That track, from Nas' Hip-Hop Is Dead … The N, is called "Black Republican" and it finds both MCs coming with lethal lyrics over a midtempo groove and booming orchestral samples.
Nas comes with pavement poetics: "Standing on the roof of my building/ I'm feeling the whirlwind of beef, I inhale it/ Just like an acrobat/ Ready to hurl myself through the hoops of fire/ Sippin' 80 proof, bulletproof under my attire."
The song first made its way through the circuit via a radio rip from the Gomez Brothers' Shade 45 Sirius satellite-radio show, during which the two radio personalities were yelling while the record played. Now a cleaner version is on mixtapes and radio.
"It made me feel like it was '88, that it was all nasty," Nas said with a smile, referring to the sound quality of the leaked version. " 'Black Republican' is out there doing its thing on the street side. It's been leaked out by somebody. Not by my camp. You just gonna start seeing other records I did on the album. There's no serious format to what I'm doing. I don't like to do what everybody else is doing. This is going to feel like the '80s. … When rap was real. … It's time to go to another dimension. The only fly era was the '80s and early '90s."
Even though at the time Jay and Nas recorded "Black Republican," Hov's retirement was still technically in effect, he said Jigga let him know it was time to make a return.
"The conversation was about everything that would be happening today: him coming back, me dropping my album, us recording, all the potential things we could do. All this was already planned."
Nas also said President Carter wasn't thinking about the rap Oval Office while in the lab.
"Jay's a pure artist," Nas detailed. "He's a hustler, but he's a pure artist. We had business to do. We did the business then got to the music because that's what we both love the best. When we got in the studio, I never saw him at any point as a behind-the desk guy. He's Jay. It was no distractions, no business stuff involved. It was about the music."
Hip-Hop Is Dead … The N comes out December 19 (see "MTV News Exclusive: Nas Previews Hip-Hop Is Dead … The N") and Jay's Kingdom Come arrives Tuesday.