Everyone knows that an epic hip-hop battle that took place in late 2001, when Jay-Z and Nas brawled for the throne, but far too many people forget that another classic rap clash began that year as well.
Beanie Sigel, the general of the Roc-A-Fella Army and the leader of State Property, collided with Jadakiss, the most well-known member of The LOX and a rising star in Ruff Ryders. The origins of the beef are murky. Some believe it began when Jada claimed that rappers from Philadelphia were biting his style and flow. Others think it grew from a natural rivalry that was developing between Roc-A-Fella and Ruff Ryders for New York rap supremacy.
There wasn’t always animosity between the two. Beanie and all three members of The LOX appeared together on Jay-Z’s “Reservoir Dogs” in 1998 and the following year, Beanie was featured on Foxy Brown’s “4-5-6,” on which he even gave props to ‘Kiss and his crew: “Haters wondering how I got a position with Roc/‘Cause I listen to The LOX and I listen and watch.” They had similar approaches – the streetwise emcee with a penchant for wordplay – and shared many of the same fans.
It wasn’t long, however, until things changed.
Some believed Kiss was speaking to Jay-Z about Beans on The LOX’s We Are the Streets album cut “Blood Pressure” when he said: “How you think your man hard when son on my dick?/‘Cause I could get his ass bodied plus front him a brick.” Without saying names, though, no one knew for sure.
Finally, in August of 2001, the stakes were raised when Jada finally named names on his debut solo album, Kiss tha Game Goodbye. On the DMX-featured “Uh-Hunh!,” he went directly at Sigel, mentioning his first two albums (The Truth and The Reason), his previous nickname (Beanie Mack), and his religion of Islam all in a few bars: “Shoot to kill, stomp n–as out boot to grill/I’ll give you a Reason why I’m The Truth for real/N–as can’t fuck with Kiss, I meanie that/Had to stop eating red meat ‘cause I ate too many Beanie Macks/I’m not one of them n–as/And since you so righteous, don’t make me send your ass to Allah quicker.”
The beef was on.
The mixtape circuit became the battleground.
Beanie took Jadakiss’s “Put Your Hands Up” beat and, after imitating Jada’s intro to “Blood Pressure,” spent three-and-a-half minutes attacking it with a vengeance by referencing Jadakiss’s own lines and also sent shots of his own like, “I’m ‘bout to son ‘Kiss like a soda”; “Give you long mwah goodnight and ain’t no Life After Death”; “What’s funny, Jason, really think you grimy too/And everybody liked you better in that shiny suit.”
For his part, Jada chose to spit over a bouncy instrumental and kept it shorter than Sigel’s salvo. Still, he found enough time to include multiple lines that play off the Beanie Mack moniker – “I don’t know why this n—a talkin’ all greasy when macks jam easy” – wordplay of Rawkus Records and its roster – “Mos Def, I’ll have a n—a bury your carcass/For a Kool G and I’m not from Rawkus” – as well as the idea that Beanie is trying to sound like Jada and his groupmates – “N—s can’t stand you, Sigel/Your flow is mine anyway, so don’t bite the hand that feed you.” And, just as Beanie had done to him, he used his opponent’s own lines against him: “You forgot/Reason that you signed to the Roc/‘Cause you listened and you watched and listened to The LOX?”
End of round one.
In late October, 2001, Jadakiss performed at Powerhouse, the big annual concert hosted by the longtime rap station in Philly. His set was warmly received by the crowd until he cut off the music and spit an a capella freestyle dissing Beanie in his hometown: “Send Sigel a wire, I’m riding again/We gettin’ it on, throw your man leg on the lawn – he can’t walk/Put your brother tongue in the mail – he can’t talk/Kissin’ the ring or kissin’ the dirt…”
The crowd did not react well. They began booing and jeering and after his performance, “the stage crew scurried to clear the debris of glow sticks, ice, cheese fries and anything else hurled to the stage by disgruntled audience members.” Jada insisted, “I still got love for y’all, Philly!” but, at that moment, the feeling was not mutual.
Word of Jadakiss’s performance quickly got back to Beanie, who was not at the show, but was in the city. He made his way to the arena and was invited on stage by Jada’s former boss, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs. Sigel’s comeback, also delivered a capella, was ruthless: “I’m thinking about raping his mom and making him watch/I’m taking my time, I’m making him watch/I’m taking his time, I’m taking his watch…His reign on the top be short like leprechauns/As I crush his weak, wack flow like Cappadon’s/Get in his ass, I still fast on Ramadan/I still rock his bells like L, I’m a phenomenon.”
It was a withering assault that lasted nearly two minutes.
There was no end in sight.
The war of words continued on various freestyles and mixtapes into 2002. Sigel would proclaim, “You wanna know who greater?/Dog, go ask Jada”; ‘Kiss would respond, “Beans just make you fart, ‘Kiss really shit on n–s.” Beanie began his original diss track with, “Bang! Bang! Sigel Street gang! Early!” and Jadakiss answered, “You can find out if the gates is pearly/Bang! Bang! D-Block Gang, n–a/Early.”
But it was no longer just Beanie Sigel vs. Jadakiss.
In fact, a major element to the battle that has been largely overlooked in the past decade-and-a-half is the involvement of multiple individuals at multiple levels. While Beanie was name-checked on “Uh-Hunh!,” there were several thinly veiled shots at Jay-Z, from both DMX – “I only gave you the crown so I could shoot it off your fuckin’ head” – and Jadakiss – “Don’t try to apologize on your two-way,” an apparent reference to Jay’s attempt at mending fences with Jada, something Nas would also reference on the final line of “Ether.” Beans also involved the former members of the Murder Inc. supergroup when he said, “Leave it up to Hov to X out Tommy Buns,” the name of X’s character’s name in Belly.
It grew from there.
The LOX were flooding mixtapes with freestyles, including a few over Jay-Z beats on which they were dissing Jay, Beanie, and the rest of Roc-A-Fella, including “Somebody’s Girl” from the Jay-Z & R. Kelly collaborative album The Best of Both Worlds and “Jigga That N—a” off Jay’s classic album, The Blueprint. When Jada said, “This is a man’s world/Y’all n–s keep fuckin’ with Kiss, I’ll see to it you visit your man’s girl,” on the latter, many took it to mean that he was referring to Aaliyah, who had been dating Roc-A-Fella co-founder Damon Dash at the time of her death. DJ Clue seemingly agreed, covering the line with a sound effect on his mixtape.
On that same track, Styles P said, “And all I see when ya’ll n–as throw up your sign is upside down pussy,” referencing the diamond that Roc-A-Fella artists often threw up in videos and on stage, and, “Would say the n—a name, but he far from The Truth/You a bitch, cocksucker, and your boss is pussy.” But it wouldn’t be long before Styles began mentioning names, either, declaring, “Fuck Beanie Sigel!” in the opening bar of his verse over M.O.P.’s “Breaking the Rules” beat before going on to rhetorically ask, “How the fuck y’all the Roc when your leader is soft?” and “How the fuck you The Truth/when it’s me you wanna be like when you get in the booth?”
This last line is especially telling and has its own backstory. On a freestyle on Hot 97, Styles P said, “We can have a knife fight, tell me what your life like?/Mine’s is real/Everything signed and sealed/What I spit is so real, they better put it in pills.” On his debut album The Truth, Beanie had a song called “What Your Life Like” where he uses that same line for the chorus: “What your life like?/Mine’s is real/Everything signed and sealed.” Styles referenced this on the track “Fantastic Four Pt. 2” off DJ Clue’s The Professional 2 by saying, “Don’t compare his rhymes to mine/Mine’s is real and his is just words and lines.”
Sigel’s right-hand man Freeway wasn’t left out of it, either. Jada had mentioned Freeway – and his appearance – in his original Beanie diss when he said, “You can bring the baby gorilla witchu, he dying for Free,” while Styles was more direct in saying, “Free, you a bitch too!”
Everyone, it seemed, was fair game.
Roc-A-Fella, of course, didn’t remain silent during this time.
While Jay focused his attention on Nas, Beanie and his crew took it upon themselves to respond to any and all challengers. Appearing on Funkmaster Flex’s show on Hot 97, all but one member of State Property – Peedi Crakk – came ready to flow.
After an interview in which Beans said he thinks battles are good as long as they stay on record, Flex put on the “Special Delivery” instrumental and, as had become his custom, Sigel spent the next three minutes unleashing a ferocious verse. But just as Jada and Styles had expanded their targets to include Jay-Z and others, Beanie took the opportunity to first his sights on Nas, even remarking, “Let’s take a journey through your life a bit,” a nod to the Puff Daddy song “Journey Through the Life,” on which both he and Nas were featured. But The LOX were not spared as Beanie sent multiple shots their way and ended his screed with, “J.A.D.A./Put your life on pause, no replay/Who you want in war, me or the Freeway?/You don’t want it…take it easy!”
He then turned it over to his crew as all five spent the next half hour trading the mic back and forth, from Freeway warning every member of D-Block, “Y’all don’t really wanna go to war,” and Young Chris spitting, “They screaming ‘D-Block!’ like they ready to die today/I clip Hood, rest of the clip for Holiday/Jada gonna hate it until his ass buried/But Yonkers want No More Drama, ask Mary.”
No punches were pulled.
Eventually, the beef fizzled and while the two never had a public reconciliation, they did bury the hatchet.
Together, they recorded a cut called “Problem” for DJ Khaled’s first album in 2006 and also appeared alongside Fabolous, The Game, and the other two members of The LOX on the extended remix to Sheek Louch’s “Kiss Your Ass Goodbye.” Even as recently as late last year, Jada and Beanie appeared together on L-Dro’s “The Life We Live,” one of the first songs Sigel recorded after nearly being killed in a shooting.
There is also video footage of Beanie spitting his Jay-Z diss, “What You Talkin’ Bout (Average Cat)” for Jadakiss backstage at a show, presumably Powerhouse 2009, where ‘Kiss brought Sigel out as a special guest eight years after the two had traded barbs on that very stage.
Everything came full circle earlier this year when Beanie once again referenced his famous line on his song “Top Shotta” when he said, “I watched The LOX and I listened, n–a/Could’ve been the fourth member, but I went with Jigga.” Beanie has said that he regrets attacking Jadakiss while Jada calls their battle “therapeutic for hip-hop.” The two have even discussed the possibility of recording a joint album.
Even after fifteen years, it is clear that the battle between Beanie Sigel and Jadakiss is one of the greatest in the annals of hip-hop history.
Christopher Pierznik’s eight books are available in paperback and Kindle. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, Medium, and many more. Subscribe to his monthly reading review newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.