Don't get me started on this, every 5 years or so we come right back to this debate. One of the greatest Hip Hop beefs which led to the continued rise of both their careers, in reality it brought Nas' career back. Before Ether no one was checking for Nas anymore, he was on his way out. That record set New York on fire, and brought us Stillmatic which I personally feel is Nas' second classic.
Do y'all remember how crazy NY was back then, these two guys split the City right down the middle. It wasn't just them battling, it was the whole culture – I remember going to school (10th grade at the time) the day after the record dropped (That night when Kay Slay replayed it like 20 times), between classes all everyone could talk about was Nas vs Jay-Z.
Mind you, I'm in a all white High School – Just to give some perspective on how big of an impact this was on the culture, think about it, a School (Sachem High School) of over 5 thousand white kids and only 15 blacks debating and picking sides over two black Hip Hop artists. Everyone was invested in this thing, this was a big moment for Hip Hop and that's why the debate will never end.
In the end though I always felt like Nas won the battle, but Jay Z won the war.