For a while, the streets of New York were divided between those who were fans of Nas and those who backed Jay-Z. The iconic hip hop pioneers for one reason or another found the other intolerable and they exchanged fire through diss track and thinly-veiled insults. However, as time has passed and tensions cooled, the two men have been more than happy to shower praise on each other.
This is best seen when Nas picked one of Hova’s records as part of his 25 favourite albums of all time. Given that you’ll be hard-pressed to find a favourite album list from anybody operating within the hip hop world who doesn’t include Illmatic among their most treasured records, it makes Nas’ selection even more tantalising.
In 2012, Nas was speaking to Complex when he jotted down the 25 records that really got him going. Across the selection are some monster albums including Dr Dre’s The Chronic as well as jazz favourites like John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme and Miles Davis’ legendary LP A Kind of Blue, about which Nas said: “Miles and Coltrane made the ultimate jazz albums; there’s a lot of others too. Miles also got commercial success from a jazz album and if you play it, it sounds like it was supposed to be made. That album was supposed to be made. This world wouldn’t be the same without that album.”
However, it was the selection of a Jay-Z album that pricked up most people’s ears. Nas picks out the NYC rapper’s debut record Reasonable Doubt as one of the best albums of all time. It becomes even more shocking when you remind yourself that the reason for their once bitter feud was down to the same LP.
For many years, Nas and Jay-Z were going head to head in a bitter feud. They were previously friends but after Nas no-showed to the studio after previously agreeing to feature on Jay’s debut effort, Reasonable Doubt, the two men started a war of words against each other which wouldn’t end until 2005. Despite refusing to appear on the album, it does make his list of favourite albums of all time. Hopefully, this goes some way to make up for his no-show all those years before.
Commenting on what made this album a classic, Nas said: “I seen this kid Jay, I already knew he was nice. I’m watching him come into the game and he delivered a lyrical album, a street album, and he grabbed his spot. A lot of people couldn’t do that. A lot of people that were putting out albums around the time Reasonable Doubt dropped are no longer around.
“He staked his claim. He showed everyone he was nice with his lyrics, he was nice with it. He came in the tradition of the New York streets, the way I did, the way Biggie did. He came in that way and he’s been holding it down ever since. If you listen to Reasonable Doubt, he made it happen.”
Below, listen to Nas’ favourite Jay-Z album of all time, Reasonable Doubt.