I have always known Jay Z was a big Nas fan from him sampling Nas twice, and even rapping about Nas on his early albums, but it is good to hear someone from the industry confirm it. In his recent interview on VLAD TV, legendary music producer, Clark Kent said he and Jay Z used to drive around listening to Nas's early songs even before Nas got a record deal.
In case you don't know who he is, let me say, Clark Kent is a music producer who started out as a DJ back in the early 90s. He produced a lot of songs for Jay Z, Biggie, and Puff Daddy around 94-97. He and Jay Z were close friends back in the early to mid 90s.
During the interview, he was asked what his perspective on the Jay Z and Nas beef was, and he said...
"You know like...it wasn't about rap. If it was about rap, then they probably would have been best friends, cos...again, that's another guy that when he was on the Live at the Barbecue, we were driving around in a burgundy Acura Legend Coupe, going 'this nigga is nice.' I mean, this is me...I'm shotgun, Hov (Jay Z) is driving, and we listening to Live at the Barbecue going, 'him, his nice.' We like him. You know what I'm saying. And then his album (Illmatic) comes out and that's all we bumping. We like him. So you don't expect that (the beef). So when it happened, it's just what happened but it was personal, it wasn't really about rap. If it was about rap, i think they would have been like best friends a long time ago. Lyrically, they're two beats" (Clark Kent Interview with on VLAD TV)
By the way, Live at the Barbecue was a Main Source song that Nas was featured on back in 1991.