Their upper charge for a beat was actually 300 k..........though you'll be lucky to get a remix for 100k.........
Forget what their "Upper" charge was. They were "Asking" 250k. I know this because I know Chad. And that's when they were literally controlling the airwaves. With the success of Kanye the Neptunes took a dip (though not a dive), and everyone began using Kanye (Alicia Keys, Brandy etc) as a first choice hitmaker. In this era, people like Scott Storch & Lil' Jon came full into fruition. People literally didn't use the Neptunes as much.
Think back to The Black Album, you heard Jay-Z's 'Encore' much more than 'Change Clothes & Go'.
In short, Neptunes are not getting 250k per beat anymore. And NaS hasn't got enough of a budget to pay 2 million dollars for ONE track. No matter how dope it was. That would mean he would literally have one of the biggest album budgets in Hip-Hop history. Oh, and there are only about 3 artists that can outbid Diddy for a track... Eminem, 50 & Jigga, and even then it's a toss up.
This is all pre-album hype. And what was it Public Enemy said?