Last weekend the internet was in shock due to the fact that we had all collectively witnessed a murder. Yes, on February 25th, 2017 we all saw, or heard rather, the death of Nicki Minaj’s rap career at the hands of Remy Ma. After two Minaj features dropped Friday sending subliminal shots at Remy, the Terror Squad member immediately responded by dropping SHEther, a song that is seven minutes of eviscerating Nicki with countless bars.
This was a big deal in the rap community, but also in general. Twitter was ablaze with memes, Roy Wood Jr. mentioned it on The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, my mom even called me to talk about the song and discuss her favorite bars and whether Nicki could come back from the diss or not. We were on the phone for 25 mins talking about nothing but rap beef! One of the reasons SHEther blew up so quick (besides the malicious bars) is because Remy didn’t leave anything for speculation. Remy made it abundantly clear who she was talking about and why. Which is something that the modern style of rap isn’t used to, instead leaving the subject of subliminal disses up to the guesswork of fans. All of this got me nostalgic for the days of rap’s past, when rappers had a problem with someone and let that person (and everybody else) know it. So I figured I’d let you guys know about some of my favorite rap beefs.
COMMON VS ICE CUBE
In 1994 Common (known as Common Sense at the time) dropped his now classic track “I Used To Love H.E.R.” in which he personifies rap as a girl that he met as a kid and fell in love with eventually. Throughout the years though, the girl’s frequent changing of personality has caused the two to drift. The song was mostly speaking on Common’s disillusionment towards the state of rap after it became gang oriented after West Coast style rap became the mainstream. Upon hearing this, Ice Cube, for whatever reason, took this as a slight against him, got some of his homies (Mack 10 and WC) and made the song Westside Connection. In this song Cube makes no secret of who inspired the track. “All you suckas wanna diss the Pacific/But you buster niggas never get specific/Used to love her, mad cause we fucked her/Pussy-whipped bitch with no Common Sense/ Hip-hop started in the west/Ice Cube bailin through the east without a vest.” Common swiftly countered with the classic “The Bitch In Yoo” which is three minutes and forty eight seconds of shitting ALL. OVER. ICE CUBE. He makes it clear that he was never dissing the west coast or Cube, but since Cube wanted to start something he may as well finish it.In the song Common calls Ice cube out for being a fake Muslim, having a whack post NWA rap career, and making sub par movies. He also repeatedly questions Ice Cube’s authenticity.
Finishing Blow: “Anytime you come out, Joe, I’mma talk about you/ Until you let that bitch walk up out you/ Any last words before I hit the switch/From the immortal words of one a bitch is a bitch” (Last line is a reference to the NWA track ‘A Bitch Iz A Bitch’ which Ice Cube wrote).
CANIBUS VS LL COOL J
On December 9th, 1997, LL Cool J dropped a single named “4,3,2,1” featuring Method Man, Canibus, DMX, Redman and Master P. Apparently when Canibus recorded his verse he had a line saying “L is that a mic on your arm? Lemme borrow that.” Cool J was not cool headed about this and made Canibus change the line. Then LL spent his entire verse dissing Canibus. “When young sons fantasize of borrowing flows/ Tell little shorty with the big mouth that the bank is closed/The symbol on my arm is off limits to challengers/ you hold the rusty swords/I swing the Excalibur.” Cool J promptly released the song. Canibus wasn’t too thrilled with that. Canibus swung back with “Second Round K.O.” a confident battle rap with a co sign from Mike Tyson. In fact, Tyson opens the song with a phone call in which he tells the young rapper that his job is to “eat eat eat these other MC’s.” The song itself was full of jabs. Canibus accuses L of being a coke fiend, selling his sex appeal instead of his rhymes, and being fake. He also talks about Cool J’s children, and his failed sitcom. The most prescient bar of the song is when Canibus tells L that “99 percent of your fans wear high heels”, but the most remembered part of the song (unfortunately for Canibus) is when he say “you might got more cash than me/ but you ain’t got the skills to eat a niggas ass like me.”
Regardless of that slip, “Second Round K.O.” was a great effort. LL Cool J responded with “The Ripper Strikes Back” a vicious counter to Canibus’ song. In Ripper, Cool J responds to every matter that Canibus brought up, flips it, and uses to utterly destroy Canibus’ career. He even used the hook of a previous Canibus song as the hook on Ripper just to show how Canibus’ work sounds better in his hands.
Winner: LL Cool J
Finishing Blow: “99% of his fans don’t exist!….I EAT EAT EAT EAT EAT EAT amateur MC’S!”
MC SHAN VS BOOGIE DOWN PRODUCTIONS
In 1986 MC Shan dropped “The Bridge” an ode to his hometown of Queens, New York and hip hop pioneers from the Queens bridge area. It was an innocent celebratory jam and it shouldn’t have ruffled any feathers. Shouldn’t have. KRS-One and a group of like minded rappers from the Bronx who liked to call themselves Boogie Down Productions or BDP. Now the boys at BDP felt like Shan was trying to say that hip hop was birthed in Queens, and that simply was not a fact. In response to “The Bridge” BDP recorded not one, but TWO songs. The first was “South Bronx” which affirms that the REAL birthplace of hip hop is the Bronx. This song is what ignited the beef that has been dubbed ‘The Bridge Wars.’ The second song (and if you ask me what ended the beef) was “The Bridge Is Over”. In this, three minute and twenty four second song, KRS-One ANNIHILATES MC Shan, and his DJ Marley Marl. The song accuses the two of jacking the style of members of BDP, being homosexuals, and being out of touch with the times.(He really spent good amount of time on the gay thing. At one point telling the duo to “pick any dick for the flavor that [they] savor.”) The beef continued on after this song, but honestly, that was all for naught since “The Bridge Is Over” is the ONLY thing people remember about this feud.
Winner: Boogie Down Productions (but really KRS-One)
Finishing Blow: “Manhattan keeps on making it/Brooklyn keeps on taking it/ Bronx keeps creating it/ and Queens keeps on FAKING IT!”
So there you have it. These three of my favorite rap beefs. What do you guys think? Are any of these your favorite? If not, then what beefs are? Let me know down in the comments!
There’s Some Flava For Your Ear