The Producer Of Ether Attempted To Offer The Beat To JAY-Z Before Nas (Video)
The term “ether” is forever implanted in the Hip-Hop lexicon and beyond. Heads can thank Nas for that one. The song is the title from Nasir’s 2001 campaign against JAY-Z, in response to JAY-Z’s “The Takeover.” Two of the most respected MCs in Hip-Hop became entrenched in one of Rap’s most famous standoffs.
A decade before he released Top 30 single “Pop Champagne” with Jim Jones and Juelz Santana, Harlem, New York producer Ron Browz had gotten his feet in the industry door producing for Big L. He is credited with four songs on the gold-certified album, The Big Picture, released after Lamont Coleman’s passing. It was then that he started shopping a batch of beats that included “Ether.” However, Nas was not the first intended recipient. Browz, who claims “Etherboy” as his alias, recently appeared on Sway In The Morning.
There, he revealed that JAY-Z was intended to hear “Ether” before Nas. That, of course, did not happen. Browz says that Roc-A-Fella’s A&R, Kyambo “Hip Hop” Joshua was given a beat CD to give to Jay. “One day, Hip Hop came to my mother’s house, and I was like, ‘Play this for Jay!’ And he was like, ‘Aight.’ I put it on CD and everything, gave it to Hip-Hop, and then he never gave it to Jay.” Sway’s response to this revelation is, “Oh my God!”
However, how Browz was able to get his beat in Nas’ hands is also interesting…
Browz had a connection to Nas’ travel agent and asked her to slide him a beat CD. She did, landing “Ether” as the second track on late 2001’s Stillmatic. Browz also opens up that he had good paperwork with Nas on the double-platinum affair. “I kinda learned from producing [Big L that] I had to get the business right…first. Nas was my next project after I did them four records for Big L before he passed away.”
Notably, Nas would call upon Browz again for 2002’s “The Last Real Ni**a Alive” on God’s Son. That song addressed the Jay conflict and seemingly turned the page. Three years later, Nas would sign to Def Jam Records, a label then-led by Jay. The pair has since recorded multiple songs together. Last year, Swizz Beatz premiered a track by Jay, Nas, DMX, and Jadakiss while competing against Just Blaze in a friendly beat-battle.
For those interested in the legend of beats submitted to JAY-Z and other artists in the early 2000s, check out It’s The Real‘s Roc-A-Fella reunion interview from 2017.
Nas is currently working on his follow-up to this summer’s NASIR. He recently confirmed having recorded with Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA and Swizz Beatz.
#BonusBeat: Ambrosia For Heads was on hand last week for Nas’ performance at Colorado’s Red Rocks: