The 1995 Source Awards is one of the most fateful nights in hip-hop history. Snoop Dogg called out the East Coast crowd for not showing love to him and Dr. Dre, while André 3000 prophecized the next two decades of rap dominance (“The South got something to say!”). More importantly, Death Row CEO Suge Knight fired off the first real warning shots in what would become the most toxic — and tragic — rap beef of all time.
“One thing I’d like to say,” he said while accepting the award for Best Motion Picture Soundtrack (won by Death Row’s Above the Rim). “Any artist out there that wanna be an artist, and wanna stay a star, and won’t have to worry about the executive producer trying to be all in the videos, all on the records, dancing — come to Death Row!”
During a recent appearance on N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN’s Drink Champs podcast, Diddy — the target of Suge’s aggravating acceptance speech—revealed apart about that infamous night that you won’t find in the hip-hop history books. According to Puff, he “stepped” to Suge at the Source Awards afterparty at the notorious NYC nightclub, the Tunnel, but didn’t get the reply he — or probably anyone else — was expecting.
So I ran up and asked [Suge] and he said, “nah, I was talking about Jermaine Dupri.” I was just like…yo.
Somehow, that doesn't sound like the reaction you'd get from Suge "hang your ass over a balcony over unpaid royalties" Knight if you ran up on him, but we'll have to take Puffy's word for it. A Death Row vs. So So Def beef seems hard to believe, but let's not forget, Tupac dissed Da Brat on songs like "When We Ride On Our Enemies" and "4 My N*ggas," seemingly over her and her label's affiliation with Bad Boy.
Despite there being existing tension between Death Row and Bad Boy (Tupac was shot at Quad Studios in New York and blamed it on Biggie and Puff; Biggie released “Who Shot Ya” soon after), Diddy claims he was “taken aback” by Suge Knight’s Source Awards diss. “I really couldn’t believe it because homeboy, me and him were friends,” he said. “So when he had said [what he said], I was like, ‘woah, I definitely feel where that’s coming from. Are they crazy? I could blow this thing up right now.’”
However, cooler heads prevailed and Diddy says that he took a “business decision” not to escalate the situation further between him and Suge at the Tunnel. “I’m from Harlem — I don’t want no violence, I don’t want no danger, none of that shit. It gave me a reason for my ego to walk away,” he said. “I felt like the power that we had was so strong that I could do something so negative that would really mess things up.”
Unfortunately, Diddy avoiding a dust-up with Suge Knight at the Tunnel wasn’t enough to ease tensions down the road, with both Biggie and Pac losing their lives less than two years later. Does Puff believe things might have turned out differently had he taken another course of action that night? “I think it would have been worse.”