“The Takeover, breaks over” (The Best Rap Beef Ever: Volume 1)

Clash of the Titans

Clash of the Titans

“You guys dont want it with Hov/ Ask Nas, He dont want it with Hov/ NO”

And thus was set up one of the best verses Jay-Z has ever spit. The year was 2001. The place: Hot 97’s Summer Jam. After Ethering Prodigy of Mobb Deep* during his song The Takeover, Jay hinted to the crowd that it would indeed be a hot summer. The masses however would have to wait for the album, The Blueprint, slated to drop later that year to hear exactly why Nas did not want it with Hov. Now I dont know if Jay already had the verse ready and just wanted to make the fans wait, or if he went back to the lab to concoct the next verse, but whatever the case may be, rap fans everywhere were buzzing about Jay’s Summer Jam Takeover of the New York Hip-Hop crown from Nas.

I know you missin all the – FAAAAAAAME!
But along with celebrity comes bout seventy shots to your frame
Nigga; you a – LAAAAAAAME!
Youse the fag model for Karl Kani/Esco ads
Went from, Nasty Nas to Esco’s trash
Had a spark when you started but now you’re just garbage
Fell from top ten to not mentioned at all
to your bodyguard’s “Oochie Wally” verse better than yours
Matter fact you had the worst flow on the whole fuckin song
but I know – the sun don’t shine, then son don’t shine
That’s why your – LAAAAAAAME!

Coming off the heels of the success Hard Knock Life: Vol. 2, Roc La Familia and Life and Times of Sean Carter: Vol 3, Jay was feeling himself. He was the commercial king of rap, consistently dropping successful albums for 3 summers straight, and was also well respected in the game as a lyricist, ghost writing for everyone from Dr. Dre (Still Dre) to Will Smith (Men In Black), but he still wasn’t considered the best in NY. That title had long belonged to Queensbridge’s native son in the wake of Biggie Smalls untimely death. Thus was set up Hip-Hop’s greatest beef. Not for publicity or record sales or anything other than pride and bragging rights, Jay shot off the first salvo in this lyrical war of words with Nas that did not relent for the next 24 bars.

careers come to a end
There’s only so long fake thugs can pretend
Nigga; you ain’t live it you witnessed it from your folks pad
You scribbled in your notepad and created your life
I showed you your first tec on tour with Large Professor
(Me, that’s who!) Then I heard your album bout your tec on the dresser
So yeah I sampled your voice, you was usin it wrong
You made it a hot line, I made it a hot song
And you ain’t get a coin nigga you was gettin fucked and
I know who I paid God, Serchlite Publishing

After pointing out Nas’ downward career turn – going from one of the greatest albums, rap or otherwise, ever in Illmatic, to the dreadful Trackmasters produced Nastradamus- Jay then went in on what has become a staple of rap beefs, pulling Nas’ street cred card**. Jay claims in this verse to have shown Nas his first tec***, and goes on to claim that Nas is only reciting what he saw from his window and not what he was involved in in his native Queensbridge. Jay then references his hit, Dead Presidents, off of his debut album, Reasonable Doubt, which contains a Nas sample in the chorus. He insinuates that there had been legal troubles concerning the clearance of the sample but states unequivocally that his business game is tight and that , “I know who I paid God, Searchlight Publishing“. This segment was also responsible for the now oft repeated line, “You made it a hot line/ I made it a hot song”.

You said you been in this ten
I’ve been in it five – smarten up Nas
Four albums in ten years nigga? I can divide
That’s one every let’s say two, two of them shits was due
One was – NAHHH, the other was “Illmatic”
That’s a one hot album every ten year average
And that’s so – LAAAAAAAME! Nigga switch up your flow
Your shit is garbage, but you try and kick knowledge?
(Get the fuck outta here) You niggaz gon’ learn to respect the king
Don’t be the next contestant on that Summer Jam screen
Because you know who (who) did you know what (what)
with you know who (yeah) but just keep that between me and you for now

And with that closing, Jay forever seared his image into the annals of Hip-Hop history. This was the ‘Clash of the Titans’ that fans were clamoring for. Everyone’s favorite newer, but established, rapper against the whily old vet.

In our next episode: Nas responds in kind with a song that has become so legendary as to be a verb in the rap lexicon when he Ethers Jay-Z.

*Prodigy has since been ethered by Nas (twice), Jay (again), Keith Murrey (Actually beat his ass), Saigon (Also beat his ass), and most recently the NYPD (currently serving a 3 year bid for weapons possesion), in other words, damn

**I hate this phrase btw

*** Thats tec-9 for the uninitiated.


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