Updated: Jan 11, 2022
This is the budding question amongst followers of music and pop culture. Although, Jay-z feels he is of a different caliber saying ‘Nobody can compete against him on a versus stage’; Joe Budden had a podcast episode covering the topic in a very detailed and speculative manner. After the very intense debate him and his co-hosts had come to the conclusion that Lil Wayne, Eminem, Drake, and Kanye would be good contenders. Future even chimed in with his own twitter post stating “In the streets I’m bigger than jigga. Ima run me a B up easy”. Suggesting that he is a worthy opponent. These were all interesting opponent selections but in my opinion it left me a little confused.
Let me explain, Jay-Z is a Brooklyn native that has maneuvered his way through the streets into the music industry and has amassed a network of $1 Billion dollars. He not only represent what’s possible for any child in the gutters of America but what can be achieved through the medium of music. Throughout his musical career Jay-Z has ALWAYS remained cocky, confident and arrogant (not in a negative way); he had always had a powerful and unfiltered belief in himself. When every other artist may have used their talent to talk about their money, jewels, and inflow of women; Jay-Z stayed consistent with his lyrical innuendos proclaiming his dominance in lyrical ability. Not to mention that Jay-Z comes from an era where your music NEEDED substance. It was imperative that as an artist you were able to portray some form of concept, story, or display metaphoric ability. He is from an era where he is considered the last of a dying breed.
Considering this information it only leads me to ask what is the goal or criteria for a match with a Versus? Is it lyricism, fanbase, musical style, background/ characteristics etc. I thought a Verzuz was a way to match up nostalgic moments with artists that had some form of correlation. For example, Brandy vs Monica, Keyshia Cole vs Ashanti, Jadakiss vs Fabulous, the LOX vs Dipset, Three 6 Mafia vs Bone Thugs-N-Harmony; all of these matchups have some form of relation.
If you’re looking at Hip Hop as an art while considering lyrical content than Jay-Z is honestly considered Hip Hop royalty. I don’t see how Future would be a great matchup, although it may be entertaining. Nor Drake, although he has the proper catalog; nor Eminiem, because there is no cultural relation. Kanye being an opponent makes sense, and Lil Wayne is a worthy opponent although he even stated that he is “the best rapper alive since the best rapper retired” (insinuating Jay’Z is the best rapper alive). What had me confused is why isn’t Nas being talked about more in this topic? Wouldn’t Nas be viewed as his ultimate rap nemesis ? And they both have multiple similarities, both being from New York, both having lyrical ability, same era, both have the hustler mentality, and are both savvy businessmen.
In my opinion I believe Nas would be his most worthy opponent.
Written By: Christian Gomez