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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Did Nas & Jay-Z Have The Biggest Rap Beef Ever?


For a time, the intracity rivalry between Jay-Z and Nas appeared destined to end. The seeds of dispute were planted in 1996, when Nas failed to appear at a recording session for Jay's legendary debut album, Reasonable Doubt. Nas's sophomore record, released weeks after Jay's debut, included at least one line "inspired" by his rival.

The beef took another step in 1997 when Jay-Z anointed himself New York City's best MC following the death of The Notorious B.I.G. In 1999, Jay-Z associate Memphis Bleek took aim at Nas, and in 2001, Jay ripped into the Queensbridge product on "Takeover," a track from his sixth album The Blueprint. 


Nas's response? Possibly the greatest diss track in hip-hop history, "Ether." The vicious attack took aim at Jay-Z's full Roc-A-Fella roster and was seen as a knock out blow on the streets. Not one to go down quietly, Jay responded with "Supa Ugly," a deeply personal response that earned the rapper a public reprimand from his own mother. 

Then, things got quiet. There were a couple diss tracks here and there, a couple subliminal jabs, but it seemed like both rappers had fired their best shots. The hip-hop community looked elsewhere for entertainment (see below) until 2005 when, on the East Rutherford, New Jersey, leg of Jay-Z's "I Declare War" tour, Nas joined his rival on stage to squash the beef. The duo performed "Dead Presidents" and "The World Is Yours," and everything was right in the hip-hop universe.


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