Jay-Z isn't just one of rap's greatest hit-makers; he's one of hip-hop's fiercest competitors too. Jigga's verbal joust with Nas went down in the history books, but God's Son wasn't his only opponent. Many fans would be surprised to learn that back in 1998, Jay and Ma$e were engaged in a subliminal battle, where each hurled disses, even if they never said each other's name. So what started the feud?
"A girl named Arion," Ma$e said when he appeared on "RapFix Live" on Wednesday as a part of MTV's "Big and Best of 2012." "All my beefs are over either some girl that went wrong."
Diehards may remember Arion from a skit off of Ma$e's 1997 debut Harlem World, where the two-timing rapper confuses the names of his girlfriends in a dizzying phone exchange. Well it seems Arion was more than just a character on the multiplatinum rap LP. According to Ma$e, she was a member of Hov's crew whom he had a fling with. The problem was, Arion's boyfriend was also a member of the Roc-A-Fella crew at the time, so Ma$e's transgressions didn't sit well with Hov, or his then partner Dame Dash. "I guess Jay inherited it because me and him never really had a problem," Ma$e explained. "He said something, I said something back and that was about it."
Ma$e made it very clear that both he and Jay are beyond their lyrical spat, but the backstory is still intriguing to rap fans today. On 112's 1998 single "Love Me," M-A-Dollar Sign tossed subtle, but fiery shots at the Brooklyn MC. "All we hear is platinum that, platinum this/ Platinum whips, nobody got no platinum hits," Ma$e spit, referencing his superior sales numbers at the time.
The jab went over the head of most rap fans, but not Hov, who responded with "Ride or Die" from his 1998 LP Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life. "You see the respect I get every time I come through/ Check ya own videos you'll always be #2," Jay shot back, making fun of Ma$e for playing second fiddle to Diddy in the "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down," video where he wore a baseball jersey with the number two on it, while Puff wore number one.
The beef eventually fizzled out, and Ma$e retired from rap the next year, but even now, 14 years later, Ma$e is in disbelief. "Do you believe that though? That was over a girl," he said in amazement.