The 10 Wildest Rap Beefs Of All Time
The 10 Wildest Rap Beefs Of All Time
The other day, Kendrick Lamar took his guest verse on Big Sean's "Control" as an opportunity to casually invite all his friends to fight to the death: "I'm usually homeboys with the same n***as I'm rhymin' with / But this is hip-hop and them n***as should know what time it is / And that goes for Jermaine Cole, Big KRIT, Wale / Pusha T, Meek Millz, A$AP Rocky, Drake / Big Sean, Jay Electron', Tyler, Mac Miller / I got love for you all but I'm tryna murder you n***as / Tryna make sure your core fans never heard of you n***as / They dont wanna hear not one more noun or verb from you n***as . . ."
Kendrick's verse is technically more of a healthy competitive challenge between friends than an actual threat. But it got us thinking about the greatest rap beefs ever, from the deeply silly to the all-too-serious. Here's our definitive countdown:
10. Eminem vs. The Source
How could something so one-sided be so enjoyable? Benzino, a two-bit Boston rapper-slash-editor, somehow held a lot of influence at The Source magazine. In 1999, he promoted his group's Made Men album with full-page ads in the magazine and a rave review. Conflict of interest alert! Benzino made things even worse for himself when he attacked Eminem on dubious racial grounds. Em came down on him like a combat boot on an ant with "Nail in the Coffin" and "The Sauce," where he chuckled while imagining Benzino being held out of a window. The beef continued for a while after that, but in the end Benzino was a total laughingstock and Eminem was still Eminem.
9. The Real Roxanne vs. Roxanne Shante
The Roxanne Wars – a never-ending series of battle records in the mid-1980s – started when the rap group UTFO didn't show up to a radio event. They'd gotten popular off their song "Roxanne, Roxanne," about a (fictional) girl who doesn't answer their phone calls. Their no-show prompted 14-year-old Lolita Shanté Gooden to fight back on the fake girl's behalf, adopting the name Roxanne Shanté. Her fierce and foul response song, "Roxanne's Revenge," quickly sold 250,000 copies. UTFO got another girl (and another one after her) to play the role of "The Real Roxanne" and take shots back at Shanté. Other voices soon joined in; anywhere from 30 to 100 responses were ultimately recorded.
8. 50 Cent vs. Kanye West
7. Lil Kim vs. Foxy Brown
On a 1999 track by Lil Cease, Lil Kim spit a pretty hard 16 bars, not seemingly directed at any one person. But then Puffy had to jump in and say, "Stop trying to sound like her, bitches." Well! Foxy Brown didn't much care for that. She opened her verse on Capone-N-Noreaga's "Bang Bang" the same way Kim did on "Quiet Storm," saying, "Hot damn, ho, here we go again," before calling her rival a snitch and worse. This war of words, which has never really ended, even spilled into the streets, with 20 shots fired outside of the studios of New York radio station Hot 97. (That's why there's an NYPD camera permanently installed on the block now.) More recently, while Nicki Minaj and Kim traded barbs, Foxy made appearances by Nicki's side.
6. LL Cool J vs. Canibus
Largely thought to be one of the best lyrical battles of all time, this began in 1997, when – on a guest verse for LL's "4, 3, 2, 1" – Canibus rapped, "Yo L, is that a mic on your arm? Lemme borrow that." LL has a famous microphone tattoo, but apparently no sense of humor. He took out the offending lines, then recorded an entire verse taking shots at Canibus: "The symbol on my arm is off limits to challengers." Surprise! Canibus retaliated with "Second Round KO," where Canibus got Mike Tyson to run his mouth before ripping into LL himself. (LL swung again with "Ripper Strikes Back," among others, but the fight really ended with "KO.")