Since the days of clashing sound systems trying to out-thump each other at New York City park jams, hip-hop has always been a competitive sport. Peace, love, unity and having fun—and crushing wack MCs into dust.
In a culture densely populated with supersized egos and brimming with pride (for one’s borough, one’s city, one’s crew and one’s own pen game) and where boasting is the point, clashing head-to-head, rhyme-for-rhyme is not only inevitable—it’s encouraged.
Rap rivalries have blessed us with hot lines and hotter songs. They’ve made some careers and dismantled others. Most of all, artist feuds have provided listeners with some of the most rewind-worthy headphone moments of the past 40 years and sparked round after round of debate: Who tore it better?
Are you on Team “Takeover” or Team “Ether”? Eminem or Machine Gun Kelly?
Steel sharpens steel. But, unfortunately, rap beef has proven to be a double-edged sword.
Fans certainly don’t want staged disputes, but when artist feuds spill off wax and onto the streets, leading to physical confrontation, the entertainment is far from worth it.
Looking back over the history of hip-hop’s many wars (of words), XXL plucked 20 of the most important rap rivalries of all time, highlighting the most scathing diss songs these grudge matches yielded and breaking down the origins and resolution (or non-resolution) of each beef.
MC Shan vs. KRS-One
Notable Songs: “The Bridge,” “South Bronx,” “Kill That Noise,” “The Bridge Is Over,” “Have a Nice Day”
Background: The epic, years-long battle that pitted Queensbridge star MC Shan and his all-star Juice Crew against the Bronx’s Boogie Down Productions began when Shan was perceived to claim the borough of Queens as hip-hop’s birthplace. A young KRS-One took exception and seized opportunity, bigging up his and Kool Herc’s neighborhood, the South Bronx, and issuing a death warning: “So you think that hip-hop had its start out in Queensbridge/If you popped that junk up in the Bronx you might not live…” The nasty Bridge Wars got personal and dragged in affiliates (“Roxanne Shante is only good for steady fucking”). Hostilities were put to the side by the mid 1990s, when the Blastmaster and Shan appeared in a Sprite commercial together. KRS later linked with Juice Crew chief Marley Marl for the collaborative Hip Hop Lives LP in 2007, bringing the feud to more amicable conclusion.
Kool Moe Dee vs. LL Cool J
Notable Songs: “How Ya Like Me Know,” “Jack the Ripper,” “Let’s Go,” “To Da Break of Dawn,” “Mama Said Knock You Out,” “Death Blow”
Background: New jack James Todd Smith did not enter the rap game without getting checked by established N.Y. acts MC Shan and Kool Moe Dee. Moe Dee fired the most direct shot on the title track of his platinum 1987 LP, How Ya Like Me Now, the cover of which captured a Jeep squashing LL’s trademark red Kangol. The veteran believed Cool J had swiped his rhyme style—this used to be a no-no, kids—and argued that the chart-climbing upstart couldn’t defeat him head-to-head: “I’m bigger and better/Forget about deffer.” LL mocked his challenger on the rapid-fire “Jack the Ripper,” calling Moe Dee “washed up.” In 1989, Moe Dee dedicated an entire up-tempo party assault on his foe, flexing his PG-13 lyrical gymnastics over “Let’s Go,” playfully flipping the “LL” acronym and going so far as to call Cool J “phony as a $3 bill.” Ouch. Cool J’s response, “To Da Break of Dawn,” arrived three years later, poking fun at Moe Dee’s declining career and “Star Trek shades.” The video for Dee’s last shot, 1991’s “Death Blow,” mocked the clip for “Mama Said Knock You Out,” and featured the elder rapper threatening to turn Cool J into a hooker. Both legends still insist they won the feud, which was respectfully kept on wax and gave listeners a handful of classic tracks.
MC Eiht vs. DJ Quik
Notable Songs: “Real Doe,” “Duck Sick,” “Def Wish,” “Way 2 Fonky,” “Tha Last Word,” “Duck Sick II,” “Dead Men Tell No Lies,” “Def Wish II,” “Def Wish III,” “Dollaz + Sense,” “Let You Havit,” “Def Wish IV,” “Central Ave”
Background: You could set your watch to it: For more than a decade, every album released by either Quik or Eiht—rival Compton icons—would contain at least one overt diss toward the other. The marathon feud began with newbie Quik’s decision to label his early mixtape The Red Tape, a nod to his Top Tree Piru Blood affiliation, and his proclamation that he was heading to the top “for CMW to see.” Compton’s Most Wanted leader Eiht, associated with the 159th Street–Tragniew Park Crips, fired back with venom on his “Duck Sick” and “Def Wish” series, escalating an increasingly heightened back-and-forth that reached a zenith in 1995, when Quik performed the excellent Death Row-approved “Dollaz + Sense” at The Source Awards and was roundly ruled the victor. Bitterness would linger, however, until mutual friends Tha Dogg Pound helped broker a truce. Quik and Eiht would officially seal an end to their 30-year feud in 2017, when Eiht appeared on two tracks on Quik and Problem’s underrated Rosecrans LP.
MC Lyte vs. Antoinette
Notable Songs: “I Got an Attitude,” “10% Dis,” “Lights Out, Party’s Over,” “Shut the Eff Up (Hoe!)”
Background: The gritty drum break that rap impresario Hurby “Luv Bug” Azor used to debut his new female soloist, Antoinette, with 1987’s “I Got an Attitude,” sounded a little too close to her First Priority homies’ Audio Two’s “Top Billin’” for MC Lyte’s liking. So Lyte tore into Antoinette with the insta-classic “10% Dis”: “Hot damn, hoe, here we go again/Suckers steal a beat when you know they can’t win/You stole the beat, are you having fun? Now me and the Aud’s gonna show you how it’s done.” Antoinette clapped back, sampling Lyte’s beat and flipping it for 1989’s visceral “Lights Out, Party’s Over”: “Fly that fist, fly that, go ’head/She’ll front and I’ll fly that bitch’s head.” Lyte slammed the door on the feud and silenced Antoinette’s sleepy career for good over five(!) verses with the vicious “Shut the Eff Up (Hoe!)”: “In ‘10%’ I popped your head in a microwave/I’m into blenders now, so you better behave.” Nighty-night.
Ice Cube vs. N.W.A
Notable Songs: “Message to B.A.,” “100 Miles and Runnin’,” “Real Niggaz,” “No Vaseline,” “Fuck wit Dre Day”
Background: Frustrated with Jerry Heller and Eazy-E over royalty issues, N.W.A’s chief writer, Ice Cube, split and went solo in late 1989, infuriating the group’s remaining members. Painted as a traitor and referred to as “Benedict Arnold” multiple times on N.W.A’s 1990 EP 100 Miles and Runnin’ and 1991 LP Eflil4zaggin, Cube fired back with 10 times the artillery on Death Certificate’s “No Vaseline,” widely regarded as one of the most scathing diss tracks of all time. Cube called out manager Heller and Eazy for exploiting the rest of the N.W.A, called E’s sexual orientation into question and embarrassed him for lunching with then-President George Bush Sr. Going solo himself after rifting with Eazy, Dr. Dre would take another jab at Cube on The Chronic, but N.W.A’s rapid dissolution after Cube departed proved him wise to jump out of the financially rocky ship first. Cube and Dre have long since reconciled, collaborating on a few post-N.W.A tracks; 1999’s “Natural Born Killaz” broke the cold war.
Common vs. Ice Cube
Notable Songs: “I Used to Love H.E.R.,” “Westside Slaughterhouse,” “The Bitch in Yoo,” “Real People”
Background: Ice Cube, the posterboy for hardcore gangsta rap, took offense to Common’s 1994 jazzy love letter to hip-hop, “I Used to Love H.E.R.,” on which he suggests that a hard-edged West Coast influence was ruining the culture. So Cube poured venom all over homie Mack 10’s 1995 track “Westside Slaughterhouse”: “Used to love her/Mad ’cause we fucked her/Pussy-whipped bitch with no common sense/Hip-hop started in the West/Ice Cube bailing through the East without a vest.” The normally mild-mannered Common then dismantled Hollywood Cube over a ’96 Pete Rock banger titled “The Bitch in Yoo.” Cube could have the box-office receipts; Com had won the war of words (“Hypocrite/I’m filling out your death certificate/Slinging bean pies and St. Ides in the same sentence”). The two needed mediator Minister Farrakhan to make peace. The beef was settled for good by the time the two rapper/actors linked for 2016’s Barbershop: The Next Cut and their saccharine make-up duet, “Real People.”
Tupac Shakur vs. The Notorious B.I.G.
Notable Songs: “Who Shot Ya?,” “Hit ’Em Up,” “Dangerous MC’s,” “Bomb First (My Second Reply),” “Long Kiss Goodnight”
Background: Tupac Shakur and a legion of his fans interpreted the Biggie B-side “Who Shot Ya?” as a troll job of the rapper’s real-life 1994 robbery and shooting at Manhattan’s Quad Studios. Feeling the track was directed at him from a supposed friend, Pac grew increasingly hostile toward Big, Puff Daddy and the Bad Boy collective. Pac’s wild response, “Hit ’Em Up,” an atomic bomb launched at the East Coast featuring the Outlawz, would go down as arguably the most passionate and unhinged diss record in history. Pac claims to have had sex with Faith Evans, Biggie’s wife, in the song (Evans has denied the claims). Biggie would maintain he had no prior knowledge of Pac’s ambush. Both icons ended up murdered in their prime, spawning investigations, TV series and major motion pictures aplenty about their feud.
Foxy Brown vs. Lil Kim
Notable Songs: “Play Around,” “Quiet Storm (Remix),” “Notorious K.I.M.,” “Bang Bang,” “Quiet,” “Guess Who’s Back,” “Massacre”
Background: Once high-school friends ushering in a wave of respect for late-1990s female MCs, the protégés of competitive New York titan crews Junior M.A.F.I.A. and The Firm appeared side-by-side on the cover of The Source in 1997, and were even toying with the concept of a Thelma & Louise joint album before egos clashed. Lil Kim and Foxy Brown’s debut LPs were released just weeks apart and critics pointed out they were wearing the same outfit in the liner notes. Brown supported Kim rival Faith Evans in interviews. Puff Daddy shouted, “Stop trying to sound like her, too, bitches,” on the Kim-featured Lil Cease track, “Play Around”—a perceived shot at Foxy. Triggered by Kim’s harsh bars on Mobb Deep’s “Quiet Storm (Remix)” and “Notorious K.I.M.,” Foxy jumped on Capone-N-Noreaga’s “Bang Bang” and accused her foil of dropping subliminal disses and riding her affair with the recently slain Notorious B.I.G. to personal fame: “Let the nigga rest in peace, and hop off his dick/Bitch, do you.” The two never did bury the hatchet, trading further subtle shots as Foxy would later come out in support of Nicki Minaj during her war of words with Kim, who has refused to speak to Brown.
LL Cool J vs. Canibus
Notable Songs: “4, 3, 2, 1,” “Second Round K.O.,” “The Ripper Strikes Back,” “Back Where I Belong,” “Rip the Jacker,” “Rasta Imposter,” “What ’Clef Got to Do with It?”
Background: When LL Cool J heard Canibus’s suggestion that he borrow the microphone tattooed on his arm for a verse that the much-hyped newbie recorded for LL’s 1997 posse cut, “4, 3, 2, 1,” the host rewrote his own final verse to the song to put Canibus in his place. “The symbol on my arm’s off limits to challengers/You hold the rusty swords, I swing the Excalibur.” Canibus soon went for broke, recruiting heavyweight Mike Tyson for one of rap’s greatest diss records. “Second Round K.O.” tried to expose Cool J as a hypocrite—”Fronting like a drug-free role model, you disgust me/I know bitches that seen you smoke weed recently”—and expertly fact-checked LL’s hip-hop G.O.A.T. claim—“The greatest rapper of all time died on March 9th.” Some rather forgettable diss records were exchanged, Canibus mentor Wyclef Jean was comically dragged into the fray and interest simmered. In 2014, 17 years after the war began, the two wordsmiths shared a stage at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, concluding the feud.
50 Cent vs. Ja Rule
Notable Songs: “Life’s on the Line,” “Shit Gets Ugly,” “Wanksta,” “I Smell Pussy,” “Back Down,” “Loose Change,” “Hail Mary”
Background: This one started off-record. As the story goes, a friend of 50 Cent robbed Ja Rule of a chain, sparking tension when the New York rappers crossed paths. Fiddy mocked Murder Inc.’s “Murda” chant on the aggressive “Life’s on the Line,” a not-so-veiled warning shot at Ja. The two chart-toppers got into a physical altercation in an Atlanta nightclub, ratcheting the animosity. In March 2000, 50 was stabbed when Ja and Murder Inc. rapper Black Child visited now-defunct Manhattan studio, The Hit Factory. Unflatteringly, 50 would claim his hit “Wanksta” was inspired by Ja. Murder Inc.’s Irv Gotti claimed 50 filed an order of protection, and the crew tried painting the rising star as a rat. Yet 50 continued his verbal assault, naming names in “I Smell Pussy” and questioning Murder Inc.’s street cred on “Back Down.” Ja Rule went off in 2002 with “Loose Change,” calling 50 a snitch, Dr. Dre a homosexual, Eminem’s wife a slut and pulling Busta Rhymes and Chris Lighty into the battle. Lyrically, Ja was in over his head, though, and his pop-star status began to decline as 50’s star rose. One of rap most enduring and entertaining beefs continues to present-day—just last year, 50 bought up 200 stage-front seats to a Ja concert just so they could sit empty.
Nas vs. Jay-Z
Notable Songs: “Stillmatic Freestyle,” “Takeover,” “Ether,” “Super Ugly,” “Blueprint 2,” “Don’t U Know,” “U Wanna Be Me,” “People Talkin’,” “Last Real Nigga Alive”
Background: Jay-Z plainly laid out the contenders for the King of N.Y. throne in 1997: “I’m from where niggas pull your card/And argue all day about who’s the best MCs: Biggie, Jay-Z and Nas.” In the wake of Biggie’s death, the game of thrones was down to two. And after years of throwing subliminals, Hov said Nas’ name at Hot 97’s Summer Jam in 2001. Esco responded with his own less-than-respectful name-drop on “Stillmatic Freestyle.” Jay’s “Takeover”—a Doors-sampling, Kanye-produced bulldozer with no time for subliminals—fired direct shots at the perceived inconsistency of Nas’s post-Illmaticoutput: “That’s a one-hot-album-every-10-year average.”
Mr. Jones’ hotly anticipated and highly personal rebuttal, “Ether,” sparked a never-ending debate over whose diss was more scathing: “You seem to be only concerned with dissin’ women/Were you abused as a child, scared to smile, they called you ugly?” The attack shook Jay out of his coolest-guy-in-the-room demeanor, and he hastily dropped 2002’s “Super Ugly” freestyle over a Nas instrumental, dragging the beef into the gutter by claiming he had an affair with Carmen Bryan, the mother of Nas’ oldest child, and left used condoms on the baby’s seat in Nas’ whip. The beef festered for years, manifesting in random jabs here and there (“Y’all already know who I’m better than,” Nas quips on Bravehearts’ 2003 single, “Quick to Back Down”). In 2006, the two titans squashed their differences and linked on Def Jam for Nas’ “Black Republicans”; Jay-Z’s “Success,” another collaboration, arrived the following year.
Jadakiss vs. Beanie Sigel
Notable Songs: “Put Ya Hands Up (Freestyle),” “Fuck Beanie Sigel (Freestyle),” “Un-Hunh!”
Background: The D-Block/State Property beef originated from a 2001 Jadakiss interview in which ‘Kiss stated that Philadelphia artists were biting his style. After interpreting a lyric from “Beanie (Mack Bitch)” as derogatory, Jada took an on-wax dig at Beanie on “Un-Hunh!” from his debut album, Kiss The Game Goodbye: “Had to stop eatin’ red meat ’cause I ate too many Beanie Macs,” Jada spat. Beanie Sigel clapped back with an anti-Kiss freestyle over the “Put Ya Hands Up” instrumental. Jada responded to Beans shortly thereafter, citing his dependence on Roc-A-Fella via a mixtape freestyle over a disco-era sample. Beanie and Jada traded freestyled disses during Power 99’s Powerhouse concert in 2001. They kept the war of words going via vicious street verses, letting fans debate which crew was superior: Ruff Ryders or the Roc. The two wordsmiths would later set aside their differences to collaborate, most recently teaming up for 2016’s “Dinero.”
Eminem vs. Benzino
Notable Songs: “Pull Your Skirt Up,” “The Sauce,” “Die Another Day,” “Nail in the Coffin,” “Foolish Pride,” “Bully”
Background: Flabbergasted by The Source’s decision to award his classic The Marshall Mathers LP a measly two out of five mics, Mr. Mathers had some pointed words for magazine co-founder Benzino, an unabashed promoter of his own group, Made Men, in the mag’s pages. On “Pull Your Skirt Up,” Benzino dubbed Em “the 2003 Vanilla Ice,” saying he’d launched the superstar’s career by featuring him in the respected “Unsigned Hype” column back in 1998. Em pulled no punches on the vicious “Nail in the Coffin,” ripping into Benzino’s age and “fake Pachino” gangster persona. On tilt, Benzino used The Sourceas a platform to disparage Em’s reputation, getting hold of an old demo, “Foolish Pride,” in which a 15-year-old Em used racist remarks about Black women. Eminem publicly apologized for the old tape, also putting it into context on “Yellow Brick Road.” Benzino threatened Em’s daughter, Hailie, in “Die Another Day.” Its editorial compromised, The Source split from Benzino in 2005. In 2012, Benzino admitted he’d crossed a line with remarks towards Mathers’ family.
G-Unit vs. The Game
Notable Songs: “100 Bars (The Funeral),” “300 Bars and Runnin’,” “Piggy Bank,” “Not Rich, Still Lyin,” “Body Bags,” “P-Unit,” “Play the Game,” “400 Bars”
Background: Believing The Game was being disloyal to G-Unit for not participating in the crew’s feuds with other acts (Nas, Jadakiss) and that 50 himself wasn’t getting enough credit for his contributions to Game’s blockbuster debut, The Documentary, 50 Cent kicked The Game out of G-Unit in early 2005. This set the stage for the respective entourages to clash shortly after at Hot 97, resulting in shots fired. Game and 50 held a reconciliatory press conference, but tension remained. Months later, Game launched his G-Unot boycott and dissed his former squad at Hot 97’s Summer Jam in New Jersey. The Compton MC took verbal shots on mixtape track “300 Miles and Runnin’,” and 50 parodied Game as a Mr. Potato Head doll in his “Piggy Bank” video. Game fuelled the beef on his Ghost Unit and Stop Snitchin, Stop Lyin mixtapes, and 50 shot back with “Not Rich, Still Lyin.” In 2010, Game publicly floated the idea of a G-Unit reunion for money-making purposes only. In 2016, 50 and Game squashed their beef at an L.A. strip club. Hanging together, Game grabbed the mic and announced, “I fuck with 50. What happened, that shit was 12 years ago… Ain’t nobody on that old shit.” The renewed friendship took another step when Game appeared at 50’s birthday party in 2018.
Young Jeezy vs. Gucci Mane
Notable Songs: “Icy,” “Stay Strapped,” “Round One,” “745,” “24, 23,” “Truth”
Background: It started off so lovely, with Jezzy and Gucci collaborating for the hit track “Icy.” Problem was, each artist believed the single should be on their debut LP. Gucci beat Jeezy to the punch, including it on his indie album Trap House, so Jeezy put a public $10,000 bounty on Gucci’s chain via “Stay Strapped.” Gucci called Jeezy “fake” on “Round One,” hinting at a lengthy battle. Things got violent when four men began assaulted Gucci, and he fired in self-defense, resulting in the murder of CTE rapper Pookie Loc, a Jeezy affiliate. He was eventually acquitted of the charges, and Jeezy denied any connection to the shootings. Gucci threw gas on the fire with “745”: “Do I smell pussy? Nah, that’s Jeezy. You ain’t a Snowman, you more like a snowflake, cupcake, cornflake. Nigga, you too fake.” Jeezy took shots on “24, 23,” and then called for truce with Gucci and DJ Drama. Just as the beef appeared to settle, members of their respective entourages clashed in 2010, and Gucci said he could never see himself collaborating with Jeezy again. During a 2012 radio interview, Jeezy called Gucci “retarded.” Gucci responded with the fiery “Truth.” Reconciliation does not feel imminent.
Nicki Minaj vs. Lil Kim
Notable Songs: “Grindin Making Money,” “Hello Good Morning (Remix),” “Black Friday,” “Tragedy,” “Roman’s Revenge”
Background: The bikini-bottomed, spread-eagle pose that Nicki assumed for her 2007 mixtape Playtime Is Over is strikingly similar to an iconic promo shot for Lil Kim’s 1996 debut album, Hardcore, causing an early rift between superstars of two generations. Both sexually charged rappers guested on Birdman’s “Grindin Making Money” in 2009, with Kim spitting a rather pointed line: “There’ll never be another me/What, you out your mind?” In 2010, Ray J urged “Lil’ Kim imposters” to pay homage—Drake came to the defense of his Young Money cohort, the perceived target of the jab. On her verse for Diddy’s “Hello Good Morning” remix, Minaj wondered, “Did I kill a queen?”—a veiled reference to “Queen Bee” Kim. Tired of subliminal wounds in 2010, Lil’ Kim rapped live, “I’d kill that bitch with my old shit.” Nicki used the then-ubiquitous hashtag flow to pummel Kim with punchlines on “Roman’s Revenge” (“You at a standstill… mannequin,” she raps). Kim mocked her with the retaliatory “Black Friday” (“Go stick your head in a tornado… brainstorm,” she rhymes) which dropped shortly after Nicki’s major-label debut, Pink Friday. While fading to the background, the rift remains, as Kim poked fun at Nicki’s 2014 “Flawless (Remix)” with a version of her own.
Pusha-T vs. Drake
Notable Songs: “Don’t Fuck with Me,” “Exodus 23:1,” “Your Favorite Rapper,” “Tuscan Leather,” “Suicide,” “H.G.T.V.,” “Two Birds, One Stone,” “Infrared,” “Duppy Freestyle,” “The Story of Adidon”
Background: In a slow-burn feud flowering from the seeds of a Cash Money/Lil Wayne rift with The Neptunes camp that dates back to unsettled business from Clipse and Baby’s awesome “What Happened to That Boy,” Drake and Pusha’s mutual distaste hit a boiling point in summer 2018. The two artists exchanged thinly masked subliminal shots on freestyles and album cuts for years—ghostwriting and fake drug dealer shots the most common—but Pusha ramped up the urgency and specificity of his attacks on Daytona’s “Infrared”: “How could you ever right these wrongs/When you don’t even write your songs?” Drizzy immediately hit the booth to lay down “Duppy Freestyle,” calling out frenemy Kanye West in the process and then hilariously sending G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam a $100,000 invoice for the promotion that his diss gave to its target. Then Push went for the jugular, broadcasting that Drake was hiding an out-of-wedlock son, Adonis, in “The Story of Adidon,” and also posting an old, out-of-context photo of Drizzy in blackface. Drake supposedly wrote an equally vicious retort but decided to hold back after James Prince encouraged a deading of the beef before things turned violent. When Pusha’s Toronto concert was ambushed by beer-throwing, stage-rushing Drake fans in the fall, he accused Drake of paying customers to ruin his set before bursting into “Infrared.”
Machine Gun Kelly vs. Eminem
Notable Songs: “No Reason,” “Not Alike,” “Rap Devil,” “Killshot,” “The Ringer”
Background: Bad blood boiled in 2012 when MGK described Eminem’s then-16-year-old daughter, Hailie, as “hot as fuck.” Three years later, MGK suggested during a Hot 97 interview that his social-media comment had gotten him blackballed by certain media outlets—and on Tech N9ne’s 2018 track, “No Reason,” he tossed a subliminal Em’s way: “You just rap, you’re not God.” On Eminem’s angry Kamikaze album—his verbal Uzi spray at many a target—MGK was named directly and the stakes were raised. The Cleveland artist dropped “Rap Devil,” a catchy single/video, painting Em as a tarnished hero—a bitter, old, weird, bearded man chasing his glory years. In September, Em dropped his highly salivated-over response. Brilliant and barbaric, fun and fierce, “Killshot” snapped YouTube’s record for most play in 24 hours, stacking 38.1 million views. MGK mocked Em on Twitter for taking too long to respond and continued to diss him in concerts.
Drake vs. Meek Mill
Notable Songs: “R.I.C.O.,” “Charged Up,” Back to Back,” “Wanna Know,” “I’m The Plug,” “War Pain,” “Summer Sixteen,” “Going Bad”
Background: Friends and frequent collaborators, Meek Mill accused Drake of not penning his own lyrics—a cardinal sin for true MCs—for Drizzy’s contribution to “R.I.C.O.” on Meek’s Dreams Money Can Buy LP. “He ain’t even write that verse on my album and if I woulda knew I woulda took it off my album….. I don’t trick my fans! Lol,” Meek tweeted in the summer of 2015. Drake shot back on wax days later over the low-key “Charged Up,” and while that was just a warning shot—Meek tweeted, “Baby lotion soft…. I can tell he wrote that 1 tho….”—Back to Back” was far superior. Drake performed that song at OVO Fest and featured Toronto Blue Jay Joe Carter celebrating his World Series–clinching homer over the Philadelphia Phillies on its cover art. “This for y’all to think that I don’t write enough/They just mad cause I got the Midas touch/You love her, then you gotta give the world to her/Is that a world tour or your girl’s tour?” Drake blasted, referring to Meek’s then-girl Nicki Minaj. Game over. The Degrassi rapper fired a couple extra jabs on “Summer Sixteen,” and many forget that Meek responded with 2016’s “War Pain,” in which he calls Drake a “culture vulture.” But the sides made up after Meek’s prison release in 2018, appearing together onstage and later linking for a hit single/video, “Going Bad,” for Meek’s recent Championships LP. Drake called the amends “one of most electric and gratifying moments of my career.”
Nicki Minaj vs. Cardi B
Notable Songs: “Swish Swish,” “No Flag,” “No Limit,” “Motorsport,” “Ganja Burns”
Background: Nicki Minaj and Cardi B’s rivalry is a peculiar case of history repeating itself. Just as Nicki clashed with the elder Lil Kim years earlier, she collided with her Bronx neophyte Cardi B. The original cause is murky—much of it seemed fan and media-instigated, as many wondered whether the artists were lobbing subliminal shots and taunts on wax. For instance, Nicki spat, “Lil’ bitch, I heard these labels tryna make another me/Everything you getting, little hoe, is ’cause of me” on 21 Savage and Offset’s “No Flag,” raising (denied) suspicions she was targeting Cardi. And on G-Eazy’s “No Limit,” Cardi cautioned someone for sending “subs” in her direction. Both rhymers appeared on Migos’ 2017 track “Motorsport,” which was scrutinized for a potential between-the-lines diss from Nicki, although behind-the-scenes drama with the track furthered the friction.
Months after speaking cordially at the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Cardi B and Nicki Minaj reportedly exchanged harsh words at a Harper’s Bazaar event during New York Fashion Week in September 2018, and Cardi threw a shoe at Rah Ali, a member of Minaj’s entourage and one of Cardi’s Love and Hip-Hop co-stars. “Rah beat Cardi’s ass really bad,” Nicki said on Beats1 Radio. “The punches were so hard in your head. Rah beat you so bad that I was mad at Rah. She punched her eight, nine times. Now you got your sister calling me a crackhead.” Following the fiasco, Cardi posted on Instagram: “I let you sneak diss me, I let you lie on me, I let you attempt to stop my bags, fuck up the way I eat.” The slow-boil rift has shifted to the backburner for now, but there seems to be no resolution in sight. When asked in April 2019 whether she’d ever make up with Nicki Minaj and collaborate musically, Cardi simply laughed after a long, awkward silence.