(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Coachella)
Many rap enthusiasts recognize that flow and poetic elements can be embedded within each expertly crafted bar. Rap isn’t rap without a little friendly competition and a play on words for shock value, although there’s no actual drama.
Other times, rap beefs stem from a place that’s deeper than just the craft itself. It can be personal and from a place of animosity towards a person or group of people or a response to someone disrespecting a loved one.
The list is endless.
Despite all of that, it proves to be quite interesting to hear the songs, with great delivery, production, and lyrical content while understanding the joke or underlying reason for the creation in the first place.
With that, take a look at the 12 best hip-hop/rap diss tracks and the most brutal one-liner from each.
You’ll be in for a treat.
1) Boogie Down Productions’ “The Bridge Is Over”
Response to “Kill That Noise” by MC Shan
This battle started over what could be seen as a misunderstanding of “who created what first,” but Boogie Down Productions struck a win in the end.
It began when MC Shan spit some lyrics on “The Bridge,” which was released in 1985, which BDP’s KRS-One believed was a claim that Queens invented hip-hop when it was actually the Bronx. Because of that, BDP responded with a track called “South Bronx,” which was released in 1986 that went against Shan for the lyrics about Queensbridge.
The following year, Shan retaliated with “Kill That Noise,” and then KRS and BDP came through with the final blow.
“The Bridge Is Over,” which was released ahead of BDP’s 1987 albumCriminal Minded, contained a really catchy hook and piano Loop that really excites people every time it’s heard.
Over 30 years later, “The Bridge Is Over” is one of the most legendary battle songs of all time as it was a debate for who created a genre of music was at play.
Boogie Down Productions’ most brutal line from “The Bridge Is Over”:“ I say the bridge is over, the bridge is over, biddy bye-bye,” said BDP’s KRS-One.
2) “Takeover” by Jay Z
Response to “Stillmatic Freestyle” by Nas
Jay Z and Nas had a brewing feud since the mid-90s, but it didn’t officially become explosive until Jay-Z previewed his song, “Takeover,” in his anticipated album The Blueprint at Hot 97’s 2001 Summer Jam Concert.
To conclude this moment, Hov shouted these lyrics with his chest, “Ask Nas. He don’t want it with Hov.” From there, the beef was officially in full swing.
However, Hov either didn’t record or perform the actual Nas diss section of the song that would appear on his final track of The Blueprint, which happened to be released on September 11, 2001, the same day of the terrorist attacks on the United States.
Following the “Takeover” preview, which wasn’t released yet, Nas unveiled his “Stillmatic Freestyle”— a diss directed at Hov— the same month as the 2001 Summer Jam.
The diss had some quotable lines in there, such as the following: “Nas designed your blueprint, who you kidding?Is he H to the izz-O, M to the izz-O?For shizzle, you phony, the rapping version of Sisqo/And that’s for certain, you clone me, your wack clothes line/I’d rather Sean John, you bore me with your fake coke rhymes.”
But once the full version of “Takeover” officially dropped, Hov seemed to address Nas’ shortcomings, especially the idea that the Queens, New York-based rapper had only dropped “mediocre” albums since the release of Illmatic seven years prior.
Since then, the two have squashed their beef and have been spotted in several photos at release parties.
Nas even told Rick Rubin of the Broken Record podcast that he “was honored” to have this happen in his life because he “saw the greats do it.”
Hov’s most brutal line on “Takeover”: “You’ve been in this 10, I’ve been in it five; smarten up, Nas/Four albums in 10 years … ? I could divide /That’s one every... let’s say two, two of them s**** was doo/One was ‘Nah…’ the other was Illmatic/That’s one hot album every 10-year average,” he says without hesitation in the track.
3) Eminem’s “Quitter/Hit Em Up Freestyle”
Response to “Whitney’s Revenge” by Everlast
In 2000, House of Pain rapper Everlast aimed Eminem on his diss track “Whitney’s Revenge.” Em ended up taking the win when he delivered his response, which didn’t surprise many.
The beef started when Everlast spit a bar on the Dilated Peoples’ 2000 song “Ear Drums Pop (Remix).” Em interpreted the song as an attack on his daughter, Hailie.
In an interview last year for Talib Kweli’sThe People’s Party podcast, Everlast explained that he was actually referring to Halley’s Comet and not Em’s daughter on the track. Regardless, Em ended up dissing him on the track “I Remember.”
Afterward, Everlast released “Whitney Ford’s Revenge,” a diss record that was riddled with verbal jabs that would be more memorable if they weren’t directed at Em.
In Eminem’s Quitter/ Hit ‘Em Up Freestyle”, he didn’t hold back from poking fun at Everlast’s significantly lower record sales.
Eminem’s most brutal line on “Quitter/Hit’ Em Up Freestyle”: “I knew you was jealous from the day that I met you/I upset you, ‘cause I get respect, I bet you/I’m even liked better by your niece and nephew/And now you hate Fred because Lethal left you, Em rapped.
4) Drake’s “Duppy Freestyle”
Response to “Infrared” by Pusha-T
Drake initially had the best diss track in the back and forth exchange with Pusha-T. However, this diss track gets a bit lost in the sauce due to Pusha’s track, “The Story of Adidon”, which could be considered one of the best moments in the entire rap battle.
Push joked around about Drake and alleged ghostwriting rumors on his track “Infrared” on the 2018 Daytona Album.
On the same day, Drake responded with “Duppy Freestyle,” a song that questions Pusha’s street credibility and aims at Kanye West.
The Toronto rapper also references an autographed mic he got that Clipse signed years ago. Clipse is a hip-hop duo founded and created in 1992 by Pusha-T and No Malice in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Drake’s most brutal line on “Duppy Freestyle”:“Man you might’ve sold to college kids for Nike and Mercedes/But you act like you sold drugs for Escobar in the ‘80s/ I had a microphone of yours, but then the signature faded/ I think that pretty much resembles what’s been happening lately,” Drake raps.
5) Pusha-T’s “The Story of Adidon”
Response to “Duppy Freestyle” by Drake
In 2018, Pusha T and Drake’s battle soured, leaving both artists to release steam through bars. However, Pusha T could be considered the victor.
The very public part of the beef began when Pusha called out Drake for ghostwriting allegations on the song “Infrared,” off of his album Daytona, which was released in May 2018.
Not even a full 24 hours later, Drake released “Duppy Freestyle,” a track that name-dropped Push’s fiancee. And then, four days later, Push came with one of the most consequential disses of rap history as we know it— “The Story of Adidon.”
The song was a Drake diss in which he announced the existence of Drizzy’s son Adonis and accused him of being an absent father.
It’s safe to say that this rap beef got nasty very quickly.
Pusha T’s most brutal line on “The Story of Adidon”: You are hiding a child, let that boy come home/Deadbeat m********* playin’ border patrol,” he raps.
6) Ice Cube’s “No Vaseline”
Response to “Message to BA” by NWA
Ice Cube penned a majority of the biggest songs that N.W.A performed. When former members dissed him in a skit from their 1991 album called “Message to BA,” they soon realized that it wasn’t the best idea.
On the track, Dr. Dre calls Cube, who embarked on a solo career after a financial dispute with Eazy-E and NWA’s manager Jerry Heller, a “punk m*********,” while MC Ren said something so inappropriate that we won’t repeat here.
As a result, Cube released his 1991 track “No Vaseline”, a forceful diss track that points to the idea that he wrote Eazy-E’s rhymes, discrediting Dre’s rapping abilities, and criticism of Heller as a manager.
With insults and hilarious wordplay and his fierce delivery of bars, “No Vaseline” proved to show the world who won this battle.
NWA never released a response.
Ice Cube’s most brutal line on “No Vaseline”: Yella Boy’s on your team. You are losing/Ayo , Dre, stick to producing/Calling me Arnold, but you been a dick/Eazy-E saw your a** and went in it quick, “Cube says.
7) Ma$e’s “The Oracle”
Response to “It’s Killa” by Cam’ron
Back in 2017, Cam’ron decided to throw some shots in Ma$e’s direction. But what ensued was a visceral diss from Ma$e.
This beef’s origin started when Cam dropped the song “It’s Killa” in November 2017. Cam Recalls a time when he said that he protected Ma$e from the boyfriend of a girl that Ma$e was allegedly sleeping with. He also threatened harm against the fellow Harlem rapper.
“I ain’t give a damn, yeah, can I was gung-ho/told him straight up I ain’t feeling him/ let me confirm this ***** ‘fore I end up killing him,” Cam rapped.
Ma$e responded with the diss, “The Oracle” that same year. Although the diss was equally as abrasive as Cam’s track, this upfront diss swiftly became a reminder to the rap world why Ma$e is a legend. On the track, he unleashes numerous allegations of snitching and even made fun of him for getting shot in Washington, DC.
Ma$e’s most brutal line on “The Oracle”: Text now you as the ***** that switched on the Roc/DC crips only know you as the ***** they shot,” Ma$e rapped.
8) Dame DOLLA’s “Reign Reign Go Away”
Response to “The Originator” by Shaquille O’Neal
Dame DOLLA, (whose real name is Damian Lillard) and Shaquille O’Neal’s rap beef had a history full of over-the-top claims and playful banter.
It all started two years ago when Dame— who is also a basketball player— admitted on The Joe Budden Podcast that he believed he made better songs than NBA legend Shaq, who happened to jumpstart his rap career in the ‘90s.
Afterward, Shaq dropped his Dame diss track titled “The Originator,” which was a freestyle on the Joe Budden Podcast attempted to discredit Dame’s accomplishments as a rapper and ballplayer. Two weeks later, Dame responded with the track “Reign Reign Go Away,” which was about Shaq’s third studio album, Can’t Stop the Reign.
Check out Shaq’s diss at the 10:26 mark.
Of course, the two exchanged hilarious bars, but ultimately, Dame was the victor.
Dame DOLLA’S most brutal line on “Reign Reign Go Away”: He say he the GOAT, I come for his body/Platinum ‘cause he bought the copies/Should’ve just passed me the torch/ I got no remorse, I beat him like Rocky/I fill the tank up with Diesel, Dame raps referencing Shaq’s nickname, Shaq Diesel.
9) Eminem’s “Killshot”
Response to “Rap Devil” by Machine Gun Kelly
There were many differing opinions on whether Eminem’s 2018 track “Killshot” was the better track to Machine Gun Kelly’s “Rap Devil”.
On Rap Devil, MGK mocked Em for being 46, and on “Killshot,” Em used his success and legacy as a rapper to belittle MGK.
Moreover, the rap battle was quite epic.
Eminem’s most brutal line in “Killshot”:“What do you know? Oops/Know your facts before you come at me, lil’ goof/Luxury, oh, you broke, b****?/ Yeah, I had enough money in ‘02/To burn it in front of you, h*/Younger me? No, you the wack me, it’s funny, but so true/I’d rather be 80-year-old me than 20-year-old you,” Em raps.
10) Eminem, 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes’ “Hail Mary”
Response to “Loose Change” by Ja Rule
When their beef began to peak in April 2003, Ja Rule released “Loose Change,” a song that disses 50 Cent and name drops Eminem’s daughter Hailie. Naturally, Em decided to respond in a significant way.
In the same month, Eminem clapped back With 50 Cent and Busta Rhymes for a freestyle over Tupac Shakur’s 1996 song, “Hail Mary,” instrumental. Em and 50 adopted the same flow and rhyme pattern that Pac used for the classic track.
Additionally, 50 delivered a vicious bar that ended up being too much for Jah to overcome despite him getting a couple of hard-hitting lines in there too.
50 Cent’s most brutal line on “Hail Mary”: “Lil ***** named Ja think he live like me/talkin about he left the hospital, took nine like me/ you live in fantasies,***** ...Next time grown folks talkin, b****, close your mouth,” 50 rapped.
11) The Game’s “Pest Control”
Response to Ooouuu(Remix) by Meek Mill
In September of 2016, The Game and Meek Mill had a real beef with one another.
The Game accused Meek Mill of allegedly telling the Los Angeles police that the Game has something to do with the 2016 robbery of “Beautiful Girls” singer Sean Kingston. As a result, the Game penned the diss track called “92 bars.”
That same month, Meek collaborated with Omelly and Beanie Sigel before a diss aimed at Game over Brooklyn artist Young M.A.’s popular single, “Ooouuu.”
Meek made claims on the track that Game used to strip while also alleging that Game avoided a beef with Atlanta rapper Young Thug.
Over the same beat, Game clapped back with “Pest Control.” In the song, Game mentions Meek allegedly playing a part in Quentin Miller’s jumping—a man that Meek claimed to have ghostwritten for Drake.
Game also alleges that Meek avoided a rap battle after Drake made several references to his falling out with Meek in the 2015 joint album with Future titled What A Time To Be Alive.
Moreover, when Meek was released from prison in 2018 for parole-violation charges in April 2018, the beef with The Game ended.
The most brutal line in the Game’s “Pest Control”: “You jumped Quentin Miller, and now you don’t scrap/It was time to go at Drizzy, and now you don’t rap,” rapped The Game.
12)Company Flow’s “Linda Tripp”
Response to “Dear Elpee” by Sole
Sole initially started this beef when he called out the then- Company Flow member El-P. But now, the Run The Jewels member surely was the one laughing all the way to victory.
In the 1999 track “Dear Elpee,” Sole accuses El-P of trying to have him blackballed in the industry and using a vocabulary he doesn’t understand. “Your ego system’s frail, with a spoon I could dissect it/ Sounding like Corky got his nubs on a Webster’s Dictionary,” Sole raps.
Within the same year, El-P and Company released the diss track “Linda Tripp,” which includes a recorded phone call between Sole and El-P. In the conversation, Sole gives kudos to El-P and Company Flow and says that he doesn’t want any ill feelings or beef with them. Releasing this bit of vulnerability into the beginning of the song sets the stage for quite the takedown that El-P delivered.
El-P of Company Flow’s most brutal line on “Linda Tripp”:“You little, lyin m*********, you know you kiss my a**/ And then you try to (‘Change up the past’ in a DJ scratch of lyrics)/ Who fell into their own hiri kiri kit when they lied to themselves/Self-abuse by selling lies self-destructive,” El-P raps.
He essentially alluded to the idea that Sole came off as a fan.