Ras Kass Recalls The Moment Jay-Z heard ‘Ether’ For The First Time At The Club
Back in November 2001, Nas dissed Jay-Z on the now world-famous Ether. The song, which was a response to Takeover poked fun at Jay-Z’s looks and sexuality: “When these streets keep calling, heard it when I was asleep/ That this Gay-Z and Cock-A-Fella Records wanted beef”, Nas rapped on the Stillmatic record.” “Then you got the nerve to say that you’re better than Big/ Dick-suckin’ lips, why don’t you let the late great veteran live.”
He also attacked Jay-Z’s street cred, and accused him of copying other rappers, including the rhyming skills of the late Notorious B.I.G. “How much of Biggie’s rhymes gonna come out your fat lips?”.
Jay, of course, responded with two diss tracks of his own (“People Talkin” and “Supa Ugly”) but only after getting trolled by a club DJ. In a recent interview with The Art Of Dialogue podcast, Ras Kass recalled the day the song dropped and the timeline of events that followed.
“It had to be 10 a.m., 11 a.m. when Nas bops in,” he 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.”
In the same interview, Ras recalled meeting up with Jay and Dame Dash later that night at a local New York City club where the DJ decided to be petty by playing “Ether.” According to Ras, Jay was unamused by the gesture and tried to get Dash to have the DJ stop the track, but the DJ refused because the crowd was loving it.
“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-gga 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.”
As mentioned earlier, Jay-Z fired back at Nas with two diss tracks including the vicious “Supa Ugly,” in which he raps about sleeping with the mother of Nas’s child. He was forced to apologize later on after his mother called to tell him he went too far.
Both rappers have since squashed their beef and have gone on to collaborate on several songs together, with their most recent being on DJ Khaled’s “Sorry Not Sorry” from his 2021 album Khaled Khaled.