It’s been more than a decade and chance since Jay-Z and Nas battled for rap supremacy when they dropped some scathing diss tracks in “The Takeover” and “Ether,” and though they’ve since squashed the drama and moved on with their lives, OG rap aficionados still argue on who had the better record.
Jay-Z for his part has no problem with fans concluding that Nas got the best of him when he called him a “tae-bo h*e” amongst other things on the rap battle classic “Ether.” Def Jam published an oral history about the making of the classic Jay-Z album, The Blueprint, and in it former Roc-A-Fella A&R Lenny “Lenny S” Santiago explained his frustration over how Hip-Hoppers were declaring Nas’ “Ether” the victor over Jay’s “Takeover.” From venting to Roc-A-Fella co-founder Kareem “Biggs” Burke to cursing out New York’s Hot 97 radio station, Lenny S had a hard time with fans leaning more towards the Queensbridge King than Hova the Gawd. It wasn’t until he got on the phone with Jay that Lenny S was able to see the bigger picture behind what had happened and accepted the end results.
“So I literally call him from a pay phone. And here we are, Jay’s on the phone with me, convincing me that this has to happen in life. We have to go through ups and downs. We have take losses in order to get greater wins. We have to fall in order to get up. He just spent 15 minutes convincing me why this was necessary and that it’s alright. This man just took a loss. A public loss to a rival rapper. And he’s convincing me, a young A&R, and obviously his friend and his brother, of like why I need to be okay with this and let it go and not take it to heart. It just taught me as a man how to be a more mature adult. And to look at the glass as half full instead of half empty. Jay took the time when he could have been selfish, or pissed off, and took the time to school me. And that’s from The Blueprint.”
To be fair, at the time Hot 97 held a contest for listeners to decide who had the better diss track between Nas’ “Ether” and Jay-Z’s “Super Ugly” in which Jay spit over Nas’ “Got Urself” instrumental and then revealed his relationship with Nas’ babymother over Dr. Dre‘s “Bad Intentions” track. Apparently Jay didn’t go hard enough over Nas’ beat but went over the line on Dr. Dre’s joint. If we remember correctly, even Jay-Z’s family told him he didn’t have to bring Nas’ baby’s mother into the drama on the diss track. Either way New York listeners decided “Ether” was a better song than “Super Ugly.” It was. Had they actually pitted “Ether” against the original Nas diss cut “Takeover” then the results might’ve been different.
Luckily both men were able to hash out their differences and are now continuing to cash in on life outside of rap. Gotta love Hip-Hop, b.