The song, titled “Real N–gas,” is preceded by a sample of Nas’ opening bars from his It Was Written cut, “The Message,” as a makeshift hook before Nas attacks the track, rapping: “I got dreams of ganja trees and fronto leaves / Honda bikes, diamond dikes rubbing me, loving me.” Midway through the verse, he takes aim at Pac, rhyming “From tube-socks in Timbs to blue rocks and Benz / Who got the ends, the type of n–ga 2Pac pretends / To all n–gas who shine, guess who got revenge / I won’t showboat, my flow choke you,” the first time fans have heard Nas on wax disparaging the late icon.
From there, Nas continues on his warpath, dropping the threat-laden couplets, “And if it don’t the 44 will smoke you, left ya’ seed reminiscing on ya’ / Emcees I’m pissing on ya’ shine ’cause my chips are longer / It’s gremlins I’m siccing on ya, shot, ya’ dodging / But Esco could rock the whole f–king Garden” before closing out the track.
While 2Pac called Nas out by name on his posthumous album Makaveli, most notably on the song “Against All Odds,” on which Pac barked, ‘This little n–ga named Nas think he live like me / Talkin’ bout he left the hospital, took five like me / You live in fantasies, n–ga, I reject your deposit.”
The West Coast rapper later sends more shots at the Queens native, accusing Nas of imitating his lifestyle and persona and being a caricature. “Lord listen to me, God don’t like ugly, It Was Written / Hey Nas, your whole damn style is bitten / You heard my melody, read about my life in the papers / All my run-in with authorities, felonious capers / Now you want to live my life, so what’s a ‘chazzer’ Nas? / N–gas that don’t rhyme right / You’ve seen too many movies / Load ’em up against the wall, close his eyes / Since you lie, you die, goodbye / Let the real life n–gas hear the truth from me / What would you do if you was me,” the Death Row superstar spits.
The beef between the two allegedly stemmed from lyrics on Nas’ “The Message,” from his 1996 sophomore album, It Was Written, on which he rhymes, “I got stitched up, it went through, left the hospital that same night, what,” a story similar to that of the Infamous Quad Studio shooting involving Pac in 1994. However, Nas maintains that the conflict came from a misunderstanding and that he meant no ill-will towards Pac or to subliminally diss him.
Nas was able to share this with Pac during a showdown in Times Square just days prior to his death. “He explained he thought I was dissing him on the song ‘The Message,'” He thought I was dissing him and I heard he was dissing me at clubs. [Pac was the] last person I was even thinking about when I wrote that record. I was just going at everybody. So, he thought that.”
In the end, although tensions were brewing between the Queensbridge faction and Death Row, Nas and Pac were able to make peace. Esco recalled, “He was like, ‘Yo Nas, we brothers, man. We not supposed to go through this’ and I was like, ‘That’s what I’m saying.’ We had a plan to squash it in Vegas, so I was out there when he was in the hospital and praying for him to come through. Rest in peace to ‘Pac.”