Nas and JAY-Z have worked and partied together over the years, but true rap fans know they weren’t always as friendly as they are today. The New York rap legends were once embroiled in a rap feud that the “I Can” emcee says he was “honored” to have been a part of.
During a recent appearance on Rick Rubin’s “Broken Record” podcast, Nas reflected on the years-long beef and its alignment with other occurrences in hip hop history.
“The art of emceeing was right there on full display,” he said. “It was like, ‘This rap thing is real. A battle could really happen,’ you know, so I was honored to have that part of my life happen because that’s how I saw the greats do it coming up. I saw some of the greats do it,” he continued, adding that his feud with JAY “elevated” their lyrical prowess.
“It’s about the art of emceeing and when you’re trying to make the best stuff you can make and you bump heads with another MC, and then you guys have a war or whatever. That’s what this art form was since the beginning, since Double Trouble and Busy Bee and Kool Moe Dee.”
The “One Mic” emcee went on, “But that’s what I like about hip-hop compared to other genres is that, they go at it in hip-hop. Like, really at it. Not to say that other rockers didn’t go at it, other reggae artists didn’t go at it, other crooners didn’t go at it, but hip-hop will always be around, I think, because of how competitive it is.”
JAY and Nas’ feud reportedly started in the mid-1990s but peaked after Hov dropped his “Takeover” diss track. Nas responded with “Ether,” and the two went back and forth until they publicly resolved their issues on the New Jersey stop of the I Declare War Tour.