Saying sometimes rappers don’t get along is probably an understatement, but it’s when they start penning lyrics against each other that things start to get really interesting.
Karl Mangan details his 10 favourite diss tracks of all time.
After contract issue with Eazy and Jerry Heller, Cube realised he was the lyrical power house behind NWA’s success, yet Ruthless Records were being funny with the money.
Ice Cube told the world’s most dangerous group where to stick it and flew out to New York to work with Public Enemy’s production team; The Bomb Squad.
Ice Cube dropped ‘No Vaseline’ as a scathing diss to all his ex crew members and record label, with lines such as “Yelling Compton but you moved out to Riverside”.
One of the most prolific MC’s from the west coast, Compton’s DJ Quik is an OG that has solidified himself as one of the greats. Whether getting in hot water over sampling the Food Channel or producing tracks for Jay Z and 2pac, Quik has been a staple of top tier hip hop since way back when.
In the early 90s Quik and MC Eiht from Compton’s Most Wanted started feuding over indirect lines in each other’s songs that both MC’s took as disrespect.
Quik being a Tree Top Piru Blood member and Eiht being a Tragniew Park Crip intensified the feud. The beef lasted nearly a decade until 2002 but the stand out diss track between the two has to be Quik’s ‘Dollaz + Sense’.
It contains possibly the best line in any diss track ever recorded when Quik spits “E-I-H-T now shall I Continue?/ Yeah, You left out the G cause the G ain’t in You”.
The first rap beef to use memes as much as bars. Meek Mill got in his feelings about rumours of the biggest pop star in the world not writing his rhymes and calling out Drake for not being a real rapper.
Drake came back in two days with two disses and disassembled Meek’s whole career from pointing out that Drake and Meek’s missus (Nicki Minaj) are very close, and how Meek came off looking sour at Drake because Drake didn’t retweet or share any social media posts for Meeks new album.
The memes helped of course, but the reason even Drake’s biggest critics announced their support for the Toronto rapper was that Meek called Drake a fake rapper and then Drake rapped his ass off with a song that was a hit for both the clubs and the streets. He tore Meek to shreds to the point he’s never recovered.
Meek has subsequently tried to save face by starting beef with 50 Cent, The Game and Beenie Siegel. He has been clowned every time.
50 Cent will go down as the greatest ‘beef’ rapper to ever do it. After catching nine hot ones in 2001, 50 rose to become the greatest rapper in the world at the time with a five mic album; ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin”.
The album is packed to the gills with disses against Murder Inc. and specifically Ja Rule who 50 had an altercation with which left him stabbed. He also blames the label for the attempt on his life. As the beef went even further 50 picked up more enemies along the way including the patron saint of the Bronx, Fat Joe and a man famous for cooking crack off a George Foreman grill, Jadakiss.
50 proceeded to go for the jugular of all three rappers on his follow up album ‘The Massacre’ with a track called ‘Piggy Bank’ dedicating a verse to each adversary accompanied with a video making a mockery of them.
Ja’s first attempt at clapping back, aptly named ‘Clap Back’ did little to sway fans until he teamed up with Joe and Kiss to drop ‘New York’, a street anthem with a menacing hook and dozens of shots at 50 and G-Unit.
Unfortunately for Ja he never recovered from this beef. Jada and 50 have smoothed out their issues while Fat Joe and Curtis squashed their beef when they took to the stage to celebrate their mutual manager Chris Lighty after his passing.
Back to the West Coast for more beef involving the N.W.A. crew. This time it was Dr. Dre, who had had enough of Jerry Heller and Eric Wright cashing in on his beat making talents. Dre left the group to form Death Row Records with former bodyguard and all round scary bloke; Suge Knight.
After recruiting his step-brother’s friends from Longbeach, Dre had the Dogg Pound in house to create his classic debut album , ‘The Chronic’.
From the intro, ‘The Chronic’ is was an all out war on Ruthless Records, Eazy-E and anyone in association with them. No track took harder shots at Eazy than Dre’s ‘Fuck Wit Dre Day’ featuring his protegé Snoop Doggy Dogg lambasting Eazy and Jerry.
In retaliation, Eazy came back just as hard with a head shot to all of the Death Row roster. He also addresses how with Dre’s contract at the time, Eazy was collecting a cut whether it dissed him or not with lines such as “I hope that your fans understand when you talk about spraying me, the same records that you makin’ is paying me”.
Eazy also recruits in his newest signings, Dresta and BG Knocc Out who also take shots at their former label mate.
As long as rap fans discuss and debate who their top five dead or alive are, they will argue over who won the war with these two classic diss songs.
Whether it’s the raw and intense attack from Nas’ ‘Ether’ or the calculated shots from Hova, this beef was a classic. It divided rap fans into two tribes in an almost Mick McCarthy/Roy Keane style frenzy.
In one of Jay-Z’s greatest Summer Jam shows, he debuted ‘Takeover’, with a breakdown of Prodigy from Mobb Deep (with a giant poster of him in a leotard) and Nas’ low flying careers. Jay beats down QBs finest with lines such as:
“You said you been in this ten, I’ve been in it five
smarten up Nas, four albums in ten years n***a? I could divide
That’s one every let’s say two, two of them shits was due
One was nahhh, the other was “Illmatic”
That’s a one hot album every ten year average.”
Hip hop held it’s breath as it looked on to one of the most vicious beef records ever released and waited for the retaliation from Nasty Nas.
At the Time Nas’ fame and credibility had dwindled with a couple of mediocre albums and releases which never came close to his debut album. In fighting with his Queensbridge homies like Capone and Mobb Deep coupled with the death of his mother, Nas was at his lowest, when dragged into a beef started by Memphis Bleek and Prodigy pitting Brooklyn vs. Queens, Nas returned to take heads and prove how his spot as the greatest lyricist of his generation wouldn’t be undermined. Ether released on his Stillmatic album to take down the newly crowned king of New York, Jay Z.
We all know the story by now, the shooting in the recording studio, the infamous picture of Faith Evans and 2pac, the two coasts at war. The two MCs went to wax and while Biggie kept it subliminal with tracks such as ‘Who Shot Ya?’ and even a track recorded after Pac’s death ‘Long Kiss Goodnight’ filled with rhymes celebrating 2pac’s death and the beef that he seemingly thought that he had won.
While 2pac was clear and vivid in his hatred towards Bad Boy Records and especially Biggie, blaming him for his shooting and letting out the war cry of a man on a mission to destroy his once close friend.
‘Hit ‘Em Up’ has been described as the greatest diss record of all time, and for good reason, with an opening such as “That’s why I fucked your bitch you fat mother fucker!”, it was a bloodbath from the jump.
Pac goes in on anyone even remotely close to Bad Boy or Biggie with a roll call of fuck you’s at the end of the record sending for seemingly anyone who was rapping in NY at the time.