The past week in NY Hip-Hop was on fire due to 2 events that made the game change it's opinion on the importance of being able to deliver on 2 opposite sides of the same cultural dynamic of being an MC. The live performance and the album/body of work argument that is always made when someone is asked to perform for the Hip-Hop Culture. Jadakiss and Nas not only answered the call to what NY Hip-Hop and most East Coast purist have been calling for when it comes to the culture, but the delivered in ways artists dream of and made their cases for Greatest of All Time nominations in the culture. Let's start with the Verzuz.
On August 3rd 2021, Verzuz put on an event that featured The Lox vs. Dipset. Dipset is composed of Freekey Zekey, Juelz Santana, Jim Jones, and Cam'ron while The Lox is comprised of Sheek Louch, Styles P, and Jadakiss. This was built as a battle between 2 of the best crews to represent the NY Hip-Hop streets. Harlem vs. Yonkers and the world was waiting in anticipation to see who was going to win the epic battle. The problem is that while Dipset may have hits they missed what the Lox had: Chemistry and a plan. The plan seemed to be be to let Jadakiss take control of the event. He did alone what the Dipset could not do and that was to Master the Ceremony or in other terms, MC. Jadakiss measured the temperature of the crowd and brought the essence of Hip-Hop to the forefront. He attacked the Dipset for rhyming over their vocals, He went acapella and did Freestyle verses, he took the crowd under his wing to make the audience apart of the performance while giving everyone that watched the verzuz an example of how a REAL MC, not only performs but gives the wow feeling of speaking life into an audience. 2 major parts of the performance came when Jada kiss freestyles over the Who Shot Ya? instrumental and when he did his verse from Ja Rule's Song I'm From NY. Jadakiss became the Mamba that night but dropping The Dipset in the Garden and elevating the argument that he deserves to be amongst the greats in Hip-Hop. Then Escobar Season Returned.
Nas has been every rappers favorite rapper from the beginning of his career. He has seen the best and the not so great come from his career. From a Masterpiece debut to people questioning his beat selection also being engaged with the the top MC in the game, Nas has journeyed through Hip-Hop like no other MC to date. When it seemed like Nas could do no right, he teamed with Hit Boy and they created a Grammy Winning album, King's Disease. August 6th 2021 Nas returned with King's Disease 2 and he gave Hip-Hop more of what is needed and that is a mature perspective of what life is through the eyes of a man that is maturing into age, and more importantly life as he sees his legacy take shape inside and outside of the music. With so many artists dying prematurely and the newer generation has been suffering with the loses of Mac Miller, Juice WRLD, Pop Smoke and so many others, too many to name, this generation is not getting the chance to appreciate and grow with their favorite artists in their time of growth and development. Nas has successfully embraced his role in this part of his life by revamping his sound, incorporating new artists on features and bringing back favorites of the past like The Firm, Lauryn Hill and Brucie B. Nas put the greatest MC focus on making an album and not just a hot song every now and then. With songs with 3 verses on them and talking about minding your business, taking care of family, health and giving back we see and hear the mature voice of Hip-Hop and that is the OG talk Hip-Hop has needed for a long time.
People have always argued what is the difference between a rapper and an MC. 2 examples of MCs were on display this past week and I think the argument can be put to rest now hopefully. By Jadakiss' performance and Nas' streak at making music that counts not just for the vibe we can now give further reference to how it should be done to those that do not have the answers and are still asking the same questions. If Jadakiss' next album continues this hot streak he is on now then the Top 5 Dead or Alive title will mean more to not only his fan base but to those that love this culture and document its' legacy. Nas is aging gracefully taking his role as an elder statesman in Hip-Hop to the next level. With great music produced on his last 2 albums, a budding business empire through investment and his own label, Mass Appeal, Nas is showing how an MC moves and gives back to the culture. Being the Greatest is not only self proclaimed or a title given by the people. It is displayed in the hard work, the dedication to the craft and the art you create and the appreciation of that work paying off. Dipset and Hip-Hop in general learned to great lessons this week. Hip-Hop is not what you say but how you live. Preparation and delivery will always beat a trend. People will remember hits for as long as they are hot, but legacies transcend hits. What Jadakiss and Nas accomplished this weak makes the culture stronger while the songs may be eventually forgotten, the moments will stack up and this is how the cream always rises to the top. The songs will fade, and the beats may change but the experience and influence given by an MC is life changing and the culture was made stronger by what these men accomplished and raises the bar for it to continue further.