The same day the Twin Towers fell, Jay-Z dropped The Blueprint, which featured the famous “Takeover” diss track ahead of Nas’ “Ether.” Nearly 20 years later, there’s still debate about who won the battle. But according to many, it wasn’t Hov.
Def Jam published an oral history that details The Blueprint’s legacy on the 18th anniversary, in which Lenny S. explained what the aftermath of “Ether” taught him.
“The Blueprint showed me how selfless Jay was. This was the time when ‘Takeover’ was out and ‘Ether’ and everything. The energy was kind of crazy. They did a poll on the radio like “Ether” vs. “Supa Ugly,” and everyone voted “Ether.” It was like, “Jay’s career is over. He’s done.” Lenny S. explained.
“I was so mad; I wanted to cry… 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 fucking unstoppable, don’t get me wrong, but you can’t end somebody’s career by a song,” he said.
He explained New York radio and the entire Tri-State area believed Hov’s career was overdue to one Nas song, which infuriated him. He also went on to tell how he vented his frustration to Roc-A-Fella’s upper management, which included Jay-Z and the label’s co-founder, Kareem “Biggs” Burke, but to his surprise, everyone told him to calm down.
“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, ‘Fuck this, fuck the radio, fuck Hot 97.’ I went crazy. And Jay was like, ‘Call me,’” he continued. “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 to 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.”
Lenny S., who was just a young A&R and friend of the rapper at the time, further detailed the lesson, explaining how Jay-Z helped him mature, putting his feelings to the side for a bigger cause. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
“This man just took a loss. A public loss to a rival rapper. And he’s convincing me… of like why I need to be OK 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.”