Jay Z Had A Diss Reply Ready For Tupac In 1996. He Even Performed It.
When Nas and Jay Z were entrenched in one of Hip-Hop’s most famous battles and beefs, it is Tupac Shakur’s words that open up one of the crossfire’s most scathing attacks, Nas’ “Ether.” It was an unusual move for one rival of Tupac to use the slain rapper in his own personal attack of another. In the Ron Browz-produced song, it is in fact a distorted voice of ‘Pac from “Fuck Friendz” that says, “fuck Jay Z.” Elements of Tupac’s posthumously-released The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory (under the name of Makaveli) also were aimed at Jay.
At the time of Shakur’s September 1996 death, Jay Z’s debut album Reasonable Doubt had been on shelves less than three months. Reportedly aiming some of its nameless jabs in Tupac’s direction, the album was a home to The Notorious B.I.G.-assisted “Brooklyn’s Finest,” which found Biggie making light of his foe through wordplay. The same album where Shawn Carter accused the industry of “West Coast dick-lickin’,” presumably caused Tupac to take umbrage with the former Jaz-O protege.
So when it was revealed that upon learning he was a target of Shakur’s (which had grown to include B.I.G., Puff Daddy, Lil’ Kim, Junior M.A.F.I.A., Mobb Deep, Nas, and others), Jay responded—just like he would at later verbal confrontations. According to DJ Clark Kent, who had worked with Jay since even before orchestrating his Original Flavor 1994 appearance, Jay Z even performed the response, once, at The Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York.
In an interview with ItsTheReal (brothers Eric and Jeff Rosenthal) for their A Waste Of Time podcast, Clark provided some backstory to the song. “The chip on Jay’s shoulder is so crazy that he had to perform it,” said Clark, who also worked closely with Biggie Smalls. Allegedly, the song was performed against the Teddy Riley-produced “No Diggity” instrumental to Blackstreet, Dr. Dre, and Queen Pen’s Top 10 platinum hit.
Clark’s comments confirm a legend revealed by Jay Z himself, nine years ago, to XXL magazine. “It’s the truth, that’s the best shit,” Jay was quoted as saying of the two-verse reply to “Bomb First (My Second Reply).” “It’s so liberating, when you say what the fuck you wanna say.” Those article elements appeared re-published at a blog.
However, sensitivity to Shakur’s death halted plans of releasing the studio version. “It never came out, out of respect for the fact that he died.” Clark Kent also stated that he considers the nameless song one of the greatest Rap disses of all time.
Despite the fact that the Apollo often taped shows, that night no recordings exist—though an estimated 2,000 people heard Jay’s attack on his peer.
On the 2001 Until The End Of Time QDIII-produced album version of “Fuck Friendz,” the original Tupac Shakur denouncing vocals were kept in tact, while previously released posthumous works (1999’s Still I Rise) remixing out the diss vocals (allegedly at request of the estate). The album would go on to be 2001’s best-selling album of the year.
In 2002, Jay Z would sample elements of Shakur’s song “Me & My Girlfriend” for his Top 5 hit “’03 Bonnie & Clyde,” assisted by now-wife Beyonce. Clearing the 1996 sample proved to be a challenge for Jay Z, before eventually getting Afeni Shakur’s blessing. Perhaps in response, the Roc-A-Fella co-founder would license a remix to Death Row in early 2003, for the Dysfunktional Family soundtrack. Jay would later (and famously) bring Afeni Shakur and Violetta Wallace (The Notorious B.I.G.’s mother) together on stage in his November, 2003 Fade To Black concert at Madison Square Garden.
Based on skills alone, who do you think would have bested the other in a 1996 Rap battle—Jay Z or 2Pac?