Whether or not you listen to rap music, you can’t deny that the genre has been plagued by some of the most dramatic and wild feuds in the history of the music industry. Dig as far back as you can through country, pop or punk music’s history and you won’t hear about disagreements quite as crazy as the ones that have taken hold of some of the best (and worst) rappers of all time.
If you lived through the nineties, you most certainly remember flicking on MTV or BET and hearing about the latest beef between Ja Rule and 50 Cent, Biggie and Tupac, Lil’ Kim and every other female in the game. Rap music has been intertwined with gang violence, drug trafficking, money laundering, competition and sexy times since its earliest days and its biggest arguments always inevitably center around one of those themes.
The drama just seems to serve as creative fuel for most rappers, allowing them to craft witty and clever verses with the goal of roasting their opponents. From affairs to public fights, shootings, tons of trash talking, jealousy, surprise IRS visits and even murder, it just doesn’t get more shocking than the ten rap feuds we’ve compiled below.
In 2007, both Kanye West and 50 Cent were signed to Universal and had new albums in the works. 50 Cent had been sending small jabs towards Kanye’s mentor Jay-Z for years and Kanye decided it would be amusing to release his album, Graduation, on the same day as 50 Cent’s Curtis in an effort to start a sales battle. 50 Cent then announced he would quit music if Kanye West sold more albums than he did. The rivalry generated tons of hype for both artists’ releases and ultimately, Kanye beat 50 by over 300,000 copies on the fateful release date of September 11th 2007. It appeared as though the public was tired of 50’s aggressive, feud-loving personality and favored Kanye’s laid-back (at the time) approach.
In 2005, T.I. proclaimed himself as the “King of the South” and was met with disagreement by fellow rapper Lil’ Flip. A feud began to brew while T.I. was in jail, as both rappers started dissing one another on their various songs and mixtapes. Once he got out of prison, T.I. went on air at a Houston radio station and announced that he would be shooting a video in Lil Flip’s Cloverland neighborhood to expose him as a fraud. The two rappers ended up later running into each other in the neighborhood, leading to an explosive physical fight between each party and their crews.
Apparently the feud between these two rappers started when 50 tried to steal Ja’s jewelry. As a result, 50 Cent was reportedly stabbed by Ja Rule’s crew at a New York City nightclub. 50 then set off to destroy Ja Rule’s career, releasing diss tracks, mimicking the rapper’s voice and insulting him at every opportunity he could find. Ja Rule’s entourage then left bullet holes in 50 Cent’s manager’s office, which in turn led G-Unit to push Ja Rule’s management team out of the 106 & Park studios. Shortly after, Ja Rule tried to negotiate a peace treaty by asking a reverend to intervene but it was too late. Mysteriously, the IRS ended up raiding Ja Rule’s Murder Inc. offices and ending his career for good.
Following the release of their album Straight Outta Compton in 1988, Ice Cube left NWA and set out on his own as a rapper. Having written half the lyrics on the album and not been properly compensated for his contribution, he felt he could achieve better success as a solo artist. He went on to do extremely well for himself but his former group members never let him forget that he had abandoned them, despite their own accomplishments and massive fan base. Each party wrote harsh verses and tracks about the other and feuded blatantly in front of the public eye.
The tension between Jay-Z and Nas in the early 2000s seems to have stemmed from a couple of lyrics taken out of context, leading Nas to release several tracks dissing his enemy. The back and forth lyrical battle ended with Nas releasing “Ether”, in which he calls Jay-Z a camel and compares him to Judas. Jay-Z, in turn, responded with a track called “Supa Ugly”, in which he boasts about sleeping with Nas’ child’s mother. Listeners of popular radio station Hot97 then voted for their favorite song and proclaimed Nas the winner, resulting in an apology from Jay-Z. The two went on to become friends and even recorded together a few times following their make-up session.
Possibly the most notorious rap feud of all time was between Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. The two rappers started off as friends, but rumors eventually drove them apart. Tupac was convinced that Biggie had orchestrated a shooting attempt against him outside of a studio in 1994. Biggie retaliated with the track “Who Shot Ya?”, which made matters worse and started an all-out East Coast vs. West Coast war. Tupac ended up being murdered in 1996 and Biggie followed suit six months later. Both murders remain unsolved to this day, with speculation that Tupac faked his own death and is now living with an aunt in Cuba.