|Song by Nas from the album Stillmatic|
|Released||December 18, 2001|
|Label||Ill Will, Columbia|
|Stillmatic track listing|
"Ether" is the second track on hip hop artist Nas' 2001 album Stillmatic. The song was a response to Jay-Z's "Takeover", a diss track directed towards Nas and Mobb Deep which appears on Jay-Z's album The Blueprint, during the Jay-Z vs. Nas feud. Nas named the song Ether because "I was told a long time ago, ghosts and spirits don't like the fumes from ether, and I just wanted to affect him with my weapon and get to his soul".
Jay-Z, who had surpassed Nas in commercial success since 1998, dismissed him as a has-been on the diss track "Takeover." Nas responds to Jay's claims by rapping, "I got this, locked since Nine-One (1991), I am the truest/ Name a rapper that I ain't influenced." The song contains numerous slurs directed at Jay-Z: "When these streets keep calling, heard it when I was sleep/ That this Gay-Z and Cock-A-Fella Records wanted beef", "Then you got the nerve to say that you're better than Big/ Dick-suckin' lips, why don't you let the late great veteran live", "You a dick-ridin' faggot, you love the attention/ Queens niggas run you niggas, ask Russell Simmons" and "Put it together/ I rock hos; y'all rock fellas."
Nas also attacks Jay-Z's street cred, claiming, "In '88, you was gettin' chased to your buildin'/ Callin' my crib, and I ain't even give you my numbers/ All I did was give you a style for you to run with." He also accuses Jay of selling out, "Y'all niggas deal with emotions like bitches/ What's sad is I love you cause you're my brother, you traded your soul for riches." He had lines calling Jay unattractive and accusing him of misogyny, as well as having an affair with Foxy Brown in the late 1990s (which she would confirm years later in her track "Let em Know") rapping, "You seem to be only concerned with dissin' women/ Were you abused as a child, scared to smile, they called you ugly?" and "Foxy kept you hot, kept your face in her puss/ What you think you gettin' girls now because of your looks?", "started cocking up my weapon slowly loading up this ammo to explode it on a Camel and his soldiers". He also accuses Jay of brown-nosing other rappers for fame: "Your ass went from Jaz to hangin' with Kane, to Irv to Big/ And, Eminem murdered you on your own shit./ You a dick-ridin' faggot. You love the attention" Not only does he criticize the usage of other rappers' influence for increased fame, he mentions that Eminem outshined him on his song, "Renegade". Finally, Nas insults Jay-Z's biting of Big's lyrics claiming that Jay-Z stole his rhyming skills off Biggie, "How much of Biggie's rhymes gonna come out your fat lips?". The intro of Ether starts with gunshots from Notorious B.I.G.'s Who Shot Ya? then there's a Screwed voice of 2Pac saying "Fuck Jay-Z" which is taken from the 2Pac song "Fuck Friendz". In the outro of Ether, Nas mocks the chorus of Takeover, which Jay-Z raps "R-O-C, we runnin' this rap shit", Nas changes it to "R-O-C, get gunned up and clapped quick" and so on.
In an interview with This is 50, Large Professor stated the original version of Ether was produced by Swizz Beatz and the lyrical content contained in the original version was much more offensive, which even contained a line of where Nas raps, "It should've been you in that plane crash", referring to the famous plane crash that caused the death of American singer Aaliyah, which occurred earlier the same year Stillmatic was released and during the time that the Jay-Z vs. Nas feud started up.
Jay-Z's "Supa Ugly" marked the "official" end of the battle, although references to the beef can be found on Nas' "Last Real Nigga Alive" from God's Son, "U Wanna Be Me" from 8 Mile and "Everybody's Crazy" from The Lost Tapes, and Jay-Z's "Blueprint 2" from The Blueprint 2: The Gift and the Curse album.
The Nas vs. Jay-Z feud was beneficial to both men's careers. Stillmatic and "Ether" had marked the reemergence of Nas to the hip hop scene two years after having released Nastradamus, considered by many fans and critics to have been the weakest album in his discography. Many fans still credit the feud with resurrecting Nas' career; while he has not matched the commercial success of It Was Written or I Am..., his work since Stillmatic has been better received critically. The battle also boosted Jay-Z's career, giving him much notoriety for having the bravado to attack a respected rapper such as Nas. The feud (or "beef") between the two rappers has since been reconciled, and they have gone on to collaborate on the song "Black Republican", from Nas's 2006 album Hip Hop is Dead, "Success", from Jay-Z's 2007 album American Gangster, "I Do It For Hip Hop" from Ludacris' 2008 album Theater of the Mind and "BBC" from Jay-Z's 2013 album Magna Carta Holy Grail.
"Ether" continues to be remembered as one of the most influential diss recordings in hip hop history. When asked to name his favorite rap battle, Papoose pointed to the feud between Jay-Z and Nas, citing the release Ether as one of the decisive moments of the affair: "That's one of the great battles, there's other ones too though, in hip-hop history. I can go on and on, but that's one that stands out...It wasn't an age thing but a lot of people were sleeping. Like, 'It's over! Jay-Z killed him!' I was like, 'Aight, watch.' I knew it was coming, man." (Hot 93.7) In another interview, Jadakiss claims, "'Ether' sits on the mantle when it comes to battle songs. From the production, to the way he formatted it, to what he was saying -- he touched everything. It was an A-Plus grade." Due to the popularity of the song, Ron Browz, who produced the song, went on to nickname himself Etherboy.
Shortly after Nas released the song, the word "ether" entered the hip hop lexicon as a slang expression synonymous with ruthlessness - meaning to harshly humiliate an opponent. “To 'ether' someone," writes Son Raw, "means to completely dismantle them in a rap battle with no regard for petty concerns such as 'logic' or 'cleverness' – it’s a giant shock-n-awe display of machismo meant to scar the victim for life and leave an unmistakable blemish on his career."  In addition, the song itself helped to popularized the term "stan" as a pejorative term (which originally referenced Eminem's 2000 hit single, denoting an obsessive fan 
Ether has also been referenced and sampled by rappers who have sought to stylize their own diss recordings along similar lines of severity, including Game, Joe Budden, Saigon, Shyne, and Joey Bada$$ among others. Eminem took the sample of "Ether" and used it in Xzibit's song "My Name", featuring Nate Dogg, which was a diss song to Jermaine Dupri. Jin used the instrumental of ether to diss Rosie O'Donnell. In 2012, Cassidy, alluded to the song in his threat against Meek Mill, "If I do a diss record, it's going to be on the 'Ether' level if not worse." Cassidy went on to record a song against Mill titled R.A.I.D. which samples and quotes segments of Ether.