s shoulder is so crazy, it’s just like he had to perform it.”