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|Song by Jay Z|
|from the album The Blueprint|
|Released||September 11, 2001|
|Songwriter(s)||Shawn Carter & Kanye West|
This song was the first official LP diss track to publicize directly the hip hop Jay Z vs. Nas feud (although there exists several other rap records prior to this featuring disses from both Nas and Jay Z toward each other). It samples the song "Five to One" by The Doors and "Sound of da Police" by KRS-One. The first line in this song is taken from Jay Z's verse in "Celebration" off of the Streets Is Watching soundtrack. The song also samples David Bowie's "Fame". Jay-Z originally performed the first two verses of Takeover as an untitled diss to Prodigy of Mobb Deep at Hot 97's Summer Jam 2001. While performing the line "you was a ballerina/ I got the pictures I seen ya a photograph of Prodigy, as a child, dressed in ballet clothes, appeared on the large screen. Aside from its role in the Jay-Z & Nas feud, Takeover was largely seen as damaging to Prodigy (and Mobb Deep's) careers.
References to other rappers
In the second verse, Jay Z alleges that Prodigy (member of Mobb Deep) took ballet classes as a child and mocks Prodigy's small stature. Jay-Z further dismisses Mobb Deep as competition in the hip hop industry by pointing out that his career had more commercial success than they ever would, and dissing Mobb Deep's famous song "Shook Ones Pt. II". Mobb Deep replied to Jay Z in a subsequent LP diss track, but their rivalry has more or less been overshadowed by the rivalry between Nas and Jay Z.
In the third verse (which has 32 bars, while the other verses have 16), Jay Z ridicules Nas's discography (at the time consisting of four albums) and claims Nas has a "one hot album every ten year average." Jay-Z referred to a widespread feeling from many hip hop critics and artists that Nas's subsequent albums after his legendary Illmatic debut were mediocre follow ups, and dissed Nas' famous song from that album "The World Is Yours". Jay Z sampled some of Nas' lines for the chorus of Jay Z's famous song "Dead Presidents II", and claimed in "Takeover" that he sampled it because Nas was using it wrong ("So yeah I sampled your voice, you was usin' it wrong/ You made it a hot line, I made it a hot song"). Jay Z also questions Nas's street credibility and claims Nas has lied or exaggerated about his past in songs, with the lines, "Nigga, you ain't live it you witnessed from your folks' pad/Scribbled in your notepad and created your life/I showed you your first tec, on tour with Large Professor (Me! That's who!)/Then I heard your album 'bout your tec on your dresser."(This is a reference to the Illmatic song "Represent"). Jay Z also ridicules Nas's style, flow, and career decisions, with lyrics like, "Nigga switch up your flow, your shit is garbage/What you trying to kick knowledge? (Get the fuck outta here)" and "Fell from top ten to not mentioned at all/To your bodyguard's Oochie Wally verse better than yours/Matter fact you had the worst flow in the whole fuckin' song..." which "Oochie Wally" is a song by The Bravehearts from the collaborative album QB's Finest, and samples the song in this song when Jay-Z mentions it.
The song initiated one of the biggest and most hyped hip hop rivalries within the industry, and the song was generally well received by fans. At the time, the song's hard-hitting caliber was such that Jay-Z and many hip hop fans had felt that this song could have potentially ended Nas's career. On the contrary, however, the track merely served to reinvigorate Nas' career as he responded to "Takeover" with a diss track of his own, entitled "Ether".
Jay-Z responded to "Ether" with a freestyle entitled "Supa Ugly". Jay-Z and Nas would release other subsequent diss tracks and records referencing the feud, including "Blueprint 2" (from Jay Z's The Blueprint2: The Gift & The Curse) and "Last Real Nigga Alive" (from Nas's God's Son.)
"Takeover" was produced by Kanye West and samples The Doors' "Five to One" as well as "Sound of da Police" by KRS-One. 50 Cent swards Mobb Deep in his own diss song "Piggy Bank", by telling his rival Jadakiss "Jada don't fuck with me if you wanna eat, 'cause I'll do your lil' ass like Jay did Mobb Deep." Coincidentally, 50 signed Mobb Deep to his G-Unit Records imprint a mere few months later.
On Mos Def's 2004 album The New Danger, the track "The Rape Over" is essentially a revision of "Takeover", with a similar Kanye West backing track using the same Doors sample. Mos Def's rewritten lyrics criticize the hip-hop industry in general and attribute hip-hop's direction at the time to "old white men", "corporate forces", and substance abuse.
"Takeover" appeared at 51 on Pitchfork's The Top 500 Tracks of the 2000s. Ian Cohen writing a summary said:
There have been diss tracks that have been more personal, more vicious, hell, even more effective-- Nas got a bigger career boost out of his response, the simplistic and homophobic "Ether", which inexplicably (well, not really) was declared the winner by internet scorekeepers who would soon use its title as a slang for smiting one's enemies at all costs. But there's never been a better diss song: Kanye West's "Five to One" flip turned Jim Morrison's Dionysus into Hercules while Jay calmly doled out dismissals that were all the more perfect for their brevity and focus-- "a wise man told me don't argue with fools..."; "I sold what your whole album sold in my first week"; "you only get half a bar..." That entire third verse. As is the case with so many other spats in real life, Jay-Z and Nas would eventually bury the hatchet in the name of good business, but listen to "Takeover" if you're ever confused about who's wearing the pants: Regardless of Jigga's recent output, "Takeover" will always beam with the righteousness one can only have when they're clearly playing the upper hand.
- "Staff Lists: The Top 500 Tracks of the 2000s: 100-51". Pitchfork.com. April 19, 2009. Retrieved April 19, 2013.