Beef. In 2016 it’s been reduced to fastest fingers first on Twitter. Oh, the drama! (Did you see my eyes rolling all the way back to 1994 there? Did you?) But there was a time when beef brought the slickest, most creative lines out of a rapper, when diss tracks were so imaginative that you couldn’t wait for the next one to be dropped. A rapper’s ego is a fickle thing, much like their bank balances, and it takes a knock at even the most moderate slight. We recap ten of the more prolific rivalries in the game.
Notorious B.I.G. vs Tupac
The one that went too far. They were industry friends till Tupac was shot in the lobby of Quad Studios and blamed the shooting on Biggie. Incensed by B.I.G’s release of the track Who Shot Ya, the philosophical and socially conscious Pac gave way to the no-holds-barred rapper who signed to Death Row under the tutelage of Suge Knight, of “Any artist out there that want to be an artist and want to stay a star, and don’t have to worry about the executive producer trying to be all in the videos, all on the record, dancing… come to Death Row!” Source Awards fame, who was equally contemptuous of Bad Boy Records. “First off, fuck your bitch and the clique you claim…” was the product of this rage. Arguably the most well-renowned diss track ever recorded, the venom was palpable. Media frenzy ensued and consumed both rappers which culminated in their untimely deaths. The titles of Biggie’s two albums seem almost a foreboding of his fate in an eerie case of art imitating life in a beef that changed hip hop forever.
Jay Z vs Nas
With the ‘King of New York’ title up for grabs after Biggie’s death, Jay Z and Nas were at odds scrapping for the throne. Where Biggie and Pac’s beef was emotive, Jay Z and Nas’ was calculated and lyrical. The gladiatorial bout started off tamely enough with the odd subliminal but people began to take note with Jay’s The City is Mine ’97 release and Nas’ We Will Survive response in ’98 with the former claiming the crown and the latter disputing it. After a series of back and forth shots, including a Hot97 freestyle where the entire Roc-A-Fella crew ripped through Queens artists’ beats, the feud came to a head with three definitive tracks; Takeover, Ether, and SupaUgly. Jay later apologised for having gone too far and the two squashed their beef years later on stage at the “I Declare War” concert in Philadelphia.
AKA vs Cassper
with a Twitter disagreement on whose track was the biggest in the country at
the time, the makers of Congratulate
and Doc Shebeleza have had one of the
longer standing feuds in the local game. “I’m number one.”, “No, I’m number
one!” frustrations simmered and the two took to wax with shots fired on Phumakim, Sim Dope, Beef, Chad da
Don’s Rayban, Composure, and Dust2Dust
in a war where ego took centre stage and facts no longer mattered. Things took
a more serious turn when Cassper laid charges against a member of AKA’s camp
for pulling a gun on Cassper in the makeup room of the LiveAmp studio, where
the two were both set to perform, and assaulting his Road Manager. AKA also
slapped Cassper in a club, denied it, and then later admitted to it in a
now-deleted Tweet. AKA tweeted congratulations to Cassper for his Fill up Orlando Stadium event a few
weeks ago and the two were seen hugging at the after party in a picture that
went viral in the hopes that the two have now settled their differences and are
ready to move forward.
Gucci Mane vs Young Jeezy
The year was 2005 and two of ATL’s finest collaborated on a track, Icy. It was Gucci’s track, and he needed it to catapult him into the mainstream market, but Jeezy also wanted the track in order to garner him more radio appeal. After sticking to his guns, Gucci kept the track for his album and the sour taste in Jeezy’s mouth is where the feud began. Threats were made on Stay Strapped (where Jeezy put out a $10,000 bounty on Gucci’s chain) and Round One before shots were literally fired in a violent altercation where a Jeezy associate, Pookie Loc, was killed. Guwap beat the charges as he acted in self-dense and the two continued to go at each other. A truce was declared but after a few years that broke down as well. The two are still not on good terms.
50 Cent vs Ja Rule
After a friend of 50’s robbed Ja for his chain, the animosity grew. Ja Rule ordered retribution via known drug lord and associate of Murder Inc., Supreme McGriff, and 50 was stabbed at a New York studio in retaliation. Not long after that, 50 is infamously shot 9 times and McGriff is named as a suspect. Fiddy’s subsequent onslaught on wax was relentless. Your Life’s on the Line, I Smell Pussy, Back Down, and Wanksta were all testament to that. Ja Rule attempted to recover with the lacklustre Clap Back off the Blood in my Eye album but after Ja Rule himself acknowledged defeat, 50 was the undisputed winner of the beef. The feud was rehashed on social media last year after Ja commented on the Meek Mill and Drake fall-out, comparing it to his with 50.
Kaydo vs Prokid
“Kaydo was the kind of dude who had beef with the entire industry. People like Amu, Maggz, and Da L.E.S occasionally caught strays in a lot of his songs. Only person that wasn’t having it was ProKid.” says Instro. Kaydo released Keep It Hardcore, one of the best diss tracks the local industry has produced, and the two went head to head when DJ Fresh gave them an opportunity to hash it out on his breakfast show on Yfm. Pro annihilated him and solidified his name as one of the best in SA.
Meek Mill vs Drake
“Stop comparing drake to me too…. He don’t write his own raps!” was the tweet that launched a thousand memes in this social media scrap. OG Maco confirmed, naming Quentin Miller as the ghost writer behind Drizzy’s success. Charged Up and Back To Back were Drake’s official responses. Meek took a while to respond, and when he did with the underwhelming Wanna Know, the momentum of the moment had fizzled out and the internet had declared Drake the winner. The two still have animosity, taking every opportunity to take shots at each other, and has also pulled peripheral players like The Game, Beanie Sigel, and Joe Budden into a feud that consumed the majority of 2015/6 rap headlines.
Lil Kim vs Nicki Minaj
The comparisons were inevitable. Two sexually explicit female rappers with an outrageous on-stage persona and flamboyant dress sense, both excelling in the male-dominated game of their respective eras. Even though some would say Nicki emulated her whole style on Kim’s blueprint, Kim’s said in interviews that Nicki taking subliminal shots at her on tracks is the real reason there’s animosity. “Every single record she’s made was coming at me. She was coming at me in the Puffy record and in the Jay and Kayne record.” It came to a head when Lil Kim released her own version of Beyoncé’s Flawless remix with “Am I trippin’ or did this ho just say my name? / Queen of rap? Fuck outta here / Queen’s back, fuck outta here / Time to get this rap bitch up outta here.” Kim has said that two will never make amends.
Lil Wayne vs Pusha T
When Lil Wayne appeared on the cover of Vibe wearing Bathing Ape, The Clipse’s subsequent track, Mr. Me Too, seemed to be a shot at Weezy for jacking their style. A media war of words ensued between the rapper and the group, comprising of Malice and Pusha T. Fast forward a few years and Exodus 23:1 was dropped by King Push. Premised off the bible verse that says “Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness”, Weezy responded to news of the drop with the now infamous “Fuk pusha t and anybody that love em” tweet, and his own diss track, Ghoulish. Lil Wayne has since backed off, saying that there is no beef, Pusha has done the same saying that social media aggravated the situation.
Eminem vs Mariah Carey
Easily the most hilarious on this list, the idea of a pop/RnB singer going up against one of the hardest rappers, battle or otherwise, that the game has seen isn’t the script of a corny made-for-tv drama; it actually happened. Eminem, seemingly scorned that Mariah refused to acknowledge their romance publicly, was backed by 50 Cent on his line “Em predicted it all, I don’t know how he knew it / He said women from Hollywood they liars, liars, liars / You fuck them, they get you heated, deny it like Mariah.” Mr. Masculinity So Fragile dropped Bagpipes From Baghdad after Mariah and Nick Cannon’s nuptials, which was swiftly responded to with Mariah’s Obsessed. Flabbergasted that we, the general public, had to be subjected to a lovers spat playing out in diss track form, it didn’t seem to be the end of the feud. Marshall released The Warning, and, with it, every last inkling of respect that we had garnered for him. We’ve heard nothing since, and the collective hip hop community has breathed a huge sigh of relief.