DAR Roundtable: Jay-Z or Nas

Brooklyn, NY


Queens, NY

The debate to end all debates in hip hop: who is better, Jay-Z or Nas. These two took part in the biggest battle we had seen, perhaps in hip hop history, with strong disses coming from both men. However, what about beyond that? As an MC, album catalog, etc... Who is better? We sat down and discussed this, and needless to say, the opinions were varied. Let's get it started.

When it comes to Jay Z vs Nas, my pick has always been Nas. But after seeing both their careers develop over time, I will go ahead and say that Nas is the better rapper and Jay-Z is the better artist. Jay-Z blends in better and is more marketable. His style has changed and developed throughout the years and it is very visible that it reflects who he is surrounding himself with.

His most current noteworthy flow came from Young Chris back in the Roc-A-Fella days with State Property. Jay is a businessman and a team player, and he can take a team, bring them all forward and take what he needs to push himself up and keep it moving.

Whereas Nas is more of a lone ranger, despite trying the team thing with the Bravehearts, but that didn't end too well. However, he remained consistent with his message and original flow. I don't think anyone can say Nas borrowed or took anything from another to revamp it and move himself up. Whereas Jay-Z, he always rolled with a team, used them, abused them, then moved on to the next.

So, in the end, I pick Nas as the better rapper and Jay-Z as the better artist when it comes to business and maneuvering himself around the industry.

Nas has better lyricism and stories, but Jay is more cohesive as an artist. He's able to put together an entire album which touches on  pop culture, the real shit, and so on without having it sound forced. If we're going solely on lyrics, I'd give it to Nas, because Nas is flatout better. If we're going on the total package? Jay wins by a nose. There, I made a Jay Z nose joke.

Jay-Z vs Nas: When will this topic be laid to rest? NEVER.

“Nas bodied Jay in Ether.” “Jay sold more albums than Nas". Those are just only two sentences that we’ve seen on social media since their beef popped off and has been laid to rest for some years now. But nonetheless, fans still like to discuss these two like no other. Who is really better? Personally, as a lyrical person, I choose Nas all the way, but let’s just pretend that Nastradamus never existed. Nas has a way of connecting with the audience because he’s a storyteller. He literally makes you feel like you lived in the Queensbridge Projects. I can only imagine what his recording sessions must be like. Jay-Z is a great business, man (haha get it?). He knows how to make money and appeals to the larger masses. However, Reasonable Doubt is a boss album. Jay-Z hasn’t been great, in my opinion of course, since 2003 and that’s obviously a long time.

When it comes down to these two, it literally all depends on your preference in hip-hop or rap these days.

Nas and Jay-Z. Two legendary rappers. If we are talking who I think is better, I choose Nas, as he was on my Mt Rushmore, but I wanted to discuss their beef more so. These two kicked down the door with two classic debut albums that's still viewed as their best work respectfully. The two became connected through Biggie to my recollection, and when he died, the throne for the King Of NY was looking to crown a new champion. First signs of the fire that ignited the feud was started by Memphis Bleek on the track "Mind Right", which prompted Mobb Deep member Prodigy to tell Nas about it. Nas would ignore the beef until SUMMER JAM where Hov would send shots at Mobb Deep and Nas with The Takeover. "Ask Nas, He don't want it with Hov, NO!", also mentioning how he sampled Nas and turned the sample into a classic track. In 2001, Nas put out the single "Ether," finally addressing the feud with Jay-Z in full. The song mocked Jay-Z's early years as an aspiring young rapper and accused him of being a misogynist, as well as exploiting Notorious B.I.G.'s legacy by supposedly stealing his lyrics. "Ether" was the most concerted critique of Jay-Z. Nas and Hov would continue to go back and forth on. Though their disses afterwards didn't have the kind of impact that Ether and Takeover did, that didn't stop them from still taking shots. Hov and Nas would squash it in October 2005 and would appear on each other's next efforts. In my opinion, although bias, I believe Nas won. Ether is seen by a lot of Hip-Hop fans (including Hov stans) as the superior diss track and Hov really ignited the fire that Nas needed to defeat him and continue to have one of the best careers in Hip-Hop.

I don't get into the heated arguments with these "fans" over this discussion, because I'm a fan of both. I'll give Jay credit for his greatness in itself, there's a reason he is where he is. He beats Nas in the versatility factor with song making, and it helps him appeal to a wider audience. I still think Nas is a better overall rapper and songmaker, when you consider his whole discography and see the topics and concepts he's covered. Nas has always been more lyrical to me, his imagery and storytelling is unmatched. I'll take Nas's discography easily, as Jigga has too many mediocre albums. Not that it discredits his classics, which I'd say he has a definite 3 with Reasonable Doubt, BP and the Black Album. Nas really only has one subpar album, and Nastradamus is still better than BP3.

It's a close match up, and I still use Jay quotes in everyday conversation. I still have to go with the guy who made Illmatic and ended the argument for me with Ether. I'm glad they're both still making music, since both have unmatched longevity. They're probably both top 5 on any good list though, so I respect you Jigga Warriors too.

For me, it is quite simple. As a Nas fan and a Jay fan, I listen to both frequently. Those two are honestly on my top 3, but Nas is always number 1. The difference for me is in lyricism. Nas is more concise, vivid, and creative in his lyricism. Nas to me, has never lyricially fell off or lost his touch, he just made a bad album in Nastradumas before coming back with consistent heat. Nas made Illmatic and It Was Written back to back, then released Stillmatic and The Lost Tapes back to back. That's two stretches of back to back classics, a feat that Jay hasn't completed. He came close with Reasonable Doubt and Vol 1, but Vol 1 just missed the mark. He almost did it with the Dynasty and Blueprint, but a few songs on the Dynasty prevented that. I think Nas has 5 classic albums, those being Illmatic, It Was Written, Stillmatic, The Lost Tapes, and Life Is Good. He has some other good albums in I Am, God's Son, Street's Disciple, Untitled, and Distant Relatives. Jay has Reasonable Doubt, The Blueprint, The Black Album(debatable), and American Gangster. I think when it comes to making hit songs, Jay is a bit stronger, and as a businessman, Jay wins that, but this is hip hop. Lyricism, albums, creativity is all Nas. So, I have to rock with Nas here.

What do you guys think? Write in the comments below with your choice.



Popular Posts