This is not about what the best diss track is. It’s my favorite one. Ice Cube went on Twitter posing this same question. While there are many great ones, including his own “No Vaseline” 2Pac’s “Hit Em Up” and many more. I go back and view Ether as the one that stands out for me, personally. Not because Nas is my favorite mc, but mainly because it was the underdog who rose from the ashes. Jay-Z went at Nas trying to provoke him and some say to motivate him.
Takeover was a knockout blow for some. For Nasir Jones, it was a flesh wound. Jay underestimated the queen’s mc. The day Ether came out, you can hear Jay-Z on the radio, obviously affected. Years later he admitted his Loss, like a man. The two Gods of the game were able to shake hands and become great friends. I speak on Ether because it was unexpected. Nas career was stagnant at the time, to some (Despite two straight platinum albums) but artistically, maybe he had been suffering. Stillmatic was his comeback. Ether was the reminder that you’re not going to disrespect him and get away with it. It became a popular term in hip hop vocabularies. Much like Stan.
In the scathing track, Nas accuses Jay of biting Biggie’s rhymes and being a Stan of his. Also, deemed him getting smashed on his own song by Eminem. He didn’t have time for the disrespect. Nas is a laid back dude, so it took a lot for him to come back at Jay. His mom was sick at the time, and I think things boiled over. I can’t describe the feeling of seeing these two giants go to war. It was a can’t miss feud. Yet one that ended beautifully.