“Y’all don’t know about my Biggie wars/ Who you thought ‘Kick in the Door’ was for?/ But that’s my heart, Y’all still trippin off that Jigga sh*t…” – Nas, “Last Real N***a Alive”
The people of BronxRap.com new about this beef long time ago…But this is for all the heads that didn’t know….We’re just tryin to keep you abreast…L Boogzz
Words by Jesse Hagen
This lyric and the whole song really (which I talked about earlier in my “King Without a Crown” post), pulled back the curtain to reveal a lot of what Nas had been going through since he burst onto the scene with Illmatic. Up until “Last Real N***a Alive,” speculation about a beef between Nas and Biggie hadn’t really been considered.
Though Nas and Biggie never had an official major-label track recorded together during Big’s lifetime, it wasn’t assumed that the two were at odds with each other. In a behind-the-scenes feud, that involved a lot of industry politics: Nas was pulled into a beef that was already going on between Raekwon and Ghostface Killah of the Wu-Tang clan and the Notorious B.I.G. One that is noted by Nas:
“BIG was ahead of his time, him and Raekwon my n***as/ But dig it, they couldn’t get along/That’s when Ghostface said it on the Purple tape/ Bad Boy biting Nas album come awake/ BIG told me Rae was stealing my slang/ And Rae told me out in Shaolin BIG would do the same thing.”
The beef between Rae and Big came from Rae feeling slighted that Biggie was blowing up so big in 1994 and taking Raekwon’s place as the “rotund rapper that embodied the voice of New York.” Ghostface and Raekwon then created a famous mixtape that was released on a purple cassette which is what Nas is referring to. Ghost criticizes Biggie for stealing his album cover concept on 94’s Ready to Die, which shows a young Christopher Wallace, and is indeed much reminiscent of Nas’s cover for Illmatic, which shows a young Nasir Jones. There is also a threat to throw bleach in Big’s eyes, a line that Big took and used back against Raekwon on “Kick in the Door”
Nas appeared on “Verbal Intercourse” with Raekwon and Ghostface off of Raekwon’s 1995 release Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. The disc also featured a skit called “Shark N****s (Biters),” in which Ghostface and Raekwon are supposedly talking about how Big bit his ideas, flow, and style from Raekwon and others.
To Biggie, it must have looked like Nas had been backing Raekwon in the beef because of his famous guest appearance on Cuban Linx. This coupled with Nas’s refusal to appear on Jay-z’s Reasonable Doubt, showed Biggie that Nas was possibly going against him socially.
A little after OB4CL dropped, Nas started putting some subliminals in his songs. “The Message” off of It Was Written, includes a line that says “Illmatic…/ Y’all fake n***as trying to copy.” On the same album, Nas has a song called “Shootouts,” that includes a cautionary tale about someone named ‘Frank.’ (Biggie’s alias was ‘Frank White’). Nas also made a remix to “Affirmative Action,” that talks about how he feels that Biggie was coming for his spot. Some of the older songs that Nas included on The Lost Tapes also contain a few subliminals that could be aimed at Big (especially on “Everybody’s Crazy” and “No Ideas Original”).
Biggie replied with a few verses that contained subliminal jabs aimed at Nas. Nas says on “Last Real N***a Alive,” that “Kick in the Door,” was about him. The track contains a few subliminals that could be about Nas, but is mostly aimed at Raekwon and Jeru the Damaja. Some of the subliminals in “Kick in the Door:” After the beat drops, Big says “This goes out to you,” with “you” being said 10 times… a potential reference to the 9 members of Raekwon’s Wu-Tang Clan plus Nas? Unlikely, as Biggie collaborated with Method Man for “The What” on Ready to Die, and RZA has a production credit for “Long Kiss Goodnight” on Life After Death, but who knows for sure if the 10 “This goes out to you,” lines are meaningful.
“Your reign on the top was short like leprechauns,” in 1997, no East Coast MC was shining like Biggie was. Nas especially hadn’t recorded another classic after Illmatic and he had begun his decent from “Top Ten to not mentioned at all,” that Jay-z would later reference in battle. This was also an important line in Biggie’s seizing of the New York crown, which Nas could have potentially been holding at that point due to Illmatic.
“I’m done with them/ Son, I’m surprised you run with them,” This could be a clear shot at Nas, based off of Biggie’s suspicion that Nas chose Raekwon and Ghost’s side in the beef.
“This goes out to those that choose to use disrespectful views on the King of NY,” Big’s pretty self explanatory, dedicating the song to anyone he feel has disrespected him, (ie: Nas, Jeru, Ghostface and Raekwon).
There may be a slight case for “Kick in the Door” being aimed at Nas, but the line that really goes at Nas is found on “Victory” off of Puff Daddy’s No Way Out, where B.I.G. says: “Your Fam/ Destiny lays in my hands/ Gat lays at my waist” Nas’s daughter is named Destiny and since Biggie says “your fam,” the line is pretty obviously directed at Nas.
It seems in the end that Nas was more on the offense for this feud. Big shot back a little, but it never erupted into something that spun out of control