Hip-hop and rap artists defend their honors like warriors, but sometimes it just gets a bit catty. These creatives build their reputations off of the control and power they have over their image, making their harsh hip-hop beef warranted and particularly volatile.
Nowadays, it’s hard to separate which music disses are solely orchestrated as publicity stunts and which are not.
Regardless of the intentions, disses have been keeping the rap & hip hop scene exciting and engaging since the medium’s start. Here are some of our favorite moments of hip hop beef of all time:
1. Control — Big Sean ft. Kendrick Lamar & Jay Electronica
Big Sean starts out claiming he doesn’t need to call out other rappers and Kendrick later follows by explicitly listing out the artists he hopes to destroy, including none other than Big Sean.
To be featured on a track and diss the artist featuring you is exactly the type of raw authenticity that makes Kendrick a living legend.
Nowadays, rappers use diss tracks to get attention and streams for themselves and the other artist. I’m not judging that as much as I’m just pointing out facts.
Kendrick dissing artists on another rapper’s song ends the back and forth as it starts it. This hip-hop beef if surely one for the books.
2. Roxanne’s Revenge — Roxanne Shanté
In 1984, legendary producer Marley Marl was heated after music group UTFO canceled their appearance on his radio show.
The group gained a lot of traction for their song Roxanne Roxanne, which told the story of a girl who refused interest in them regardless of their cars or money.
To get back at them, Marl elicited the help of 14-year old Queens rapper, now known as, Roxanne Shanté.
She was well known throughout her neighborhood for winning freestyle battles against rappers who were decades older than her.
Marl offered her a pair of jeans if she freestyles Roxanne’s Revenge, a song dissing UTFO from a woman’s perspective.
Shanté’s song exploded and peaked the charts at No. 22 while UTFO’s got no higher than No. 79. Roxanne’s Revenge is said to have invented hip-hop beef and has cemented Shanté in history as one of hip hop’s first female legends.
3. I Smell Pussy — 50 Cent’s rap beef with Ja Rule
Some of the most genuine hip-hop beef of all time have come from the ongoing feud between 50 Cent & Ja Rule.
Their beef started in 1999 when Ja Rule was robbed at gunpoint by one of 50 Cent’s affiliates. Since then, the two and their crews have had verbal and physical altercations.
In 2002, 50 Cent silently issued a police order of protection against Ja Rule before dropping yet another diss track, “I Smell Pussy.”
In 2013 Ja Rule publicly announced that 50 Cent won the beef, but that hasn’t stopped 50 from continuing to diss Ja.
Aside from their lyrics, no blow comes close to 2018 when 50 Cent bought out the first 200 rows of Ja Rule’s concert so he’d perform to an empty venue: