Sonny Rockwell as: The Ghost of Battle’s Past


I have a serious serious problem with many fans’ perspective of hiphop battles. There seems to be way too much analyzing things that are irrelevant to the superiority of one emcee to the other. For example, one used to be a corrections officer, or one had sex with the other one’s baby moms, or one is ugly or wealthier and a plethora of random ignorant concepts that keeps people from looking at what is important: The musical output. There are also major inconsistencies in the outlooks of fans.  People say things like, “Oh, he’s just doing that to get publicity for his album/sale records” and in the same breath diss a cat for not selling records. In short, the perception of what it takes to reign supreme in a battle is collectively sloppy in the hiphop community, which explains why we can have situations such as 50 cent vs Jadakiss, Fat Joe, and Nas even though 50 barely as much as spit 2 bars toward any of them. Ridiculous I know.


I can go on and on about the importance of the battle in hiphop culture. I’m not going to do that right now. Besides, just as relevant as its place in the culture is this fact; everyone enjoys a battle, and that is a concept that goes beyond hiphop.  America is a culture of confrontation. With that being said, the outcome of battles have been long debated and examined in hiphop.  Well, right now, the god is about to put all that shit to rest. I’m laying the law about a few of the most debated hiphop battles amongst heads. Lets take it from the top…


LL Cool J vs Canibus:  LL Cool J has always been a bitch with power. What I mean by that is that he creates emotionally charged scenarios in which he should feel disrespected, and proceeds to attack accordingly. Honestly, I believe these were just his rationalizations for getting his legacy up on cats. It was no different with Canibus. 


The Story: Canibus was a feature on LL’s 1997 song “4,3,2,1” which also featured Method Man, Redman, and Master P (lol)  On the record, Canibus asks to borrow the mic on LL’s arm. LL somehow took that as disrespect and and recorded vocals that responded to the request of Canibus. Canibus then, on his first album, released a response to LL entitled, “Second Round KO” along with numerous random freestyles and such.  LL responded with “The Ripper Strikes Back” and “Back Where I Belong” on his album called “The G.O.A.T.”


The Real: LL starting stuff for no reason. I think that he thought that this was going to be a typical LL Cool J flex session where he showed the rap world that he was still the bully on the block. Well, he bit off more than he can chew this time.  Canibus was a young lion, and LL simply was not ready to trade lyrical jabs with that level of hunger and skill.  Second Round KO may very well be the most treacherous lyrical assault in hiphop history. It is certainly one of the best diss records.  LL responded to Second Round KO with a solid one liner, but the execution of KO: The Mike Tyson intro, the beat, the opening and ending…it was just a fantastic diss record.  If LL wasn’t already a legend, Second Round KO would have made him obsolete.


The Winner: Canibus


Jadakiss vs Beanie Sigel


The Story: Jadakiss and Jay-z came to odds, because Jay-z allegedly (most likely) bought his way onto the remix of R. Kelly’s “Fiesta” which was supposed to be Kells and Kiss. Kiss takes initiative and spits a few potent bars over the track with Styles P. Tension was thick amongst what were the two most popular crews in New York at the time. Me and my man Stu had got a bootleg copy of Jadakiss’ underwhelming debut solo album, “Kiss The Game Goodbye” the summer before it dropped. We sat at my grandmother’s house playing NBA live and listening to the album.  We both sat back in disgust in what we were hearing, especially me because at the time Jadakiss was my rap hero. I really thought he was next up. I was stewing in my depression, and then the last song on the bootleg came on.  DMX was on it, cool. “I only gave you the crown so I can shoot it off your fucking head…” he snarls.  Subliminal to Jay-z? Now I’m hype. Then we get to Kiss’ verse. “Don’t try to apologize on your two way, sympathy don’t amuse me…” Easily the highlight of the entire album. Half way through the verse he “had to stop eating red meat cause he ate to many beanie macs…” Ok, now I forget all about how trash the album was, and im focused on what seemed to be a ruff ryder/rocafella war brewing.  Not long after that, DJ clue drops a stadium tape. The first two tracks of this tape? A Beanie Sigel diss to Jadakiss, and Jada’s response.  After these initial diss records came numerous radio freestyle and live freestyle disses by each emcee.


The Real: Kiss and Beans are two superior emcees, so their battle was greatly anticipated. As generals, so to speak, of their camps it also seemed to be the set up for a possible war. In terms of the two diss records, Jada’s was more concise and potent.  Bean’s had plenty of punchlines and bars for Kiss, but in the end, Kiss delivered lines that directly addressed many of Sigel’s circumstances and came with some facts. Facts are always impressive, and serve as more cunning in the field of battle. Now, outside of the diss records, Beans dominated.  He did a live freestyle in New was live as hell. He did a hot 97 freestyle that he later did on Rap city the basement…it was live as hell. Kiss was relatively quiet outside of the diss records. However, in a battle the diss record is always the paramount aspect of the battle. The diss record exchange was good punchlines vs potent punchlines. Potent punchlines won


The Winner:  Jadakiss



You knew I was going to do this right?


Nas vs Jay-Z


The story:  Let me take this from THE TOP…THE TOP, TOP.  Now, my first tidbit is their interaction on tour. Nas was touring with Main Source and Jay-Z was touring with Jaz-O altogether with UMCs. There was an altercation between the two of them that got physical, in which Nas was the victor. (I’ll still whip your ass, you 36 in a karate class…)  Jay-Z the ego, went a pulled a pistol on Nas after the altercation. (I showed you your first tec on tour with large professor…) 


Fast forward to 1995 or so… Jay-Z is making a regional buzz with his song “Dead Presidents”, which features a Nas sample from the song “The World is Yours” Jay-Z attempted to get Nas to feature on Dead Presidents II for his debut album, Reasonable Doubt. Jay-Z got a hold of Nas through a mutual friend of a friend by the name of Chase. (In 88, you was getting Chase to your building. Calling my crib and I aint even give you my numbers…) (Just Hawaiian shirts, hanging with little Chase…) Nas declined. More bad blood.


Jay-Z started smashing Nas’ baby moms/fiancée, Carmen. Obvious bad blood. From this point, many subliminals were shot. Nas and Jay-Z go on as the two biggest names in New York since the death of Big, Jay-Z as the rap phenomenon king pin, Nas as the lyrical genius. It all boils over at Summer Jam 2001.  Jay-Z performs Takeover. He stops at the second verse though, where he raps… “Ask Nas, he don’t want it with Hov…”  New York goes crazy.  Shortly thereafter, goes on the radio and addresses the situation. Here he releases his “Stillmatic freestyle” which also obviously is a promotion to his album that was to be released the end of that year.  September 11, 2001…Blueprint drops. The full version of Takeover is on there. December 4, 2001 Ether is released to DJs and radio outlets. Shortly after, superugly. Nas makes many references to the battle and sonning Jay-Z (which at the time, before all of the revisionist history..was common knowledge) A year later, Jay-z releases the blueprint 2. 



The Real: This battle to this day is subject to debate. Ill use the term debate loosely..well, because Jay clearly lost the battle.  It’s 2012, and people on-line use the word “ether and ethered” as a term meaning that somebody got their ass handed to them. All of this trying to cope with that one true blemish on Jay-Z’s career. Stop it. There is no such thing as, “Jay lost the battle, but won the war.” No war is being fought. Their career paths after the battle were already in determination before the battle, nor is it a competition between to men to see who can make the most money or see who can be more of a celebrity.  The path that Jay-Z has taken is the path that he always intended for himself, as is the case for Nas. They are two different paths, but they clashed at the top. End of story.  There is no, “Takeover was the better SONG though”…the fuck does that mean? It’s a battle. Who made the best diss record? or is there a way to disregard that?  Stop with the, “Nas told jokes, Jay spit facts…” This is a fallacy. So every nas album not named Illmatic is wack? That’s a fact? No, that’s a trevesty of an outlook to have as a fan. A nigga who grew up in Queensbridge projects didnt see a gun until he left those projects and went on tour at age 17 or 18 or so? C’mon. “I sampled your voice, you were using it wrong…” LMAO what?? If making “The World is Yours” is using your voice wrong… There was some truth in Takeover (I know who I paid God, Serchlite publishing) and it was a great diss record, but all in all it was a verse full of well put bullshit claims.  

Ether had some silly jokes, yes. Ether also had many facts.  KRS already made an album called Blueprint- fact.  The little Chase references -fact. Rocafella, the inspiration for the label’s name did indeed die of aids. Foxy got you hot…truth to it.  Eminem murdered you on your own shit- well, you heard Renegade lol.  How much of Biggies rhymes is gonna come out your fat lips? That’s a twofer. You pop shit and apologize nigga just ask kiss…I addressed that earlier. 

Aside from the fact or fiction game, Nas was relentless for three verses. Jay-Z, I dont know if he thought Nas was done or something, but he made the mistake of his life by just making nas a co defendant on Takeover. It just wasn’t a good idea. To top it all off, Jay-Z, a year later finally seriously responds to ether. He makes it the title track to his double album, and on it he admits that he got sonned. “For I will not lose, even in defeat it’s a valuable lesson learned so it evens it out for me…” L.

The Winner: Nas


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