A Recent History Of Hip-Hop’s Most Heated Beefs

Photo: Coup d’Oreille/Flickr/Creative Commons

As quoted by the late great Christopher “Notorious B.I.G.” Smalls, beef in hip-hop culture is nothing new. From the days of the park jams to today’s era of prime of social media, rap feuds are indicative of hip-hop culture viewing its emcees as lyrical athletes competing in a sport. However, it’s been a long time since we’ve witnessed epic battles comparable to “The Bridge Wars” that took place between KRS-1 of The Bronx and MC Shan of Queens or the public breakup of NWA which sent everyone “100 Miles and Running” when the first track was dropped. Even the clash of titans that occurred between Jay-Z and Nas—what has been deemed the greatest rap feud of all time due to its almost decade-long build-up and high stakes—has been largely forgotten.

Today’s generation is a bit different to say the least. Rather than air out any grievances on a record, most are quick to run to Twitter and flex their keyboard warrior muscles. This past year, however, we have seen a return to the classic hip-hop beef with these five displays of metaphorical mastery.

Ghostface Killah vs Action Bronson

Ever since Bronson’s career took off, the comparisons to Wu Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah have been endless, but for good reason. Not only do they rap over similar beat production, but Bronson’s intonation sonically mirrors that of the Wu veteran. GFK himself even gave the man his props on multiple occasions. Despite that, that wasn’t enough for Bronson on the day that he made a scheduled appearance on ESPN’s Sportsnation.
He stated that GFK “ain’t doing it like this no more” when one of the hosts made the comparison. GFK caught wind of this and made some scathing remarks to Bronson in a YouTube video that may as well have been an actual song. The response was so strong that Bronson went on Twitter shortly after and apologized for his comments. GFK refused to accept the apology, but who can blame him? He warned him, and everyone else for that matter, over twenty years ago when he rapped that the “Wu Tang Clan ain’t nothing to **** with.”

Drake vs Tyga

It’s always interesting to see two MCs under the same label taking shots at each other, but what makes this scenario so intriguing is the fact that their label, Young Money Records, was going through a tumultuous period to say the least. Its label head, Lil Wayne, was trying to sever ties with Cash Money Records, thus drawing battle lines. Tyga wanted to separate himself from those brands altogether and the first shots he took were at Canada’s own.
In an interview with Vibe magazine, he credited Drake as an artist but claimed that away from the mic, he’s fake. Drake isn’t normally the type of rapper to take shots at an MC he feels is beneath him, but he decided to flex his muscle on a record called “6 P.M. in New York” in which he subliminally calls out the “Rack City” rapper and tells him “you need to act your age and not your girl’s age,” referring to his relationship with then 17-year-old Kylie Jenner (keep in mind, Tyga is 25)! Can’t say that he didn’t have it coming, because that’s what happens you blaspheme against the 6 God.

Drake vs Kendrick Lamar
When K-Dot released his epic verse on Big Sean’s “Control” in the summer of 2013, he called out everyone’s favourite rappers of today’s generation, including Drake. In an interview with Elliott Wilson on his “CRWN” series, Drizzy brushed it off as “a great moment” in hip-hop and even challenged Wilson (and the crowd for that matter) to recite a single line from his verse that didn’t include the callout portion. Fast forward to this August. Dr. Dre released his third album entitled “Compton”—appropriately inspired by the biopic film “Straight Outta Compton”—and the album featured K-Dot in three songs. Its up for debate, but some listeners claim that these tracks include subliminal disses aimed at Drake. However the most legitimate claim comes in the form of “Deep Water” in which the Compton resident claims:

“Motherfucker know I started from the bottom/They liable to bury him, they nominated six to carry him/They worrying him to death, but he’s no vegetarian/The beef is on his breath, inheriting the drama better than/A great white, n****, this is life in my aquarium.”

With references to “Started From the Bottom” the name of one of Drake’s hit record, and “Six to Carry Him,” a reference to the city of Toronto, it’s no wonder why listeners’ ears are percolating once again. Let’s hope that Kendrick doesn’t drown The Boy.

Future vs Ciara
Now this one is more fitting for the baby mama/daddy category, but let’s throw it in here for comedic relief. Future and Ciara were once married but then went through a divorce, despite sharing a son together (who was named after the rapper). Their divorce was relatively quiet until CiCi brought NFL Superstar Russell Wilson into the fold. She brought Future, Jr. with her to one of Wilson’s practices—decked out in Seahawks gear—and gave Wilson a big hug. Many can see why this would infuriate Future, seeing how Ciara and Wilson have only been dating for a short time. Add to the fact that Wilson is viewed much more highly as role model material, and you have a very compromising situation at hand for the trap star. Is that fair game on Ciara’s end, or is the play dirtier than Future’s “Dirty Sprite” album?

Drake vs Meek Mill

Drake’s highly entertaining diss record “Back To Back” might not have ever seen the light of day had Meek Mill simply kept his Twitter fingers to himself. Many people speculate what started the war of words between them, but Meek claims that it all started when he found out that Drake’s verse on Meek’s record “R.I.C.O.” was written by someone else, and the fact that Drake didn’t tweet the release of his album. This sounds eerily familiar (shout out to Wale!). Nonetheless, The Boy released “Charged Up,” which was a jab in comparison to the knockout blow that was “Back To Back.”
Drake’s cover art was a photo of Toronto Blue Jays legend Joe Carter winning his back-to-back World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies (Meek’s hometown), and he released the song the same day as the contemporary Blue Jays team began their series against the Phillies during an epic win streak. It seems ominously calculated to say the least. Meek finally responded with “Wanna Know,” but that track was more dead than The Undertaker’s theme music (which he sampled for the record). Drake put the final nail in the coffin with performance of his single at OVO Fest, with a montage of Meek memes showing in the background. Oh man, oh man.
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