The 8 Ball 04.20.13: The Top 8 Rap Feuds
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 04.20.2013
From Notorious B.I.G. vs. Tupac Shakur and Eazy-E vs. Dr. Dre to Suge Knight's war with Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent's beef with Ja Rule and more, 411's Jeremy Thomas breaks down the top 8 rap feuds of all time!
Welcome, one and all, to the 8 Ball in the Music Zone! I'm your host Jeremy Thomas and as always, I will be tackling a topic and providing you the top eight selections of that particular category. Keep in mind that this list is meant to be my personal opinion and not a definitive list. You're free to disagree; you can even say my list is wrong, but stating that an opinion is "wrong" is just silly. With that in mind, let's get right in to it!
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Last week we looked at the biggest feuds in rock music and while there were some very epic battles there, they don't hold a candle to the wars that have erupted within hip-hop. The raw and lyrically personal nature of the genre has allowed for some of the most heated beefs and rivalries in music history; in many cases the feud eclipses the actual music by respective artists. This week we're looking at the top wars between rap artists of all time, which have sometimes led to tragic circumstances.
Caveat: Similar to last week, I was looking at the most significant and noteworthy feuds in rap, not necessarily my "favorite." I don't particularly enjoy seeing lives destroyed but some of the most important rap feuds have done exactly that. Also like last week, I avoided feuds that were manufactured for the sake of publicity or sales such as Kanye West and 50 Cent's war over their respective albums Curtis and Graduation. Lastly, I decided to focus on specific artists and acts instead of label feuds. While Death Row, Bad Boy, Murder Inc. and G-Unit have had a lot of group feuds and some of those are listed here, they're presented in the context of the primary artists leading the feuds.
Just Missing The Cut
Westside Connection vs. Common
Drake vs. Chris Brown
Kool Moe Dee vs. LL Cool J
LL Cool J vs. Canibus
50 Cent vs. The Game
#8: 50 Cent vs. Ja Rule
50 Cent has had his share of beefs over the years (just look at the honorable mentions), but his most significant came before he signed with Interscope Records. 50's feud with Ja Rule and the rest of Murder Inc. appeared to start over stolen jewelry of all things, as the Get Rich of Die Trying rapper claimed that a friend stole Ja's jewelry and that Ja accused him of setting the whole thing up. Ja has a different story, alleging that the beef came about because he did a video shoot in Queens and 50 was pissed that Ja Rule was shown so much respect from the borough. Things began in the traditional rap feud manner and quickly escalated, with 50 getting stabbed during an incident with Ja's Murder Inc. pals. The whole thing got really over the top when an IRS agent submitted an affidavit that claimed the drug lord Kenneth "Supreme" McGriff, who was believed to be involved in the shooting incident involving 50, had ties to Murder Inc. The two rappers continued to take shots back and forth all the way through to 2009, when Ja acknowledged that he had been beaten by 50 and that he was leaving all of his feuds in the past. Still, it was one of the hottest beefs of all time and there is still no love lost between the two.
#7: Lil' Kim vs. Foxy Brown
There have been a lot of feuds between the ladies of rap throughout the years, but many of them have been lesser, petty beefs at best and were quickly squashed. This one hasn't ever been resolved and represents what is easily the most significant feud between members of the fairer sex. Kim and Foxy were not always enemies and in fact were even friends in high school, but when they split ways and went into different groups (Kim with Notorious B.I.G. and Foxy with Jay-Z) tensions kicked up. Things got heated when the two were set to release their debut albums within a week of each other in November of 1996 and a planned collaboration was nixed. The two sides stayed at odds, though not overly taking shots at each other until Kim and Diddy guested on Lil Cease's "Play Around." A verse from Diddy took a shot at Foxy and things were on. Foxy dropped a rhyme about Kim riding Biggie's coattails and everything came to a head in a shooting incident outside New York Hot 97 studios in 2001. Almost twenty shots were fired and Kim ended going to prison in 2005 on three counts of conspiracy and one count of perjury related to the shooting. The two sides have never cleared the air; Kim ignores Foxy while Foxy loves taking potshots at Kim.
#6: N.W.A. vs. Ice Cube
N.W.A. has seen plenty of conflict over the years, both within and without. One of the biggest struggles came when Ice Cube left the group in 1989 over royalty disputes stemming from the seminal album Straight Outta Compton. Cube claimed that he had written almost half of the lyrics personally and wasn't getting his proper compensation. He walked away and it sparked a fierce war back and forth between Cube and his former friends. N.W.A. went both barrels on Ice Cube for their EP 100 Miles and Runnin', calling Cube a Benedict Arnold and a coward, not to mention lambasting him for using a New York production team. That pushed Ice to fire back and he did on Death Certificate, where among other slams he suggested that Eazy-E shoot manager Jerry Heller in the head. Cube even asked director John Singleton to put a "We Want Eazy" shirt on a character in Boyz in the Hood who gets beaten up by neighborhood teens for doing a little chain-snatching. The war between the two sides is now over but it remains one of the biggest wars among genre heavyweights to date.
#5: Eminem vs. Benzino
Not many wars of words have revolved entirely around a hip-hop magazine and that may make this whole thing seem silly, but it was certainly a significant war nonetheless. Eminem more or less got his start in The Source, being featured in the mag's March 1998 "Unsigned Hype" column. Eminem took off in a huge way and quickly found himself at the top of the industry, which upset co-owner and rapper Benzino. Benzino felt that Eminem being at the top of the industry was hurting African-American and Latino artists and he used his trade publication to wage war against Slim Shady. The Source gave The Marshall Mathers LP a two out of five, which it then decided to change to a four due to mass protests, and Benzino took aim at anyone and anything supporting Em when he could. Mister Mathers, never known to be a level-headed individual, fired his own verbal shots at Benzino on The Eminem Show and accused the Source boss of trying to tank Em's career in order to boost his own. Things got ever-nastier between the two, culminating in Benzino leveling a threat at Eminem's daughter Hailee. Eminem easily won the feud as pretty much everyone in the industry sided with him and Benzino was fired from The Source, though Benzino still tries to take shots at Shady from time to time.
#4: Suge Knight Vs. Snoop Dogg
Our #3 spot goes to the battle between an artist and the man who helped bring him into the public eye. Snoop Dogg burst onto the rap scene in 1992 and 1993 as an artist signed to Suge Knight's Death Row Records, guesting on Dr. Dre's The Chronic and then busting out his own debut LP, Doggystyle, to critical acclaim and commercial success. However, Snoop and Suge rather quickly came into conflict as Death Row came under fire, with Tupac's death and Suge Knight's incarceration for racketeering escalated the West Coast label's descent. Dr. Dre had already left over a contract dispute with Knight and Snoop began slowly backing away from the gangsta rap style. To make matters worse, Snoop was locked into a time-based contract that he couldn't get out of and so he refused to release any music other than the track "Fuck Death Row," which was obviously not the kind of thing Suge wanted out. Things picked up mightily upon Suge's release from prison and the beef escalated to new heights; Snoop accused Suge of being involved in Tupac's death and Suge's remaining Death Row stable targeted Snoop as a result. The two came face-to-face at the BET Awards and diss tracks flew with increasing frequency. The two reportedly have finally evened things out as of early this year--likely thanks to Snoop's mellower attitude these days--but who knows if and when they'll be back at each other's throats.
#3: Eazy-E vs. Dr. Dre
Ice Cube wasn't the only problematic departure from N.W.A. Following the group's breakup in 1991, Dre and Eazy-E began one of the nastiest feuds in hip-hop history. It started with "Fuck wit Dre Day (And Everybody's Celebratin')," which saw Dre introduce the money-grubbing "Sleazy-E" character in its video, and escalated with Dre's "Bitches Ain't Shit." Eazy fired back with the It's On (Dr. Dre) 187um Killa EP, which saw nothing less than blistering lines thrown Dre and Snoop Dogg's way as he called them studio gangsters who had never really witnessed the harsh realities of the ghetto. Disses went back and forth between the two sides and got intensely personal; Dre had the backing of Death Row at the time and several threats were made, including to Eazy's mother. The feud was so personal and heated than the only thing able to end it was Eazy being diagnosed with AIDS and facing less than a month to live. The two sides finally mended fences before the legendary rapper's passing, but one imagines that if such a tragic event hadn't occurred they'd still be at it today.
#2: Nas vs. Jay-Z
West Coast rappers sometimes seem to have the market cornered on great feuds, but don't sell the East Coast short. Nas and Jay-Z had one of the longest-running and most vehement feuds in all of hip-hop. The whole thing began as Notorious B.I.G.'s death left a vacuum at the top of the East Coast scene and two names seemed poised to take the crown. Jay, a friend and collaborator of Biggie, seemed to have the edge but that didn't stop Nas from stepping and the rivalry simmered until Jay mocked Nas on stage at Hot 97's summer concert. Nas was incensed and fired back with a very personal radio freestyle against Jay, which became "Stillmatic." The two proceeded to engage in an impressive battle of lyrical one-upsmanship that provided some pretty brilliant diss tracks. Nas compared the two of them to Tony Montana and Manolo in Scarface (thus implying that Nas could and would destroy Jay) and fans took almost militant sides in the feud. Eventually everything resolved itself and both rappers remain incredibly respected, though Jay is the more commercially successful of the two. As to who won? Yeah, I'm touching that one; I'm just glad no one died.
#1: Notorious B.I.G. vs. Tupac Shakur
The most famous and, frankly, the most tragic feud in hip-hop history was an easy #1. The Biggie-Tupac feud was a microcosm of the East Coast-West Coast rivalry and it tore these two rap icons apart, ultimately ending in their deaths. The two were friends at one time and they got swept up in the war between Bad Boy and Death Row, a battle which the media shamelessly egged on. Both sides of the feud were battling for control of the growing hip-hop market and tensions grew exponentially, rising ever higher when Tupac was shot five times Quad Studios in New York City. Biggie was in the studio recording and Tupac blamed his crew for the shooting. Vicious diss tracks were dropped between Tupac's "Hit 'Em Up" and Biggie's "Who Shot Ya" (which Biggie said wasn't about Pac) and the whole thing culminated in Tupac's fatal shooting in 1996, followed by Biggie's death a year later. Conspiracy theories abound regarding the deaths and Suge Knight is implicated in several of them. It was easily the most influential hip-hop feud of all time and it completely changed the industry, destroying several lives in the process.
MUSIC VIDEO A-GO-GO
We're taking a break from the Garfunkel and Oates for a week, just because, and instead looking at a couple non-feud tracks from the two artists who hit #1 this week. The feud between Biggie and Tupac overshadows their brilliance as artists, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to spotlight how good they were. Check out "Changes" and "Juicy" below:
And that will do it for us this week! Join me next week for another edition of the 8-Ball! Until then, have a good week and don't forget to read the many other great columns, news articles and more here at 411mania.com! JT out.