Although the current climate of Hip-Hop has been described as resembling the theatrics of professional wrestling, where battles are mere stunts to drum up publicity, there remain a couple unresolved confrontations in the world of rap that don't have their origins necessarily based in a marketing scheme, 50 Cent versus Nas, for example. Yes, more recently there has been an exchange of rather questionable taunts between the two, mixtape skits to mixtape covers, but whatever feud is there has a history at least, more than what the Kevin Nash's and Goldberg's of the game can claim.
Back before any friction started, these fellow Queens residents were actually friendly. In fact, Nas brought 50 Cent, and Tony Yayo, along for his 1999 Nastradamus tour. Part of the reason then for Nas' encouragement stemmed from the buzz over the now-infamous How To Rob, 50's slash and burn classic. There, while just about every name in the industry is called out and strung up, Nas isn't mentioned, further proof of the respect shared between the two artists at the time. (On the song Life's On The Line, the Southside Queens rapper also says, "now here's a list of MC's that can kill you in eight bars: / 50, umm, Jay-Z and Nas.") The duo even collaborated twice, once on the murky Who U Rep With and again with the nod-ready Projects Too Hot. However, as we all know, a thug changes, and love changes, and best friends become rivals. And that rivalry, to some degree, seems to have started with a rather worthless Jennifer Lopez remix.
Landing in the ten spot on the Billboard Top 100 charts, Lopez's I'm Gonna Be Alright remix equaled another smash for the faux R&B singer and some crossover, though questionable, success for Nas. However, the 50 Cent fallout would take place off the dial . Apparently pushed out by behind-the-scenes maneuverings from Irv Gotti, 50, who had put down his vocals to the remix before Nas was ever greenlit, felt obviously slighted. Add that to the fact that Irv Gotti / Murder Inc had been involved and that Nas would soon partner with the label, and it becomes clear why the friendship began to fracture.
In hindsight, maybe blowing up on a Jennifer Lopez remix wouldn't have quite been the blessing 50 initially took it to be. He still dropped Wanksta, still hit platinum pay dirt with Get Rich Or Die Tryin, and still has remained more commercially viable than most other dudes out there now. He's faced criticism from heads and housewives, dealt with the labels of sellout and snitch, and persevered past it all. (Jungle, Nas' younger brother, even called out "CJ" for working with the cops, on the track Bravehearted.) But, in part, this growing 50 Cent backlash springs from him having beef with more rappers than most Christian groups do. So as the likes of Jadakiss, Ja Rule, Fat Joe, The Game, Nas, Joe Budden, Dipset, AZ, Shyne, Puff Daddy, Lil' Kim . . . get added to the tally, the once underdog MC turns into the bully rapper and loses support. However, again, unlike all those, Nas and 50's tension appears more long-running and might have really taken off from something Nas actually said.
In the summer of 2004, with Curtis Jackson mania just about at its peak, Nas took to New York's Central Park for a free concert. The rapper, all trumped up from the crowd's strong reception and his return to Hip-Hop after a two year absence, decided to give the frenzy of fans a bit extra, "this is that real New York shit, not that fake 50 Cent shit!" While Nas claims that snipes were exchanged on the low previously, this was ultimately the grenade pin dropping that took the feud public. In turn, 50 Cent responded with a mixtape jab, Y'All Niggas Starvin', and, finally, Piggy Bank, off of 2005's The Massacre. Piggy Bank's main tactic was to attack Nas' relationship with Kelis, "you a sucka for love", and, over time, the shots have continued; 50 has further lampooned everything from Nas' baby mother to his business with Jay-Z and recent poor album sales. For his part, on record at least, Nas has maintained a consistent no-comment approach. However, that approach did open up a little in the middle of 2005.
Don't Body Yaself, also known as MC Burial, was a return of fire, an open letter to the "'Fuck Nas' Coalition." In the song's first verse, though unnamed, Cormega and Lake, former QB partners of Nas', are the focus, "when y'all was trying to rap, y'all was making me proud, man / now you fucked up, down on your luck, running your mouth, man." The second verse then proves to be more an intermission of sorts, essentially a lead up to the main event, "they say Jada defeated him / Joe too street for him / what's next? I guess it's for Nas to Ether him." Overall though, Don't Body Yaself warrants its "warning shot" reputation, because, while Nas does check the "sucka for love" depiction ("you a sucka for death"), 50 Cent is never explicitly mentioned, and, curiously, half the third verse is concerned with giving a definition of "ethereal." Yet, in a very sly manner, at the end, Nas does manage to sneak in a cold shot to make the diss worthwhile, "will it be Gilmore or Crowes? / nigga, act like you know." This final line is a reference to two funeral homes, Gilmore and Crowe's, in 50 Cent's native Jamaica, Queens.
50 Cent f/ Nas, Nature: Projects Too Hot
50 Cent f/ Nas, The Bravehearts: Who U Rep With
Nas: Don't Body Yaself
Bonus: 50 Cent: Piggy Bank
Bonus: The Bravehearts f/ Nas: Bravehearted