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After trading subliminal criticisms on various songs, freestyles and mixtape appearances, the highly publicized feud rivalry between Nas and Jay-Z became widely known to the public in 2001. Jay-Z, in his song "Takeover", criticized Nas by calling him "fake" and his career "lame". Nas responded with "Ether," in which he compared Jay-Z to such characters as J.J. Evans from the sitcom Good Times and cigarette company mascot Joe Camel. The song was included on Nas's fifth studio album, Stillmatic, released in December 2001. Stillmatic debuted at number five on the Billboard album charts and featured the singles "Got Ur Self A..." and "One Mic."
In response to "Ether", Jay-Z released the song "Supa Ugly", which Hot 97 radio host Angie Martinez premiered on December 11, 2001. In the song, Jay-Z explicitly boasts about having an affair with Nas's girlfriend, Carmen Bryan. New York City hip-hop radio station Hot 97 issued a poll asking listeners which rapper made the better diss song; Nas won with 52% while Jay-Z got 48% of the votes.
By October 2005, the two rappers had eventually ended their feud without violence or animosity. During Jay-Z's I Declare War - Power House concert, Jay-Z announced to the crowd, "It's bigger than 'I Declare War'. Let's go, Esco!" Nas then joined Jay-Z onstage, and the two then performed "Dead Presidents" together, which Jay-Z had sampled from Nas's song "The World Is Yours". The two also collaborated on a song called, "Black Republican" which can be found on Nas's album, Hip Hop Is Dead. They then collaborated again on a song called, "Success" from Jay-Z's album American Gangster.