By Kathy Iandoli
Who says America’s Sweetheart can be a thug? Just ask Taylor Swift.
When she debuted “Innocent” during Sunday’s VMAs, the song seemed pretty clearly aimed at Kanye West. With lyrics like “32 and still growing up now” and a video montage of Yeezy’s now infamous “I’ma let you finish” debacle where he rushed the stage during the country singer’s award acceptance speech in 2009, it’s hard to deny.
On the other hand, it’s debatable whether West debuted “Runaway,” with lines like “I always, yeah I always do something wrong,” and aimed it at Swift. She might not have been biting off any ears, but for the youngster, “Innocent” boasts some tough lyrics.
In honor of Taylor clapping back (remember that?) at Yeezy, we compiled our favorite hip-hop diss tracks. These songs either ignited or were the product of beef so check out our favorite right hooks below.
10. Ice Cube: “No Vaseline”
If the title wasn’t graphic enough, Cube delivered some harsh lyrics on “No Vaseline” to his former N.W.A mates and manager Jerry Heller. He even accuses Eazy-E of being gay, ending the song with “Eric Wright, punk, always into somethin’, gettin’ f—ed at night by Mista S—packer/ Bend over for the gotdamn cracker, no Vaseline.” Ouch.
9. Lauryn Hill: “Lost Ones”
When The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill dropped, most didn’t know the situation between Hill and her Fugees band mate Wyclef Jean. However after listening to the album’s opening cut “Lost Ones,” most of those questions were answered. “It’s funny how money change a situation,” Lauryn growled. The track was over five minutes of karma-induced God-fearing lines tied together by the hard-hitting mantra “You might win some, but you just lost one.”
8. Nas: “Ether”
When Nas and Jay-Z began their war of words, which many feared would result in death, two big songs emerged. Nas’ “Ether” was one of them and proved the Queens native hadn’t lost his flair despite rumblings that he’d lost his touch after It Was Written. “Ether” was sharp, but also humorous, as Nas referred to Jay-Z as “Gay-Z” and Rockafella Records as “Cockafella.” A little immature, yes, but still funny.
7. Canibus:“2nd Round K.O.”
This was a true David and Goliath tale. New MC Canibus was asked to jump on LL Cool J’s “4,3,2,1,” so he wrote a line asking to borrow the microphone tattooed on LL’s arm. LL Cool J didn’t approve, so Canibus removed it. When “4,3,2,1” released, LL’s entire verse was aimed at Canibus. In response, Canibus dropped “2nd Round K.O.” featuring ad-libs from the Champ Mike Tyson. The last line of the song says it all, “’Cause like Common and Cube I see the b—- in yoo and I’ma make the world see it too, motherf—er.”
6. Dr. Dre f. Snoop Dogg: “Dre Day”
It took the members of N.W.A years to end the feud that initially tore the guys apart. While the group was mostly angry with Eazy-E for his alliance with manager Jerry Heller, Ice Cube and Dr. Dre both chose to take their beef to wax. “Dre Day” was a funny song touting an equally hilarious video with a faux Eazy holds a sign that reads “Will Rap For Food” beside the freeway while doing the running man dance. “Ya thought I was a mark ‘cause I used to hang with Eazy,” says Dre just as Snoop chimes in, “’Cause when you diss Dre you diss yourself.”
5. Boogie Down Productions: “The Bridge Is Over”
The battle between the South Bronx’s KRS-One and Queensbridge’s MC Shan was really about “turf” since both feuded over whether the Bronx or Queens had hip-hop in a headlock at the time. “The Bridge Is Over” was KRS-One and DJ Scott LaRock’s hymn of taking over the whole borough. This track gave birth to classic line, “Manhattan keeps on makin’, Brooklyn keeps on takin’ it, Bronx keeps creatin’ it, and Queens keeps on fakin’ it.”
4. Common: “The Bitch In Yoo”
Common wasn’t always so Hollywood. Canibus took his cues from the Chicago MC’s “The Bitch In Yoo” song aimed at Ice Cube. When Common penned the classic “I Used to Love H.E.R.” he mentioned that hip-hop’s decline began when it moved to the West Coast, even referencing the film Boyz N the Hood. Cube wasn’t amused and dropped “Westside Slaughterhouse” dissing Common, which led to “The Bitch In Yoo.” Slamming Cube’s career in one line “You ain’t made s— dope since Amerikkka’s Most,” Common ended the feud victorious.
3. Jay-Z: “The Takeover”
While “The Takeover” was primarily aimed toward Nas, Jay-Z references his beef with Mobb Deep’s Prodigy. In 2001, Jay-Z put photos of Queen’s problem child as a kid in dance school on a huge screen during his Hot 97 Summer Jam performance, thereby winning that war. In “The Takeover”, Jay-Z warns Nas not to “the next contestant on that Summer Jam screen.” He also boasts sleeping with Nas’ ex-girlfriend Carmen Bryant. Plus, “You made it a hot line, I made it a hot song” is classic.
2. Tupac: “Hit Em Up”
Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G.’s vicious beef unfortunately resulted in both rappers passing away, however when ’Pac’s “Hit Em Up”, clearly showed that, while alive, the MC was passionate about this feud. Every line on the track is so angry, even when Tupac is laughing. Poor Prodigy gets another chin check too when Tupac shouts him out in the ad-libs for being too sick to battle him due to his Sickle-Cell disease.
1. LL Cool J: “Jack the Ripper”
LL Cool J’s battle with Kool Moe Dee was one of hip-hop’s first big beefs. “Jack the Ripper” may not be as graphic or as angry as the rest of this list, but it was filled with that bravado upon which rap was founded. LL just goes line for line with punchy points like “I’m a beast on the microphone, a night stalker, a killing machine, a savage street talker.” Back then it had less to do with what the other rapper was doing and more to do with what you could bring to the table. Imagine that?
What do you think is the best diss song of all time? Take our poll and let us know!