BY: CREEATIVE LIBERTY & DMAJOR
On 2017’s 4:44, Jay-Z proclaims, “nobody wins when the family feuds.” This may be true in the traditional sense but when it comes to conflict in the hip-hop family, there’s a direct correlation between competition and record sales. Today we will dive deep into some of the most profitable and the most damaging beefs in modern hip-hop history.
Jay-Z vs. Nas: Back in ‘96, Hov invited Nas to lay down a verse on Reasonable Doubt. Rumor has it that Nas never showed up to the studio, and thus began the sampling and subliminal shots between two of New York’s finest. They continue to trade subtle barbs into the early 2000s when Jay-Z calls out Nas by name at the end of “Takeover.” Nas takes the bait and responds with “Stillmatic”, a scathing freestyle that questions his opponent’s sexuality, credibility, and originality. In return, Jay-Z revisits “Takeover” with 32 bars dedicated to Nas, firing back at the allegations, sticking in a dig about his opponent’s “one-hot-album-every-10-year-average” and hinting at an affair with “you-know-who”, Nas’ baby mama. Things are getting personal.
Then comes “Ether”.
Nas throws subtlety out the window with a diss track whose title would become synonymous with obliterating your opponent on wax.
“Ether” covers all the bases: mocking Hov’s physical appearance and business model, casting doubt on his entire tough reputation, and calling him out for misogyny and possibly deep-rooted mental issues, among a litany of other insults. It’s murder on the track. “Ether” is met with critical success, thrusting Nas back into the spotlight two years after Nastradamus’ rough reception, and restores him as one of hip-hop’s most pivotal and influential artists . Jay-Z releases “Supa Ugly” describing his sexual affair with Nas’ ex in graphic detail. The retort was considered to have crossed the line, and Jay’s own mother forced her son to apologize for the song, which ultimately ends the beef. Both rappers have enjoyed notoriety and continued commercial success following the feud. “Ether” has been immortalized as a classic diss and a favorite among modern rappers, several of whom have referenced it in their own diss records.
Most savage line: The entire 3rd verse, including this burn: “Rockefeller died of AIDS, that was the end of his chapter/and that’s who y’all chose to name your company after?/Put it together, I rock hoes, y'all rock fellas”(Ether) Tupac vs. Biggie: In addition to being two of the most talented and innovative rappers of their time, Biggie and Pac have also been immortalized or their legendary and tragic feud. After several months of trading insults, tensions were high between the former friends’ respective camps. When Tupac was ambushed and shot 5 times d at Quad Studios, he believed Biggie and Sean “Puffy” Combs orchestrated the attack. A month later, Biggie released “Who Shot Ya”. Though Biggie claimed the song had been recorded long before the shooting and that he had no prior knowledge of the attack, an already suspicious Tupac perceived it as an admission of guilt, and his rage culminated in a vicious verbal assault entitled “Hit Em Up”. The venom-riddled track took direct shots at Biggie, Faith Evans, Junior M.A.F.I.A, Lil Kim, Mobb Deep, and Bad Boy Entertainment as “a staff, record label and as a motherf---in’ crew”. It is said the be the turning point in the East Coast/West Coast rap rivalry and is often hailed as the most ruthless diss track of all time. Biggie and Puffy addressed the song in an interview with Vibe magazine but no official response was put on wax. “Long Kiss Goodnight” was released after Tupac’s death, and although Biggie never utters Pac’s name, many believe he’s taking subliminal shots at his deceased adversary. Biggie and Tupac have had continued posthumous success, their music and monumental feud being commemorated through films, books and commemorative albums. “Hit Em Up” has gone down in the books as a lyrical haymaker, and the fact that both rappers were tragically murdered just months after its release solidifies its notoriety in hip hop history.
Most Savage Line: Literally the entire outro, but as far as opening lines you can’t beat:“First off, f--- your b---- and the clique you claim”
Drake vs. Meek Mill: After Meek Mill took to Twitter in 2015 with allegations of Drake using a ghostwriter, the Canadian crooner wasted no time in concocting a response. Drake released “Charged Up” as a direct reply to the now-deleted tweets. When no response came after 4 days, the 6 God doubled up with another diss track: “Back to Back”. The adequately titled diss is charged with personal attacks mocking everything from Meek’s slow response time to his relationship with Nicki Minaj. Hip hop spectators waited eagerly for Meek’s retort, which finally came over a week later with “Wanna Know”. The sample-heavy diss track referenced Drake’s altercations with Diddy and Chris Brown and emphasized the ghostwriting accusation. However, the delay worked against Meek and the internet was decidedly underwhelmed by the song. Drake was unequivocally crowned victor, and Meek removed the song from his SoundCloud
Though Meek’s reputation took a brutal internet beating, both rappers ultimately benefited from the beef, which just so happened to coincide with the release of Meek’s second studio album, “Dreams Worth More Than Money” and the 6th annual OVO Fest headlined by Drake (side eye). “Dreams” debuted at the top of the Billboard 200, moving 246,000 units in its first week, becoming Meek’s first #1 album (though he did see a 45% decrease in sales immediately following the beef. Ouch). Drake debuted 4 songs on the Billboard Hot 100, “Back to Back” made it to no. 8 and his album sales increased by 12% (Billboard.com) . Drake earned the belt and had continued success across the charts, and Meek soothed his bruised ego with a #1 album. Everybody wins (kind of.) Most Savage Line: I’m not the type of n---a that’ll type to n---as,And shout out to all my boss b----es wifin’ n---as! (Back to Back) Pusha T. vs DrakeNow this is another story. At the time this blog is being written, we are hot off the heels of one hell of an unexpected diss track and flawless victory from Pusha T. The refresher for those of us who’ve been starfishing:Pusha T reignites a simmering feud in “Infrared”, by once again accusing Drake of using ghostwriters. Drake responds within a matter of hours, releasing “Duppy Freestyle”, calling Pusha’s drug dealing past into question, taking credit for making him relevant again and demanding payment on record and through an IG invoice. Drake follows it up with “I’m Upset”, which seems to take subtle jabs at the rapper. Pusha T throws aside pettiness and goes straight for the jugular with “The Story of Adidon”. It’s three minutes of dirty laundry and meticulous dragging of Drake’s existence with a little finger wagging thrown in: it’s like sitting for a session with the world’s most cutthroat therapist. Pusha picks apart Drake’s tragic mulatto struggle and his family’s cycle of deadbeat fathers and unmarried mothers ...and oh yeah, reveals to us that Drake may have a secret child with a former porn star! The dirt is on the table and Pusha holds no bars in putting it on full display. The feud seems to have been brought to an abrupt halt after hip hop mogul J. Prince advised Drake not to respond publicly, citing crossed lines, possible violent outcomes and a career-ending Pusha diss that we will likely never hear, if it exists. The results? Pusha T’s Daytona debuts at No. 2 on the Billboard R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart, No. 3 on the Billboard 200, and lands 4 tracks on the Billboard Hot 100, his highest charting album to date. This is a major move for Pusha, who has seen mostly underground success in recent years. Drake continues to sit at #1 on the Hot 100 with “Nice For What”, but how long he’ll be comfortably seated is unsure. His new album Scorpion is scheduled to drop some time this month, but it’s quite possible that Pusha’s revelations have thrown a wrench into those plans. Despite some chest-puffing and spin attempts by J. Prince, Drake has taken an unprecedented L by essentially forfeiting the battle as it stands. Kanye says it’s over. Will Pusha reign for more than Daytona? Can Champagne Papi come back and get it poppin’ or has the bubbly dried up with his first real loss? Only time will tell.
Most Savage Line: The whole thing is pretty brutal, but this is the line that really lit the fuse:You are hiding a child, let that boy come homeDeadbeat mothaf---a playin’ border patrol What are your favorite beefs in hip-hop history? Drop them in the comments and we just might cover them in part 2!