Monday, January 23, 2006
Sometimes in the hip-hop nerd universe, forseen events unfold that shake the very foundation to its core, releaseing a wealth of possibilities that spell new hope for the destitute few who walk the path.
Such an event is upon us. Thus, the seal has been broken. Shattered. Into a thousand tiny pieces. Or something like that. I'm not too sure.
In any event, are you ready? Okay, here it goes: Nas has signed to Def Jam, and Jay-Z will executive produce his next album.
Yeah, I know. Take a moment. Let it all settle in.
For those of you who are wondering what in the good lord's name I am talking about, well, I'm talking about a hip-hop miracle. It's kind of like when Hulk Hogan and Randy "Macho Man" Savage, two former, bitter rivals in the World Wrestling Federation, made ammends and joined forces to battle the evil letches of the WWF during Wrestlemania 4.
Or like when Kobe and Shaq shook hands on Martin Luther King Jr. Day last week, at the bidding of Bill Russell, showing black unity for everyone.
Or maybe it's something else. I 'm not too sure.
Regardless, it's big. Enormously big.
These two guys were just a short four-years ago, embroiled in the greatest hip-hop battle ever. Now, before you go screaming Biggie/Tupac, let's get one thing clear: that wasn't a public battle. Though 'Pac fired a few shots, Big never responded directly (subliminaly, that's another blog for another day).
Jay-Z/Nas was another level of public beef. This was a battle for the right to be called "King of NY," which is essentially King of Hip-Hop. How so? Simple: hip-hop started in the Bronx, which is one of five buroughs in New York. Although you don't necessarily have to be from the Boogie Down to hold the crown, you do have to claim some rightful domain over that territory. And he who holds it down in the city that birthed a nation essentially controls the nation.
So, in 2001, Jay-Z wrote a song called "Takeover," claiming he was the rightful king of the city. His lyrics were to the point: This town can only have one king, and I'm going to air out any fake royalty who think they can "throw rocks at the throne."
He debuted the song at New York's Summer Jam, the biggest hip-hop concert in the city. He showed a large-screen image of one rival rapper named Prodigy dressed up as a ballerina, essentially ruining that rapper's career and destroying any and all street credability.
Then, he lowered the boom by going after Nas, who at one point was considered by many to be the best rapper on earth, pound-for-pound. But Jay called him "garbage" in a verse and it was over.
Jay said that Nas had never seen a gun before he met Jay, but soon after was rhyming about keeping a "Tek on the dresser." Jay said that Nas didn't get any money when Jay sampled his voice on a song. Jay said that Nas' bodyguard rapped better on his own song.
In New York speak, Jay "sonned" Nas.
Then, something even more miraculous happened: Nas, who to that point was regarded in hip-hop circles with as much respect as one would give a starving jackal, reclaimed his throne. Nas recorded "Ether," quite possibly the greatest diss record in hip-hop history.
Nas said Jay-Z had fat lips that were used to steal other rappers lines. Nas said Jay got "murdered" by Eminem on Jay's own record. Nas said his burough, Queens, controlled Jay's burough, Brooklyn. Nas "sonned" Jay to the second degree.
So out of all of this came a few more records, a few million more records sold for both artists, and the stuff of hip-hop legend.
And now, four years later, we have the union.
It's part Wrestlemania because two lyrical warriors with theatrical personas have united to form a solid front in on a staged entertainment medium.
It's part black unity because two brothers from the street who at a basic level were engaged in a typical 'hood beef squashed it, and now everyone else should follow suit.
Hopefully from this point on it's all to the good for both parties, and hip-hop in general. Nerds, rejoice. Let's pray that the ultimate result is a dope album and a brighter future for the music and the cause.
Or something like that. I'm not too sure.
Posted by Marc Cabrera at 4:25 PM