I always found it odd that you apologized to Hot 97 after going crazy on Power 105.
I was saying Fuck Hot 97 because of that issue at the time. I was like, Don't play my records, fuck it. At the time, the person that ran the show called me – I didn't want to meet with them but they kept calling – and I sat down with them. It wasn't me apologizing. It wasn't like that. After a meeting – I won't go into the meeting – I started feeling like the bad guy. I realized these were human beings that I was talking about. These were people that I didn't really have a beef with. I don't want to feel like I'm going off on somebody like I want to hurt them like that and let that shit just linger in the air. That's no good, especially when they don't look at me like they want to hurt me…I was at their first Summer Jam. Hot 97 started off playing my records so we have a history together. They had people on the air that I don't wish no ill will toward them like that when it's all said and done. After I got my shit off and calmed down and they calmed down it was a unified thing where we were both apologetic to each other.

I read that when you were making God's Son you made a couple of diss records that were so crazy you had to destroy them.
Yeah.

Why?
I had a lot of anger after my mom passed away and I was taking shots at anything moving. If those records would be around forever on my album…I just knew it wasn't that deep. Then I didn't want to fall into using that as marketing. Everybody does it today, there will probably be 10 diss records about me and you tomorrow from people who we've never met because that's now marketing, which is sad but it is what it is. At the time, I didn't want to be cheap. I didn't have enough beef to ride it out like that and put these things on the album.

You talked about how beef is used as marketing. But you do know that beef has helped your career, right? It helped Stillmatic sell a lot of records.
It helped Stillmatic, definitely. I don't know if it helped my career in a sense of singling me out where beef helped just Nas' career, something that I wasn't looking for. Now it's a test. A lot of artists are around and a lot of artists complain, Oh, I need this, I should be doing this, but I've never seen their chin tested. Now, it becomes something that's kind of mandatory for all great MC's to go through. So if it's helped Nas' career, then I've been great to hip hop and hip hop has been great to me and I've helped hip hop. If it's helped Nas' career then Nas' career has helped hip hop.

Do you know that a lot of rap fans want you to make more "Ether's.”
[Laughs]

Like when you and 50 were…
You got to understand, 50 has got to come see me in…I can't look at 50 as a challenge. That guy came up, well, he came up with a lot of cats so I can't be the one to claim some shit over him. But that guy, me and him, that was a Braveheart right there. I don't even understand what he's doing. I don't even get it. And then sometimes, I get it and then I don't get it. He's a troubled man, yo. He's going through his shit and you just have to understand that's 50.

He seems like an angry guy.
I been there. I been there. Sometimes I don't get it because the tutelage he got with me to some point, the man puts his work in. Sometimes, I don't understand it because our relationship, I thought was something else. But I understand him with the wild out because I've been there and now you come to understand, that's just 50.

Do you think losing that sales battle with Kanye humbled him a bit?
I think it already has. He ain't going to admit it.

What have you seen?
I don't see shit. I'm just knowing based off what I'm seeing from where you're at. I'm with you. We're fans and just watching. He's not going to say shit, the guy is a nut but whatever man, I honestly wish the nigga the best even though in spite his craziness because I know we all get crazy from time to time. He stays on his crazy but I actually wish him the best. He is a voice.

Back to what I was saying before though, people really want to hear rappers talk shit about you, hoping that you will release another "Ether.”
I really don't want to do that to nobody because it's kind of fucked up. When I go in, I go in. I've erased songs before. I've had my niggas hear shit that I said about whoever and they're like, ‘Damn.' I look at myself as old school. I'm a serious cat. Sometimes I really don't know what's going on. How is there all this talk about each other; there would be more murders if these guys were real. I'm trying to avoid some shit. One of my favorite Jay-Z lines is, "It's a full time job not to kill niggas.” That's a full time job. On top of that, you're trying hard to maintain. I had to restrain myself lots of times on dudes that I could smash like a pebble. Years ago there was talk about this one said this, this one said that. Someone is calling me right next to the guy like what do you want to do to this guy? I could smash these guys like a pebble, man, but for what? I'm a G, man. I'm an OG now. It's different ways. I got to lead by example. People need to follow my lead but I will spank somebody's ass if I don't have a choice. I don't like to just go in. When Jay went in on Dip Set, at first I was like, "You ain't got to do that.” But then when he did it, I understood. I understand why you're doing that. [Nas smacks his fist into his palm.] I don't just got to go unless the niggas we respect, the fans, when you feel it, like "Oh, it's on.” Then you have no choice. But I haven't felt that way since years ago.

It seems like you have a lot less anger since meeting your wife.
I give my wife total credit and salute her for being who she was. She was just turning 23 when I met her. Here I was, already having sold so many records and I was going at it with everybody and going through it because of the loss of my mom. I was dealing with a lot of the time and there were other women that I knew that we were talking about serious but it was missing something. When I met her it was smooth sailing, it was like friends. She was just able to flow with me and that's all I ask for. To be able to deal with me at that time? I was a monster going through what I was going through and for her to be able to handle that? That was perfect.