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Nothing says rap better than a good feud! Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 rap diss tracks.
For this list, we’ve chosen our songs based on their creativity, ability to or success in disrespecting their target, and their overall impact.
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#10: “Back Down” (2003) 50 Cent
At the rise of his career, 50 sought to takedown Ja Rule, one of the most successful rappers of the early-noughties. Stylistically, he proved that he was way harder than his foe with his rhymes coming out like bullets, especially when compared to Ja Rule’s laid-back tone and singing voice. It wasn’t the first time 50 had mentioned Ja in song, but in “Back Down,” he answered the question of who was the better rapper.
#9: “Lost Ones” (1998) Lauryn Hill
Half the battle of being a female MC is proving yourself to critics, and getting respect from peers in the male-dominated genre. But that has never been a problem for Ms. Hill. With this track, the former Fugees member proved she could be both hard and poetic while she gave warning to those who doubted her capabilities. “Lost Ones” is reportedly aimed at former band mate Wyclef Jean, with whom Hill fell out due to creative and personal issues.
#8: “Kick in the Door” (1997) The Notorious B.I.G.
No stranger to the diss track, Biggie had many under his belt—case in point: the infamous “Who Shot Ya?” But it’s this one from Life After Death that serves as the ultimate diss. Big holds nothing back, aiming at various targets including Raekwon and Ghostface Killah. But it’s his lines aimed at Nas over the King of New York status that hit the hardest. He goes as far as to say that other New York rappers aren’t anywhere on his level and likens Nas to his child.
#7: “The Bitch in Yoo” (1996) Common
In “I Used to Love H.E.R.,” Common chronicles the fall of hip-hop’s social message as a product of the West Coast’s gangsta rap style. West Coast rapper Ice Cube didn’t like his message, and thus a feud was born. Not one to back down, Common attacks Ice Cube’s credibility, stating that his latest songs were weak, and none of his beats were original in “The Bitch in Yoo.” It’s a far cry from his usual peace-loving songs but now we know Common’s not one to be messed with.
#6: “The Bridge Is Over” (1987) Boogie Down Productions
One of the first of its kind, this track has become a standard example for diss songs. In “The Bridge Is Over,” BDP took one of the least intimidating songs, Billy Joel’s “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me,” and sampled the beat to diss New York rappers, MC Shan, Marley Marl, and the Juice Crew. MC KRS-One calls out each rapper by name to the fun-loving beat, and this creates an interesting parallel to his claims that they’re irrelevant. It’s of particular note that MC Shan’s career was never the same thereafter, as he mostly focused on production in the following years.
#5: “Nail in the Coffin” (2002) Eminem
No stranger to taking down his competitors, Eminem has plenty of diss songs in his arsenal, like “Hailie’s Revenge.” But in “Nail in the Coffin,” Eminem set his sights on hip-hop magazine “The Source” after its co-owner, Benzino, came after the rapper in the media and in his own songs. Eminem retaliated in this song and “The Sauce,” in which he slayed the magazine’s credibility and Benzino’s failures as a rapper.
#4: “Fuck wit Dre Day (And Everybody’s Celebratin’)” (1993) Dr. Dre feat. Snoop Doggy Dogg
Love was lost between Dre and former group mate Eazy-E after the break-up of N.W.A. Eazy is the primary target in this song but Tim Dog and Luke Campbell also felt Dre’s wrath. With back up from Snoop, Dre attacks Eazy’s masculinity and blames their falling out on his selfishness. Snoop first used the word “bootylicious” in this song to humiliate the other rappers. And despite its heavy content, “Fuck wit Dre Day” reached number eight on the Billboard Hot 100.
#3: “Takeover” (2001) Jay-Z
In the early 2000s, Jay had a long-standing feud with Nas and this is what is at the forefront of this track. Jay-Z did take a few bars to slander Prodigy from Mobb Deep, making fun of his size and claiming that he did ballet as a kid, but when it came to Nas, the rapper really went for the jugular. In “Takeover,” Jay-Z asserted Nas doesn’t consistently make hits, and that he did actually did him a favor when he sampled Nas’ lines in the chorus of “Dead Presidents II.”
#2: “Ether” (2001) Nas
Following our number three pick, Nas came back at Jay with this track, and produced one of the best songs of his career in the process. He too cuts to the jugular and attacks Jay’s looks and even questions his rival’s sexuality. He claims Jay stole his rhyming style from Biggie and blasts his loyalties to the rapper. Nas also calls him a sellout and says Eminem outshines him on his own track. Though “Ether” is the ultimate diss, both rappers actually benefitted financially and critically from the feud.
Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “Second Round K.O.” (1998) Canibus
- “No Vaseline” (1991) Ice Cube
- “Real Muthaphuckkin G’s” (1993) Eazy-E feat. Dresta and B.G. Knocc Out
- “Go to Sleep” (2003) Eminem, DMX & Obie Trice
- “Jack the Ripper” (1988) LL Cool J
- “Drop a Gem on ‘em” (1996) Mobb Depp
#1: “Hit ‘Em Up” (1996) 2Pac feat. Outlawz
After he was attacked in a shoot-out, Pac felt that Biggie and Bad Boy Records were the parties responsible for it. Also a response to Biggie’s “Who Shot Ya?”, “Hit ‘Em Up” sees 2Pac going in on Biggie and Puffy, claiming neither of them has street cred and that both rappers are fake. He also makes it more personal by asserting he slept with Biggie’s girl, Faith Evans. When it comes to the East Coast versus West Coast rivalry, this controversial hardcore hip hop track is truly the ultimate diss song.
Do you agree with our list? Which diss track hits the hardest? For more brutally honest Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.