To celebrate this feature making a fifth installment, I thought I’d base this month’s Fun Facts! around a theme. With rap beefs being the subliminal-laden wars-of-words that they are, I figured I’d be doing a service to solve some of the mysteries behind one of hip hop’s most legendary feuds…
Since Jay-Z and Nas have put their differences aside, there are plenty of questions that remain unanswered as to certain lyrics spit in “Takeover” and “Ether”, their respective diss records. So, each of the 10 facts below will revolve around a lyric — 5 from “Takeover”, 5 from “Ether” — and provide a context of what these New York legends really meant, and make clarifications as necessary.
(The same Fun Facts! rules as always apply — in other words, everything beyond #3 is utter bullshit. Enjoy!)
1. Jay: “I showed you your first tec on tour with Large Professor…” — Jay and Nas were doing a show together at some small New York venue early in their respective careers, back when Jay was running with Jaz, and Nas (then primarily known for his “Live At The BBQ” verse) was running with Extra P. The crowd was apparently getting rowdy, so Jay came out on stage with a burner to quiet things down.
2. Nas: “Smilin’ in my face, love to break bread with the God…” — Nas was supposed to be in Jay’s video for “Dead Presidents” in the “playing Monopoly with real money” closing scene, along with AZ and Notorious B.I.G., but apparently no-showed. Check the video at 3:22 –- that empty seat across the table from Jay was meant for Nas.
3. Jay: “And you ain’t get a coin, n***a, you was getting fucked then/ I know who I paid, god, Serchlite Publishing…” — Contrary to what Jay may have thought, former 3rd Bass frontman and current sell-out MC Serch, the namesake of Serchlite Publishing, has claimed that Nas was compensated for every time that a sample of his voice was cleared (including the few samples used by Jay).
4. Nas: “Compared to beans, you’re wack…” –- Nas is widely known throughout the music industry as not being a big fan of beans. Baked, refried, pinto — makes no difference. In fact, when beans were served as a side dish at a catered record release party for I Am…, Nas’s ensuing tirade apparently led to some Sony employees being given pink slips. Though many took this lyric to mean that Nas thought Roc-A-Fella cohort Beanie Sigel was a better MC than Jay, it was really meant to imply that Nas would rather eat his least favorite food than listen to Jay rap.
5. Jay: “Your bodyguard’s ‘Oochie Wally’ verse was better than yours/ Matter of fact, you had the worst flow on the whole fuckin’ song…” –- When asked what Nas’s “Oochie Wally” verse was lacking that Bravehearts’ member (and, apparently, Nas’s bodyguard) Horse’s verse was not lacking, Jay said that he was especially fond of Horse’s blatant jacking of old Biggie lyrics.
6. Nas: “Foxy got you hot ‘cause you kept your face in her puss…” –- This is in reference to an incident at Foxy’s house, where her cat, Uncle Snuggles, scratched Jay in the face.
7. Jay: “Switch up ya flow, ya shit is gah-bage…” –- It is an unwritten rule in rap battles that you cannot use the same descriptive term toward your opponent twice in the same verse. Since Jay had spit earlier in his verse that Nas had “a spark when [he] started but now [he’s] just garbage”, Jay had to intentionally mispronounce “garbage” the second time, or else face ten lashes each from Rakim, LL Cool J and Kool Moe Doe.
8. Nas: “You think you getting girls now because of your looks?/ Negro please…” –- Close friends of Jay have said that this lyric hurt Jay the most, because he really did believe that he was getting girls because of his looks.
9. Jay: “Two of them shits was doo, one was ehhh, the other was illmatic/ That’s a one-hot-album-every-10-year average…” –- In Jay’s opinion, Nas’ “one hot album” was It Was Written. Jay was simply using “illmatic” as an adjective to describe that album. Jay has stated that it was by mere coincidence, and he didn’t even know that Nas also had an album titled Illmatic.
10. Nas: “Just Hawaiian shirts, hangin’ with little Chase…” –- Chester “Lil’ Chase” Weinstein (pictured above) was the largest distributor of Hawaiian shirts in the greater New York area in the late ’80s. He is currently serving 2-1/2 years in a federal prison for laundering money for the Black Mafia Family.