Hip Hop 50: The 5 most memorable Dissings in Rap Music.

Dissings are ‘slaps’ to the tune of bars that rappers have been exchanging since Hip Hop was born: a vitriolic back-and-forth that can sometimes end tragically.

Dissing is rife in Hip Hop, and American rappers never miss a chance to take a swipe at a crew or artist considered a rival.

The artist with the most disses? Eminem, who has dissed just about everyone since the beginning of his career.

The most recent dissing, this time straight away, came from Snoop Dog, who during an interview in January 2021, declared without blowback that Real Slim Shady is no longer on his list of the ten best rappers of all time. For his part, Eminem addressed more than one joke to his now former friend. On his latest album Music to Be Murdered By, he says:

“And as much as I try to be diplomatic.

the last thing I need is for Snoop to go rabid dog on me.

Man, you were a fucking God to me

Nah, not really, I just accidentally spelled “Dog” backwards”.

As we’ve come to realise, dissing is full of them in the world of Hip Hop, but some have been more impactful and memorable than others, because of the characters involved, the reasons or the denouement. Find out which ones!

5) Pusha T vs Drake, 2018

On his 2018 album, Daytona, Pusha T dissed something that pretty much everyone understood, even if it was never openly stated: Drake gets his lyrics written by others, at least in part.

Drake’s response was not long in coming. In one of his freestyles, he accuses Pusha T of being Kanye West‘s ‘duddy’ (who was at the height of yet another manic omnipotence frenzy at the time).

Pusha’s lookout is epic: in the track ‘The Story of Adidon‘ he brings to light the affair of Drake‘s illegitimate son Adonis, who he had with French porn star Sophie Brussaux. According to the rapper’s incendiary bars, Drake has allegedly been an absentee father and the only thing he has done in his son’s honour is to dedicate the name of a capsule in collaboration with adidas ‘AdiDon’ to him. In the track’s official video, Drake appears monkeying around with a blackface, something the Canadian rapper has harshly criticised in various interviews.

4) Lauryn Hill vs Fugees, 1998

1990s. The career of Lauren Hill and the Fugees is going swimmingly: the group releases ‘The Score’, a triumphant album. Nobody expected the break that was to come shortly afterwards: the reasons were neither a lack of creativity nor artistic differences. Lauryn Hill and Wyclef Jean have embarked on a clandestine relationship, and the fact that Wyclef is already married and has no intention of leaving his wife complicates the situation. Lauren thus decides to secretly date Rohan Marley, Bob’s son, and soon the two are expecting their firstborn. Pressure from record executives to convince her to terminate the pregnancy and put out another album with the Fugees, given the high ecomonic stakes involved, prompted the singer to pursue a solo career, following which she would release the award-winning masterpiece ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’.

The album opens with a vitriolic track addressed to her former bandmates Wyclef and Pras, ‘Lost Ones‘, who will never respond to the dissing. Pras would later declare in an interview:

‘It’s easier for Osama Bin Laden and George W. Bush to be found talking amiably about foreign policy over coffee than for the Fugees to get back together’.

Just to understand the extent of the rancour.

3) Jay-Z vs Nas 2001-2002

The two giants of New York Hip Hop have always barely tolerated each other, though never openly affectionate. The situation collapsed with the death of Notorious B.I.G. and decreed who would be the new King of NY Rap. The first to ignite the tones was Jay-Z, who, during a concert at Summer Jam Hot – the Big Apple’s most important Hip Hop festival – when he presented the track ‘Takeover‘, single from the 2001 album ‘The Blueprint‘. Jay fired back at almost all New York rappers of his generation, naming names including, of course, Nas. The latter’s response was not long in coming between the bars of the explosive track ‘Ether’, contained in ‘Stillmatic’, also from 2001. Jay-Z kicks it up a notch with the freestyle ‘Super Ugly‘, in which he talks about having sex with Nas’s ex-girlfriend in their car and leaving a used condom on their baby’s car seat, among other things: a tasteless move that will even be harshly criticised by Jay’s mother, who will force him to publicly apologise to Nas.

Today, the two no longer dissemble, are on good terms and have even collaborated on various projects.

2) Ice Cube vs N.W.A., 1991

The one between Ice Cube and N.W.A. is one of the most irreverent and devastating disses in the history of Hip Hop. After leaving the group due to disagreements with Eazy-E, Ice Cube was repeatedly subjected to shenanigans by Eazy-E, founder of N.W.A. and owner of the Ruthless Records label.
After sketching for a while, Ice Cube released ‘No Vaseline’, an incendiary track in which he violently lashed out at his former bandmate, a dissing that would go unanswered due to the definitive split within N.W.A, which would soon disband. Ice Cube’s all-out dissing also involved Dr. Dre, who joined the chorus of criticism against Eazy-E. According to later reports, they all reconciled in hospital at the bedside of Eazy-E, who died prematurely of AIDS in 1995.

1) Tupac vs Notorious B.I.G., 1994 – 1995

Not only one of the most famous disses in Rap music history, but also the one with the most tragic ending, featuring the two most influential artists in Hip Hop: 2Pac and Biggie Small.
New York, 30 November 1994.
Tupac is shot during a robbery at the Quad Studios recording studio in Times Square, on his way to visit his then (still) friend Notorius Big. The West Coast rapper is miraculously alive; one of the bullets even hits the back of his head.
Tupac becomes convinced that Biggie Small was behind the ambush because he is among the few who knew where he was that day, at that time. Biggie would always vehemently deny the accusations, but shortly afterwards, with timing deemed suspicious by some, he released a song entitled “Who Shot Ya?” which has all the air of a mockery of his former friend. For his part, Tupac came down with heavy artillery, releasing 1996’s ‘Hit Em Up‘, a track in which he heavily dissed Notorious and his crew, publicly telling them off, claiming to have slept with his wife, singer Faith Evans.
Less than a year after this track, a crossfire feud between the respective East and West Coast crews would cost the lives of Hip Hop music’s two greatest artists of all time.

Which Dissing would you have added? Tell us in the comments.