Any one who has visited this site knows that I’m a huge fan of both Jay-Z and Nas. I’ve always wanted to put together the musical history of the tracks that may have started the beef. From what I’ve found neither Jay or Nas have ever discussed the beginnings of the beef or discussed the perceived shots at one another over the years.
Song(s): “Dead Presidents” (Original)
Lyrics: “Presidents to represent me/Get money!/I’m out for presidents to represent me…”
“I’m out for dead *fuckin* presidents to represent me”
Interpretation: Jay wanted Nas on the track, but used his vocals from “The World Is Yours” (Q-Tip Remix) instead. I’ve always thought Jay caught feelings behind the snub.
Song(s): “The City Is Mine”, “Where I’m From”, & “Rap Game/Crack Game”
Lyrics: “Don’t worry about Brooklyn I continue to flame/Therefore a world with amnesia won’t forget your name/You held it down long enough, let me take those reigns…/I ain’t a player get it right, I’m controllin the game/From now until they blow holes in my frame/I’ma stand firm, holdin my aim, feel me?/I’m the focal, point like Biggie in his prime” (”The City Is Mine”)”.
“I from where niggas pull your card, and argue all day about/Who’s the best MC’s, Biggie, Jay-Z, and Nas” (”Where I’m From”)
“Somehow the rap game remind me of the crack game” (”Rap Game/Crack Game” vocal sample from “Represent” by Nas)
Interpretation: The city of New York was up for grabs once B.I.G. died as he was hailed as the King of New York by many in the Hip Hop world (July 1995 Source Cover). Jay wanted the crown and boldly stated on “The City Is Mine” that he was taking the “reigns” from B.I.G.
Jay makes another reference about Nas in “Where I’m From” and samples his voice again for “Rap Game/Crack Game”.
In My Lifetime…Vol. 1 also marks the first time Jay starts using B.I.G. lyrics: See “Friend or Foe 98′” and “Real Niggas”.
Song: “We Will Survive”
Lyrics: “It used to be fun, makin records to see your response/But, now competition is none, now that you’re gone/And these niggaz is wrong — using your name in vain/And they claim to be New York’s king?/It ain’t about that”
Interpretation: This joint was off of Nas’s third album “I Am”, which dropped April 6, 1999. Straight forward shot at Jay. By this time Jay was in full superstar mode especially after the commercial success he garnered from Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life. Jay wasn’t shy about acknowledging he was the King of New York. Obviously Nas didn’t think so. Nas was acknowledging Jay wasn’t on his or B.I.G.’s level with these lines.
Artist: Memphis Bleek feat. Jay-Z
Song: “What You Think Of That”
Lyrics: “I’ma ball till I fall what you think of that?” (Memphis Bleek) - Line from the chorus of “What You Think Of That”..
“Round here frontin like my **** don’t sound like nuttin/Like I ain’t got the crown or suttin/Like I ain’t the nigga you base ya life on” (Jay-Z)
“I guess I ain’t the reason you rhyme the way you do” (Jay-Z)
“Like I ain’t 5 mill, and what do ya joint go?/Excuse me? Nigga don’t confuse me” (Jay-Z)
Interpretation: Memphis Bleek dropped Coming of Age on August 3, 1999 with a buzz worthy single (”Memphis Bleek Is…”), but everybody from what I can remember was talking about the track he had with Jay: “What You Think Of That”. Bleek doesn’t go at Nas, but Jay takes exception to Nas questioning his “King” status of New York. Obvious answer to Nas’s lines on “We Will Survive”.
Song: “Nastradamus” and “Come Get Me”
Lyrics: “You wanna ball till you fall, I can help you with that/You want beef?/I could let a slug melt in your hat” (”Nastradamus”)
“You don’t like me clown? Now you wanna take me down?/If I bring my face around, you gon’ do what?/You butt/Your crew knew I blew up, I been shinin - baseball diamonds…” (”Come Get Me”)
“You make hot songs, but she know you steal from me/Who ill as me?/I wild on haters in album three” (”Come Get Me”)
Interpretation: The “ball till you fall/slug melt in your hat” is a play on words from the sung Chorus” by Memphis Bleek on “What You Think Of That”. Memphis Bleek wore a tilted hat on the cover of Coming of Age, thus the “slug melt in your hat” line.
“Come Get Me” was all over the place, with with lines like “you steal from me” and “your crew knew I blew up…” screams subliminal at Jay.
Song: “Come and Get Me”
Lyrics: “I got, shots to give come and get me nigga/Y’all wanna rob the kid? Come and get me nigga/I won’t, part with this come and get me nigga/I worked, hard for this come and get me nigga/I got, shots to give, COME AND GET ME../COME AND GET ME..”
Interpretation: The song itself is Jay talking to rappers in general, but the chorus is a play on Nas’s “Come Get Me”. I’ve never thought the song was about Nas because Jay doesn’t believe Nas is a street dude or did any street dirt. He wouldn’t give Nas props with lines such as “I’m a crook like you, I took like you/I disobeyed the law threw out the book like you”
Artist: Memphis Bleek
Song: “My Mind Right”
Lyrics: “I’ma make you understand why I do what I do/Why I keep my hat tilt, and my doorag too”
“It’s beef I’ma see you, and bang til you hang up/Your life a lie, but here’s the truth/You aint hype to die, but you hype to shoot”
“And only a few fit in, your lifestyle’s written/So who you supposed to be, play your position”
Interpretation: Memphis Bleek addressing Nas and questioning the truthfulness of his rhymes.
Artist: Nas feat. Various
Song: “Da Bridge 2001″
Lyrics: “Oh no you didn’t, wanna know whose life Was Written/The life I’m livin/The ice the women/The kites that sendin to lifeless biddin/The streets to prison/I touch you then buck you/Heats be spittin/La-ser, AR fifteen doors come down/Jaws is broke, your whole crew is/coffin bound/Your hoe, your man, lieutenant, your boss get found”
Interpretation: Nas addressing Memphis Bleek’s shots on “My Mind Right”. Nas is not only going at Bleek, but the whole Roc fam with the last couple of lines in his verse.
Song: “Eye 4 An Eye Freestyle”
Year: Circa 2000-2001
Lyrics: “You’re on top — WHAT?/Copy and ****, I said it first, you repeated/Your false crown covered in dirt - defeated/Y’all niggas all hail, the King is dead/He running like a bitch with his tail between his legs/’Stillmatic’, still eye 4 an eye, wanna be God/You’re just the next rapper to die, fucking with Nas”
Interpretation: Not sure when this came out (from Clue’s - The Great Ones Pt. 2). Nas going directly at Jay about his assumption of being the King of New York.
Song: “Stillmatic (Freestyle)”
Lyrics: “N Y City, grab a hold and ride with me/ Rip the FREEWAY, shoot through MEMPHIS with money bags/Stop in Philly, order cheese steaks and eat BEANS fast/And bring it back up top, remove the fake king of New York/You show off, I count off when you sample my voice/I rule you, before, you used to rap like the FU-SHNICKENS/NAS designed your BLUEPRINT, who you kidding?/Is he H TO THE IZZO, M TO THE IZZO?/For shizzle you phony, the rapping version of SISQO/And that’s for certain, you clone me, your wack clothes line/I’d rather wear Sean John, you bore me with your fake coke rhymes/And those times, they never took place, you liar/UN was your first court case, you had no priors/You master fabricated stories of streets and sound slick/Have you surrounded, you and the faggots you down with/While they riding NAS, trying to boost their careers”
Interpretation: Nas went at the whole Roc fam by name saying most of his verbal onslaught for Jay. Called Jay “fake”, “teh ghey”, questioned his street credibility, and hinted that he fathered Jay’s style. Nas went in on this joint.
Lyrics: “I know you missin all the (FAAAAAAAME!)/But along with celebrity comes bout seventy shots to your frame/Nigga; you a (LAAAAAAAME!)/Youse the fag model for Karl Kani/Esco ads/Went from, Nasty Nas to Esco’s trash/Had a spark when you started but now you’re just garbage/Fell from top ten to not mentioned at all/to your bodyguard’s “Oochie Wally” verse better than yours/Matter fact you had the worst flow on the whole fuckin song/but I know - the sun don’t shine, then son don’t shine/That’s why your (LAAAAAAAME!) - career come to a end/There’s only so long fake thugs can pretend/Nigga/you ain’t live it you witnessed it from your folks pad/You scribbled in your notepad and created your life/I showed you your first tec on tour with Large Professor/(Me, that’s who!) Then I heard your album bout your tec on the dresser/So yeah I sampled your voice, you was usin it wrong/You made it a hot line, I made it a hot song/And you ain’t get a coin nigga you was gettin fucked and/I know who I paid God, Serchlite Publishing/Use your (BRAAAAAAAIN!) You said you been in this ten/I’ve been in it five - smarten up Nas/Four albums in ten years nigga? I can divide/That’s one every let’s say two, two of them shits was due/One was - NAHHH, the other was “Illmatic”/That’s a one hot album every ten year average/And that’s so - LAAAAAAAME! Nigga switch up your flow/Your **** is garbage, but you try and kick knowledge?/(Get the **** outta here)/You niggaz gon’ learn to respect the king/Don’t be the next contestant on that Summer Jam screen/Because you know who (who) did you know what (what) with you know who (yeah) but just keep that between me and you for now”
Interpretation: “Ask Nas, he don’t want it with Hov’, nooooo!” When this joint dropped as the freestyle from the Summer Jam concert it had everybody open and wanted to hear what Jay had next.
Jay’s verse summed up the criticism Nas was receiving after Illmatic dropped. “Nasty Nas to Esco’s trash”, “…Fake thugs…”, “fell from top ten to not mentioned at all”, etc was what fans and critics were saying about Nas…that he fell off. Jay was the first to put it in a rhyme.
Song: “Ether” & “You’re Da Man”
Lyrics: “That this Gay-Z and Cockafella Records wanted beef” (”Ether”)
“When KRS already made an album called “Blueprint”/First, Biggie’s ya man, then you got the nerve to say that you better than Big/**** suckin lips, whyn’t you let the late, great veteran live” (”Ether”)
“My child, I’ve watched you grow up to be famous/
And now I smile like a proud dad, watchin his only son that made it” (”Ether”)
“All I did was gave you a style for you to run with/Smilin in my face, glad to break bread with the god/Wearin Jaz chains, no tecs, no cash, no cars/No jail bars Jigga, no pies, no case/Just Hawaiian shirts” (”Ether”)
“You a fan, a phony, a fake, a *****, a Stan”(”Ether”)
“Shaun Carter to Jay-Z, damn you on Jaz ****/So little shorty’s gettin gunned up and clapped quick/How much of Biggie’s rhymes is gon’ come out your fat lips?/Wanted to be on every last one of my classics/You pop ****, apologize, nigga, just ask Kiss” (”Ether”)
“I don’t kill soloists only kill squads” (”You’re Da Man”)
“Now you wanna hang with niggas I hung with/**** bitches I hit, it’s funny I once said…” (”You’re Da Man”)
Interpretation: Check out Sean’s take on “Ether” on his Top 10 Diss Records of All Time.
Nas dedicated a whole song to Jay this go around. Once “**** Jay-Z” is heard you knew it was on. Nas gets a lot of digs in at Jay: Called him a Stan, questioned his street credibility, said he gave him (Jay) a style, addressed Jay’s insistence of using B.I.G.’s rhymes, questioned he loyalty to B.I.G., but now claiming to be better, biting KRS-One’s album title, etc.
“You’re Da Man” addresses Jay bangin Nas’s “baby mama” and Jay’s relationship with Steve Stoute. I believe during this time Nas and Steve Stoute had a falling out….or definitely after the “Hate Me Now” controversy.
Song: “Super Ugly”
“With Queens niggas you know how I do/Look, I got more shooters in Queensbridge than you”
“Nigga never sold aspirin how you Escobar?”
“I came in your bentley backseat, skeeted in your jeep/Left condoms on your baby seat”
“And since you infatuated with sayin that gay ****/Yes you was kissin my **** when you was kissin that bitch/Nasty ****, you though I was bonin Vanette/You callin Carm a hundred times I was bonin her neck/You got a baby by the broad you can’t disown her yet”
Interpretation: Jay finally letting us know “…Because you know who (who) did you know what (what) with you know who (yeah) but just keep that between me and you for now”
As crude, vugar, and disrespectful as you can get on a record. Admitted Jay stan that I am….just wasn’t Jay’s style. Jay is a calculated person and this record (funny and informative as it was) screamed of knee jerk reaction. My take is all of the the gay references made by Nas made Jay goes this route…thus the apology after the track dropped.
Song: “U Wanna Be Me”
Lyrics: “I think of kings who died and rappers out to dethrone me”
“And show you how to stay off my ****/That’s the thing I hate the most, can’t even call you a man/When you gotta call out my name to get you some fans”
“Realize, how many classics I gave you/Perhaps if you think back you’ll realize that I made you”
“And understand, to battle Nas not in your plan…… And you my offspring, the boss sting”
“Play me a gangster’s theme, while you entertain me/If I ain’t cryin laughin, to the lions, throw your ass in/What the **** was you niggaz thinkin?/Guns’ll clutch if I get a inklin that you comin for the kingpin”
Interpretation: Nas isn’t calling Jay out by name, but if he isn’t talking about Jay then who….? Definitely wasn’t Cam/Dip Set or N.O.R.E.
Song: “Blueprint 2″
Lyrics: “But you can’t give cred to anything dude says/Same dude to give you ice and you owe him some head”
“Can’t y’all, see that he’s fake, the rap version of T.D. jakes/Prophesizing on your CDs and tapes”
“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”
“Is it “Oochie Wally Wally” or is it “One Mic”?/Is it “Black Girl Lost” or shorty owe you for ice?”
“Since I will not lose, they try to help him cheat/But I will not lose, for even in defeat
There’s a valuable lesson learned, so it evens up for me”
Interpretation: The mature answer from Jay that again attacks Nas’s creditability and the contradictions in his rhymes. I definitely enjoyed this better than “Super Ugly”.
After Nas dropped “Ether” and Jay came back with “Super Ugly” many claimed Nas the winner. Hot 97 in New York had a vote on the air and the listeners crowned Nas the winner of the battle. Jay had a good understanding that Goliath (Jay) wasn’t going to beat David (Nas) in the eyes of the public. The underdog is always cheered on.
Song: “Last Real Nigga Alive”
Lyrics: “Jigga started to flow like us, but hit with ‘Ain’t No Niggaz’/Had much Versace swagger
B.I.G. admired the Brooklyn knight and it took him in as Iceberg the rapper/Today don’t know nothing, about this bullshit/There’s more **** than wanting to be this King of New York ****”
“She hit the streets, later on she hittin the sheets/With a rapper who wanted me on his songs, thinking he strong”
“The Gift and The Curse? **** that ****, the first shall be last/I’m the man’s man, a rapper’s rapper/G-O-D S-O-N, they’ll be none after/I was Scarface, Jay was Manolo/It hurt me when I had to kill him and his whole squad for dolo..”
Interpretation: What I respected about Nas through this whole “beef” was he went at Jay (and the Roc) and Cam (Dip-Set) dolo. None of his crew (not that Jungle or Grand Wizard could help him lyrically) stepped up to go to battle with him. Nas addresses Jay sleeping with his “baby mama”, but hints that he only did it to get closer to him. Nas has always claimed throughout this beef to have “fathered” or “designed his Blueprint” and the Scarface/Manolo analogy sums that up perfectly.
Artist: Nas (with Bravehearts)
Song: “Quick to Back Down”
Lyrics: “First of all this is Nas I’ma Braveheart veteran/And y’all already know who I’m better than”
Interpretation: By this time the beef had died down, but Nas got a quick stab in on this joint.
These songs and lines could be interpreted as disses or subliminal.
Song: “Don’t You Know”
Lyrics: “Young’n, you are my hijo/My son dula/I clean the cess pool up/Rap stinks/You cats are the sphinx/You cut off your nose to spite your face/Bet you like it that way don’tchya?’
Artist: Nas feat. Jay-Z
Song: “Black Republican”
Lyrics: Nothing obvious or subliminal, but historic in the sense that two MEN that went at it can put differences aside and do business today and publicly reconcile differences.
Artist: Jay-Z feat. Nas
Lyrics: “Worst enemies wanna be my best friends/Best friends wanna be enemies like that’s what’s in/But I don’t give a **** walk inside the lions den”
Artist: Ludacris feat. Jay-Z & Nas
Song: “I Do This For Hip Hop”
Nas - “Pardon the rest of my niggaz…but I’m the best who’s ever did it!”
Jay-Z - “That’s why I took the number one slot/The realest **** in rap comes from my voice box”
- Jay-Z - Dead Presidents (Original)
- Jay-Z - The City Is Mine
- Jay-Z - Where I’m From
- Jay-Z - Rap Game/Crack Game
- Nas - We Will Survive
- Memphis Bleek - What You Think Of That
- Nas - Nastradamus
- Nas - Come Get Me
- Jay-Z - Come And Get Me
- Memphis Bleek - My Mind Right
- Nas - Da Bridge 2001
- Nas - Eye 4 An Eye (Freestyle)
- Nas - Stillmatic (Paid In Full Mix)
- Jay-Z - Takeover
- Nas - Ether
- Nas - You’re Da Man
- Jay-Z - Supa Ugly
- Nas - U Wanna Be Me
- Jay-Z - Blueprint 2
- Nas - Last Real Nigga Alive
- Nas - Quick To Back Down
- Jay-Z - Don’t You Know
- Nas & Jay-Z - Black Republican
- Jay-Z & Nas - Success
- Nas & Jay-Z - I Do It For Hip Hop (with Ludacris)