After being involved in one of the most notorious Hip-Hop rap battles in history, Nas would definitely be considered one emcee that has a keen understanding of the impact lyrical beefing.
The Queensbridge native’s 2001 war of words with Jay-Z for the title of “King of New York” helped elevate both rappers to legendary status. It’s significance is so great that a dozen years later fans of both emcees still debate who came out on top even though the rappers themselves have long settled the dispute personally.
While speaking with Australian music website themusic.com-au, Nas expressed his belief that rap battles are a necessary and vital Hip-Hop tradition.
“Hip-Hop battles are very important parts of Hip-Hop as well. You never know when it could happen. When it happens, people get a chance to see what you’re made of,” said Nas.
Battles have been a part of Hip-Hop culture from the very beginning. The earliest Hip-Hop DJ’s would compete to see who could rock a party the hardest. Then when the emcee came to the forefront, they wanted to prove who was the best rapper on the mic by going head-to-head. Competition was also a driving force in the rise of b-boy crews and graffiti artists.
That competitive nature has survived in Hip-Hop until this day with recent rap battles like Cassidy vs Meek Mill, Lil Wayne vs Pusha T, and Drake vs Common still capturing the attention of rap fans.
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“What I say to people is, ‘When you’re an emcee, you never know when your day’ll come to be in a Hip-Hop battle’,” added Nas.
Hip-Hop is a severely competitive sport, and when a challenge arises the two opponents have to step in the ring and prove who the real champion is. The custom of beefing on wax not only shows the public which rapper can handle their own on the mic, but it also provides a needed nonviolent means of settling a dispute.