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 "Look where we at right here." ...

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 "I got a lot of love for 50." ...

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 "At some point, I feel like swinging back." ...

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 "Where we grew up, once you say certain things, you cross a line." ...

All Eyes On: Jay-Z & Nas
Behind The Scenes
Still don't believe the hatchet has been buried? Feast your eyes on this uncut interview with the rap immortals.

Jay-Z Takes Over

Nas: Major Figure

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Sway: What is the nature of the deal that you guys are doing together? How do you break it down?

Nas: This industry of music goes back from the blues to now. One of the dudes that showed me [the ways of the business] was my dad [blues/jazz musician Olu Dara, featured on Nas' "Bridging the Gap"], 'cuz he's been around the world doing his music thing. He showed me this is the way to go and be your own boss and do what you do. And one thing about this industry: It gives you a freedom, but it's also controlled by people that don't really understand this music or this culture — or respect it. I saw there was a lot of opportunity for me; there was nothing better than to ride with this movement right here. Where Jay is at, Def Jam, it felt like the people that are there respect it and love the culture even more than this man. To reconcile and have redemption together and come to Def Jam, I felt that it would be better to go over there and do this for the people. So I'm on Def Jam.

Sway: So it mattered what you two said about each other? That's why it was symbolic of that respect; that's why you responded to him.

Jay: Right — somebody that's on your level.

Sway: Nas, you've also had your own company, Ill Will, so in a sense you're a boss. It doesn't bother you that people might think now that Jay is your boss?

"I can't control what people think. They know who I am."
Nas: I can't control what people think. They know who I am.

Sway: Jay, I'm not going to lie: When "Takeover" came out, I was thinking, "How is Nas going to respond to this?" You summarized Nas' career as one hot album every 10 years, and you went on to imply that the knowledge he kicks is garbage. But now you're a CEO and you signed him as an artist. What is your opinion of him now?

Jay: Like I said, when the war is going on, all you trying to do is point out things that's going to get the most  of people. Like I said, it's always been a level of respect there. I, for not one second, ever said I don't believe that he's one of the best lyricists ever. And that's what it is, at the end of the day. We are not in wartime right now: We thinking with sensible minds, we're thinking bigger than what was said on the record.

Sway: As bold as it is that you came together, you still got issues coming at you. Nas, you and 50 have been at war with words for the past however long, and the same now with [Jay] and Cam'ron — Cam recently put out a dis record against you.

Nas: I have never been in a word war with 50. 50 came up with me. I brought him on tours with me. I like him a lot. I got a lot of love for him. To tell you something real, I think he was hurt by me by certain things that he thought that I did were against him in certain ways. He didn't understand the moves that I was making. He thought I was against him in certain ways, and he had a lot of love for me and looked up to me and respected me in so many ways for me bringing him on with me and giving him a lot of knowledge. I never had any words, and his thing is he's going to say whatever is on his mind. And sometimes he don't know when to stop, and I think he just got to get those things off his chest. And of course I say a little thing here and there, but at the end of the day I know it was hurtful.

Sway: [To Jay] You got an interesting dilemma, because now you wear a suit and you wear the hoodie, and you have a former artist [Cam'ron] getting at you. And the thing, to me, that got you to the position you are now is your credibility as an MC. But as you move as an MC, how does that affect your ability as a CEO?

Jay: I don't think ["You Got to Love It," Cam'ron's dis record against Jay] could ever question my credibility as a MC. It's not anything challenging enough or artistic enough. I think we all know what the record is. It's too blatant — it's not even well thought-out. So I don't think it challenges anything. But why is this a question for us? Do I have beef with 50 now and does Nas have beef with Cam now? That's the type of thinking that we are trying to get past. I know its going to take a minute. It's a very valid question and I'm not minimizing your question in any way.

Nas: This here is a threat, bottom line. I think dudes need to learn from it, man. Be men.

'At some point, I feel like swinging back.' ...
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Photo: Johnny Nunez

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