Before his ties with G-Unit, Prodigy of Mobb Deep was the closest ally to Nas. He would always call upon Nas to work with him and Nas always called on him. It would be Prodigy’s feud with Jay-Z that ultimately led to Nas deciding to feud with the rapper. But, dating back as long as the second album from Jay-Z, Prodigy could see the possible feud.
When Jay-Z first entered the game, he rapped about the Mafioso lifestyle and his fortune and his album would sell fairly well. Meanwhile, Prodigy, Mobb Deep, and Nas were the ones with the du rags and the throwback jerseys. Coming into his 1997 follow-up, Jay-Z would drop the name of Nas on the song, “Where I’m From.” Most people took it as Jay paying homage to the rapper, but others saw it as a diss.
Nas must have taken it as homage, but Prodigy saw it as a diss. The following year, Jay-Z would capitalize on the “hood rich” image that the Queens rappers created. Then, he began introducing his crew into the game. Out of the entire crew, the personal favorite of Jay-Z was Memphis Bleek. They did two songs that were telling the story of how their friendship came to be and the debut album from Bleek continued the theme.
Aside from the “passing down the torch” from Jay-Z to Memphis Bleek, his debut album was also noted for sending light jabs to Nas. While all this was going on, Nas was going about the business of his own career. Prodigy was doing the same, but he kept an eye on the situation, which led to him and Jay-Z beginning a subliminal feud. Prodigy wanted to directly confront the entire crew because of their blatant disrespect.
Despite the wishes of Prodigy, Nas was weary of taking Jay-Z on. He decided to play things cool until the situation came to a head in 2001. Following that, the rest was history and Jay-Z would release “The Takeover,” which was followed by Nas’ forever classic response, “Ether.”