Nas Conflict

The feud between hip hop artists Nas and Jay-Z received public attention beginning in 2001 and ended sometime in 2005 . Due to the influence and success of the artists involved, it is one of the more popular recent feuds in hip hop , [1] [2] especially after what happened after the battle between the East Coast hip-hop and West Coast hip-hop scene .

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Foundation of rivalry

The feud between these hip hop legends is widely considered the most captivating of recent times. [3] The deepest roots of the feud may have occurred in 1992 when Nas and Large Professor had a run-in with Jay-Z and Big Jaz . [4] In 1996 , Nas refused to re-sing his vocals from " The World Is Yours " for the chorus of Jay-Z's " Dead Presidents II " or appear in its music video. [5] However, the relationship between the two rappers still remained peaceful (Jay-Z even giving a shoutout to Nas in his album liner notes [6] ), and the tension did not escalate to full-blown rivalry until after the death of the Notorious B.I.G. The position of best rapper in New York (also known as the King of New York ) seemed vacant after the death of Biggie, and fans were eager to see who would take over. [7]

In 1997, Jay-Z, who had collaborated with B.I.G., released a song titled "The City is Mine" which seemed to many people to be making a claim to the empty throne. The album from which the song came, In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 , was reportedly originally titled Heir To The Throne, Vol. 1 . Nas, the only other rapper in New York with a reputation rivaling Jay-Z's but who had never received the same amount of commercial success, responded to Jay-Z on his track "We Will Survive" (released in 1999, on his album I Am... ), which appears to dismiss Jay-Z as a serious rival as well as attacking both his claims of superiority and his continual evoking of B.I.G.'s legacy. In this song Nas also raps about the life and memory of the late Notorious B.I.G & 2pac .

As most of the feud comes, the highly publicized rivalry between Nas and Jay-Z began as a rivalry between Nas and Jay-Z's protégé, Memphis Bleek . On his debut album Coming of Age , Bleek made a song entitled "Memphis Bleek Is", which was similar in concept to Nas' single "Nas is Like". On the same album, Bleek recorded "What You Think Of That" featuring Bleek's mentor Jay-Z , which contains the refrain, "I'ma ball 'til I fall/What you think of that?" , completely biting Nas in one album efficiently. In retaliation, Nas released the single for the album Nastradamus , which contains the quote, " you wanna ball till you fall, I can help you with that / you want beef? I could let a slug melt in your hat. " which is a direct reference and diss to Jay-Z's friend and labelmate, Memphis Bleek . [8] Memphis Bleek perceived the reference on "Nastradamus" as a diss, and therefore dissed Nas on the lead single for his The Understanding album, "My Mind Right", stating " And only a few fit in, your lifestyle's written/So who you supposed to be, play your position ". Other tracks released before 2000 that may have been subliminal disses include Nas' "The Message" and Jay-Z's "Imaginary Player".

Direct Feuding

From the Stillmatic , Blueprint , "Takeover", and to "Ether"

The tension between the pair surfaced on their next releases, as each included aggressive songs entitled "Come Get Me", and various verbal jabs were thrown during subsequent mixtape appearances. The beef bubbled over into the public eye when Jay-Z mocked Nas's Queensbridge allies Mobb Deep on stage at the Hot 97 Summer Jam hip hop festival reciting the opening verse to " Takeover ", which ended with the line Ask Nas, he don't want it with Hov. [9] This is to be noted, because later, both rappers have feuded with Mobb Deep.

Nas responded with a withering attack on Jay-Z during a radio freestyle over Eric B. & Rakim 's "Paid In Full" beat, effectively dissing most of the R.O.C. members subliminally , whom to be specific, Jay-Z, Freeway , Memphis Bleek , and Beanie Sigel . Initially, the freestyle was untitled but was later titled "Stillmatic", perhaps aimed to promote his new album Stillmatic . It is also called "H To The Omo" as a direct reference to Jay-Z's song " Izzo (H.O.V.A.) ". Jay-Z may have inspired this track not only with his Summer Jam performance, but also with his 1998 track "Is That Yo Bitch?" which alludes to Jay-Z sleeping with Carmen Bryan , the mother of Nas' daughter. [10]

Almost immediately, Jay-Z responded with the re-written track of " Takeover " for the The Blueprint , on which he added a verse (the song originally only adressed Prodigy of Mobb Deep) that attacked Nas for never matching the critical success of his debut Illmatic and questioned his authenticity as an artist, due to extremely low amount of records sold compared to Nas's signing of ten years as rapper. This is the first direct diss track toward Nas and it contains the then unusual lyric: " you-know-who/did you-know-what/with you-know-who/But lets keep that between me and you (for now). " Some speculated about what this line reffered to, while others dismissed it, believing it to be nothing of importance. The Blueprint also contains an opening track titled "The Ruler's Back".

The song was very well-received by hip hop listeners, and many listeners and reviewers immediately dismissed Nas as a contender and feared for the end of his career. [ citation needed ] Therefore, it was a surprise to many when Nas responded with a greatly acclaimed track titled " Ether " from his album Stillmatic , in which he mocked Jay-Z's early years as an aspiring young rapper (in which he supposedly idolized Nas) and accused him of being a misogynist . He also explained how Jay-Z exploited Notorious B.I.G 's legacy by stealing his lyrics and claiming that he is a better artist. "Ether" contains a chopped vocal sample by 2Pac from "Fuck Friendz" where he says "fuck Jay-Z" and Nas himself mocks Jay-Z's line "I will not lose" from " U Don't Know ". He even goes as far as rapping that Eminem did better in rapping in his own album, alluding to the song "Renegade" which features, and produced by Eminem. Fuel seemed to be added when during the middle of the track, Nas claims that " The King is back (ill) / where the crown at? ( ill will ) ", claiming that he's the true recipient of the throne after Notorious BIG. Nas has claimed that Jay Z called has been ripping off his gimmick, and Cd cover. In reply Jay Z called him a, 'Gay fucking Asshole'

Other Direct Diss Tracks

The positive response to "Ether" created enormous interest in the rivalry throughout the hip hop community, the music media and even mainstream news outlets.Those questions would be answered as the rapper's response was prompted in a radio freestyle that became known as " Super Ugly ". The first verse of the song is delivered over a sample of Nas's " Got Ur Self A... ," when Jay-Z claims he "got my self a gun". In the song, Jay-Z dismisses the "Ether" track as being filled with falsehoods and questions Nas's street credibility. The beat of the song then switches up to Dr. Dre's "Bad Intentions", which Jay-Z alluded to an ongoing sexual relationship with the mother of Nas's child, Carmen Bryan . The song also alleges that Bryan also had a relationship with Philadelphia 76ers star Allen Iverson . This release was not as well received as the previous three tracks had been.

Jay-Z's mother heard the song on the radio and demanded Jay-Z publicly apologize to Nas and his family, to which Jay-Z obliged [ citation needed ] . In an interview with Rolling Stone [ citation needed ] , Jay-Z claimed that mentioning his relationship with Bryan was fair game when Nas implied Jay-z was gay in "Ether". The feud continued to simmer, and rumors of a live pay-per-view freestyle battle began to circulate but never came to fruition.

After the promoters of Hot 97's Summer Jam festival refused to allow headlining Nas to hang an effigy of Jay-Z during his performance at 2002's show, he appeared on Hot 97's rival Power 105 and attacked both the music industry's control over hip hop and the rappers who he saw as submitting to it, including Jay-Z, Nelly , N.O.R.E. and Jay-Z's label mate Cam'ron  : " Y'all brothers gotta start rapping about something that's real.... Rappers are slaves. " This brought Cam'ron into the Jay-Z/Nas feud; Cam'ron controversially made disparaging remarks about Nas' mother. [ citation needed ] Ironically, after Cam'ron established his group the Diplomats in 2005, he attacked Jay-Z for stealing Notorious B.I.G.'s lyrics just as Nas did.

After this incident both continued to go against one another on various tracks, the shots taken including Jay-Z criticizing Nas for his apparent hypocrisy on his The Blueprint²: The Gift & the Curse album's title track. On "Blueprint 2," Jay begins his diss against Nas in the second verse by attacking his street credibility. Jay also says that while he himself is more successful, he is more generous than Nas with his money. Jay goes on to mock Nas's spiritual persona from Stillmatic and after, accusing Nas of using both this appearance and convoluted lyrics in an attempt to appear more intelligent than he is: " Cause the nigga wear a kufi , it don't mean that he bright / Cause you don't understand him it don't mean that he nice/It just means you don't understand all the bullshit that he write. " In the lines immediately after, he also accuses Nas of hypocrisy for putting out commercial/materialistic-oriented tracks and then denouncing materialism and misogyny on other songs. Jay-Z also says, " My mother can't save you this time / You niggas are history " referencing the public apology his mother made him make after " Super Ugly " was released.

Meanwhile, Nas compared himself and Jay-Z to the characters Tony Montana and Manolo respectively from the film Scarface , on his track "Last Real Nigga Alive" from his God's Son album. That track detailed how Jay-Z forced Nas into battling him by attacking him while he was caring for his dying mother. However, the feud died down somewhat toward the end of 2002, with no real winner decided.


Fan response

There are arguments go on to this day in the hip hop community about who came out on top overall, with the results of a Hot 97 radio phone-in, held days after Jay-Z's release of "Super Ugly" and pitting the track against "Ether", revealing a 58% - 42% split in favor of Nas. [11] Also, after the release of The Black Album , both Nas & Jay-Z have since paid tribute to each other in interviews, likening the battle to a world title boxing match that pitched the best against the best, and pleased with the entertainment it provided fans. [ citation needed ] The rivalry also impacted their careers critically and commercially. The battle was significant in that it revived the trend of using 'beefs' as a source for publicity and promotion for hip hop artists, originally unpopular following the tragic deaths of 2Pac and Biggie, now prevalent within the hip hop community.


In what may be perhaps a pivotal moment in hip hop history, the feud was formally ended in October 2005 at Jay-Z's I Declare War concert , where Nas made a special guest appearance and performed the hook to "Dead Presidents" and a few of his own tracks such as "NY State of Mind" and " Hate Me Now ". In 2005 at another 105.1 concert Jay and Nas reunited on stage and performed a song together. [12]

In January 2006, Nas signed with Jay-Z's Def Jam , further emphasizing the truce and raising expectations for a possible collaboration.

Nas and Jay-Z are now business partners and they have toured, recorded and appeared on television and radio together throughout 2006. Jay-Z appeared on Nas' latest album Hip Hop is Dead which was released under Nas' new partnership with Def Jam. The track is titled "Black Republican".

In advance of the album and in celebration of the renewed friendship, a mixtape hosted by Mick Boogie was been released to the mixtape community in November 2006. The mixtape, titled "Mick Boogie - Jay-Z & Nas: God's Gift Special Edition" cuts and pastes Jay's song "Takeover" which attacks Nas' & Nas' response "Ether" to make a "call & response" type song turning it into a duet where the two artists are insulting each other. Another track called "What's Beef?" explains the former beef between the two from both rappers perspectives.

Other new collaborations between the two on the mixtape include:

  • Nas & Jay-Z - Black Republican
  • Jay-Z & Nas - The Rulers (produced by Hasan Insane)
  • Jay-Z, Beanie Siegel & Nas - Kill At Will (produced by The Kickdrums)
  • Jay-Z & Nas - United Nations Interlude
  • Jay-Z & Nas - What's Beef?
  • Jay-Z & Nas - Analyze This



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