Everybody loves a good rap beef because we get some of the most hateful, on-point, and venomous barbs in the game. It’s a way for artists to showcase their talents as well since they don’t have a long time to put one together if they want to avoid being declared the loser.
Throughout the history of hip hop, there have been some legendary beef and diss tracks that set the bar high. In this article, we’ll look at the 21 best rap diss tracks of all time.
1. No Vaseline – Ice Cube
While N.W.A. shared a lot of success and is inarguably one of the most important groups in the history of hip hop, their breakup with Ice Cube was not a smooth one. They decided to start talking about Ice Cube after his debut solo album, causing him to clap back with what is perhaps the greatest rap diss track of all time. No Vaseline goes in on every member of N.W.A. unapologetically. He remained truthful in everything he wound up saying and backed it up with a funky beat that made the song live on in infamy forever.
2. Hit ‘Em Up – 2Pac
No beef in hip hop compares to the beef that was the West Coast versus East Coast rap beef. And—almost—no rappers can stand on the same level as Tupac Shakur. At the height of the beef, he released Hit ‘Em Up, and it checked every box imaginable, to the point that if you argued this was the best rap diss track in history I don’t think I would disagree.
It did it all, from using a modified beat from Biggie’s song to claiming he was banging the rival’s baby momma. It was the track that divided the entire hip hop world, but sadly, would end in tragedy. Not only would 2Pac wind up dead in the wake of this war, but Biggie would also, forever changing the landscape of the hip hop world and defining what a real rivalry looked like.
3. Kick In The Door – The Notorious B.I.G.
Biggie had to release a diss track during the East Coast versus West Coast war and man did he produce a good one. Kick In The Door is a bit of a unique diss track because it isn’t just going after the rapper that dissed him first. It lashes out at absolutely everyone, from every member of Death Row Records to everyone who had done him wrong and who hadn’t. Never has a chilling diss track been dropped that calls out the audience and tells the listener to keep their head on a swivel, but this one did it.
4. Ether – Nas
It doesn’t really matter how long you argue about it. Nas’ Ether and Jay-Z’s Takeover are two songs that will never settle a beef. Both were far too good for a winner to be definitively decided, but we got two of the best diss tracks of all time with these two. Nas had to respond to Jay-Z’s diss and ultimately revived the rapper’s career.
It was a raw and blunt takedown of Jay-Z that was as vicious as any diss track that has ever been dropped. Few songs are so iconic that their titles become phrases in the hip hop lexicon, but this was one of the few that pulled it off.
5. Takeover – Jay-Z
In terms of New York rappers and who was the true king of the city, Nas and Jay-Z had a longstanding rivalry that saw them fight each other in the shadows for years. Jay-Z would diss Nas on stage and prompt him to release a diss track towards Jay-Z, which then prompted Jay-Z to release Takeover.
The diss can only be described as a finely-tuned essay that took down everything imaginable in Nas’ career and his fall from the top of the genre, clowning his entire music catalog. It was a diss track for the ages that was thought to be the end of Nas’ career, but his response in Ether would actually revive it.
6. Back to Back – Drake
Drake’s beef with Meek Mill was one of the first that took Twitter by storm. After rumors that Drake didn’t write his own bars circulated, Meek Mill called the star out for not being a real rapper. Within two days, he clapped back with two separate disses that completely disassembled Meek Mill’s entire career. And while Meek Mill has lost every beef he’s been a part of—he started a lot on purpose to gain cred back after Drake immolated him—Drake’s side of it was a huge hit and owned both the charts and Meek Mill.
7. Back Down – 50 Cent
50 Cent had spent years slandering Ja Rule before his debut album Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ was even released. But Back Down might have been the straw that broke the back of Ja Rule. It spawned a new term for losing a beef called ‘getting Ja’d’ and would ultimately be the true knockout blow to the man’s career. As rap beefs rarely truly end the career of their target, this was incredible and made 50 Cent the king of rap beefs for decades to come.
8. The Story of Adidon – Pusha T
Enough time has passed and enough things have come out about Drake that you can surely believe the rapper has a few skeletons in his closet. After he dissed Pusha T and included a bar about the rival’s impending marriage, Pusha T had to answer and answer he did. The song isn’t that long, but it aired out a lot of things Drake had been hiding about his life.
Drake not only had done blackface, had a secret child, was about to roll out a sneaker line, and had a scandalous baby momma but also much more that wasn’t revealed. The most brutal rap disses leave nothing off the table, and this one included parents, kids, and health issues that didn’t end Drake’s career, but the track cost him quite a lot.
9. Dollaz + Sense – DJ Quik
DJ Quik was one of the best hip hop producers in history, but he was also a master on the mic. During the early 90s, a feud broke out between him and MC Eiht over some indirect lines in each other’s songs. The fact that they were in opposing gangs did nothing but add fuel to the fire too, causing a beef that would last over a decade. Out of all their diss tracks, Dollaz + Sense is the best, with lines that bodied MC Eiht.
10. Fuck Wit Dre Day (And Everybody’s Celebratin’) – Dr. Dre Feat. Snoop Dogg
Ice Cube wasn’t the only one to beef with N.W.A. after leaving. Dr. Dre left after he got tired of working with the group and formed Death Row Records alongside Suge Knight. His album The Chronic is one of the best in hip hop history, but the entire thing was taking shots at the N.W.A. No song was more riddled with disses towards Eazy-E than Fuck Wit Dre Day (And Everybody’s Celebratin’), absolutely blasting both Eazy-E and Jerry Heller throughout.
11. Real Muthaphuckkin G’s – Eazy-E
And while Dr. Dre’s diss towards Eazy-E was one of the best of all time, Eazy-E’s response song was nearly as good. He spends all of Real Muthaphuckkin G’s taking shots at Dr. Dre and every other member of Death Row Records. The kill shot of the track and absolute best line has to be when he told Dr. Dre that with the contract Dr. Dre was still bound to, Eazy-E was getting a cut of his songs whether he was dissing him or not.
12. Hail Mary – 50 Cent Feat. Eminem and Busta Rhymes
50 Cent wasn’t the only one beefing with Ja Rule in the early 2000s, the entirety of the former’s label was. Eminem and Busta Rhymes joined the show for Hail Mary, a clap back to Ja Rule’s Loose Change, which foolishly name-dropped Eminem’s daughter. It was utterly brutal.
13. Pest Control – The Game
Meek Mill and The Game had a legitimate beef in 2016, but we already know how that one is going to end. Using the same track that Meek Mill did to return fire, The Game destroyed Meek Mill and everything he cared about, but the beef would eventually be squashed in 2018.
14. Truth – Gucci Mane
Some lines in rap disses wind up with real-world consequences. The beef between Gucci Mane and Jeezy was legendary, but it led to the shooting death of Henry Clark III. Gucci Mane got off murder charges by claiming self-defense, but would ultimately bring up Jeezy’s—now—dead friend by telling the rival to go dig up his friend. That line alone was so blunt, so hateful, and so fierce that on its own it earns a spot on this list.
15. Against All Odds – 2Pac
And back to the greatest rapper ever we go again. Tupac Shakur‘s Against All Odds was different from his fiery takedowns of his NYC associates; it was measured and calm. It was the first time he addressed a lot of specific individuals as well, labeling two of them snitches that set him up during a sexual assault trial. Sadly, this one would come only a few weeks before the rapper’s life was cut short, and whether or not this song had anything to do with that murder, the world will never know.
16. The Bridge Is Over – BDP
It’s rare that a single song ends a rap beef in such a clear way, but this one did it. BDP’s The Bridge Is Over was one of those diss tracks that obliterated the target so badly that there was no coming back from it. After starting a war with MC Shan and the Juice Crew, BDP would ultimately release this song with more quotable lines than anyone can count. It’s another rare instance that a diss track was the effective end of a career.
17. Duppy Freestyle – Drake
Duppy Freestyle might not have had the impact that Drake was looking for, but it was the first shot fired at Pusha T in their famous beef. It oddly also went after Kanye West, but that wasn’t the important part. And while this song is definitively not the greatest diss track of all time, it was still damn good and checked all the boxes you wanted it to.
18. 99 Problemz (Lil’ Flip Ain’t One) – T.I.
Lil’ Flip’s producer invited T.I. to appear in his 2004 single Game Over, but Lil’ Flip decided to snub T.I. and not work with him. He then proceeded to diss T.I. during a concert in Atlanta while T.I. was in jail. All of this prompted T.I. to go on a slander campaign against Lil’ Flip, with the greatest single coming from it being this one. An interpolation of Jay-Z’s 99 Problems, it wouldn’t end the beef but add fuel to the fire of the conflict that eventually ended up with the two fighting in the streets.
19. Checkmate – Jadakiss
50 Cent ended Jadakiss’ career, but that doesn’t mean Jadakiss didn’t get any licks in on the way down. Checkmate was the rapper’s response to Piggy Bank, a targeted takedown of 50 Cent and all the ways he had failed in his life publicly. Perhaps the best part of the diss was when he asked what was so cool about getting shot nine times and not firing a single shot back.
20. Piggy Bank – 50 Cent
50 Cent owned the airwaves of the early 2000s, but he also owns the title of being one of the greatest beef rappers to ever do it. His single Piggy Bank was essentially the end of Jadakiss’ career as a whole. Their beef was long and fun to watch, but few songs have done as much damage to a rival rapper as this one has.
21. Killshot – Eminem
Eminem’s Killshot was the song that effectively buried MGK so far down that their feud ended. It was also one of the tracks that seemed to bring Slim Shady back to his glory days, and it was widely regarded as one of the best songs he had released in years, so I guess having to suffer through Rap Devil by MGK was worth it.
As a contributing writer for Music Grotto, Dakotah writes and produces professional music/media content. He works closely with editorial staff to meet editorial standards and create
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