In an interview with Zane Lowe, Nas has opened up about what it felt like to be at the centre of one of the industry’s longest clashes.
The one mic star said that unlike rappers today, his battle with the ortis star was more than just about making money.
Nas said: ‘It’s really about money now, and back then, during that period when you talk about me battling with J, it was about something else.
‘It wasn’t just about being the top guy in rap, it felt like we were leaders of nations, not that we were egos, egotistical as in “I’m the leader”, no not in that sense.’
He continued: ‘What you felt surrounding us was there was an importance in what we were doing that mattered more than just success, it was more than just, “are my records going to sell” or yes, we need the records to sell to make money.’
Representing the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, the beef between the two New York rappers dated back to the 90s but only really became public knowledge with the release of Jay Z’s song Takeover in 2001 which Nas responded to with the track Ether taken from his album Stillmatic.
The rappers called a truce in 2005 when Nas made a surprise guest appearance onstage alongside JayZ during his I Declare war Tour.
Nas also spoke about the deaths of B.I.G and 2pac: ‘Those two things hit me real hard. I knew them both of them. Biggie more, but what they mean to the art form can never be replaced. ‘When those two guys passed away, I thought it was the end of rap.’