Nas' Manager Attacked After Video Airing, Police Say

New York paper links rapper Sean 'Puffy' Combs, who appears in clip, to beating.

NEW YORK -- MTV pulled Nas' new video for "Hate Me Now" off the

air Thursday, after the rapper's manager was assaulted by three men --

reportedly including rapper Sean "Puffy" Combs -- in his Manhattan office,

according to police and the cable network.

Police spokesperson Jerry Varson said Friday (April 16) that the beating

of Steven Stoute, which police are investigating, took place for

"unknown reasons" and the suspects remain unidentified. But the New

York Daily News quoted unnamed sources identifying one of the

assailants as superstar rapper/producer Combs, and explaining that Combs

was upset with the video, in which he appears.

Representatives of Combs' Bad Boy Entertainment and Nas' label, Columbia,

could not be reached for comment at press time.

Combs -- performer of such hits as "I'll Be Missing You" and "All About

the Benjamins," and the producer of tracks by artists ranging from Mariah

Carey to Mase -- appeared on camera on the local 24-hour cable news

station NY1 to deny participating in the attack. "I heard that rumor,

too," Combs said in the interview, which NY1 aired Friday. "I don't even

know how it got started."

The "Hate Me Now" video, which debuted Thursday afternoon on the MTV

show "Total Request Live," stars Nas as a Christ-like figure who is

crucified and stoned. Combs reportedly is depicted as being crucified

also.

Hype Williams directed the clip, which begins with a disclaimer saying

Nas and Combs do not intend to defame Jesus Christ.

MTV spokesperson Greg Baldwin said the network pulled the video at the

request of both Bad Boy Entertainment and Columbia Records, but did not

explain the labels' unusual action.

"We are awaiting the arrival of a new video that has been approved by

both parties," Baldwin said.

"Hate Me Now" is from Nas' third album, I Am ..., which debuted

this week at #1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, having sold

470,941 copies its first week in stores, according to SoundScan.

Stoute, 28, who is an executive at Interscope Records in addition to

managing Nas (born Nasir Jones) and who is referred to as Steven "The

Commissioner" Stoute on the album sleeve, was attacked in his Interscope

office by three men who then fled, according to Varson. The attack

occurred about 90 minutes after the video's premiere.

He was treated at nearby St. Clare's Hospital for an arm injury and

released, Varson said.

An officer at the New York City Police Department's 18th Precinct, which

is investigating the case, declined to give further information. "We

don't know anything for sure," said the officer, who declined to

identify himself.

(Senior Writer Gil Kaufman contributed to this report.)