Definitions

Ether_(song)

Ether (song)

"Ether" also known as "Ether (Fuck Jay-Z)"is the 2nd track on hip hop artist Nas' 2001 album Stillmatic. The song was a response to Jay-Z's "Takeover" - a diss track from that rapper towards Nas which appears on Jay-Z's album The Blueprint, during the Jay-Z vs. Nas feud. Many critics believe "Takeover" to be Nas' wake up call in light of his less-celebrated post-Illmatic career. "Ether" won the majority of votes by callers in a radio poll, and some fans proclaimed Nas the victor. But in XXL Magazine, "Ether" ranked #3 on its greatest diss songs of all time, while "Takeover" ranks #2, with #1 being 2Pac's "Hit Em Up".

The word "ether" subsequently entered the hip hop lexicon as a term for a devastating diss, or an irreversible loss sustained during battle by an MC.

Song

"Ether" is a diss song to fellow New York rapper Jay-Z, who had surpassed Nas in commercial success since 1998 and had dismissed him as a has-been on the diss track "Takeover." Nas responds to Jay's claims by rapping, "I got this, locked since Nine-One(1991), I am the truest/ Name a rapper that I ain't influenced." The song contains numerous gay-based slurs directed at Jay-Z: "When these streets keep calling, heard it when I was sleep/ That this Gay-Z and Cock-A-Fella Records wanted beef", and after informing him that "KRS already made an album called Blueprint / First Biggie's your man, 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", "You a dick-ridin' faggot, you love the attention/ Queens niggas run you niggas, ask Russell Simmons" and "Put it together/ I rock hoes; y'all rock fellas."

Nas also attacks Jay-Z's street cred, claiming, "In '88, you was gettin' chased to your buildin'/ Callin' my crib, and I ain't even give you my numbers/ All I did was give you a style for you to run with." He also accuses Jay of selling out, "Y'all niggas deal with emotions like bitches/ What's sad is I love you cause you're my brother, you traded your soul for riches." He had lines regarding Jay's unattractive appearance and accuses him of misogyny, rapping, "You seem to be only concerned with dissin' women/ Were you abused as a child, scared to smile, they called you ugly?" and "Foxy" kept you hot, kept your face in her puss/ What you think you gettin' girls now because of your looks?" He also accuses Jay of brown-nosing other rappers for fame: "Your ass went from Jaz to hangin' with Kane, to Irv to Big/ And, Eminem murdered you on your own shit." Not only does he criticize the usage of other rappers' influence for increased fame, he mentions that Eminem vastly outshined him on his song, "Renegade" It was the only Blueprint track with a guest rapping appearance, and many fans and critics feel that Jay-Z was overshadowed by Eminem's assonant rhymes. Finally, Nas insults Jay-Z's biting of Big's lyrics, "How much of Biggie's rhymes gonna come out your fat lips?". The intro of Ether starts with gunshots from Notorious B.I.G.'s Who Shot Ya? then there's a Screwed voice of the late 2Pac saying "Fuck Jay-Z" which is taken from the 2pac song "Fuck Friendz". In the outro of Ether, Nas mocks the chorus of Takeover, which Jay-Z raps "R-O-C, we runnin' this rap shit", Nas changes it to "R-O-C, get gunned up and clapped quick" and so on. A sample of "Ether" was also used in Xzibit's song "My Name" featuring Eminem and Nate Dogg.

Significance

"Ether" grew to be infamous among hip hop circles, becoming synonymous with ruthlessness. Indeed, it has even gained its own slang usage in the hip-hop community (with the term "Ethered" becoming widespread).

Jay-Z's "Supa Ugly" marked the "official" end of the battle, although references to the beef can be found on Nas' "Last Real Nigga Alive" from God's Son, "U Wanna Be Me" from 8 Mile and "Everybody's Crazy" from The Lost Tapes, and Jay-Z's "Blueprint 2" from The Blueprint 2: The Gift and the Curse album.

The Nas vs. Jay-Z feud was beneficial to both men's careers. Stillmatic and "Ether" had marked the reemergence of Nas to the hip hop scene two years after having released Nastradamus, considered by many fans and critics to have been the weakest album in his discography. Many fans still credit the feud with resurrecting Nas' career; while he has not matched the commercial success of It Was Written or I Am..., his work since Stillmatic has generally been better received critically. The battle also boosted Jay-Z's career, giving him much notoriety for having the bravado to attack a legend.

While Jay-Z had attempted to discredit Nas on "Takeover" using pointed, clever lines attacking his street cred and discography after Illmatic, "Ether" is generally regarded as more ruthless. Though both rappers referenced the feud on their follow-up albums, the aforementioned two tracks remain the most known and best-received disses along with Ice Cube's "No Vaseline", Eazy-E's "Real Muthaphuckkin G's", Dr Dre's "Fuck Wit Dre Day", The Game's 300 Bars and Runnin', and 2Pac's "Hit Em Up". The feud (or "beef") between the two rappers has since been reconciled, and they have gone on to collaborate on the song "Black Republican", from Nas's 2006 album Hip Hop is Dead, and "Success", from Jay-Z's 2007 album American Gangster.

References

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