September 11th, 2001 is notable for being the biggest tragedy in modern American history, but the day coincided with the release of some pretty noteworthy albums: Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley’s Halfway Tree (which won the Best Reggae Album GRAMMY in 2002), Mariah Carey‘s Glitter (which would be called the worst album of her career), Fabolous‘ debut album Ghetto Fabolous (which reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200), and — of course — JAY-Z‘s The Blueprint.
Widely accepted as one of his best albums (as well as one of the best hip hip albums of all time, as it was added to the Library Of Congress earlier in 2019), the album is mainly known for the breakout performances of producers Kanye West and Just Blaze. However, it’s also known for “The Takeover,” Jay’s scathing salvo at Nas and Mobb Deep’s Prodigy. However, the general consensus (save for a few stragglers) believed that Nas’ return volley “Ether” was the more vicious diss track.
Well, now you can add Jay to that list (as if you already haven’t). In an oral history of The Blueprint by Def Jam, Lenny “Lenny S” Santiago (then-A&R at Roc-A-Fella Records) revealed that Jay accepted the L.
“I was listening to Hot 97, and bro I was so mad, I wanted to cry,” Lenny begins. “But not like sad, just mad. I was angry. I knew Jay is the best, Jay’s the best rapper, he’s the best businessman, he’s the best entrepreneur. In my heart I felt he was the best. ‘Ether’ was f**king unstoppable, don’t get me wrong, but you can’t end somebody’s career by a song. And that was the sentiment in New York, the Tri-State area, and the radio. It was like, ‘Jay’s over, Nas reigns supreme, Nas is the king, Jay’s finished.’ I was furious. Two-ways were out, and I sent a two-way to like Jay and Biggs and a couple of us, and I guess you could tell how infuriated I was. I was like, “F**k this, f**k the radio, f**k Hot 97.” I went crazy. And Jay was like, ‘Call me.’
“So I literally call him from a pay phone. And here we are, Jay’s on the phone with me, convincing me that this has to happen in life. We have to go through ups and downs. We have take losses in order to get greater wins. We have to fall in order to get up. He just spent 15 minutes convincing me why this was necessary and that it’s alright. This man just took a loss. A public loss to a rival rapper. And he’s convincing me, a young A&R, and obviously his friend and his brother, of like why I need to be okay with this and let it go and not take it to heart. It just taught me as a man how to be a more mature adult. And to look at the glass as half full instead of half empty. Jay took the time when he could have been selfish, or pissed off, and took the time to school me. And that’s from The Blueprint.“
The entire article (a very interesting read, by the way) can be read here.