When Jay-Z was getting too big for his britches he started taking jabs at his fellow east coast artist, one mentioned - NAS. with Jay-Z being at a high point in his career few thought anyone would challenge his prowess. Unlike Jay-Z, Nas’ career was on a steady decline since the release of his first album, and Nas would be an afterthought as in who would answer back with comparable effort. Between the building tension of Jay-Z and Nas, no one would ever believe Nas to rise up to the occasion and answer back with such an incredible response - ETHER.
Nas’ classic Ether makes many references to Jay-Z’s credibility as an artist, street hustler, and mogul. Using a 2pac sample of “Fuck Jay-Z”, along with tight knitted rhyme schemes and aggression filled vocabulary, Nas created a lyrical masterpiece. Numerous accounts amongst the public perceived Nas’ Ether to be an automatic T.K.O. With the rise of a new Nas and a top notch win under his belt, Nas’ career was resurrected and placed back into the conversations of radios and top MC discussions everywhere.
Nas begins Either talking to the public and Jay-Z.
"Brace yourself for the main event
Y’all impatiently waiting
It’s like an AIDS test, what’s the results?”
He immediately answers his rhetorical question directly towards Jay-Z.
"Not positive, who’s the best? Pac, Nas and Big"
With Nas going under the moniker of “God’s son”, he makes biblical references, comparing his personal writings to scripture passsages, and Jay-Z to Judas.
"I am the truest; name a rapper that I ain’t influenced
Gave y’all chapters but now I keep my eyes on the Judas”
To then reference an embarrassing part of Jay-Z history,his appearance and participation in the very awkward song, “Hawaiian Sophie”.
"With Hawaiian Sophie fame, kept my name in his music”
Nas opens his second verse with how he feels towards the public, and how other artist have been perceiving him.
“I’ve been fucked over, left for dead, dissed and forgotten
Luck ran out, they hoped that I’d be gone, stiff and rotten
Y’all just piss on me, shit on me, spit on my grave
Talk about me, laugh behind my back but in my face
Y’all some well wishers, friendly actin’, envy hidin’ snakes”
What follows is Nas taking shots at Jay-Z’s ego, which most likely his Achilles’s heel.
"When these streets keep callin’, heard it when I was sleep
That this Gay-Z and Cockafella Records wanted beef”
Nas then percedes to get deeper, weapon = brain, Ammo = words, Camel = Jay-Z, Soldiers = Rockafella affiliates.
"Started cockin’ up my weapon, slowly loadin’ up this ammo
To explode it on a camel and his soldiers”
The second verse is completed with a strong right hook to the face. Jay-Z at the time just released his new album titled “Blueprint”, even though east coast rapper KRS-One already released his album 10 years prior under that title and concept. Nas then continues to challenge Jay-Z credibility and originality as an artist be explaining how Jay-Z and Biggie were friends before Biggie passed, but now Jay-Z claims himself the best.
"When KRS already made an album called Blueprint
First Biggie’s your man
Then you got the nerve to say that you better than Big
Dick suckin’ lips
Why don’t you let the late, great veteran live?”
Nas’ third verse begins to put nails into Jay-Z’s coffin, as Nas’ begins taking the role as father figure and parent to Jay-Z. Explaining how Nas’ style greatly influenced Jay as a rapper, and how Nas is disappointed in his son, although he is still proud to see Jay blossom with what Nas has given him.
“What’s sad is I love you cause you’re my brother
You traded your soul for riches
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”
Nas continues the father role, adding insult to injury.
“You seem to be only concerned with dissing women
Were you abused as a child, scared to smile, they called you ugly?
Well life is harsh; hug me, don’t reject me
Or make records to disrespect me, blatant or indirectly”
Reverses back to challenging Jay’s credibility and originality.
"In 88 you was getting chased through your building
Calling my crib and I ain’t even give you my numbers
All I did was gave you a style for you to run with”
Continues the onslaught, taking jabs at Jay-Z’s ego, and referencing back to Hawaiian Sophie.
"Smiling in my face, glad to break bread with the god
Wearing Jaz chains, no Tecs, no cash, no cars
No jail bars Jigga, no pies, no case
Just Hawaiian shirts, hanging with little Chase
You a fan, a phony, a fake, a pussy, a Stan”
Further challenges Jay’s credibility.
"I still whip your ass, you thirty-six in a karate class?
You Tae-bo ho, tryna’ work it out, you tryna’ get brolic?”
Jay-Z then business partner was Damon Dash, and Nas alleges their relationship is not only unoriginal, it is as spoiled and unconventional as Biggie and Puffy’s.
“Is he Dame Diddy, Dame Daddy or Dame Dummy
Oh, I get it, you Biggie and he’s Puffy”
Nas continues down the path of business, challenging Jay-Z’s enterprise, Rockafella, named after a New York hustler.
"Rocafella died of AIDS, that was the end of his chapter
And that’s the guy y’all chose to name your company after?
Put it together, I rock hoes, y’all rock fellas
And now y’all try to take my spot, fellas?”
Nas begins to wrap up with more rhetorical questions and further blows to Jay’s ego.
"What you think, you getting girls now cause of your looks?
You no mustache having, with whiskers like a rat”
With one more huge uppercut Nas delivers lines questioning who Jay-Z is, not as an artist but as a person. Explaining how he is not and has never been someone with credibility, he has always been a follower, from taking the blame for a crime, to being involved with numerous artist as their underlings. Nas then goes for the groin claiming Eminem outshined Jay-Z on his own song (renegade) and continues to finish the song with quick haymakers.
“And your man stabbed Un and made you take the blame
You ass, went from Jaz to hanging with Kane, to Irv, to Big
And Eminem murdered you on your own shit”
“You a dick-riding faggot, you love the attention
Queens niggas run you niggas, ask Russell Simmons
Ha, R-O-C get gunned up and clapped quick”
“Your whole damn record label gunned up and clapped quick
Shawn Carter to Jay-Z, damn you on Jaz dick
So little shorty’s getting gunned up and clapped quick
How much of Biggie’s rhymes is gonna come out your fat lips?
Wanted to be on every last one of my classics”
No one expected this win, let alone for Nas to speak up at all - not even Jay. Jay-Z must have known his defeat was prominent, as no professionally recorded response was ever produced.