N.W.A v. Ice Cube (1989)
Ice Cube left N.W.A in December of 1989 after claiming that Eazy-E and the group's manager was cheating them out of money. The remaining group members fired the first shots by dissing Ice Cube on “100 Miles and Runnin.” Dr. Dre rhymed, "It started with five but one couldn't take it. So now there's four 'cause the fifth couldn't make it. The number's even. And now I'm leaving"
On Efil4zaggin, the group named Ice Cube "Benedict Arnold," and also claimed he was "sucking New York dick," a reference to his new production team, the New York-based Bomb Squad.
Ice Cube responded on the track “Jackin' Fo' Beats,” "And if I jack you and you keep comin, I'll have you marks a 100 Miles and Running!"
In 1991, Ice Cube took the fight to the big screen in his first feature film starring role, in Boyz N the Hood. According to movie director John Singleton, Cube suggested changes to one scene in particular where a chain snatcher is beaten up by neighborhood teens. Cube's recommendation was to have the thief wear a "We Want Eazy" sweatshirt.
On his second album Death Certificate, Ice Cube fired back at his former group by releasing the song "No Vaseline," proclaiming N.W.A. to be "phonies" and declaring Eazy-E to be a "snitch", in reference to Eazy attending a fundraising luncheon with President George H.W. Bush, also on the song "I never have dinner with the president.” He also made remarks about N.W.A.'s manager Jerry Heller that were instantly declared anti-Semitic, including "you can't be the Ni**az 4 Life Crew with a white Jew telling you what to do," "you let a Jew break up my crew," and "get rid of that Devil real simple put a bullet in his temple." Beef thoroughly squashed.
Eazy-E v. Dr. Dre(1991-1994)
When Dr. Dre released his first solo album The Chronic, he began a well-publicized feud with Eazy, constantly harassing him on the song and the video for “Dre Day” where Eazy was a money hungry character called Sleazy E who eventually ended up on the streets begging for money, as well as “Bitches Ain't Shit”—referring to Eric Wright as a bitch Dre once knew.
Eazy-E responded directly by releasing the EP It's On (Dr. Dre) 187 um Killa. The single released from this album, "Real Muthaphuckkin G's," featured lyrics filled with disses towards Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, and its video showed pictures of Dr. Dre in makeup and a glitter suit taken during the days he was in the "World Class Wreckin' Cru."
However this beef fizzled out almost as quickly as it began, by the time Eazy had died, he had made amends with Ice Cube and Dr. Dre and they were actually talking about an N.W.A reunion.
East Coast v. West Coast (mid-1990’s)
The most famous and one of the best hip hop beefs of all time happened in the mid-1990s rivalry between the East Coast's Bad Boy Records and the West Coast's Death Row Records. Though the beef mostly consisted of shots from Death Row towards various acts and, more specifically, Bad Boy, the media consistently blew up the war between two coasts. 2pac has even been quoted as saying to Nas and others that he was “just trying to sell records.” But this outward aggression towards each other led to fans of both coasts participating in one of the most vicious rap battles of all time.
Bad Boy and Death Row were thrown into conflict with one another after 2Pac was shot five times at a New York recording studio on November 30, 1994, and publicly blamed his former close friend Notorious B.I.G and his Bad Boy Records cohorts. This feud escalated after Suge Knight mocked Puff Daddy at the Source Awards in August 1995, announcing to the assembly of artists and industry figures: "If you don't want the owner of your label on your album or in your video or on your tour, come sign with Death Row." Despite Puff Daddy himself attempting to defuse the situation with a speech later in the evening, a later performance by Death Row's Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg was booed (to which Snoop famously responded "The East Coast ain't got no love for Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg?").
The feud continued to escalate through numerous incidents of petty back and forth but in 1995, Notorious released the track "Who Shot Ya?" 2Pac interpreted it as B.I.G. mocking his '94 shooting, and claimed it proved that Bad Boy had set him up. In early 1996, 2Pac released the infamous diss track "Hit 'Em Up," in which he claimed the ultimate, to have slept with the Notorious B.I.G's wife Faith Evans and that "this ain't no freestyle battle, y'all niggas getting killed" and was viewed as taking the feud to another level and critics today look on the song as one of the defining moments of the rivalry.
The feud ended abruptly when on September 7, 1996 2Pac was mortally wounded in Las Vegas, and on March 9, 1997, Notorious B.I.G. was shot and killed in California. Both murders remain unsolved, with numerous theories taking their place. Some speculate they were killed by Suge Knight, by the Blood and Crips, or the LAPD.
Nas v. Jay-Z (1997)
The Nas versus Jay-Z is considered one of the best lyrical hip hop battles of recent times.
In 1997, Jay-Z (a former friend and collaborator of Notorious B.I.G.) released a song titled "The City Is Mine" which seemed to many people to be making a claim to the empty throne. This attitude also seems to be evident in the fact that Jay-Z's album In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 was originally titled Heir To The Throne, Vol. 1. Nas, the only rapper in New York at the time who had a reputation capable of rivaling Jay-Z but who had never received the same amount of commercial success, apparently responded to Jay-Z on his track "We Will Survive," dismissing Jay-Z as a serious rival as well as attacking both his claims of superiority and his continual evoking of B.I.G's legacy,“It used to be fun, makin records to see your response/But, now competition is none, now that you're gone/And these ni**az is wrong—usin your name in vain And they claim to be New York's king? It ain't about that.”
There was definite tension between the pair but no action for approximately a year, until in 2001 the beef exploded into the public eye as Jay-Z publicly mocked Nas on stage at the Hot 97 radio station's Summer Jam hip hop festival. Nas responded by delivering a calculated, personal attack on Jay-Z during a radio freestyle over Eric B. & Rakim's "Paid In Full" beat, and effectively dissing most of the R.O.C. members subliminally: “And bring it back up top, remove the fake king of New York: You show off, I count dough off when you sampled my voice/I rule you, before, you used to rap like the Fu-Schnickens, Nas designed your Blueprint, who you kidding? Is he H To The Izzo, M To The Izzo? For shizzle you phony, the rapping version of Sisqo."
Jay-Z responded with the track "Takeover" from his album The Blueprint, on which he attacked Nas for never matching the critical success of his debut Illmatic and questioned his authenticity as an artist. The song was very well received by hip hop listeners, and many listeners and reviewers immediately dismissed Nas as a contender and feared for the end of his career. Therefore, it was a surprise to many when Nas responded with an equally well-received track titled "Ether" where he mocked Jay-Z's early years as an aspiring young rapper (in which he supposedly idolized Nas) and attacked him for being a misogynist and for exploiting the Notorious B.I.G's legacy. “Ether” supposedly was much longer and more aggressive than the released version, but nonetheless it starts out, “Fuck Jay-Z”
After the promoters of Hot 97's Summer Jam festival refused to allow headlining Nas to hang an effigy of Jay-Z during his performance at 2002's show, he appeared on Hot 97's rival Power 105 and attacked both the music industry's control over hip hop and the rappers who he saw as submitting to it, including Jay-Z, Nelly, N.O.R.E. and Jay-Z's label mate Cam'ron : "Y'all brothers gotta start rapping about something that's real. [...] Rappers are slaves."
But despite harsh words on both ends it was all formerly ended in October 2005 at Jay-Z's “I Declare War" concert, where Nas made a special guest appearance and performed the hook to "Dead Presidents" and a few of his own tracks such as "NY State of Mind" and "Hate Me Now."
Lil' Kim v. Nicki Minaj (2009-2010)
In 2009, rap artist Nicki Minaj emerged to break onto the mainstream scene. Despite her success, Minaj was accused of copying rapper Lil' Kim's fashion style while also taking multiple shots at the veteran rapper throughout her come-up years. Furthermore, Minaj made a couple of covers of Kim's songs and presented herself as a "barbie" in Mariah Carey's 2010 video to Up Out My Face, similar to what Kim has done throughout the majority of her own career. Minaj admitted to being influenced by Kim, but did not consider herself to be stealing her style. Lil Kim retaliated, saying that years before Minaj's success, Minaj had insulted her.
In June 2010, R&B artist Ray J, a friend of Lil' Kim's, addressed Minaj by stating, "[There are] a lot of people trying to bite styles and shit. I ain't saying no names, but you know who…" Kim also contributed to his statement by saying "We love her! We just want [her] to pay homage, so we could all rock together. It’s all about respect. You respect me, I respect you. If you don’t respect me, then fuck you." Drake, friend and label mate, commented by saying "I don't give a fuck what Lil Kim says…I didn't respect that at all…[these things] are just signs that you are losing it," and "[Kim is] supposed to be a 'G,' but that wasn't 'G' to me at all." Lil' Kim answered to Drake by calling him a "straight pussy" and added that "this ni**a" did not distinguish between her and Ray J disrespecting Minaj, when it really was Ray J. She explained that she was only being loyal to Ray J when he talked bad about Minaj. She also did not appreciate Drake attacking her as a female. 50 Cent addressed the beef in June 2010, stating that he sees how Minaj is influenced by Kim and that it was not right for rapper Diddy to call Rick Ross and Nicki Minaj the "new Notorious BIG and Lil' Kim.". In an interview with "ThisIs50.com" Kim agreed with 50 Cent that "Diddy sucked." She was upset at Diddy and considered him to be disloyal.
Nicki Minaj and rapper Eminem replied to the situation with the song Roman's Revenge. Many critics considered this song a "diss" towards Lil' Kim. Mariel Concepcion of Billboard dissected the song stating "Nicki Minaj's highly-talked about 'Roman's Revenge' track hits the net over the weekend, and the Harajuku Barbie appears to be taking jabs at Lil' Kim." Lil' Kim fired back at the song at a club-concert, stating "I will erase this bitch’s social security number. First of all, I don’t even need a record right now and I’d kill that bitch with my old shit. My records ain’t just enter the charts, they made history. What the fuck is this bullshit, this shit come and go!"
This beef is far from over since Minaj has announced that she is releasing a new album called Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded where Minaj has taken several shots at Lil' Kim in songs notably in "Roman In Moscow" and "Stupid Hoe."
Common v. Drake (2011)
Common released a track on his The Dreamer/The Believer album entitled “Sweet” which included the lyrics: “"Singing all around me man, la la la/You ain’t muthafucking Frank Sinatra.” Most assumed that it was in fact aimed at Drake, Drake responded during a live concert: "I might sing, but I ain't no bitch. If Common got something to say, say it to my face." Common confirmed in a round about way that the verse was indeed about Drake, "The verse is about me but when you hear some of the stuff on the chorus it’s like you can’t help but think about dude and I guess that’s what he felt. So at the end of day he fits in that category, he already embraced it, so wear it.” Claiming that they made up at the Grammys this whole soap opera was short lived. That being said, onlookers were a little confused when veteran Common started drama with someone who is clearly not his lyrical equal, and this beef is still recognized as one of the lamest.
Pusha T v. Lil Wayne (2012)
On May 24 2012, Pusha released a diss track, "Exodus 23:1". It is speculated that the track was aimed at Drake, or Young Money in general. Lil Wayne responded with a diss track "Ghoulish," which was featured on Funkmaster Flex's show. Since then they claim that they have squashed the beef.
Drake v. Chris Brown (2012)
For all the ruckus made over this one, this might just be the silliest one of them all. This happened so recently that there is still a lot of speculation about not only what really happened but who *cough Rihanna cough* it was over. The story goes that after throwing tweet jabs at each other, yes we’ve really come to that, breezy and drizzy got a little heated in club W.i.P. in NY last week. Supposedly it was all about a girl, Drake collaborated with Rihanna on hit “What’s My Name,” and more recently, his song “Take Care” and he has been quoted expressing his feelings for her.
“According to a club promoter who was at W.i.P. that night, Brown sent Drake a bottle of Cristal champagne. From there the facts are difficult to pin down, but one widely reported rumor asserts that Drake sent the bottle back to Chris table with a note that read, “I’m fuckin’ the love of your life, deal with it.”
After a screaming match that apparently went unnoticed, it escalated to a cat fight in the middle of the club. With fists being thrown along with bottles, buckets, and tables, things got crazy quickly.
Brown was quick to tweet his battle scar, a gash on his chin that he sent out through his Instagram account with the caption, “Bottles, it’s nothing.”
Many were injured and everyone got in on the action, rapper Killer Mike retweeting a Huff Post article with the following, “R&B fights lead to Both parties Snitching and Bitching.”
More rumors have stated that Meek Mill was the one who hit Chris Brown, not Drake. “But the rapper has issued some intriguing remarks via Twitter since then. First he tweeted "It wasn't me... (shaggy voice) lol." Then he chastised Roscoe Dash for commenting on the case: "you gotta chill b4 you b tweeting my name in some shit i wasn't really in! Stay in ya line." Finally he retweeted Chris Brown, who wrote "Me and @MeekMill ain't on that bullshit. Real respect Real..."
Couldn’t have said it better myself Chris.