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Since its inception, the culture of hip hop is one that has largely been built around competition. Who makes the best music? Who delivers the most intricate bars? Who has the most money? So on and so forth. Whether it’s friendly competition or more personal, this has -- on many occasions --brought the best out of many of rap’s most prominent MCs. Rap beefs where artists air out their issues with each other on wax has become a pillar of the culture.
While we acknowledge that the peak moments of lyrical warfare between our favorite rappers occurred in the '80s to the early 2000s, we had some pretty formidable battles in recent years. The moments that quickly come to memory due to their recency and mainstream spotlight are Drake versus Pusha T, Eminem versus Machine Gun Kelly, Remy Ma versus Nicki Minaj, and Tory Lanez against everybody.
Despite a lack of coverage on mainstream platforms, there has been some beefs that gave way to really strong diss tracks over the past 10 years, and they've been from well-known and capable MCs. These songs may have fallen below the radar of many. But today, we take the time to highlight seven of the most underappreciated diss records of the past decade.
Joe Budden: “Wake” (Drake Diss)
After Joe Budden gave a pretty critical review of Drake’s fourth studio album, Views, on his now very popular "Joe Budden Podcast," Drizzy responded with a couple shots on the French Montana single “No Shopping.” Those lines set off the war-tested MC that Budden is and he unloaded four consecutive diss records aimed at Drizzy. “Wake” was the second of the four and undoubtedly the strongest.
Standout Lyrics: "Say he Canadian, maybe Asian, Croatian/ Be sounding like his Jamaican friends, depend on what state he in/I think you rap good, but you a movie star/So that owl's appropriate, we don't know who you are."
Freddie Gibbs: "Real" (Jeezy Diss)
In 2011, Freddie Gibbs inked a deal with Jeezy’s record label, Corporate Thugz Entertainment (CTE). After some internal disagreements between the two, and a mutual understanding that the relationship wouldn’t work out, Gibbs parted ways with Jeezy and the label. What we thought was an amicable split quickly went left when Gibbs unleashed “Real,” a hard-hitting diss track produced by Madlib where he aggressively aired out his issues with the Snowman.
Standout Lyrics: "Seen Gucci by himself while we was 30 deep at Magic/And you didn't bust a grape, was shook from the gate/It make it seem to me the gangsta shit you kick be fake."
Meek Mill: “Repo” (Cassidy Diss)
Both Philadelphia representatives, Meek Mill and Cassidy are well respected in their city as gritty MCs from the streets who rose to mainstream prominence. A mutual respect and admiration of one another eventually soured and in 2013, the two rappers engaged in a scathing back-and-forth war of words for the city’s crown. Cassidy’s bar-heavy style against Meek’s raw and aggressive delivery made for a compelling clash. Meek’s “Repo” came in response to Cass’ first round blow “Me Myself & iPhone.”
Standout Lyrics: "My dog killed a body for ya, damn he didn't eat from it/Now you mad at Swizz cause you can't get a beat from him."
Mase: “The Oracle” (Cam'ron Diss)
Harlem on Harlem crime. The history between Mase and Cam’ron goes back over 25 years, and it would take significant time to unpack. From the Children of The Corn days to now, there has been a handful of issues between the two with many of them playing out publicly. On Thanksgiving weekend in 2017, Mase proved to have a lot to get off of his chest when he dropped “The Oracle,” a strong four-minute diss record targeting Cam over JAY-Z’s “Blueprint 2” instrumental.
Standout Lyrics: "Ain’t no Children of the Corn, Ain’t no you and me/Any nigga ever got Diplomat Immunity Was niggas who ratted or ones who snitched on their community."
Cassidy: “R.A.I.D” (Meek Mill Diss)
This record is another chapter in Meek Mill and Cassidy’s extensive war of words. In response to Meek’s “Repo” record, Cass returned smoke with “R.A.I.D,” a ten-minute exhibition of bars and disrespect over a variety of classic hip hop instrumentals. Both MCs put forth formidable efforts in this back-and-forth, making for some compelling songs that -- even outside of their beef -- showcased their skills as rappers.
Standout Lyrics: "Cause I'm seriously offended, don't get your career ended/You finished, your whole career is a gimmick/You must of lost your damn mind screaming all the damn time."
Rick Ross: “Idols Become Rivals” (Birdman Diss)
On Rick Ross’ ninth studio album, Rather You Than Me, he took the time to address Birdman for his poor business practices with a number of artists, most notably Lil Wayne. On the record titled “Idols Become Rivals,” Rozay came to him with a calm, yet stern demeanor -- one boss to another. In an interview with Billboard, Ross described the track as “basically me writing a letter to someone in the game that I looked up to damn near the most and I hate what things have come to.”
Standout Lyrics: "Sacrificin' half our life for your new music cult,You would give us self esteem and motivate our drive/But was in our pockets by the time we count to five."
Gucci Mane: “Truth” (Jeezy Diss)
The war between Gucci Mane and Jeezy goes far beyond rap and has more layers to it than most rap beefs. The feud between the two Atlanta representatives went on for over six years, and led to some dark moments. Gucci deemed his 2013 record as not a diss track, but the “Truth,” a haunting track that served as the peak of their feud.
Standout Lyrics: "I ain't using hands, let them rubberbands get ya/It take money to go to war, and we can go to war nigga/I ain't no real rapper, I'm a fucking grave digger."
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