Nas is embracing his past beef with Jay-Z as part of his decorated legacy.
Much like dancehall music, hip-hop is a deathless sport because it’s a deadly sport. Nas seems to agree that, similarly, hip-hop music will live on because it is such a competitive art form. As such, the rap mogul says he was honored to have been a part of what is widely considered one of the greatest hip-hop music clashes of all-time. The Jay-Z vs. Nas showdown is a time-honored milestone and is perhaps the reason the early millennium was such a historic era for hip-hop music.
During a recent interview with Rick Ruben on the Broken Record podcast, Nas reflected on that time in his career, and he is rather pleased that it is a part of his history. “I was honored to have that part of my life happen because that’s how I saw some of the greats do it coming up,” the rapper explained. There aren’t many genres that can get as grimey and contentious as say – dancehall or hip-hop music, and Nas acknowledged that it’s really the nature of what the genre is.
Hip-hop music was partly derived from earlier influences of reggae and what later became dancehall music by Jamaican music legend Kool Herc. The combative forum that is the dancehall community would nary exist without those combats, and its extensive catalogs historically range from stimulating dance music to gritty war tracks. Throughout the years, many great icons have reared their heads on the battlefield and set off historical clash events.
From Shabba Ranks vs. Ninja Man to Vybz Kartel vs. Mavado, the dancehall chronicles are not short of notorious feuds. So instrumental in the art form, the revered Verzuz battle between Beenie Man and Bounty Killer is regarded as one of the most iconic by co-creators Timbaland and Swizz Beatz. That particular showing was pertinent to the integrity of the very Verzuz name and drew an audience of millions. Anyone who knows the history of hip-hop, as Swizz pointed out on his Instagram Live after the episode, knows the paramount importance of including two dancehall music icons.
On that note, like dancehall fans, Nas grew up listening to artists clashing in hip-hop, too, which is the reason he considers it a great honor to have penned a similar moment in history. Rick Ruben pointed out that the feud between Nas and Hov only served to propel both their careers. “It shed light on both of you… In the back and forth it elevated everybody,” he said. In response, Nas talked about that back and forth being how hip-hop began, namedropping Double Trouble and Busy Bee as exemplars.
“Again, it’s about the art of MCing and when you’re trying to make the best stuff you can make and you bump heads with another MC, and then you guys have a war or whatever, that’s what this art form was since the beginning,” he explained. Nas says the competitive nature of hip-hop will also serve as the reason for its longevity. “That’s what I like about hip-hop compared to other genres is that they go at it in hip-hop,” he continued. “Like really go at it. Not to say other rockers didn’t go at it, other reggae artists didn’t go at it, other crooners didn’t go at it… but hip-hop will always be around because of how competitive it is.”
Can you imagine hip-hop music without the occasional sparring?