Today in Hip-Hop History: Nas Released the Controversial Visuals for ‘Hate Me Now’ 21 Years Ago

On this day in Hip Hop history, Queens legend Nas released the video for his hit single, “Hate Me Now.” Although the song may be a fan favorite, the video came with a lot more controversy than any music video should. Shot by Hype Williams, the video features the crucifixion of Christ with Nasir himself playing the role of Jesus. Diddy, who was then known as Puff Daddy, was featured on the track, was also cast as one of the criminals on a cross beside Nas.

Conflict arose on April 15, 1999, when the video was premiered on MTV’s TRL. Puffy, who is a devout Catholic, had requested his image on the cross be removed from the cut of the video that was to air nationally. Whether it was an honest mistake or done intentionally is unknown; but, the fact of the matter is the request was ignored and the full video was broadcast across the country.

The events that followed could be deemed as outlandish by some. Puffy’s reaction to the lack of consideration of his religious views turned violent when he stormed into Nas’ manager, Steve Stoute’s office with several bodyguards and allegedly attacked Stoute by smashing a bottle of champagne on his head. The assault led to a suit that was settled out of court.

When asked about the incident and the inspiration for the video Nas explains,

“There’s a play in New York where a Black man played Jesus, and caught a lot of flak. I think, even the mayor at the time, Giuliani, was against it. So my thing was I wanted to be crucified like Jesus in the video, to get back at all those people that don’t want to see a Black man doing his thing. Me and Puff got hammered to the cross, but after Puff expressed his religious beliefs and spoke to his pastor, he wasn’t ready to take that stance, so it was really my idea anyway, so we took his part out. For some reason, I think Steve Stoute let it fly with Puffy still being crucified to the cross, so there was that fight at the office, where Puff jumped on Steve or some s*it like that. Both of them were friends of mine, so I squashed the whole thing, and it’s all in the past. Just growing pains. We were all growing up. That brings back a lot of memories. Even when I throw it on onstage now, it still kills.”