They Reminisce Over You Podcast

Jay-Z & Nas cover art for episode 18 of the They Reminisce Over You Podcast

Aug 17, 2021

Episode 18: Jay-Z & Nas - Dead Presidents

Episode Summary

Going back to the early days of The Bridge Wars through Pusha T's Drake bullying in 2018, we'll be discussing some of the most impactful moments in hip hop history. We're kicking things off with probably the most well known "disagreement," Jay-Z vs. Nas.


Miguel: Welcome back to They Reminisce Over You. I'm Miguel.

Christina: And I'm Christina. And today, we're going to discuss some of our favorite hip hop beefs. But, only the ones where nobody died.

Miguel: Yes.

Christina: [Laughs] So originally, when we were coming up with this idea, we had a list of like, 10 matchups—no, more than 10.

Miguel: Yeah, it was more than 10.

Christina: And then we're like, 'kay, that's too many. So we narrowed it down to eight. And then when we started actually putting it together, I was like, you know what? I think two would be more than enough.

Miguel: Yeah, let's bring it down to a manageable number.

Christina: We're just going to do two this round and this will be an ongoing series. But we're gonna start with Jay-Z and Nas. And then part two will be Lil' Kim and Fox Boogie Brown.

Miguel: Yes. We're gonna knock two big ones out at the very beginning. So you ready—

Christina: We're coming out "skrong"!

Miguel: [laughs] Yes. You ready to get started?

Christina: Yeah. Let's do this.

Miguel: Okay.

Christina: So if you are a certain age and you listen to hip hop, Jay-Z and Nas. If you want to talk about hip hop beefs, you have to talk about the two of them, because this was just a big deal.

Miguel: It was. For years.

Christina: And also, I think what makes it a bigger deal, looking back on it now is, this started mid '90s, early '90s and went well into the early 2000s. So this was started pre-internet. So I think just drama and stuff, we just didn't have it as much as... We have access to drama daily now, right?

Miguel: Yeah, right now it's like every 45 minutes something is happening.

Christina: Yeah. Like I spend one day off of Twitter and I miss, I dunno, whatever the drama was that day.

Miguel: Yeah, today’s drama has been missed.

Christina: So I think that's what also made it a really big deal but also just who they were and stuff.

Miguel: Yeah. It was mostly because of who it was more than anything. And like you said, it was a different time. So if you hear something, you're not going to get a response immediately like you do now. It might take six, seven months before you hear somebody's response record.

Christina: Exactly. So with that being said, let's start off with the general background. Cause there was some things that I learned preparing for this episode that I didn't know back then, because as I was saying, we just didn't have—

Miguel: We didn’t have access to it.

Christina: —the same kind of access to information as we do now. So this kind of starts mid '90s. Illmatic was released in '94 and it was like highly anticipated debut. There was a lot of buzz going on around Nas. And as we mentioned in The Source Awards episode,[1] Biggie cleaned up, despite the fact that Illmatic was critically acclaimed. But he was definitely someone that people were watching. And then Reasonable Doubt was released in '96, which was also a critically acclaimed debut. And also includes a cameo from a young Inga, aka Foxy Brown, who we will talk about in part two.

Miguel: We will.

Christina: And then It Was Written, by Nas, was released a month after Reasonable Doubt. And then Biggie's untimely death in '97. I think all of that kind of also plays into how things panned out.

Miguel: Yeah. And because Biggie wasn't there, you then have this void of who's going to be the king of New York. And the two at the top of the list were Nas and Jay-Z. So obviously it's going to be very competitive between the two of them.

Christina: Right. So even if the two of them weren't already beefing, you know, people were kind of pitting them against each other anyways, cause there's only room for one king of New York, I guess, right? [Laughs]

Miguel: There can only be one king.

Christina: Yeah.

Miguel: Which is what Nas said on "The Message."[2]

Christina: Oh right. Yep.

Miguel: "There can only be one king." So...

Christina: Was that on the, uh, It Was Written?

Miguel: Yeah. So it was "The Message."

Christina: Okay. The first—first song.

Miguel: Yeah. One life, one love and there could only be one king.

Christina: Yeah. So allegedly how it started, which I didn't know about this, but allegedly, Nas was supposed to appear on Reasonable Doubt. But he never showed up to record his verse. And then the producer, Ski Beatz, ended up sampling Nas's "Dead Presidents" line from "The World is Yours"[2:1] for Jay-Z's "Dead Presidents II."[2:2]

Miguel: That's the story that I always thought it was. He was supposed to come in, re-record that "I'm out for presidents to represent me." He never showed up and from that point on, it wasn't fuck Nas, but it’s like, that dude's a snake. I can't mess with him. That's the way I always took it.

Christina: Yeah. I didn't know they had beef until, which we'll get to, "Takeover." I was just like, wha? Where did this come from? But apparently it started, maybe from this—

Miguel: Because there—

Christina: which was ’96.

Miguel: —there is a secondary timeline happening as well, with Nas’s baby mama, Carmen. Who claims that she is the cause for the beef[3] and not the song, not "Takeover," not him showing up to the recording session. It's her because allegedly—

Christina: She's the Helen of Troy of hip hop.

Miguel: She's the Helen of Troy of hip hop.

Christina: Those are her words.

Miguel: Yeah, we didn't make this up. These are her words. And she says that she was dating Nas and cheating with Jay-Z.

Christina: Also his baby mother.

Miguel: Right. His baby mom.

Christina: The mother of his child.

Miguel: Seems plausible, but the only problem I have with it is why would it take that long for it to bubble over? If the cause is her, back in 1996, why are we just waiting until 2001 for it to bubble over it? That's why I don't think she's the cause of it. I think she thinks she's the cause of it.

Christina: Unless Nas didn't find out till later? But—

Miguel: According to her, he knew.

Christina: Okay. There's also a third storyline.

Miguel: Give us the third one.

Christina: Memphis Bleek.

Miguel: Yes.

Christina: Jay-Z’s protégé. I found a couple interviews, most notably, the one he did on Drink Champs, Noreaga's podcast, where he said he started it.[4]

Miguel: Yes.

Christina: ’Cause he was hot at the time. And he thought he was just on fire. And the funny thing is now he says—he kind of blames it on his one friend, he said the name but I can't remember.

Miguel: Yeah I don’t remember the guy’s name.

Christina: Who like, hyped him up into believing that this line that Nas said was about him. So basically—uh, you know what? I think it's possible actually, it could be about him because, okay, so, Memphis Bleek, in his song, "What You Think of That?"[2:3] he said, "My whole team rock rocks, we don't speak to cats/I'mma ball till I fall what you think of that?"

Miguel: Right.

Christina: Then Nas says in "Nastradamus,"[2:4] "you wanna ball till you fall," which is basically quoting his line. "I can help you with that/You want beef? I could let a slug melt in your hat."

Miguel: See, that one was about Memphis Bleek. But Memphis Bleek is talking about another song.

Christina: Ooooh.

Miguel: That's what he was responding to. It was a different one, that was on a DJ Clue mixtape, apparently. And he says now that it wasn’t, now that he thinks about it. But the guy hyped him up so much. Calling him on vacation, like, "Hey Nas is getting at you." He just went in and was like, "alright. Fuck Nas." And that's when he did his.

Christina: Right.

Miguel: And then Nas came back.

Christina: Okay. So the hilarious thing on the Drink Champs episode is, he's telling this story and then Noreaga looks at him and he's like, "So... in your mind, you thought you could take on Nas?"

Miguel: And the whole room just explodes in laughter.

Christina: Everybody laughs. And even... Memphis Bleek, he understands. He starts laughing too. He was just like, alright, okay, okay, I get it. I get why y'all are laughing. But he was like, I was so hyped up. I thought I could do it. And Noreaga is like, look, if Jay-Z or Nas come at me, I would let that go.

Miguel: Right.

Christina: But, Memphis Bleek was hyped up by his friend.

Miguel: He was.

Christina: He was hot. He thought he was ready to take him on. And so he did.

Miguel: He just jumped out the window and...

Christina: Yup.

Miguel: And we’re off and running.

Christina: Oh and the other hilarious thing was he's like, his role in the beef was the same as his role in State Property. He said, "I just shoot at shit." So basically he started it, which I didn't know. So they went back and forth for a little bit and then Nas drops his "Stillmatic (freestyle)."[5] And that's when Jay-Z was like, alright little homie, I'll take over for you.

Miguel: Yeah. And there was also the, uh, the song he has, "Memphis Bleek is..."[2:5] Which apparently pissed Nas off as well.

Christina: Because of "Nas is Like."[2:6]

Miguel: I don't see any connection there, but you know how sensitive and petty these rappers are. Because the song sounds nothing like "Nas is Like." The content says nothing similar to the song. Just the title. "Is" is in the title.

Christina: Right. With an ellipsis.[6]

Miguel: Right. Like, that’s all. That's the only similarities between the two.

Christina: Honestly, I hated the Nastradamus album. So I didn't even know—like the song and that line. Even if I knew that him and Bleek were beefing, I wouldn't have...

Miguel: Yeah.

Christina: Noticed anyways, cause I really did not like that album.

Miguel: So with Memphis Bleek telling his story, Carmen telling hers, and then the original origin story we have of Nas as not showing up to the session, I think it's some sort of combination of the three.

Christina: Yeah, I think just—shit was brewing. And then also just...

Miguel: I don’t think she was the catalyst for it because it wouldn't have taken that long for it to spill over.

Christina: And just general competitive bravado. Now Biggie's dead. Someone's got to take over. So it's just, kind of like, all these things had to happen. I guess.

Miguel: Right. And something that I never really paid attention to before is on, "Is That Your Bitch,"[2:7][7] it's like, who could Jay-Z possibly be talking about. Because he's talking about very specific references on that song. We now know that he was talking about her.

Christina: Right.

Miguel: But at the time it was like, you talking a lot of shit for some reason.

Christina: Also, like I keep saying, we just didn't have the same kind of access to information.

Miguel: Yeah.

Christina: Like, I didn't know who the hell Nas’s baby mama was.

Miguel: And Jay-Z is always talking slick to somebody. Cause that's what he does.

Christina: And even, now, like when I first heard of the beef it was "Takeover." I never heard this "Stillmatic (freestyle)" until recently, which came before "Takeover."

Miguel: Yeah, cause he just basically went at everybody on Roc-A-Fella, on the song.

Christina: Poor Sisqo caught a stray for no reason.

Miguel: Uh, Sisqo caught a stray and Cormega caught one too.

Christina: Oh, I missed the Cormega.

Miguel: Yeah. It was just thrown in in the middle of him saying a whole bunch of other stuff about them. Some really inflammatory stuff. And he was just like, "you corny like Cormega." And then just, it—just thrown in there. A little sprinkle.

Christina: Little sprinkle. So he called, Jay-Z the rappin' version of Sisqo. Which was like a gay joke too, which is just...

Miguel: The whole song.

Christina: Yeah. The song was called, well now it's called the "Stillmatic freestyle" but "H to the Izzo" was out. So he called him"H to the H.O.M.O." or something. Like it spelled out—just stupid. Very uh... you know.

Miguel: Very over the top and aggressive for 19—or actually 2001.

Christina: Right. There was a lot of shots taken. So this is when Jay-Z was like, alright, let's do this, officially.

Miguel: Which is hilarious because you can see the petty in him. Because he's already got some issues going on with him and Mobb Deep as well, because of what he said on, ah, I forget which song it was, but he said that New York was soft since Snoop came through and crushed the buildings.[8] And they took offense to that. So they had been throwing shots at him in songs and interviews. And then this Nas thing came out of nowhere. Again, I was out of the country when all of this is happening. So I didn't know any of this until a friend of mine told me about "Takeover."

Christina: Right.

Miguel: So we went out and bought the CD in St. Thomas. Because again, I was gone. Went to this record shop in St. Thomas, bought "Takeover," listened to it and was like, where did this shit come from? Why is he just mad at everybody?

Christina: Yeah. I was listening to all these records, but I didn't make any connections to anything, right. And so when the "Takeover" came out, it was like, what? Because I hadn't heard the "Stillmatic (freestyle)" either. So... so he's performing at Summer Jam and a lot was happening in this performance already. Like he brought Michael Jackson out.

Miguel: Well he did that at the end.

Christina: Yes. But it's the same performance. And it's like, wait a minute. So you debuted "Takeover" and brought Michael Jackson out.

Miguel: Yep. Same day.

Christina: Which also produced one of the greatest memes of Jay-Z just standing there, looking sour,[9] and everyone else is like, woooaaah! And then there's a picture with Michael Jackson[10] and the rest of them and he's just like, whatever.

Okay. So, we'll save the Michael Jackson story for another time. Or you could just look up Hot 97's 2001 Summer Jam.

So this is the first time anybody has heard "Takeover." And so, I couldn't find any video of this, but I was hoping, you know, random people on YouTube—I was hoping somebody did. The closest was somebody uploaded the audio.[11]

Miguel: Yeah, the audio been out forever. But there’s no video. Hot 97 has video, but they've never released it.

Christina: Hmm. But we've seen just a still picture.

Miguel: Yeah.

Christina: So... he starts with Mobb Deep. And this is where, also the lexicon was changed.

Miguel: Getting put on the Summer Jam screen.

Christina: "Put on the Summer Jam screen" became a thing that we say now because he literally put Prodigy up on the Summer Jam screen. So he, uh, put a picture up of Prodigy when he was a kid. His grandmother owned a dance studio. So he was wearing his dance recital, Michael Jackson outfit.

Miguel: Yeah, a Michael Jackson outfit.

Christina: So he puts him up on the screen, calls him a ballerina. The rumor is, Ashanti[12] gave him the pictures of Prodigy.

Miguel: Yeah, I saw that.

Christina: The dance school was owned by his grandmother. And she was like renowned, the school was very popular. She went to the dance school, so she had all the pictures. So she allegedly gave Jay-Z the pictures.

Miguel: I believe it.

Christina: Not sure why, if she had her own beefs or he just asked and she was like, alright, I got some.

Miguel: Maybe there was an open call, like, hey—

Christina: Maybe.

Miguel: Who got some dirt on this guy?

Christina: So it's just audio and you can hear the audience is just quiet cause they just want to eat up every word. Cause nobody's heard this. And I think—I’m sure a lot of people had no idea that this was even happening.

Miguel: Right. Because like you said, we weren't getting this kind of information.

Christina: Yeah. So he's just going in on Mobb Deep. And... so Mobb Deep, they're like little dudes, right.

Miguel: Yeah

Christina: And I just think that when you call someone "a little fuck," that's extremely disrespectful.

Miguel: It is. And the best part of all that is apparently they're playing a version of the song that wasn't even mixed and mastered yet. So it's a very raw, bare bones version of it. And he starts rapping and then they just end the beat and he's doing it a cappella. He's stopping and starting it over so you could hear what he's saying about Prodigy. And the crowd is just oooooooh.

Christina: Yeah. And then one bar at the end. "Ask Nas. He don't want it with Hov." And then everyone's like, aaaaaahh!

Miguel: Which was brilliant because he just baited him.

Christina: Yes.

Miguel: He’s like, I'm just going to leave this here just to see what his response is.

Christina: So not only was the "Summer Jam screen" now a thing that people say. Also, "We don't believe you. You need more people!"

Miguel: That was a masterclass in baiting people.

Christina: Yeah. So just looking at the timeline of all this and how Jay-Z responded to Nas... He’s a master troll, I think.

Miguel: Yeah. He is. He doesn't come across as one, but he's definitely a troll.

Christina: Yeah. Now everyone's like what is going on? And then The Blueprint gets released and the "Takeover"[2:8] is on the album.

Miguel: Yep. We get to hear the full version.

Christina: Also produced by a young producer named Kanye West.

Miguel: Some guy that you may have heard of.

Christina: Back when people were probably calling him "Kane" still. So "Takeover" was included on The Blueprint and it's now mixed and finished and there's an extra long verse for Nas. And the addition of the "laaaaaame" punctuating, all of the insults just makes it even more disrespectful.

Miguel: Yeah.

Christina: So what I found on this song, on top of just what he's saying, his tone makes it so much more disrespectful.

Miguel: Right.

Christina: Because he's talking to him like, he's this pesky little brother. It's like a verbal pat on the head. "Smarten up Nas!"

Miguel: Yes, which is another great line.

Christina: Yeah

Miguel: I don’t know if you remember it, but there used to be a website called Smarten Up Nas.

Christina: No!

Miguel: It was a website/message board.

Christina: No I don’t remember that.

Miguel: Yes.

Christina: Oh man. There's the "smarten up Nas." There's the "one hot album every 10 year average." Ugh! He's like, "The first one was Illmatic. Second one... eeeeehhh." Like, just the tone is so...

Miguel: Yeah. And the thing is, that's what people were saying about Nas because he came out hot and then It Was Written kind of slipped a little bit. And then I Am... and Nastradamus, people were like, what the hell happened here?

Christina: Yeah 'cause by the time we got to Nastradamus, it was like, uh...

Miguel: Yeah. So it was perfect for him to do this at this time because Nas was fading at this point.

Christina: And then, he also had the "Stillmatic (freestyle)" to kind of work with too. Cause he's like, "You made it a hot line. I made it a hot song." Was it the "Takeover" where he said he knows who he paid or was that...

Miguel: Yeah.

Christina: Okay. Cause—

Miguel: Cause that's what Nas was talking about. I'm getting paid every time you use it.

Christina: Right.

Miguel: Like, yeah, but...

Christina: You're not getting paid.

Miguel: Serch is getting paid.[13]

Christina: Your publishing company is getting paid, which you don't own.[14]

Miguel: It’s like you might get a couple pennies off of it.

Christina: Yeah.

Miguel: But he's getting paid.

Christina: So I don't know if he was holding back and hoping to bait Nas or if he just was like, I won't take it that far. But on "Takeover," he only hinted at the Carmen stuff. He said, "you know who/did you know what/with you know who/let's keep that between me and you." So...

Miguel: Again, baiting him.

Christina: You think he was baiting him?

Miguel: The same way that he did it at Summer Jam.

Christina: Yeah.

Miguel: I'm only going to give you this much.

Christina: Just to rile you up and see what happens.

Miguel: Yeah. Just to see what he says, and then I'm going to hit you with the full song. And then I'm going to sprinkle a little more in the full song to see if you jump out and take the bait again.

Christina: Which he did. So Nas comes back with "Ether"[2:9] on Stillmatic. So this also changed our lexicon because "Ether" now became a verb. So, I mean, that's just something that people say now, right? You got ethered. So Nas said an interview with New York Times that he chose the name "Ether" because he wanted to burn Hov's spirit.

Miguel: It makes your soul burn slow.

Christina: Yep. So, you know, I'm always tickled when Jay-Z gets referred to "of Hawaiian Sophie fame."

Miguel: Yes.

Christina: Tupac said it first.

Miguel: He did.

Christina: In... which song was it?

Miguel: "Bomb First."[15]

Christina: All right. And he was like—

Miguel: Well, actually Tupac didn't say it.

Christina: Oh.

Miguel: It was the guy on the intro to "Bomb First."

Christina: Oh. Right. Yes. But it was Tupac's song, but he had like a little intro.

Miguel: A little narrator talking about "Mobb Sleep," "Notorious P.I.G." "Big little whatever."

Christina: And "Jay-Z of Hawaiian Sophie fame." Hey, it always makes me chuckle.

I did think he, he has some good lines, but I did think he kind of leaned on sort of... it's kind of lazy, childish to call him gay and ugly and stuff, right? It's like, eh. I think depending on what you think is an insult is how you view who won. So to me, I'm like, meh, you call him gay, you call him ugly. Like, whatever. To me, it's just like childish insults. When he says things like, "name a rapper I ain't influenced," or "gave you a style to rhyme under," because people were saying how he switched up his flow. "KRS already made an album called Blueprint." "Eminem—"

Miguel: Which I always had a problem with, because KRS one's album is not called the blueprint.

Christina: Oh. It isn't?

Miguel: No.

Christina: I just assumed it was, I don't listen to KRS-One, so...

Miguel: What's the actual title... I'm going to look it up right now.

Christina: Okay.

Miguel: But it’s not blueprint. Blueprint is in it, kinda like "Nas is Like/ Memphis Bleek is..." It's one of those situations. The name of the Boogie Down Productions album is Ghetto Music: The Blueprint of Hip-Hop.

Christina: Mmm...

Miguel: That’s not the same.

Christina: I see.

Miguel: Again, it’s like the "Nas is Like/Memphis Bleek is..."

Christina: Right.

Miguel: Like, come on, you—you being petty now.

Christina: Well, it is a battle I guess. But another good line was, "Eminem murdered you on your own shit," because that's what everybody was saying. That his verse on "Renegade"[2:10] was just way better. And this being on Jay-Z's album. So I liked it when he stuck to that kind of stuff. Or even just—I don't know why he said this—but he just sounded funny like, "you 36 in a karate class?" I don’t know.

Miguel: In a karate class. And calling him a "Tae Bo ho."

Christina: Like, that's funny. But this sort of like, low hanging fruit of like, "haha you gay, you got big lips," I could do without those. But I guess if you're insulted by that, it's going to jab at you. I also think it's funny that he mentioned Foxy, when him and Foxy were in The Firm together. I mean at this point, I don't think...

Miguel: Uh, not yet. It was creeping up—actually, no. It had been done already. Cause that was before this.

Christina: That was like ’

Miguel: Yeah, ’96-97. Something like that.

Christina: And this is like 2001. So it's like, why are you bringing up Foxy? I'm guess—unless they fell out too. And he's just talking about how Jay-Z hates women and stuff. Right. But like you throwing in your old friend's name too?

Miguel: Yeah.

Christina: So I don't know, I feel about that. But, you know, he has some good jabs.

Miguel: Yeah. Like, for me, first of all, the biggest issue I've always had with Nas is he cannot pick a good beat to save his life. He's gotten better at it on the last few albums, but for the most part, that's been his worst attribute. His beat selection. If we could let Rick Ross choose all the beats for Nas, Nas would have been the greatest rapper of all time. Easily. Because Rick Ross has a great ear for beats. But Nas has horrible production choices. Like, there's a song on one of the albums where it's literally like, somebody shaking some chains. Nothing else.

Christina: Um, which album was that? The, one of the newer ones, right?

Miguel: No, it's on the Nigger[16] album.

Christina: Oh, I never listened to that album...

Miguel: It’s a song produced by Jay Electronica.

Christina: But I know what song you're talking about.

Miguel: And it's literally just chains shaking. That's the kind of stuff Nas does. So that's one reason that I didn't really like "Ether" is because I don't like the beat.

Christina: So I didn't like the beat either, but I think there was the ones who were like "real hip hop, I listened to lyrics," right?

Miguel: Right.

Christina: Like a hot beat is supposed to be secondary. It's like, naaaah, I mean, you can do—why not both?

Miguel: Yeah. And what else I like about it is some of the funny lines. Like you said, "36 in a karate class." And "mustache with whiskers like a rat." The funny stuff like that. And also, what else I liked about it was just the, "Fuck Jay-Z" from Tupac. Like alright.

Christina: Yeah, that was clever.

Miguel: I see what you're doing here. You're bringing him into it too. But on a whole, I think "Takeover" is better.

Christina: I think Jay-Z's was just more consistent.

Miguel: Yeah. "Takeover" was a sniper on the roof. "Takeover" was Kennedy being assassinated.

Christina: Oh Lord!

Miguel: "Ether" is a drive by. Just spraying all over the place.

Christina: Like you'd probably kill them, but...

Miguel: People are dying, but it's all over the place. Whereas "Takeover" was more directed, surgical.

Christina: Yeah.

Miguel: That's the difference between the two, for me.

Christina: Yeah. I'm trying to remember how I felt at the time. Because in the beginning I was a bigger Nas fan. It took me a little while to warm up to Jay-Z. I don't know why. No real reason in particular. But I loved Illmatic and I liked It Was Written. And when Reasonable Doubt came out and everyone's like, ah, classic, classic. It's not that I didn't like it. I just wasn't a huge fan like everyone else. It took me awhile. I can't remember which album where I finally, it was like, alright.

Miguel: Right.

Christina: Like I listened to it, but it wasn't like, oh, I love Jay-Z. It was like, Nas, Nas, Nas, Nas. But then Nastradamus had came out. That was when I was like, ugh. But I don't think I had given up on Nas. It was just like, I could do without this. So I think I may have just preferred Nas at the time just cause I was a bigger fan. But listening to it now, basically what you said, Jay-Z’s—it was more like, bam, bam, bam. Whereas Nas, he had some good lines and then he had some throwaway lines.

Miguel: Yeah.

Christina: You know, I could ignore the throwaways. But then if they're throwaways, then just throw them away. Like I'd rather a minute of shot, shot, shot, shots, shorter and more succinct. I don't even mind that the beat was meh, because the whole point is the lyricism, right? But the beat helps.

Miguel: But at the same time, you need something to carry it as well.

Christina: Right

Miguel: Cause I can't think of another, diss song where the beat was as bad as on "Ether." But that's just me. Some people love "Ether." At least the beat. I'm not one of those people.

Christina: Cause I think at the time, in New York, because a lot of the articles I was reading... you know, Hot 97 of course is all up on this and they were doing polls and stuff.

Miguel: Right.

Christina: It was close, but Nas was always the winner.

Miguel: Yeah. And it's because Nas had gotten so far away from this, with his previous work, because—

Christina: Right. Maybe people are just happy to have this Nas back.

Miguel: Yeah, because if he doesn't make "Ether," Nas is done. Like his albums are fading at this point. He's doing, "You Owe Me."[2:11] Like, this is the kind of stuff he's doing now. He needed "Ether" to save his career and basically it did. Cause I'm sure he would have just faded into obscurity or he would've come back two, three years later and no one really cared. This was his "Mama Said Knock You Out"[17] moment.

Christina: I'm back.

Miguel: Like, I’m back.

Christina: I'm still here.

Back to the Drink Champs episode with Memphis Bleek. Nore asked him, you know, how they all felt when Nas dropped "Ether" and he's like, "It's not about it being good." He's like, it was just, "We gon' have to get our guns and kill him." He was just saying, it was just like the attack, blah, blah, blah. But the funny thing was when he said Funkmaster Flex was a human amp. Cause he was talking about how they were playing it all the time. He's like, you know, Funkmaster Flex with his, "Oh my Gooooood!" Dropping bombs and shit. So of course, you know, Hot 97 was all over this, playing it back to back and just kind of fanning the flames.

Miguel: And the thing that really tipped the scales in Nas's favor is when "Super Ugly"[18] came out, it was just Jay-Z out of character. Like, he went way overboard in a way that he usually doesn’t. Like, he's usually calculated, like we were talking about and more surgical with it. Whereas now "Super Ugly" is the drive by. It's like, oh, you sprayed at me now I'm spraying back the whole block up. Everybody's gonna get it. And that's when Carmen gets pulled into it.

Christina: By name now.

Miguel: Yeah. So now we put a name to it and he's telling the world that yeah, I was in your car and I left condoms on your baby seat.

Christina: With Carmen. And...

Miguel: Bringing Allen Iverson into it.

Christina: I think he was married at the time too?

Miguel: He was.

Christina: It's like, hey, what do I got to do with this?

Miguel: I don't know if you saw this part of the interview, but Carmen trying to insert herself into it again. She was just talking about how there's no way that this could have happened because she didn't even have a baby seat at the time. It's like, "My daughter was eight. I didn't have a baby seat." He's obviously not talking about him sleeping with you last week. He's talking about 5, 6, 7 years ago.

Christina: Yes. When this happened.

Miguel: He didn't say he just did it. He just said that he did it.

Christina: Or it's just, you know, an embellishment. So it's like, you know, I'm sleeping with your baby moms. In theory, you've got a car seat somewhere. Maybe he didn't sprinkle condoms in the baby seat but...

Miguel: I’m not saying that he even did it.

Christina: Yeah.

Miguel: But for her to—

Christina: It’s just, I was around that time.

Miguel: But for her to try and justify it and say, "No my daughter's eight. I don't even have a car seat." It's like, come on. He's obviously not talking about yesterday.

Christina: Yep. Yeah, this one was extremely disrespectful.

Miguel: Very.

Christina: But, you know, there's still some lines, some memorable lines.

Miguel: Yeeeah. A lot of harsh stuff is happening in the song though.

Christina: Yeah. So he's calling out names, so much so that his mom...

Miguel: Yes. Had to get involved.

Christina: Forces him to apologize.

Miguel: Publicly.

Christina: So he—"Super Ugly" was played on Hot 97, of course. And I guess mom was listening to the radio, heard "Super Ugly" and was like, nah, this is too much.

Miguel: Yeah. Like, apparently his mom heard it. Nas's mom heard it. And yeah, basically everybody's like, you’ve gone too far. I don't think so, because I think everything is on the table.

Christina: All's fair in love and war and hip hop.

Miguel: When you beefin’, everything is on the table. But I can understand why he apologized because his mama told him to do it. I get that. I'm thinking that because she made him apologize and he sounded like a bad little kid. "I’m sorry," on the radio. That's what kind of swung it from being like a 50/50 vote to swing it at 60/40 towards Nas. "He a sucka. He had to apologize. Ha ha. Nas won." So it became that kind of a situation.

Christina: Yeah, I think that helped curry favor for Nas, but again, going back to just reading people's reactions to it and comments and stuff. I think it just boils down to also what you find personally offensive. Because like, for example, if you make fun of Jay-Z, by calling him ugly or gay, I don't think he cares cause like it has never stopped him from getting women.

Miguel: It hasn’t.

Christina: Hello. He's married to Beyoncé now for how long.

Miguel: Exactly.

Christina: So I don't think saying that to him is going to make him feel bad. And then he comes back and he's like, well, we can pop bottles on the boy's chipped tooth. So like...

Miguel: That was funny.

Christina: So it's like, okay, you gonna call me ugly but like....

Miguel: Yeah. Go get your tooth fixed.

Christina: Yeah, so. And he actually has a chipped too. So...

Miguel: He had a chipped tooth.

Christina: He had a chipped tooth. So I don't know. Maybe that's what caused him to finally fix it. So—so you can not be ugly and people can still make fun of your looks.

Miguel: Right. Yeah. I didn't think "Super Ugly" was that great.

Christina: Yeah.

Miguel: But it served its purpose.

Christina: Yeah.

Miguel: Do I think he went too far? No. Because, like I said, anything is on the table when you're doing diss tracks.

Christina: I think "Super Ugly," too, when were talking about beats... the fact that he did it over, uh...

Miguel: Yeah it was Dr. Dre and Knoc-turn’al.[19]

Christina: But it started off—so the first half was the, "Got Ur Self a Gun."[2:12]

Miguel: Oh, uh, "Got Ur Self a Gun."

Christina: Which, I mean, it's Nas's beat.

Miguel: Yeah.

Christina: Then the song is, ah you got yourself a gun huh? Like, to me, it's just like, you know how Jay-Z loves his double entendres. So it's like, he specifically picked that song too.

So I think it kind of like, there was some additional back and forth, but I think after "Super Ugly," it kind of fizzled?

Miguel: No, cause there were still two more songs after that. Like of all the songs that the two of them did back and forth, "Blueprint 2"[2:13] was probably the best song of the group.

Christina: Yeah. I remember, you know, we've talked about this before, and you mentioned that. But I think for me, like after "Super Ugly," it, I guess it fizzled down for me in terms of like...

Miguel: Right.

Christina: Okay, now I know they're beefing. When "Takeover" first came out, I was like, whaaaat? But by the time "Super Ugly" came out I was like, eh, they beefing.

Miguel: Right. Yeah it didn't stop there 'cause on the title track "Blueprint 2," Jay-Z is back at him again, talking about "my mama ain't gonna save you this time."

Christina: And Nas...

Miguel: One of my favorite lines that I say all the time around here:

"Y'all buy the shit, get caught up in the hype/'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 the bullshit that he write/Is it Oochie Wally[2:14] or is it One Mic?[2:15]/Is it Black Girl Lost[2:16] or shorty owe you for ice?[20]"

Is this your king?[21] That's basically what Jay-Z said. Is this your king?

Christina: I do like that "Is it Oochie Wally or One Mic?"

Miguel: Which one is it Nas? Because that's how I felt. It was like, come on, man. You going to give us some hits or are you gonna give us the songs with Ginuwine? And I don't want the songs with Ginuwine.

Christina: I think this beef kind of, for me, it kind of exposed Nas's inconsistencies.

Miguel: It was always there for me, but he did come back with "Last Real Nigga Alive,"[2:17] which was better than "Ether" to me. Like if you had dropped something like that instead of "Ether," I probably would have said you won.

Christina: Right. Maybe he had more time to marinate on it.

Miguel: Yeah.

Christina: I guess if I had to pick a winner, I would say Jay-Z. I think it's the pettiness, whereas—he might've been hurt, I don't know—whereas, Nas seemed more like, um... he probably needed a little more time to sit with it and then he probably could have come up with something a little more consistent.

Miguel: And again, this is 20 years ago when replies to diss tracks were coming out six months later. We weren't getting them on Twitter the same night.

Christina: So they had some back and forth, but eventually it just ended.

Miguel: What's funny is when they actually made up on stage, that was the "I Declare War"[22] concert. And Jay Z was on the radio talking about he was going to air out all these different people. And then when it comes down to it, none of that happened. Like, he wouldn't say who was getting aired out at this concert. It was just him, putting his flag down. "I declared war on these people." And then we get there and he's bringing Nas out and they dapping it up and hugging on stage.

Christina: And performing "Dead Presidents" where Nas actually says the line.

Miguel: Yeah, what he was supposed to be doing like 10 years before.

Christina: So he brings Nas out and beef is over. They perform together. Even with all of the nasty attacks, somehow... they got over it.

Miguel: Yeah, and they have multiple songs with each other now.

Christina: Yep. And Nas was signed to Def Jam when... I think it was...

Miguel: Yup. While Jay-Z was president there.

Christina: So at least in public it's over.

Miguel: Yeah. And I've been... I wouldn't say disappointed in the songs that they'd done together, but I would have expected more from the two of them.

Christina: Yeah. Maybe it's just too late.

Miguel: Yeah. The moment had passed. Like, they have two songs that have come out in the past six months.

Christina: I haven’t even heard the latest one yet.

Miguel: Yeah. That one’s on DJ Khaled album.[23]

Christina: I’ve been meaning to and just kinda...

Miguel: And then they got another one[24] that was on DMX’s album.

Christina: Shrug.

Miguel: I would say they probably have an EP’s worth of songs together

Christina: Yeah.

Miguel: Eight or so, something like that. Some are better than others. BBC[2:18] is by far the worst one.

Christina: I like it. I like it for just, sort of being like, basically like the movies we were talking about in Queen Latifah's episode where like, I don't expect too much I just want to be entertained. So it's just like, it's like a fun song.

Miguel: So yeah. That's where we are with the Nas and Jay-Z saga. They're buddy, buddy now.

Christina: I don't know if maybe I'm just, I have hate in my heart. I don't know if I could get over someone saying all that stuff about me.

Miguel: Hey.

Christina: Or maybe getting the money is more important.

Miguel: Getting money is more important.

Christina: Or just life goes on.

Miguel: You're not 22 anymore. Things have happened. You've grown up, people have changed. So... I, on the other hand, I'm with you. Like...

Christina: He said some harsh things.

Miguel: I don't know if we can get past this.

Christina: Both of them said some harsh things.

Miguel: Like I ain't going to hate you but we can't be friends. That's just me.

Christina: I don't know. But I guess at least it didn't end badly.

Miguel: Yeah.

Christina: So what was your favorite moment of this beef?

Miguel: Uh, "Blueprint 2."

Christina: "Blueprint 2."

Miguel: Yeah. I would say "Takeover" being performed at Summer Jam, but I wasn't there. So... that don’t count for me. It's "Blueprint 2." Just with the"Is it Oochie Wally or One Mic?"

Christina: Yeah.

Miguel: Is this your king? That was "is this your king?" if it were a song.

Christina: Yeah. I would say, I don't know if I would call this a favorite moment, but I would say it's an iconic moment, even though I love Mobb Deep, but putting Prodigy up in the Summer Jam screen. Because it's just, it's unexpected. Like people just didn't do that shit before, right. And didn't Drake do something like that?[25] Recently?

Miguel: Yeah, he was just out of control. He was putting up tweets and memes and all sorts of stuff.

Christina: Yeah. But it’s like, would he have done that if Jay-Z hadn't done it?

Miguel: No. It wouldn’t be a thing.

Christina: Yeah. And even if people don't specifically be putting people up on screens, like that is just a thing, like it's become an expression, right.

Miguel: That has become an expression and "ether" has become an expression.

Christina: Yeah so...

Miguel: They both contributed.

Christina: An iconic moment.

Miguel: Yes.

Christina: That was another argument I saw with some people talking about Nas won, cause they're like, nobody says we're gonna takeover. And it's like, because the word "takeover" is a little too generic.

Miguel: Yeah.

Christina: Like that doesn't mean Nas is the winner because nobody uses "takeover" in that sense.

Miguel: Like if, if that's what you're going with, you really reaching for straws here.

Christina: Yeah. So it's like, you know what? I don't disagree with the people who think that Nas won. I just think Jay-Z was a little more concise. That's really the only reason why I say he won.

Miguel: And for me, it's sniper versus drive-by. And Kanye is a much better producer than Ron Browz.

Christina: Yeah.

Miguel: Cause I can't stand that beat for "Ether." It's horrible. You give it a different beat, it's probably something different for me, but I can't stand that.

Christina: I think the only reason why that beat is even beloved is because of what it's associated with. So, you know, when we see these memes and stuff and people will put the "Ether" be over something, it’s like "ha ha, that’s funny."

Miguel: That makes it funny.

Christina: Because we know what that's from, but that's not something you just kind of... like.

Miguel: Yeah, like you give that beat to... let's say... M.O.P. Is that song a hit? No. Not at all.

Christina: Yeah. But like I said, I think the people who, you know, were like, "I appreciate lyricism" won't have beef with that beat.

Miguel: I guess.

Okay, wo we've gone through the history of the Jay-Z and Nas beef. We've each given our most favorite moments of both, our highlights of both. Is there anything else you would like to say, or you would like to add before we get out of here?

Christina: I think that the reason why this was such a big deal is it's kind of, you know, the essence of hip hop is this competitive spirit. And, I think people just love to watch a fight.

Miguel: Yeah. Yeah it's true. Because now that I'm thinking about it, Max Kellerman always says that as well. Like people love fights. He said, if you were in an office and somebody comes in and says, "Hey, Jimmy and Terry are playing basketball down the street." Or somebody says, "Jimmy and Terry you're fighting down the street." Which one are you getting excited about? So, same situation.

Christina: People love watching fights and free food.

Miguel: People love to see the fight.

Christina: Donuts in the kitchen.

Miguel: Right? So, same situation.

Christina: Yeah. So again, it didn't seem very friendly at the time, but I guess it was just a war of words, I suppose. Cause everything seems to be all good now.

Miguel: And I say that it revived Nas' career. Cause he was spinning down the toilet at that point and "Ether" brought him back from the dead.

Christina: Or at least ignited that fire in him.

Miguel: Yeah. He needed it.

Christina: I pretend Nastradamus doesn't exist.

Miguel: I agree. I agree. It has a couple good songs on it, but for the most part, no.

Christina: Yeah.

Miguel: So that's all I have.

Christina: Alright. So stay tuned for part 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Since we have a whole bunch to go through.

Miguel: We have we have a lot more to go through. We're going to do Ja Rule and 50 Cent. As we mentioned earlier, Lil' Kim and Foxy. DJ Quik and MC Eiht. LL cool J versus everybody. So we have we have a few.

Christina: At some point. We’ll—we’ll spread them out.

Miguel: NWA versus Ice Cube versus Ruthless versus Death Row. So we got more stuff coming. And on that note, now it's time to say goodbye to all our listeners...

Christina: What song is this?

Miguel: M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E, The Mickey Mouse Club.

Christina: I didn’t watch The Mickey Mouse Club.

Miguel: Me neither but I know it.

Christina: Okay. Alright.

Miguel: So we're going to get out of here and we'll be talking to you guys again in two weeks. Make sure to rate and follow us on your podcast service of choice, on your social media of choice, @troypodcast. If you would like to hear some of the diss tracks between Nas and Jay-Z and all these other folks, you can check out the title of this episode and search it on Spotify and a playlist will come up. Also, you can check out There's some cool stuff to check out on there and more to come soon, at some point.

Christina: Yes. I'm hoping... by the time you hear this...

Miguel: It will be done.

Christina: That something we've been promising for several episodes will be there.

Miguel: So go check that out as well. And yeah, just come back and see us in two weeks. Until then, bye.

Christina: Bye.