Throughout the years, hip hop has evolved. Compared to the golden age, today’s music sounds different, the lyrical content is often different and, of course, the street fashion is totally different. One thing however, that absolutely never changes in the world of hip hop is the power that a good old fashioned diss track can have! Diss tracks have long been a way for rival rappers to express their feelings about fellow rappers using their vocal talents, and rap history has been peppered with iconic examples of the format for as long as hip hop has been around. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and check out the best diss tracks in hip hop history.
Let’s start with one of the newest additions to the pantheon of all-time great diss tracks. Released in May 2018, The Story of Adidon is a lyrical attack by Pusha T on Canadian superstar Drake. Pusha doesn’t hold back on the track, coming for Drake’s parents, the health of his producer, a rumoured deal he has with Adidas and even going so far as to label him a deadbeat dad!
And speaking of Drake, he has dropped his fair share of diss tracks too. This one is directed towards rapper Meek Mill and is generally considered to be his best to date. The Canadian provides a fiery response to Meek’s accusations that he didn’t do anything to help promote his new record and uses both the baseball teams they support to further rub salt in to the wound!
Tupac’s rivalry with the Notorious B.I.G. is arguably hip hop’s most iconic, and many fans believe Shakur won the battle with his blazing verses on Hit ‘Em Up. Along with his Outlawz group, Tupac takes down every single one of Biggie’s companions before coming for him from many angles, including alleging that he slept with his girlfriend!
When Ice Cube parted ways with N.W.A, the legendary rap group made several inflammatory references about him in their subsequent songs. Not one to take things lying down, Cube came back at Eazy-E, Dr. Dre and co. with some words of his own in No Vaseline. He didn’t take any prisoners in this diss track!
Although Biggie’s beef with Tupac was certainly the most high profile of his too short career, he managed to amass a number of enemies during his time at the top of the hip hop ladder! Kick in The Door is a diss track aimed at the entire industry, but it does make specific references to fellow rap giants Nas and the Wu-Tang Clan
Although the tension has mellowed in the last few years, Nas and Jay-Z enjoyed a fierce New York based rivalry for the majority of their careers. The rappers traded track insults back and forth for years, but Nas pretty much won the battle when he released Ether, a diss track so stunning that it became one of his biggest hits in its own right.
No hip hop list is complete with Snoop Dogg, and he went for someone at the top of the game here in the form of producer Suge Knight. Knight was a long-feared figure in the rap world, but Snoop definitely contributed to the end of his reign of terror with this savage track.
In Roman’s Revenge, one of rap’s current queens came after one of rap’s past queens. Nicki Minaj laid down the law for Lil Kim in this track, responding to accusations from the former superstar that she has ripped off her style and image. She really goes for the jugular, expressing her opinion that Kim’s time in the sun is well and truly over.
Rather than going after a fellow rapper in The Warning, Eminem goes after R&B princess Mariah Carey! Carey had dipped a toe in the diss track world with a message to Eminem in Obsessed, but Shady wasn’t having it and dropped a bomb on the singer and her then husband Nick Cannon. Mariah never talked about Eminem publicly again!
One of the earliest high-profile rap beefs was nicknamed the Bridge Wars, a conflict between rappers from the Bronx and rappers from Queens. In response to Marley Marl and MC Shan’s claim in The Bridge that rap was born in Queensbridge, KRS-One and Boogie Down Productions dropped The Bridge Is Over. The track was so savage that it essentially ended the beef and contributed to the end of MC Shan’s career!
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