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The Best Rap Beefs Ever

It’s interesting—and somewhat sad—that this decade’s only two meaningful rap beefs have involved attempts to sink the same floating dead body.

It started in 2015, when everyone’s favorite manila-folder-complected, suburban Torontonian, Drake, traded “bars” with the somewhat less-meaningful Philly maestro of shout raps, Meek Mill. Though Meek exposed Drizzy for employing ghostwriters—a damning accusation in the world of real hip-hop—Drake’s legions of postpubescent female fans didn’t seem to care that he’s a bona fide goddamn fraud.

A year later, homie Robert Rihmeek Williams somehow managed to haplessly trip into another beef with the Game, dusty Philly street rapper Beanie Sigel and useless dancehall queen Sean Kingston in a cavalcade of messiness that sounds as if it was cooked up in a game of Cards Against Humanity.

If Drake’s response tracks (one of which was nominated for a Grammy) were physical entities, they’d evaporate upon touching water. But Game curb-stomped Meek so bad that Nicki Minaj is probably having earnest conversations with her mama about how to proceed in this life. All of Meek’s responses have been trash-bag, and his loss in both battles is uncontested by anyone who didn’t carry him in utero.

But at least bars (or things resembling them) were exchanged—a significant occurrence in an age when they seem to matter progressively less.

I’d hate for the younger generation to look at today’s rap “beef” and think that’s what it was always like. Grabbing a notepad and stepping in the studio with bellicose bars of fury has been replaced with bitching via 140 characters on Twitter, which is the rap-beef equivalent of showing your support for a tragedy with a flag filter.

While there are now many who weren’t yet drawing breath when rap beef became a significant part of hip-hop. There have been many throughout the past three-and-a-half decades or so, but these are my favorites:

Jadakiss vs. Beanie Sigel

Thanks to his little tangle with Meek Mill and the Game (not to mention a quasi-coherent appearance in a BET Hip-Hop Awards cypher and squabbling with Charlamagne on The Breakfast Club), One-Lung Beans is kinda, sorta back in the public spotlight now. In the year the towers fell, though, he was an East Coast rap titan who got into a bar-trading beef with peer Jadakiss, thanks to a stupid misunderstanding. I wouldn’t have put one emcee over the other in relation to skills back then, but Kiss caught the L when Beans murdered him on his own beat. Winner: Beanie Sigel.

50 Cent vs. Ja Rule

As much as I loathed 50 Cent in the midaughts for being a power-hungry douche canoe with two overrated albums, it was impressive to see his crushing influence transform grunt-rap-singing progenitor Ja Rule from a multiplatinum artist into a would-be lettuce supervisor at McDowell’s. Ja’s fall from grace included a two-year bid for gun charges and tax evasion, and a post-prison album that went double Kleenex. While neither man really matters as a rapper in late 2016, Curtis is definitely doing better these days. That they picked the beef back up via Twitter last year is simply a reminder of how sad it is when dusty, 40-something rap niggas settle anything using social media. Winner: 50 Cent.

Common vs. Ice Cube

Unless it’s playing at my salon while I‘m getting a pedicure, I’ll probably never watch the most recent Barbershop film. But I know that Common and Cube are buddy-buddy in the film, and most uninitiated viewers were probably like, “Ooh, the guys from Road Trip and Are We There Yet? Awesome sauce!” But heads remember when Rashid suggested in his classic “I Used to Love H.E.R.” that hip-hop fell off when the West Coast went mainstream. Cube’s Westside Connection clapped back with a record that no one remembers, provoking Common’s riposte “The Bitch in Yoo,” a top five GOAT diss record. Both men have had successful careers since 1996, but from a purely rap standpoint, Com takes it. Check out this good retrospective on the beefWinner: Common.

Boogie Down Productions vs. the Juice Crew

This is for the gray-haired heads too busy driving their children to basketball practice to check for new hip-hop. The battle between KRS-One’s BDP and MC Shan’s Juice Crew was strictly about staking a claim to hip-hop’s origins. When Shan intimated on “The Bridge” that hip-hop started in New York City’s Queensbridge projects, BDP responded with “South Bronx,” letting cats know about the true birth borough of hip-hop. And so on and so forth it went, with a trading of tracks that, let’s be honest, no one is casually listening to in 2016. From a perspective of career longevity, KRS-One has it, but I can’t rightly say there’s a winner here. If you want a less corny peek into the history of hip-hop than Netflix’s The Get Down could muster, read up on this beef. Winner: Draw.

Tupac vs. the Notorious B.I.G.

The genre’s most culturally impactful beef because it defined a generation of hip-hop and (allegedly) resulted in the death of two hip-hop legends. Books and articles (some more credible than others) have been written on the topic of the Pac-Biggie beef and the years long East Coast-West Coast rap war that culminated in their murders. But while Big was the stronger rapper of the two, by far (fight me), Pac issued the strongest salvo with “Hit ’Em Up” and the extremely disrespectful accompanying video. Back when it was OK to rap about banging someone else’s wife and not expect a Salon.com think piece condemning it. Winner: Tupac.

N.W.A vs. Ice Cube

Proof that you don’t alienate the LeBron of your team without negative consequences. Anyone who knows what he’s talking about will tell you that N.W.A would not have been the powerhouse it was without Cube. When O’Shea found out he was getting bent over on royalties (with no Vaseline), he left the group, which in turn took shots at him on wax. Cube ended the bullshit with “No Vaseline,” a scathing indictment of a whole crew of—let’s be honest—fake gangsta-ass niggas. Folks don’t remember what N.W.A said about Cube, but everyone remembers “No Vaseline,” performed to great effect in Straight Outta Compton. Winner: Ice Cube.

Jay Z vs. Nas

The gold standard for rap beef, mainly because the two rappers co-owned New York—and, by extension, hip-hop—in 2001, when they stopped taking little pot shots at each other and went hard body. They are also arguably the two strongest emcees to engage in a war of bars with each other.

Takeover” is a hot, early-era Kanye West track from Jay’s second-best album, but “Ether” reminded everyone that Nas is the superior rapper. Hov was so butt-hurt over the perceived loss that he crafted “Super Ugly,” a completely outta-line diss track that makes the Drake-Cudi business seem like light work and even provoked Jay’s mama to have him apologize publicly.

Despite squashing their beef, they’ve yet to create the classic joint album we all wanted—something their egos probably won’t abide. It’s been a long time since there were two truly dope mainstream rappers who could craft a meaningful rivalry like this; it would be akin to Kendrick Lamar going to war with … some dude we don’t know exists yet. Winner: Nas.

Dustin Seibert

Dustin J. Seibert lifts heavy weights and plays all his video games on hard mode to find peace. He has a better ear for hip-hop than anyone else you know. He writes like the English language is going outta style because the steaks in his freezer are dependent on it.

  • MsCee

    Where is the Lil Wayne think piece? or are we just not gone even waste time acknowledging his ignance?

    • HouseOfBonnets

      Nope, life is too short.

    • Brandon Allen

      Wait he did something?

      • HouseOfBonnets

        NIghtline last night, long story short: BLM don’t matter to him.

        • Other_guy13

          Come again for big fudge?

          • HouseOfBonnets

            why big fudge though lol

            • Other_guy13

              Let me be great

              • HouseOfBonnets

                i’m trying friend lol

          • miss t-lee

            Big Fudge sounds like…nevermind.

            • Other_guy13

              Let it go

              • miss t-lee

                NOPE!

          • -h.h.h.-

            that’s what he said?

            • Other_guy13

              Um….

        • Junegirl627

          Yeah that’s why no one cares that bird man owns his slave mentality having Azz “White people like me so miss me with you fight to make the world safer for black people nonsense”

      • panamajackson

        He went on Nightline and said the same thing he’s been saying for months, that Black Lives Matter doesnt resonate with him. REmember when he said racism is dead b/c his shows have white people? Same non-sense.

        • Brandon Allen

          Like you said above…Rappers opinions? No Importa.

          • cyanic

            Reductive remark. There are plenty of thoughtful persons in the genre.

            • Brandon Allen

              I didn’t say they weren’t. But getting upset when entertainers say dumb stuff is pointless.

        • miss t-lee

          The lean has killed most of the available brain cells.

          • -h.h.h.-

            the funny thing is from the clips i peeped he didn’t look…ahh…sober.

            but i agree with the Reverend Panama Vociferous Jackson, i’m not going to Trick Daddy or Lil Wayne for relationship or political advice, so i’m not sure why they’re getting airtime.

            • miss t-lee

              He was high as the Georgia Pine.

              • WenzelDashington

                Georgia was the Wayne song where he lashed out against the racism following Katrina. But wait in 2016 no racism in his crowds?

                • miss t-lee

                  And…6 months ago he was on stage yelling Black Lives Matter, but ya know…

                  • MsCee

                    Seriously?

        • Question

          How did this even happen? Like how did Nightline and L’il Wayne end up in the same sentence?

          • Brother Mouzone

            They’ll put ANY Black celebrity on as long as they’re willing to put down/diminish/insult other Black people for the entertainment of the masses (or massAS).

      • NonyaB?

        I posted a video clip of his fxckery upthread.

    • panamajackson

      Lil Wayne expressed those same sentiments before. This is like giving Trick Daddy credence. Not for nothing, I don’t exactly go to Lil Wayne for validation, vindication, or pretty much thoughts on anything. Short of saying, Lil Wayne is a great rapper and a blank space otherwise, I’m not sure why it would require an entire think piece.

      • HouseOfBonnets

        ^^^ and this response is more than enough.

      • miss t-lee

        Bingo.

      • MsCee

        I don’t follow Lil Wayne(or any other rapper) enough to know what he has already spoken on and I definitely don’t look to him to add anything of value to my life. I only posed this question because VSB is rarely ever a place where foolishness like this goes untalked about, no matter how redundant…but touche.

    • Morgan Thomas

      I dont know about you but i have all of the time.

    • Scorpiogoddess??

      GREMLINS don’t think, so therefore they can’t be thotpieced.

      • cyanic

        Wanna argue in defense of actual Gremlins being a more noble entity than the ultimate Raccoon of the 2010s.

        • Scorpiogoddess??

          No, thanks. They not esteemed, they not noble, they just not.

          • cyanic

            The reality is those were puppets and Wayne has less brain function than them.

      • Brother Mouzone

        GLM!!!! Just don’t get em wet…..

        • Scorpiogoddess??

          What is GLM?

          • MsSula

            Gremlins Lives Matter, I suppose? Lol.

            • Scorpiogoddess??

              ???.

            • brother mouzone

              EXACTAMUNDO!!!!

          • Brother Mouzone

            GREMLIN LIVES MATTER

    • mssporadic

      Why is anyone asking him his opinion?

      • MsCee

        QTNA…but if Trick Daddy can get an interview in 2016 then hey anything goes…why not give Ja Rule a slot on CNN?

        • miss t-lee

          Funny, I remember earlier during the elections Ja Rule was making the rounds.

      • I’m guessing Trick is probably trying to hype his involvement in Love and Hip Hop Miami.

        • mssporadic

          Trick’s comments were at least on social media. He wasn’t on Meet the Press.

          I don’t know why Nightline spoke to Wayne unless they are trying to discredit BLM. Wayne’s comments need to be on wax only.

        • Courtney Wheeler

          I feel Trick Daddy will be a Voltron of Peter Gunz and Stevie J.

      • Mika

        Which is the real question………….

  • HouseOfBonnets

    Sits back for today’s hip hop historical lesson :)

    • Kas

      It’s going to be along one.

  • miss t-lee

    LL vs Kool Moe Dee
    Canibus vs LL
    T.I vs Lil’ Flip
    Master P vs. Pimp C

    • Brandon Allen

      Canibus and LL is a good choice.

      • miss t-lee

        All of them were good choices…lol

      • Junegirl627

        meh

    • “Master P vs. Pimp C” <—Pistol whip a dude so you know it's real.

      Is Kool Moe Dee the only first wave rapper to thrive in the Run DMC era?

      • miss t-lee

        Pistol whipped in the hotel room! I saw heard there mighta been an alleged kidnapping, also. Sh*t was wild.
        Hmmmm. Not sure if I can answer that bout Moe Dee, but probably one of the first.

        • The way I heard it told was that J Prince told Percy to chill and thusly he did.

          • miss t-lee

            You heard right. He chilled, directly so.

          • BuffinBoss

            J Prince is like the boogey man, cats only speak of this dude in hushed tones. Once he said “make no mistake, he part of the family” about Drake, Aubrey been acting like that kid in the neighborhood that always antagonizes everybody because he know that they know his big brother got bodies and aint in jail.

    • Maestro G

      Kool Moe Dee hip-hop acolyte in the house. LL never had a chance, lyrically speaking. His flow was not even in the same cosmos as KMD, and I actually like LL.

      • miss t-lee

        LL had the crossover appeal, but KMD had the lyrics. I loved their back and forth beef though. The album covers, etc.

        • Maestro G

          Yep, it went back and forth for a minute. “How Ya Like Me Now” is still one of my favorite all time joints. “Put you on punishment just like a child, NEVA touch another mike! How ya like me now?” still kills. Or from Death Blow: “Swallowed it? Yeah. Finished? ‘Burp’. Now let a real man go to work”. #Headshot

          • Julie Mango TheGladiator Staff

            Teddy Riley did great production on that song and the “Wild Wild West”!
            And it was probably recorded in Teddy’s grandmother’s apartment in St Nick PJs! SO HARLEM! SO NYC HIP HOP!

            • Maestro G

              Indeed!

          • legitimate_soul

            “Let’s Go” by Kool Moe Dee was my favorite Moe Dee battle joint. “Lower-level, lackluster, last least..”

            • Maestro G

              “You wanna survive, stick to the love songs. Take off your shirt, flex and flirt, and leave the real hard rhymes to the hard rhyme expert!”

    • Brooklyn_Bruin

      I KNOW YOU STRAPPED goes so hard

  • Brandon Allen

    “Back to Back” does hold up as a diss tack. It’s really good.

    • Other_guy13

      It was perfect

    • Scorpiogoddess??

      Which rapper was that ?

    • Considering it was penned by a herb it was a good record.

  • Brandon Allen

    I finally caught the Hawaiian Sophie video for the first time the other day and it confirmed that “Ether” was in fact better than “Takeover”.

    • miss t-lee

      You just saw “Hawaiian Sophie”?

      • -h.h.h.-

        he’s a millennial. they dont remember videos before SSE (ShinySuitEra)

        • miss t-lee

          LMFAO

        • Other_guy13

          No excuse

        • Brandon Allen

          Here we go…..For real tho, lets not flex like it’s a classic. If it wasn’t for the Hov cameo it would be lost in history.

        • cyanic

          When does that start? Is generation y apart of millennialism? Because I’m too old to be grouped with them since I’m an ’82 baby.

          • Epsilonicus

            82 is a Millenial

  • Other_guy13

    TI Vs Flip
    No Limit Vs Cash Money
    Meek Mill Vs Drake (how is this not on the list sir)
    Common Vs Drake
    Gucci Mane vs Jeezy (Bruh you slippin, blood was shed)
    The Game Vs 50 and G-Unit
    Lil Kim Vs Foxy brown

    Joe Budden Vs Drake!!!! (okay this was a weak one but Joey Bats had real bars)

    I just don’t know what else to say right now…I am filing a formal complaint. I feel wronged

    • miss t-lee

      “Gucci Mane vs Jeezy (Bruh you slippin, blood was shed)”

      Yup. Totally forgot about this one.

      • Other_guy13

        Thank you!

    • Val

      The Game vs 50 was kind of lame though.

      • Other_guy13

        It made me laugh. 50 got his card pulled

      • Because two lames were involved.

    • mssporadic

      Meek Mill v. Drake was the best and worst rap beef. Best, because it was more entertaining than infamous and we got Hotline Bling out of it. Worst because it was so weak.

      Common v. Drake sounds like butter v margarine. #ShadeNoShade

      • MsCee

        Butter Vs Margarine #deceased

      • Mr. Mooggyy

        Yea all I got out of that Common v. Drake fiasco was “Canada Dry”!

      • Other_guy13

        Agreed…but it also gave us Back to back and that was everything to me.

        Common V Drake was the battle of light skints part 2. Nobody can top Dr. Cornell West and Michael Eric Dyson…but that also wan’t hip hop

        • mssporadic

          Back to Back is great. “Boss B* wifin’ N*” is a great line mostly because I want to say it to someone. I would have appreciated it more if Meek actually clapped back. To me that’s what makes these beefs entertaining. Now Meek looks like the dude that throws stones and then hides his hand. I can’t respect that AT ALL!!!

          • Other_guy13

            “Back to Back is great. “Boss B* wifin’ N*” is a great line mostly because I want to say it to someone” I like how you roll

    • MsCee

      TI Vs Ludacris…and the Yung Buck song Stomp “Stay off the TIP of my ddiiuccccckkkk” Luda voice

      • Sigma_Since 93

        TI and Chris had beef?? What rock was I sleeping under

        • MsCee

          Are you from the South? If not, this was yeaaaarrrrrsssss ago when Southern Hip Hop was still kinda new to the mainstream. Ish got really ugly when Young Buck did the song stomp featuring both TI and Luda…so TI did the song w/o knowing Luda would be featured too. Allegedly, Luda heard TI’s verse then did his…which is why TI got dealt the death blow.

          • Sigma_Since 93

            I lived in the south for a minute. Grad school had my mind on a regression model during the late 90’s so I smooth missed it.

            • MsCee

              Well give “Stomp” a listen…its pretty comical.

          • Sounds like some LL ish.

  • Medium Meech

    Nas is the superior rapper? To Jay? Z? This sounds like something that should only be uttered in hushed tones at a Hoteps for Trump convention.

    • miss t-lee

      *cackling*

    • catgee12

      Hollering …

    • Kas

      Upvote for “hushed tones at a Hoteps for Trump convention”

      http://www.vox.com/identities/2016/11/1/13449340/blacks-for-trump-conspiracy-bad

    • Brooklyn_Bruin

      Nas couldn’t pick a great beat if his life depended on it.

      I used to be 100% lyrics only, but Nas’s insight into the human condition was short-lived. His politics, kiddie pill deep. (Relistening to golden era boom bap political rap often leads to the same conclusion)

    • “Hoteps for Trump”. Hilarity.

  • Other_guy13

    So we really not gone talk about Gucci and Jeezy though? Like is this really happening? This tore families in the apart. Cats didn’t go to Walters for months on end because you didn’t know if things were gonna pop off. I feel like this beef should be getting alot more attention.

  • Medium Meech

    Dre Vs. Easy-E is my favorite NWA related beef. It just seemed sooo personal. Real Compton City Gs should have won an Oscar.

    • miss t-lee

      It was *so* personal.

    • Easy didn’t enough credit IMO b/c of a lot of Death Row fandom. Luke’s Cowards in Compton was hilarious too.

      • Brother Mouzone

        What was their beef with Luke all about? I thought everyone loved uncle Luke.

    • WenzelDashington

      Dr Dre collected the best beefs in music history. He fought literally every group, mogul, manager and counter movement he’s been associated with or against. His former opponents are either dead or in jail. Today, Dre is a musically relevant billionaire.

      • Val

        And domestic abuser. Don’t forget that.

        • WenzelDashington

          I can’t defend him on domestic abuse. I hope he was arrested and tried for it like other celebs out still working in show business every day.

  • Other_guy13
    • QueenRaven23

      I actually listen to Mac Miller’s “Donald Trump” song. It has an okay beat to it.

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