Hip hop feud
A hip hop feud, also known as beef, is a controversy in which multiple rappers defame and confront each other in a number of ways.
- 1 Background
- 2 Examples
- 3 21st century feuds
- 4 References
Hip hop feuds have existed since soon after hip hop music began. Such rivalries originate with gang rivalries, drug gang wars, and the culture of competitiveness in hip hop itself. Originally, at block parties, DJs would play records and isolate the percussion breaks for the dancing masses. Soon, MCs began speaking over the beats, usually simply to keep the audience dancing. Eventually, MCs began incorporating more varied and stylistic speech and focused on introducing themselves, shouting out to friends in the audience, boasting about their own skills, and criticizing their rivals. This was often done in good humor, but several deaths introduced a fear that lyrical rivalries may develop into offstage feuds that become violent. There is speculation that the murders of rappers The Notorious B.I.G. and 2Pac may have been linked to their rivalry with one another. Some have claimed that the media feed on such rivalries for headlines and blow situations out of proportion, and cite as an example the infamous East Coast–West Coast rivalry of the 1990s. Opponents to this view point to the Roxanne Wars. U.T.F.O. recorded the 1980s hit "Roxanne, Roxanne" and sparked several hundred "answer records" in response, some of which were quite bitter and abusive. At the time, there was little media response to the record. The rivalry never made it onto the streets. Additionally, a 2001 high-profile beef between Nas and Jay-Z was carried out without threatening to become violent.
One of the most common ways rap rivals clash is through "diss tracks", music tracks that contain lyrical insults directed at the artist's rival(s). Feuds are also fueled by rivals placing targeted insults in the press and confronting one another at public events. In some cases, feuds intermingle. This can lead to violent results, as happened in the East Coast-West Coast hip hop rivalry of the early and mid 90s.
Throughout his career, rapper M.C. Hammer has dissed hip hop DJs and rappers in general beginning in the mid-to-late 1980s. Since his debut album in 1987, Feel My Power (claiming he was "...second to none, from Doug E. Fresh, LL Cool J or DJ Run" on the single "Let's Get It Started"), Hammer has had "fueds" with several rappers. In fact, Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em was an effort to avoid disrespecting others on wax and becoming more "pop". Nevertheless, Hammer has created, responded to, attacked and/or participated in rap battles with MC Serch of 3rd Bass and LL Cool J (including a feud with other rappers on Mama Said Knock You Out and the remix of "I Shot Ya"), Dres of Black Sheep, Rodney O, A Tribe Called Quest (Q-Tip), Redman and Run DMC (on the track "Break 'Em Off Somethin' Proper" from The Funky Headhunter), Eminem and Busta Rhymes from Full Blast (title track with music video) and most recently "Better Run Run" in response to a comment Jay-Z made about him on the single "So Appalled" in 2010.
Boogie Down Productions vs. Juice Crew
Boogie Down Productions, led by KRS-One, was involved in a long-running feud with Marley Marl's Juice Crew during the mid-to-late 1980s and early 1990s. The dispute primarily concerned territory in New York City. The feud began with Queensbridge-based Marley Marl & MC Shan's track "The Bridge" in late 1985, in which they sung the praises of their home borough and loosely implied that Queensbridge was where hip hop began. Taking offense, South Bronx-based KRS-One and Boogie Down Productions (BDP) recorded and released the track "South Bronx", which was effectively identical in terms of content to Shan and Marl's track except that it sang the praises of South Bronx rather than Queensbridge, making the argument that the true home and birthplace of hip hop was South Bronx. The Juice Crew soon responded with the track "Kill The Noise" on Shan's album Down By Law which took various shots at KRS-One and mocked his taking offense in the first place. KRS's main response was the Jamaican-influenced "The Bridge Is Over", which lyrically spoofed Billy Joel's "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me":
What's the matter with your MC, Marley Marl?
Don't know you know that he's out of touch?
What's the matter with your DJ, MC Shan?
On the wheels of steel, Marlon sucks
You'd better change what comes out your speaker
You're better off talkin' 'bout your whack Puma sneaker
'Cause Bronx created hip hop, Queens will only get dropped...
Most of KRS's criticism was directed at Marley Marl and MC Shan specifically, though he occasionally exchanged insults with other Juice Crew members, such as Mr. Magic and Roxanne Shanté. Shante responded with a song aimed at Boogie Down Productions titled "Have A Nice Day", in which she rapped:
The feud quickly died down after BDP's Scott La Rock was shot and killed in 1987 after attempting to calm down a domestic dispute involving BDP colleague D-Nice. With his new Stop The Violence movement, KRS-One had his attention elsewhere, and the Juice Crew, out of respect, did not release any further diss tracks until 1989. That year, MC Shan attempted to restart the rivalry on his song Juice Crew Law which contained several shots at KRS. KRS took more than a year to respond, but eventually did so in 1990 on the song "Black Man In Effect" from the BDP album Edutainment.
During the 1990s, the rivalry was fondly remembered by fans and the participants as a classic hip hop duel. It has since been referenced in hip hop lyrics by the likes of Cormega, Nas, Cunninlynguists, Big Punisher, Supernatural and Chino XL. MC Shan and KRS-One themselves acknowledged the beef's important place in hip hop history when they appeared together in a commercial for the Sprite soft drink in the mid-nineties, in which they exchanged battle rhymes inside a boxing ring. In the end, MC Shan, widely seen by hip hop listeners as the loser of the conflict if there had to be one, never really recovered his reputation and later effectively retired. KRS forged out a successful solo career and remained an important figure in hip hop. Nevertheless, on the QB's Finest compilation (which showcased the finest Queensbridge hip hop artists) in 2001, MC Shan took one last parting shot at KRS-One: "Hip hop was set out in the dark / The Bridge was never Over, we left our mark.
N.W.A. vs. Ice Cube
Ice Cube left N.W.A in December 1989 due to financial issues. The remaining group members fired the first shots by insulting Ice Cube on the two albums they recorded after his departure. On 100 Miles and Runnin', Dr. Dre told the public:
It started with five but one couldn't take it
So now there's four 'cause the fifth couldn't make it
The number's even
And now I'm leaving
On Efil4zaggin, the group called Ice Cube "Benedict Arnold", after the notorious traitor of the American Revolutionary War. N.W.A. further insulted Ice Cube on the album by claiming he was "...sucking New York dick", a direct reference to Ice Cube's new production team, the New York-based Bomb Squad. They also made a reference to Cube's September 1990 incident with Ruthless Records' then-current act Above the Law, saying that he "got his ass beat by ATL." On these albums, N.W.A. dedicated entire tracks insulting and attacking Ice Cube.
Cube's first solo album AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted made no direct response to the N.W.A. feud, although he did use the album to make subtle references to his old crew. The closest to a response Cube mounted on the first album was Flavor Flav's exhortation at the end of the song "I'm Only Out For One Thang" ("This is for my boy Ice Cube, yo, stay off his dick!") On the EP Kill At Will, released later the same year, Cube set the stage for his response on the track "Jackin' Fo' Beats". At the end of this track he includes the exclamation: And if I jack you and you keep comin, I'll have you marks a 100 Miles and Running!
In 1991, Ice Cube took the fight to the big screen in his first feature film starring role, in Boyz N the Hood. According to movie director John Singleton, Cube suggested changes to one scene in particular where a chain snatcher is beaten up by neighborhood teens. Cube's recommendation was to have the thief wear a We Want Eazy sweatshirt. Singleton originally wanted the members of N.W.A. for Cube's entourage which was recast.
On his second album, Death Certificate, Ice Cube fired back at his former group by releasing the song "No Vaseline," proclaiming N.W.A. to be "phonies" and declaring Eazy-E to be a "snitch". This referenced a publicity stunt Eazy-E pulled in attending a fundraising luncheon with then-President George H.W. Bush. In the song he repeated the line "I never have dinner with the president." He also made remarks about N.W.A.'s manager Jerry Heller that were instantly declared anti-Semitic, including "get rid of that devil, real simple/ put a bullet in his temple/ 'cause you can't be the Niggaz 4 Life Crew/ with a white Jew/ telling you what to do" and "you let a Jew break up my crew".
Lil' Kim vs. Foxy Brown
Once high school friends, Lil' Kim and Foxy Brown originally remained close despite becoming associates of clashing hip-hop groups Junior M.A.F.I.A. and The Firm, respectively. In 1995, they collaborated with Da Brat for the remix of "No One Else" by Total. The following year, they were featured in the Hot 97 NY Fashion Show, and additionally appeared on the covers of Source and Vibe. However, their first dispute developed after both of their debut studio albums were scheduled for release a week apart in November 1996. Media outlets additionally noted similarities between the sleeve covers of Kim's Hard Core and Brown's Ill Na Na, where the two were shown wearing the same outfit. In 1997, the feud led to the deterioration of their friendship, and also resulted in the cancellation of a collaborative album Thelma & Louise. Brown noted that the breakdown of their relationship was influenced by their conflicting entourages. They first attempted a reconciliation in 1998 after Kim called Brown and her mother after the two were held at gunpoint during a house burglary.
In January 1999, critics noted the track "My Life" from Brown's second studio effort Chyna Doll for being an "open appeal" to Brown's friendship with Lil' Kim, in which she cited the relationship being "lost for pride", but also contradicted herself after making attacks on "pointed mistresses". Critics indicated the records were in subtle use to diss Lil' Kim, especially since during this time, Brown had been supporting Kim's rival Faith Evans in multiple interviews. In February 1999, a significant part of the media took note of Brown "suddenly sound[ing] 'exactly' like Lil' Kim". In late May 1999, Lil Cease's "Play Around", featuring Lil' Kim and Diddy, was released to radio airwaves and was set to be featured on Cease's debut The Wonderful World of Cease A Leo. In the song, after Kim's guest rap, Diddy recites: "Stop trying to sound like her too bitches"; a subliminal diss aimed at Foxy. The line spurred enough controversy that various media sources went on to remark: "It's finally coming out. Foxy Brown bites worse than a pit bull." Additionally, Kim's guest appearance on Mobb Deep's "Quiet Storm (Remix)" and her second album's title track, "The Notorious K.I.M.," were released as diss records to Foxy Brown. Angered by Kim's response, Brown collaborated with longtime associates Capone-N-Noreaga on the track, "Bang, Bang." In the track, Brown mimicked Kim's interpolation of MC Lyte's "10% Dis," and went on to recite: "You and Diddy y'all kill me with that subliminal shit." Towards the ending of her verse, Brown attacked Kim's grieving for the loss of Biggie Smalls by remarking: "Let the nigga [Biggie] rest in peace, and hop off his dick, bitch do you."
On February 26, 2001, at 3 p.m., when Lil' Kim had left New York radio station Hot 97 a shooting broke out; over twenty shots were fired between two groups of three men. One of the men in the groups was Capone, one-half member of Capone-N-Noreaga, who was entering the Hot 97 building in promotion of interviewer DJ Clue's new album, The Professional 2, which happened to have also featured Kim. An affiliate, Efrain Ocasio, from Capone's entourage was shot in the back; both parties from Kim and Capone denied any involvement in the shooting. However, a motive behind the shooting was later determined; detectives informed the New York Daily News that it was a result of the verses Foxy Brown recited in "Bang, Bang."
Shaken up by the incident, Brown tried to reach out to Kim in hopes of settling a truce. Brown stated, "I really don't know how it started. But Russell [Simmons] and I, we got together, and I said, 'Russell, I want to call a truce.' I want to have a sit-down with Kim. I don't care what it is. Let's just end it. We can even do a collaboration. We're bigger than this. If it has to start with me, let it start with me." Brown even extended an olive branch to Kim's camp, however Kim had cut all ties with Diddy and Bad Boy associates and wanted no communication with Brown whatsoever. On July 6, 2005, Kim was sentenced to prison for three counts of perjury and one count of conspiracy.
During the 4-year span leading up to Kim's sentencing, Brown and Kim began to exchange subtle diss records towards each other, among them included Kim's La Bella Mafia, "Quiet", and "Guess Who's Back"; and in turn, Brown's Ill Na Na 2: The Fever and various mixtape freestyles. In the midst of the diss records, Brown was interviewed by Doug Banks in 2003 to disclose any further details pertaining to her dispute with Kim. Brown claimed that Kim was allegedly jealous that Biggie was to include Brown in his Junior Mafia collective. Brown also added that a tell-all book disclosing the feud would be released in Christmas of 2003. In her final regards to the dispute, Brown stated: "Kim is the only female artist that keeps me on my toes. She's the only one that I can look at; and any other artist that says they don't have that one person that keeps them driven... is lying."
Following her release from prison, Lil' Kim no longer acknowledged Foxy Brown. Brown, on the other hand, has consistently targeted Kim as a prime basis in her music and concert venues since Kim's prison release.
On May 17, 2012, Kim attended an interview with radio show, The Breakfast Club. When asked about whether or not she had spoken to Brown at all in recent years, Kim replied, "I don't even know her. And when I say that; I don't know who she is to these days. I wouldn't even know what her voice sounds like."
East Coast vs. West Coast
A highly publicized rap feud occurred between the American East Coast (Bad Boy Records) and West Coast (Death Row Records). The media[who?] billed it as a "rap war" between the two coasts. This led to fans of both scenes denouncing each other's native artists, causing a huge impact on the rap culture as a whole.
Hip hop originated in the streets of New York, and the city remained the undisputed capital of hip hop until the late 1980s. Then N.W.A., Ice-T, Digital Underground, MC Hammer, Too $hort and other west coast artists made popular albums that outsold many of the established East Coast artists. Dr. Dre's The Chronic became one of the biggest-selling Hip Hop albums in history, followed shortly by Snoop Doggy Dogg's breakout album Doggystyle in 1993. Los Angeles began to rival New York for its place as the center for mainstream Hip Hop. This created a tension between certain industry heavyweights on both coasts, each seeking to control an increasingly lucrative market.
On November 30, 1994, 2Pac was shot five times at a New York recording studio. He publicly blamed his former friend The Notorious B.I.G and his Bad Boy Records cohorts. The feud escalated after Suge Knight mocked Combs at the Source Awards in August 1995, announcing to the assembly of artists and industry figures: "If you don't want the owner of your label on your album or in your video or on your tour, come sign with Death Row." Despite Combs himself attempting to defuse the situation with a speech later in the evening, a later performance by Death Row's Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg were booed (to which Snoop famously responded "The East Coast ain't got no love for Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg?").
The feud continued to escalate. In September 1995, Knight's close friend was gunned down at a birthday party thrown for producer Jermaine Dupri in Atlanta, Georgia. Knight publicly blamed Bad Boy Records. Then, while filming the video for the song "New York, New York" in Manhattan that December, Death Row's Tha Dogg Pound and Snoop Dogg's (empty) trailer was shot at numerous times. The video itself become the source of further controversy on its release, featuring Death Row artists knocking over New York skyscrapers and landmarks, to which many East Coast artists and fans took offense. Capone-N-Noreaga also made the song "L.A L.A" with Mobb Deep to respond to "New York, New York," involving them in the feud.
In 1995, The Notorious B.I.G. released the track "Who Shot Ya?". 2Pac interpreted it as B.I.G. mocking his '94 shooting, and claimed it proved that Bad Boy had set him up. In early 1996, 2Pac released the diss track "Hit 'Em Up," in which he claimed to have had sex with the Notorious B.I.G's wife Faith Evans and that "this ain't no freestyle battle, y'all niggas getting killed." This was viewed as taking the feud to another level. Tupac dissed B.I.G., Puffy, and Bad Boy Records for the remainder of his career, coming at Big with, "Ambitionz Az a Ridah", "No More Pain", "2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted", "Made Niggaz", "Bomb First (My Second Reply)", "Against All Odds," "All Eyez On Me," "Holla at Me,"Can't C Me", "Watch Ya Mouth", "All Out (OG)", and "Heartz of Men".
B.I.G. humorously responded to 2Pac's claim that he was having an affair with Biggie's wife, Faith Evans, on Jay-Z's track "Brooklyn's Finest." This brought Jay-Z into the dispute. In March 1996, at the Soul Train Awards in L.A., the rivalry escalated into an armed standoff in the parking lot between Bad Boy and Death Row. Crips bodyguards were on the Bad Boy side. Bloods bodyguards were with Death Row.
Despite never releasing a full fledged diss track, Biggie allegedly fired back at Shakur with subliminal shots in the songs "Long Kiss Goodnight", "What's Beef", "You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Kills You" (which Biggie denied was about Shakur), "My Downfall", "Last Day", "Going Back To Cali" and "Notorious Thugs", all of which were featured on his final studio album Life After Death. Likewise, the J Dilla produced track "Dangerous MC's" originally contained a subtle dig aimed at Shakur, but was removed out of respect when the song was released on the 1999 posthumous album Born Again.
On September 7, 1996, Tupac Shakur was shot several times while in Las Vegas, Nevada. He died six days later. On March 9, 1997, The Notorious B.I.G. was shot and killed in Los Angeles, California. Both murders remain unsolved.
In 1997, several rappers, including Bizzy Bone, Doug E. Fresh, and Snoop Dogg met at the request of Louis Farrakhan and pledged to forgive any slights that may be related to the rivalry and deaths of 2Pac and Biggie.
Prior to his death, 2Pac had also come into separate disputes with several other East Coast rappers. Some friends of 2Pac had been apparently snubbed by the group Mobb Deep at one of their concerts, and when word of the incident reached a then-jailed Tupac he sent out a message to Mobb Deep threatening violence. Mobb Deep immediately responded with the track "Drop a Gem on 'em" which was officially released after 2Pac's "Hit 'Em Up" single mocking Mobb Deep. Nas also angered Tupac by appearing to mock 2Pac in the track "The Message." According to Nas, Pac and Nas later sorted out this misunderstanding. Chino XL, an underground rapper from New Jersey with no ties to Bad Boy Records, Nas or Mobb Deep, incurred 2Pac's wrath on "Hit Em Up." Ironically, the track at issue was a duet with proud West Coast representative Ras Kass. Chino soon responded with a freestyle on live radio, but it was either ignored or not heard by Tupac.
Nas vs. Jay-Z
Following the death of Notorious B.I.G., the position of best rapper in New York (or the "King of New York") seemed vacant, and fans were eager to see who would take over his role.
In 1997, Jay-Z (a former friend and collaborator of B.I.G.) released a song titled "The City Is Mine," seen as making a claim to the empty throne. Jay-Z's album In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 was originally titled Heir To The Throne, Vol. 1. Nas, the only rapper in New York at the time who had a reputation capable of rivaling Jay-Z, apparently responded to Jay-Z on his track "We Will Survive" (released in 1999 on the album I Am...), which appears to dismiss Jay-Z as a serious rival while attacking both his claims of superiority and evoking of B.I.G's legacy.
There was tension between the pair but no action for approximately a year. In 2001, the rivalry exploded into the public eye as Jay-Z publicly mocked Nas on stage at the Hot 97 radio station's Summer Jam hip hop festival. Nas responded by delivering a calculated, personal attack on Jay-Z during a radio freestyle over Eric B. & Rakim's "Paid In Full" beat, and effectively dissing most of the R.O.C. members. The untitled freestyle was later titled "Stillmatic", perhaps aimed to promote the album Stillmatic. It is also called "H To The Omo".
Jay-Z responded with the track "Takeover" from his album The Blueprint, on which he attacked Nas for never matching Jay-Z's success. He also questioned NaS's authenticity as an artist. The song was very well received by hip hop listeners. NaS responded with an equally well-received track titled "Ether" from his album Stillmatic, in which he mocked Jay-Z's early years as an aspiring young rapper and attacked him for being a misogynist and for exploiting the Notorious B.I.G's legacy.
The positive response to "Ether" created additional interest in the rivalry throughout the hip hop community. On "Takeover", Jay-Z issued a warning, followed by a radio freestyle that became known as "Super Ugly." In the song, Jay-Z alluded that he had an ongoing sexual relationship with the mother of Nas' daughter, Carmen Bryan. The song also alleges that Bryan also had a relationship with Philadelphia NBA star Allen Iverson. This release was not as well received as the previous three tracks had been. The feud continued to simmer, and rumors of a live pay-per-view freestyle battle began to circulate but never came to fruition. Jay-Z made a public apology because some of the lines in "Super Ugly" upset his mother when the track played on the New York City's radio stations.
After the promoters of Hot 97's Summer Jam festival refused to allow headlining Nas to hang an effigy of Jay-Z during his performance at 2002's show, he appeared on Hot 97's rival Power 105 and attacked both the music industry's control over hip hop and the rappers who he saw as submitting to it, including Jay-Z, Nelly, N.O.R.E. and Jay-Z's label mate Cam'ron. This also brought Cam'ron into the Jay-Z/Nas feud, in which Cam'ron controversially made disparaging remarks about Nas' mother.
The feud died down somewhat towards the end of 2002, and formally ended in October 2005 during Jay-Z's "I Declare War" tour. Nas made one special guest appearance and performed the hook to "Dead Presidents" and a few of his own tracks such as "NY State of Mind" and "Hate Me Now". No real winner was ever decided. Both Nas & Jay-Z have since paid tribute to each other in interviews, likening the battle to a world title boxing match that pitched the best against the best, and pleased with the entertainment it provided fans. Both careers benefitted commercially. The battle revived the trend of using 'beef' as a source for publicity and promotion for hip hop artists.
Benzino vs. Eminem
Benzino, co-owner of The Source Magazine, decided to air out his issues with multi-platinum rapper Eminem. He claimed that Eminem's success was hurting black and Latino artists. He started a campaign against the corporations allegedly controlling and supporting Eminem. Benzino stated that Eminem can talk about dark emotions, while black rappers are forced to talk about materialistic things.
One possible contributing factor was Benzino's rating of Eminem's second album The Marshall Mathers LP. The Source gave him a 2-mic rating (changed to 4 mics following protests), while Benzino's Made Men was given 4.5 mics. Eminem was upset and blasted the magazine on the track "Say What You Say" from his follow-up album, The Eminem Show.
Benzino released two songs directed at Eminem, titled "Pull Ya Skirt Up" and "Die Another Day". Benzino has explained in interviews that he fears Eminem's fame is the beginning of the end for the black domination of hip hop; he has also linked Eminem with the consumerism of modern hip hop, complaining that while Eminem is allowed to rap about deeply personal issues, he has to "talk about bling-bling because that's all the people who control the images want to hear from us". However, many observers noted that not only is Benzino bi-racial himself, but that David Mays, co-owner and founder of The Source, is white.
Eminem responded to Benzino's track with the songs "Nail In The Coffin" and "The Sauce", calling him an "83-year-old fake Pacino", and questioning the credibility of both Benzino as a rapper and The Source as a magazine. Most of the hip hop community stood behind Eminem (including Russell Simmons), and many accused Benzino of criticizing and slandering one of hip hop's biggest names solely to both boost his career as a rapper and the profile of The Source magazine. The magazine sided with Benzino during the feud and ran a series of anti-Eminem and anti-Shady/Aftermath articles and features.
The Source released details of two tapes of a young Eminem it had received, which featured the future star rapping about how black women are "only after your money" in romantic relationships (apparently following an acrimonious split from a black girlfriend). This caused considerable outcry among many rappers, though few said anything more damning than asking for a public apology. Eminem publicly apologized and later elaborated further on the incident in the song "Yellow Brick Road" from his Encore album.
The Source was forced to pay a substantial sum of money to Eminem for defamation and copyright infringement and lost major advertising as a result, including Virgin Records, Elektra Records, Interscope Records, Motown, and more recently Def Jam. It's noted that Benzino has recorded an album from each of the labels before they pulled out of the magazine. XXL magazine, formerly an enemy of Eminem, decided to join forces with Shady Records to discredit The Source. With the entire Interscope label effectively involved in Eminem's feud with The Source, Interscope artists began to flock to XXL, who happily granted them increased coverage, which in turn boosted sales for the magazine.
It has been accepted that Eminem won the battle. Many believed Benzino had started the feud as nothing more than a publicity stunt to bolster his hip-hop reputation. He and Mays were fired from The Source. The magazine, under new leadership, reported in April 2006 that they were patching up many relationships damaged by the actions of Mays and Benzino.
LL Cool J vs. Kool Moe Dee
By 1987 rap fans largely considered LL Cool J to be the preeminent MC in the rap genre. Which also made him the target for numerous challenges to that status. LL had earlier shown his battle prowess during the LL/MC Shan feud in which he successfully dispatched of his fellow Queens rapper.
Now came a similar claim from Kool Moe Dee.
Kool Moe Dee was a member of one of the earliest hip hop crews, the Treacherous Three, and claimed that LL Cool J stole his style. This started a feud between the pair. From different interviews and magazines at the time, Kool Moe Dee felt that LL was getting a bit too big headed and actually believing his own hype, particularly when LL was rising to popularity with the Bigger and Deffer album. There arose rumors that Moe Dee felt that LL was imitating his rhyme style. Kool Moe Dee took the first shots with "How Ya Like Me Now," the title song from his second solo album. On the cover, Kool Moe Dee in front of a Jeep with an LL trademark Kangol under the tire. While the album cover was a clear shot, "How Ya Like Me Now," was more subtle. Although he did not refer to any specific name, Kool Moe Dee made it clear that he felt bitten by what he viewed as an amateur. Taking this as a sign of disrespect, the then teenaged LL responded with the energetic "Jack the Ripper." In the song LL playfully taunts Kool Moe Dee by repeatedly asking the rhetorical question "How you like me now?" He then proceeds to call Kool Moe Dee a "washed up rapper" and an "old school sucker punk."
It was then that Kool Moe Dee released his famous diss record, "Let's Go". The song's technical level and wittiness caused many to feel that Moe Dee had won the battle. LL did not release a response for a full two years. By not responding to Moe Dee and choosing to ignore him, LL opened himself up to additional antagonists. These included MC Hammer and Ice-T. It was during this time that LL abandoned his hardcore image and embarked on a different musical direction towards a more commercial fare (which emphasized New Jack Swing-love ballads). Critics scoffed at this new direction with the release of Walking With a Panther. These events coincided with the change hip hop experienced during the late-1980s. The genre became increasingly socially conscious and adopted more socially aware issues. LL Cool J experienced a drop in popularity due to the view that his music was behind the times, materialistic and narcissistic. LL's credibility deteriorated within the hip hop community, and he was booed off the stage at the Apollo Theater in New York City.
In 1990, the older and wiser LL released the highly anticipated comeback album, Mama Said Knock You Out, reasserting his status and reviving his credibility amongst hip hop purists. Showing his resiliency, LL re-ignited his feud with Kool Mo Dee with the comical diss track, "To The Break Of Dawn".
LL Cool J vs. Canibus
After the large-scale beef between 2Pac and various East Coast artists, and the resulting deaths of 2Pac and Biggie, many MCs and fans began to feel paranoid that any further battles might escalate to the same level. The first high-profile battle to follow was the late 1990s Canibus/LL rivalry, which gained much attention partially because fans were afraid things might get out of hand.
The battle began when LL brought in Canibus, Master P, Method Man, DMX and Redman for the Phenomenon song "4,3,2,1" in 1997. Canibus contributed a verse, which included a line referring to the tattoo of a microphone LL had on his arm as a compliment. LL took it as a diss. Before the song was released, Cool J asked Canibus to change his line. Canibus claimed that LL also promised to remove his lines. LL denied this, and claimed that he told Canibus that no one would know who he was talking about if Canibus' verse was changed.
Canibus complied, and the song was released. The original version later began surfacing, and people started piecing together what had happened. Canibus began telling fans the full story, saying he was mad that Cool J had not removed his response. He went on to diss LL, Simone, Najee, Italia & Samaria with the single "Second Round K.O.," featuring LL Cool J's one-time friend Mike Tyson cheering Canibus on in the background.
LL's response was titled "The Ripper Strikes Back," where he attacked not only Canibus, but Mike Tyson, Canibus' producer (Wyclef Jean) and the rest of The Fugees. LL then followed that with another track entitled "Back Where I Belong," where he accused Canibus of biting his rhymes. Canibus responded to both songs with the track "Rip the Jacker." This would later spawn his alter-ego, an aggressive battle-rapper by the same name.
Wyclef responded to LL's attacks in "The Ripper Strikes Back" with his own song "What's Clef Got to Do With It." LL retaliated with the underground track "Rasta Imposter." Wyclef and Cool J have ended their own feud, and the main beef has since declined.
G-Unit vs. Murder Inc.
Even before signing to Interscope, 50 Cent was engaged in a well-publicized dispute with Ja Rule and Murder Inc. Records. The conflict's origin remains a mystery. The hostility did not reach public ears until 50 Cent released his fiery diss track, "Your Life's On The Line." This led to two violent confrontations between the rappers. In the first, 50 Cent punched Ja and snatched his chain. The second confrontation occurred in a New York studio, where rapper Black Child, a member of The Inc, stabbed 50 Cent. Black Child claimed that 50 Cent was reaching for a gun during the fight.
In spite of the physical repercussions, 50 Cent continued to make the rivalry a cornerstone of his music career. He released numerous mixtapes, with his G-Unit crew, insulting Ja Rule and Murder Inc. Before the release of Get Rich Or Die Tryin', Murder, Inc. began a smear campaign against the rapper. A restraining order document began floating around the Internet stating that 50 Cent had filed an order of protection against label CEO, Irv Gotti and Black Child. This helped the belief that 50 Cent was a "snitch." Further investigation from New York lawyers found that the document could have been (and most likely was) signed by a judge without 50 Cent's consent or knowledge. The practice is common in New York for victims of multiple attacks when their assaulters are released from jail.
Murder Inc. remained silent for the most part until 50 Cent released his second album-length battle rap, "Back Down." In response, Black Child, along with fellow The Inc. rapper Caddillac Tah, countered with their own mix tape disses. Ja Rule remained quiet. 50 Cent continued, releasing the Tupac assisted "Realest Killas" where he addressed Ja Rule's penchant for imitating the slain rapper. This prompted Ja Rule to respond with the songs "War is On," "Guess Who Shot Ya" and "Loose Change." This all culminated into Ja Rule releasing Blood In My Eye, which was, in effect, a 50 Cent diss album.
Ja Rule eventually tried to squash the beef with 50 Cent by using Minister Louis Farrakhan in a televised interview. However, the attempt at peace lost credibility as the interview was scheduled a day before Blood In My Eye was released. As a result, most fans, along with 50 Cent, dismissed the interview as a publicity stunt.
Ja Rule also had a rivalry with 50 Cent's mentor, Eminem. Ja Rule insulted Eminem's ex-wife and daughter in a song titled "Loose Change." Eminem responded on a mix tape by DJ Kay Slay with a freestyle collaboration with 50 Cent and Busta Rhymes. Although they exchanged heated words, most fans did not take it seriously in the shadow of 50 vs. Ja Rule.
G-Unit continued taking shots at Murder Inc., with G-Unit members Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo, Young Buck and Game taking shots at Ja Rule and Murder Inc. on their songs and respective albums. After the involvement of Eminem, Shady Records artists Obie Trice and D12 also became involved in the beef. Rappers Jadakiss and Fat Joe also began feuding with G-Unit after they were featured on Ja Rule's song, "New York", which contained disses aimed at 50 Cent and Lloyd Banks, mocking Lloyd Banks' song "On Fire". 50 Cent took this as a sign that Jadakiss and Fat Joe sided with Ja Rule. He responded in his song "Piggy Bank".
50 Cent's second album, "The Massacre" sold millions, yet has been criticized for not being able to recapture the level of hype "Get Rich or Die Trying" set. When Eminem called it quits in "Like Toy Soldiers," Ja agreed.
G-Unit vs. The Game
Soon after The Game signed to G-Unit Records, (while simultaneously signed to Dr. Dre's Aftermath Entertainment), and achieved success with his album The Documentary and the singles "How We Do" and "Hate It Or Love It", alleged rumors started that The Game had recorded with former G-Unit nemesis, Joe Budden, on a track that was released in 2004. Things escalated after 50's second album, The Massacre, was released and had several lyrics dissing other rappers (including Nas, Fat Joe and Jadakiss). The Game soon appeared on New York radio claiming he had no beef with any of the rappers 50 Cent targeted, and was not involved. Taking offense at what he perceived as Game's disloyalty, 50 Cent appeared on the radio soon after to announce that he had officially dismissed The Game from G-Unit, claiming that The Game owed him more credit for songs that he had helped in writing and recording, and that Game should have openly supported 50 in his feuds.
The Game refuted this explanation, stating that 50's alleged jealousy over the success of The Documentary caused them to feud while on tour. The beef escalated as one member of The Game's entourage was shot outside of the Hot 97 radio station in New York. The battle appeared to be escalating dangerously, but, within a few weeks, The Game and 50 Cent ended their feud, deciding to give money to charity and apologize for their actions.
Many fans felt that the supposed feud, and particularly the incident at the radio station, was a publicity stunt designed to boost the sales of the two albums the pair had just released. Nevertheless, even after the situation had apparently deflated, 50 Cent and G-Unit continued to feud with The Game, denouncing his street credibility in the media and claiming that without their support, he would not score a hit from his second album. 50 Cent also sued The Game's manager Jimmy Henchmen over unauthorized filming for a documentary about Kelvin Martin. The Game was highly critical of 50 Cent during a performance at the Summer Jam festival, leading chants of "G-Unot". After the performance at Summer Jam, The Game responded with a hard hitting diss titled "300 Bars and Runnin'" in which it address 50 Cent and G-Unit. 50 Cent responded through his "Piggy Bank" video. The video features The Game dressed as a Mr. Potato Head and his many other nemesis named in the song in parodies of major characters on television. The feud continued escalating, as former Bloods and fans of The Game began protesting events that featured 50 Cent and G-Unit. Recently[when?] it had been looking like more of a one sided beef with all diss tracks being released by The Game. He dropped tracks such as "120 Bars" "G-Unit Crip" "360" and "Red Bandana". At the end of "Red Bandana" The Game claims 50 Cent is stealing Eminem's style by just talkin.
In January 2006, The Game took the beef to a new level by releasing an entire DVD devoted to the fall out entitled Stop Snitchin' Stop Lyin' along with a mix tape, with claims that this would be his final involvement with the beef. Then 50 Cent came out with the track "Not Rich, Still Lyin'" which featured 50 Cent imitating The Game.
21st century feuds
Eminem vs. Insane Clown Posse
- In late 1997, Eminem (then an unknown local MC) approached ICP member Joseph Bruce and handed him a flyer advertising the release party for The Slim Shady EP. The flyer read "Featuring appearances by Esham, Kid Rock, and ICP (maybe)." Bruce asked why Eminem was promoting a possible Insane Clown Posse appearance without first contacting the group. Eminem explained, "It says 'maybe.' Maybe you will be there; I don't know. That's why I'm asking you right now. You guys comin' to my release party, or what?" Bruce, upset over not being consulted, responded, "Fuck no, I ain't coming to your party. We might have, if you would've asked us first, before putting us on the fuckin' flyer like this." Eminem took Bruce's response as a personal offense, subsequently attacking the group in radio interviews. Bruce and the other half of Insane Clown Posse, Joseph Utsler, responded later in 1999 by releasing a parody of Eminem's "My Name Is" entitled "Slim Anus". Barbs between Insane Clown Posse and Eminem continued. In June 2000, Eminem physically attacked Douglas Dail, an Insane Clown Posse affiliate, threatening him with a gun in the parking lot of a car audio store in Royal Oak, Michigan. Eminem eventually received a one year probation term and was ordered to pay US$2,360 in fees. In the spring of 2001, Insane Clown Posse's road manager William Dail was arrested in Omaha, Nebraska for allegedly choking a man who waved an Eminem t-shirt in front of the band. Dail was charged for misdemeanor assault and battery. The charges were reduced to a US$100 fine after he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge. Attempts to officially end the feud between Eminem and Insane Clown Posse have been unsuccessful, but Bruce states that the rivalry has ended.
Nicki Minaj vs. Lil' Kim
- Minaj has been embroiled in a feud with veteran rapper Lil' Kim since her success with Pink Friday. Kim accused Minaj of copying her image saying, "If you are going to steal my swag, you gonna have to pay. Something gotta give. You help me, I help you. That's how it goes to me." Minaj's single "Roman's Revenge" with Eminem was believed to be a response to Kim's comments, although she later denied this, she responded to the situation in an interview with HOT 97's Angie Martinez saying, "She picked a fight with Foxy, then she picked a fight with Eve, then she picked a fight with Remy, then it was Mrs. Wallace, then it was Nicki Minaj. Every time you in the news, it's 'cause you gettin' at somebody! Where's your music? Put your music out, and when I see your name on Billboard, that's when I'll respond to you. Other than that, goodbye. It's Barbie, bitch." Lil' Kim reignited the feud with the release of her mixtape Black Friday (the title of which directly referenced Minaj). The artwork portrays Lil' Kim decapitating Minaj with a sword. A fragment of a diss track called "Tragedy" was released in response by Minaj in April 2011. Following the release of Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, critics suggested that the track "Stupid Hoe" may have contained attacks directed at Kim. Lil' Kim later suggested in an interview with 105's Breakfast Club that the song "Automatic" was similar to her unreleased material, also calling Minaj "obnoxious" and "catty". The feud has drawn attention from various other recording artists and rappers. Minaj's labelmate and rapper, Drake said "[he] didn't give a f--- [sic] what Lil Kim or nobody else is talking about." 50 Cent commented on the situation in an online interview with Power 98.3 FM remarking, "It's obvious ... she [Minaj] was inspired by some of Kim's [style]. But that's not bad. There's not a whole lot of female artists that you can make reference to, so you'll see those little influences even stronger. I think she's hot – I think she's got a good little thing going right now, as far as Nicki Minaj is concerned." Diddy spoke of his love and respect for Kim, attributing his personal success, in part, to her, however he defended working with Minaj stating that "I wouldn't be around Nicki if I ever heard anything negative said about Kim. I've never heard anything like that." Mary J. Blige commented on the rivalry, saying, "Kim is my friend and I love and respect Nicki, just met her and got to know the young lady and she's a sweetheart," adding that the feud had arisen because of "crews" behind it.
Tyler, The Creator vs. B.o.B.
- Tyler, a member of the rap group, Odd Future, attacked B.o.B's song, "Airplanes", in the hit song, "Yonkers." Tyler intended his lyrics to be about the lackluster and unoriginal music produced by B.o.B and other popular artists. B.o.B took offense and released a song in response called "No Future." Tyler responded by stating that he hadn't been previously exposed to sentiments of this kind from B.o.B and uploaded a response to his Twitter account. B.o.B continued his sentiment towards Odd Future in a collaboration with Tech N9ne and Hopsin, called "Am I a Psycho?". However, B.o.B. denied that his verse in "Am I a Psycho" was a reference to Tyler, or anyone in Odd Future.
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