“Ether” by Nas
“Ether” begins with Nas directly hitting at Jay-Z for starting a beef with him. The rapper expresses shock at how Jay-Z who was not as huge a rapper then could approach and diss him.
He reveals how Jay-Z admires his style and has been imitating him for years. The latter almost always either mentions Nas in his tracks, uses some of his lines as inspiration or uses his style. Nas questions why Jay-Z would even think to compare himself with him since he is one of the most influential and authentic rappers. The rapper then tells him that he has already lost the battle because he doesn’t have what it takes.
In the second verse, Nas talks about how he rose to the top and has served as an influence for other upcoming rappers including Jay-Z. He further insults him for chasing after money, comparing himself to Biggie, and even tags him as gay. He points out Jay-Z’s background, then advises him to apologize and learn instead of disrespecting and engaging in beefs with him.
Ether by Nas is his retaliation to Jay-Z’s diss track, “Takeover“. It captures a battle on who is the rap King of New York, and how Jay-Z is picking a beef with someone he is actually obsessed with.
Writing: Nas alongside Ron Browz
Album: Nas’ 2001 “Stillmatic” album
Release: December 2001
Nas and Jay-Z’s Feud
The beef which existed between Jay-Z and Nas lasted for about a decade and serves as an example of a relatively-minor offense gone completely wrong. Many people are under the impression that it had something to do with a woman both Nas and Jay dated. But at its foundation is way more petty than that. This feud can be traced back to Nas not showing up for a scheduled studio session with Jay-Z. And such is actually where Jigga got the idea to sample Nas on his track “Dead Presidents II” (1996). In other words, Nas failed to show up for a planned collab with Jay, so the latter blatantly sampled him.
That sampling then seems to have inspired Nas to throw what can be deemed a very-minor jab at Jay-Z on his own track, “The Message” (1996). Then Jay-Z and his associate, Memphis Bleek, came back with what some deem subliminal disses against Nas.
This back-and-forth went on up until the turn of the century. No one really paid attention to it as during that same era the hip-hop community was reeling from the way-more-serious Tupac versus Biggie saga. Then in 2001 Nas dropped what many consider to be the best product of the feud. This very track “Ether” which unanimously ranks amongst the top diss songs of all-time.
Jay-Z eventually responded with a couple of tracks, most-notably “Super Ugly” (2001). On that song Jigga got so personal that his own mother implored him to apologize to Nas. It is also on “Supa Ugly” where Jay-Z bragged about sleeping with Nas’s baby mother. And that’s why many fans felt their beef was actually about a lady.