There are few songs as notorious in the world of hip hop as Nas’ blistering diss track, ‘Ether’. The song was a sharp bullet delivered to the heart of Jay-Z and has become a symbol of just how powerful those kinds of songs can be. In a new interview, Ras Kass has remembered the day the song dropped and how Jay-Z reacted to it being played.
Landing on November 1st, 2001, the song is recognised as the best ever and triumphantly put Nas at the top of the New York rap pile for some time. “It had to be 10 am, 11 am when Nas bops in,” Ras Kass recalls. “He’s usually very chill. Every time I’ve encountered him, he’s humble and nice. Not to say he wasn’t humble then, but he walked in, boppin’. I remember for like an hour, me, him and Premier talking, like an overview of the record […] At the time, Jay was crushin’ everything.
“It was interesting watching the changing of the guards […] I knew some of the things that Nas was sayin’. I didn’t even know all of it, as far as the personal jabs on that record. I lived with Jay-Z for a summer, so I just knew it was clinically written deadly. It was a deadly written, personal record.”
Later that evening, Ras was attending a night out when he came across Jay, Damon Dash and some other Roc-A-Fella artists. “The ironic part is I saw [Nas] during the day at the studio, then at night, I went out to the club,” he continues. “We went out and saw Jay and Dame at the club […] They played ‘Ether’ in the club and Jay was heated, and I remember that. I remember him saying, ‘Dame, tell that n***a to turn that shit off.’
“But the club was going up, and that’s when I knew it was over. The DJ was like, ‘Fuck that,’ and played that shit. And the club went up. That’s when I knew Nas won. The streets had spoken. The DJ played it and Jay was in the building […] Nas beat Jay.”
It took years for the two artists t find peace, however, Nas and Jay-Z are now the best of friends.