The feud between 2pac and The Notorious B.I.G. was troubling and gripping at the same time. (Courtesy Photos)
The Hip-Hop Industry has historically thrived on competition, and rap beefs often bring out the best in an artist looking to one up his adversary. Over the last four decades, we have seen a plethora of entertaining rap beefs, some remaining friendly – and others turning violent. Listed below are the five most significant rap beefs of all-time.
- 2pac vs The Notorious B.I.G. – The two most renowned emcees of all-time started out as friends, but became mortal enemies over what many believe to be a misunderstanding. When 2pac was shot in 1994 at Quad Recording Studios in Manhattan, he accused The Notorious B.I.G. and Sean Combs of playing a role, as the Bad Boy camp was upstairs at the time. The subsequent release of B.I.G’s “Who Shot Ya” only added fuel to the fire, as it was seen as a shot at 2pac despite claims from the Bad Boy camp that it was previously recorded. The dispute was used by East and West Coast emcees as a chance to pick sides and take shots at adversaries on the other side of the country. Although an official diss to 2pac from B.I.G. has never been acknowledged, 2pac publicly dissed B.I.G. and other artists on diss songs like “Hit Em Up” and “Against All Odds”. As violence continued to escalate from the respective camps, 2pac was killed in 1996 attending a Mike Tyson fight in Las Vegas. The Notorious B.I.G. was killed in 1997 in Los Angeles leaving a party. The beef awarded fans several classic diss songs from both parties and several of the game’s biggest artists, but ultimately took the lives of the two greatest emcees of all-time.
- Jay-Z vs Nas – The alleged origins of this beef trace back to 1996 through subliminal shots between the two artists, but the beef came to a head when Jay-Z called Nas out at the 2001 Summer Jam with what we now know as a verse from the song “Takeover”. Nas responded mildly on several mixtape freestyles before delivering a bomb with the timeless diss “Ether”. The two emcees continued to diss each other on the mixtape circuit, but the beef trickled to a three-headed sub-war between Rocafella artists State Property, Jadakiss and D-Block and Nas’ Bravehearts crew. Eventually the beef died down, and Nas eventually signed to Def Jam (Jay-Z’s label) in 2006.
- W.A’s Beefs – Compton group N.W.A shocked the world when they hit the hip-hop scene giving the world an inside look at life on the West Coast. Label disputes and inner turmoil led to member Ice Cube leaving the group in 1989 at the height of their fame. The group would diss Cube throughout their 1990 album 100 Miles and Runnin, and 1991’s Efil4ZaggiN before Ice Cube would respond with the visceral diss “No Vaseline”. In 1991, super producer Dr.Dre aborted the group for Death Row records, launching the career of legendary rapper Snoop Dogg. A war between Eazy-E and Dr.Dre/Snoop ensued, producing legendary disses “Real Compton City G’s” and “Dre Day”. In 1995, Eazy-E died of AIDS, and the remaining members of N.W.A and Snoop Dogg reconciled.
- 50 Cent vs Ja Rule – This beef began long before either rapper was in the public eye, stemming from a personal beef in the streets of Queens. 50 was stabbed in an altercation between the two emcees crews in 2000 at a recording studio in Atlanta. 50 Cent released the controversial “Ghetto Qu’ran,” detailing the crimes of several notorious Queens criminals, which led to Ja Rule his Murder Inc. camp labeling him a snitch. After signing to Aftermath Records in 2002, 50 Cent went on a visceral attack of Ja Rule on his debut album Get Rich Or Die Tryin with songs like “Back Down” and “Wanksta.” The onslaught continued for several years on albums and mixtapes, while Ja Rule’s responses didn’t have as much sting in the public eye.
Gucci Mane vs Young Jeezy – Perhaps the most pivotal beef of the south, the war between Atlanta trap pioneers Gucci Mane and Young Jeezy’s started over a song they did together. 2005’s “Icy” saw the two artists collaborate, and a dispute ensued over who could claim rights to the track. Jeezy proceeded to put a $10,000 bounty on Gucci Mane’s chain on the 2005 mixtape diss “Stay Strapped.” Pookie Loc, an artist signed to Jeezy was killed after breaking into a home Gucci was visiting in 2005. Gucci Mane was acquitted of Murder in 2006, and the two continued to diss each other for several years. A truce was called in 2009, but was short lived, and Gucci added fuel to the fire with his 2012 diss “Truth”, bragging about murdering Pookie Loc.