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Blog > All Things HOT > 15 Years Ago Today: Nas Responds To Jay Z On His Birthday w/ 'Ether' [AUDIO]

15 Years Ago Today: Nas Responds To Jay Z On His Birthday w/ 'Ether' [AUDIO]

(Photo Credit: Scott Gries/Getty Images)

It was the battle of all battles. Who was the king of New York? Was it Jay Z? Nah, it was Nas. We are still debating 15 years later.

Jay Z made hip hop history when he declared war against Nas and others as he made history on the Summer Jam stage with the debut of his single “Takeover” back in 2001.

The hip hop community didn’t know what was to come next. We waited months wondering if Nas was going to respond. But on December 4, 2001 we found out how ugly this battle would become. 

At the time, Nas’ status as one of the best MC’s of the game was dying down. His latest album Nastradamus released in 1999 was underwhelming at best and pop singles “You Owe Me “and” Nastradamus. Fans was waiting for a strong come back.

It began with the “Stillmatic Freestyle.” But the jab wasn’t enough after the full version of “The Takeover” was released on The Blueprint.

As Jay Z celebrated his birthday in 2001, Nas finally took advantage of his opportunity. As the bombs blared in the background, and New York City sat in front of their radios, and Funk Flex let the city hear “Ether” for the first time.

“F*** Jay Z!”

With Ron Browz's production played through the speakers, the single itself was shocking as Nas looked to put the breaks on Hova’s momentum with one of the most personal tracks in hip hop history.

“When these streets keep calling, heard it when I was sleep/That this Gay-Z and Cockafella Records wanted beef/Started cocking up my weapon, slowly loading up this ammo”

“In '88 you was getting chased through your building/Calling my crib and I ain't even give you my numbers”

“Foxy got you hot 'cause you kept your face in her puss/What you think, you getting girls now 'cause of your looks?”

The track put Jay Z in a position to be on the defensive for the first time in this battle.

“I got more shooters in Queensbridge than you.”

It took just over a week for Hov to respond, and just like that a war was born. The track “Super Ugly” sampled Nas’ first official single off of Stillmatic “Got Urself A…” before going into the most disrespectful tone as the beat switched to Dr. Dre and Knoc-Turn'al's "Bad Intentions."

On the second part of the song, Jay Z went into detail as he dragged Nas’ ex-girlfriend into the beef with some scathing lyrics on a past relationship Hov allegedly had with her.

The lyrics were controversial to say the least and escalated the beef into dangerous levels.

It forced Jay Z to come back to Hot 97 and address the song which was added to the Battle of the Beats where listeners voted on what song they liked the best for about a week.

“Once again, I apologize,” he said. “I felt like I didn’t think about women’s feelings or Carmen’s feelings, or even my mom. It was really like, ‘Let me meet your level of disrespect with this level of disrespect.'”

Fans ended up voting for “Ether.” An announcement made while Jay Z was sitting in the studio.

Nas returned not long after with Funk Flex to discuss the beef in anticipation of the release of Stillmatic. Which came out the same day as Jay Z’s MTV Unplugged live album.

Fast forward 15 years later, it’s a battle that is still debated until this day. The two have eventually reconciled and put all the past behind them. They made a few songs together, performed together several times, and seem to be enjoying a pretty good friendship years after that.

Relive Nas’ conversation with Funk Flex below.