The Top 20 Hip-Hop Diss Songs of All Time (Part 1)

Aug 1, 2010 (Updated Aug 16, 2010)

The Bottom Line The first part of the list, looking at numbers 20 through 10 of the top 20 diss song of all time.

Welcome back to the Top 20 Hip-Hop Diss Songs of All Time. In the previous installment, I briefly covered the history of the 'diss song', talked about my inspirations for the list, explained how I would judge the songs, and gave a list of honorable mentions that just missed the cut. And now it's time to get straight to the point: the first half of my list. Without further ado....

20. Tim Dog - Fuck Compton (dissing N.W.A.)

We start our list off with an oldie, but a goodie. While many people call the 2Pac/Biggie beef the beginning of the East Coast/West Coast feud, one can say it actually started here: Tim Dog, a Bronx native, was unhappy with the growing exposure of gangsta rap in the late 80s, so he vented his frustrations by dissing the holy hell out of its forerunners, N.W.A. And there's no denying that he went in, as he bellows "N.W.A. ain't shit to me!" While he throws sporadic barbs at Eazy E and Ice Cube, he gets at Dre the most, going as far as to mention his altercation with Dee Barnes and claim that he screwed his then-girlfriend Michel'le . But there's more to it than just dissing a rap group; he denounced the gang culture entirely, and shitted on the West Coast for their "curls and shades". While it may be simplistic, as Tim Dog himself says in the song, its hard-hitting in its bluntness, which is more than enough reason for it to make the cut for this list.

Body Bag Bars:

"(Why you dissing Eazy?) 'cause the boy ain't shit
Chew him with tobacco, and spit him in shit
I crush Ice Cube, I'm cool wit Ice T
but N.W.A. ain't shit to me!
Dre, beating on Dee from "Pump it Up"
Step to the Dog and get fucked up!
Having that gang war
we wanna know what you're fighting for
Fighting over colors?!
All that gang shit is for DUMB motherfuckers!
"You really think that you can rhyme?
Well come and get some of this loaded tech nine
Bo, bo, bo, shots are cold gunning
and you'll REALLY be "100 Miles and Runnin'

19. Company Flow - Linda Trip (dissing Sole)

I wanna make this clear: I am NOT a fan of El-P - never have been, and I probably never will be. But even so, I know to let bias towards an artist slide when he makes a dope diss track like this. The story goes like this: Sole, the co-founder of Anticon records, believed that El-P (who was still with his group Company Flow then) was dissing him on one of their songs. Even though El-P denied it, Sole didn't believe him, and when the New York record store Fat Beats refused to distribute his record, Sole believed the Co-Flow frontman was behind it. In response to the alleged blackballing, Sole put out a diss track, "Dear Elpee". From there, El-P called him up to find out why he was bugging, but instead found the Maine rapper kissing up to him, saying things like "I love Company Flow, I don't want to be against you guys. I wanna be down". What Sole didn't know is that El-P recorded the convo on a micro cassette, and would put it in his response record, "Linda Trip". For 7 minutes, El-P taunts Sole for his groupie tendencies, using his own words against him to make this one of the most blatant massacres in Hip-Hop history.

Body Bag Bars:

"You little lying motherfucker, you know you kiss my ass
and then you try to ("change up the past")
Who fell into their own hari kiri kit when they lied to themselves?
Self-abuse by selling lies, self-destructive
I'm Captain Kirk, Spock and Lieutenant Uhura on the away team
You're Henson Lebowitz - the sacrificial lamb for the episode
You beamed to the wrong planet this time, with a hot pink phaser and one line
before getting morphed to faggot dust for not knowing our status
"You have an obsession, respect it
from now on, you're immortalized playing yourself on MY record - congradu-fucking-lations!
Isn't that what you wanted, idiot?!
There's more than a little difference between yours and mines existence
This is my ride and your not commandeering it
The only thing advanced about your music is that you need a computer to hear it
"I feel like Selena, the president of my fan club is trying to kill me"
"Next time you reveal your true self, make sure no one records it, STUPID!"

18. Jadakiss - Checkmate (dissing 50 Cent)

A common phrase in history is "a friend of my enemy is also my enemy". It seems 50 Cent is one who believes in that phrase, cause when Jadakiss and Fat Joe did a song with 50's arch nemesis Ja Rule, he threw shots at them on "Piggy Bank". Jada, being no stranger to the battle arena (he previously had a war of words with Beanie Sigel), wasted no time in responding; over the beat to 50's mixtape joint "Animal", Jadakiss bodies the Queens rapper and pretty much destroys whatever credibility he had left. For 2 ½ minutes, Jada goes full force, speaking on his alleged snitching, how the songs on his album "The Massacre" sounded all the same, and attacking his 'hood status' by stating how he moved out of NY when he made it big. While Jada's D-Block camp would release other stellar diss tracks in this feud, like "Problem Child" (over LL's "I Shot Ya") and "I'm Sorry Ms. Jackson" (over Outkast's "Ms. Jackson"), this one remains the best, as Jadakiss does the most damage to 50's rep in the least amount of time.

Body Bag Bars:

"See me, couple hood niggas behind stars
I heard you put a couple good niggas bars (Preme!)
I might never sell that much
But you can bet your last two quarters I'll never tell that much
Picture 'Kiss not come out swingin'
It's like going to see 50 at a show and he don't come out singin'
Yeah, you got a felony, but you ain't a predicate
never the King of New York, you live in Connecticut
"And I don't got a problem with clout
You ain't get shot again yet, so what's your second album about? (Nothin'!)
"Most likely your new CD is a weed plate
Bunch of love songs,
100% pure garbage; just somethin' to break up buds on

17. 50 Cent - How to Rob (dissing multiple artists in the industry)

Some folks may say that this next track really isn't a malicious diss track, but a comedy song. Personally, I look at it as both: sure, "How to Rob" isn't intended to be taken seriously - 50 Cent surely wasn't going to go out and actually rob all of these artists - but it follows the classic blueprint of dissing multiple artists in the industry to gain attention or recognition. From back in the day (see Roxanne Shante's "Bite This") to more recent times (see Big Sty's "It's a Problem" and "Still a Problem"), 'dissing the industry' to bring attention to themselves is something that many up-and-coming rappers have done (and still do), but it just so happens 50 Cent did it the best, using the concept of 'robbing' these artists as a metaphor (his music is bought by their fans = taking their sales = robbing). Way before he made dissing people for no reason his gimmick, he conceives some genuinely funny disses on the likes of Big Pun, Jay-Z, Missy Elliot, Sticky Fingaz and many, many others.

Body Bag Bars:

"I'll rob Pun without a gun, snatch his piece and run
This nigga weigh 400 pounds, how he gon catch me son?
"Run up on Timbaland and Missy with the pound
Like YOU give me the cash, YOU put the hot dog down!
I figured it out, niggas been robbing Joe before
Thats why his ass don't wanna be a player no more
"Heavy tried to hide his shit, hey nigga, I saw ya
He said "Why you robbin me I got 'Nuttin But Love' for ya!"
Caught Juvenile for his Cash Money piece
told him "I want it all", he said "Even my gold teeth?"

16. MF Grimm feat. MF Mez and MF Bash - The Book of Daniel (dissing MF Doom)

As sad as it is to see two former comrades in a bitter feud, it also makes for some of the most entertaining disses ever. Case in point, MF Grimm and MF Doom. They came up together as part of New York's M.I.C. (Monster Island Czars) crew in the 90s, back when Doom was still known as Zev Love X. Beef between the two had been brewing for a long while, stemming from when Grimm was incarcerated in 2000; apparently, Doom didn't call or visit during his stint in prison, instead rising to fame in the underground. But for Grimm, the last straw was in 2005, when Doom made a derogatory reference to their crew on the DangerDoom album "The Mouse and the Mask": "Once joined a rap clique, Midgets Into Crunk". After this, Grimm put out "The Book of Daniel", a monstrous 6 minute attack on his former friend; he breaks down Doom perfectly, especially in the third verse where he recounts their history.

Body Bag Bars:

"I don't "Deep Fry Friends', Grimm Reaper nuke 'em
Hearts don't mend, brothers turn enemies
"Put yourself in danger, running with a Mouse
Metal turned to braces, punch you in your mouth
Zev Love X, used to be merry
The mask took control of you like Jim Carrey
Megalon, tap him in the jaw, knock it off him

M.I.C. gotta put your mask in a coffin
Mos Def, De La Soul, Roots can't revive you
When the bullets start flying, who's gonna hide you?
Rhymesayers, Stones Throw, Nature Sounds signed you
Make peace with you? Zev, I tried to
"We looked out for each other when you lived uptown
on the cover of the EP, but look at us now
Chess is life, we haven't played off late
but even on the cover, I put your ass in 'mate
"Doin songs with RZA, that's funny shit
I remember, you told me that he bit "Tick, Tick.."
You said Ghost was whack, you didn't like his style
two-faced and three-headed, bitch I'll pull your file
"MM.. Food" poisoning, you vomit for a while
you started some shit, now you sitting on the pile
Metal Face, tin foil, walk the green mile

15. Notorious B.I.G. - Kick in the Door (dissing Nas, Wu-Tang Clan, and Jeru the Damaja)

The most under appreciated form of the diss song is the subliminal diss, in which an artist attacks another artist without having to use their name. In some cases, a subliminal diss is so subtle that people won't be able to figure out who the target is for a long time. "Kick in the Door" is one of the best examples of that, as most of the world did not know that the Notorious B.I.G. was targeting Nas until Nas himself said it on 2002's "Last Real Nigga Alive". But why did he diss Nas? Well, according to the Queensbridge rapper, it was a response to "The Message", where he threw shots at Biggie and made a challenge to his King of New York title: "Yo let me let y'all niggas know one thing / there's one life, one love, so there can only be one King". In response, Biggie claimed that Nas bit his rap style from him when he did his second album.

But Nas wasn't the only target: he also threw shots at the Wu-Tang, specifically Raekwon and Ghostface, who claimed that Biggie took the idea of a child on the album cover from Nas' "Illmatic" (from the skit "Shark Biters" from Rae's "Only Built for Cuban Linx"), and at Jeru the Damaja, who dissed Puffy and Bad Boy Records on the song "One Day" (when Biggie says "I'm surprised you run with them", he is addressing "Kick in the Door"s producer, DJ Premier, who Jeru was down with). It's often overlooked because of its subliminal disses, but its just as vicious as any other track on this list.

Body Bag Bars:

"Your reign on the top was short like leprechauns
as I crush so-called willies, thugs, and rapper dons"
"Lyrically, I'm worshiped, don't front, the words sick
You cursed it, but rehearsed it
I drop unexpectedly like bird shit, you herbs get
stuck quickly for royalties and show money
Don't forget the publishing, I punish 'em, I'm done with 'em
Son, I'm surprised you run with them
I think they got cum in them, cause they, nothin' but dicks
Trying to blow up like nitro and dynamite sticks"
"This goes out for those that choose to use
disrespectful views on the King of NY
Fuck that, why try, throw bleach in your eye"
"Ain't no other king in this rap thing, they siblings
nothing but my chil'ren, one shot, they disappearing
It's ill when emcees used to be on cruddy shit
Took home "Ready to Die," listened, studied shit
Now they on some money shit, successful out the blue
They lightweight, fragilly, my nine milly make the white shake
That's why my money never funny
and you still recouping, stupid!"

14. Masta Ace - Acknowledge (dissing the High & Mighty and Boogieman)

In my opinion, Masta Ace is one of the greatest emcees of all time, but it seems he often gets overlooked. The lone diss track in his discography, "Acknowledge", seems to be the same way, and it's a darn shame considering how great it is. Over a scaling violin loop, Ace takes his frustrations with certain underground emcees: first off is the High and Mighty, the heads of the underground label Eastern Conference Records, who apparently dissed Ace at a music conference (in actuality, they were performing with Cage in his song "Suicidal Failure", which referenced Ace and his Slaughtahouse album), with the second being DMP member Boogieman, who dissed Ace on "Just You Wait" after he thought Ace bit the concept of his song "Getto Love" for Ace's similarly titled "Ghetto Like". While Ace murders all of em, it's Boogieman who gets it the worst, as this track would later lead to a live on-stage battle between the two. While Boogie would embarrass him on stage with obviously pre-written material, it'll go down in history with the Music Man winning on wax.

Body Bag Bars:

"And I heard a few cats trying to take shots on the low
these XFL rappers trying to fuck with a real pro
One thing, who named y'all the High and the Mighty?
To me, y'all just sound like a couple of high whiteys
"And I heard your album, this must be something you're new at
cause I'd rather hear a Lil' Wayne/Lil' Zane duet
"Yeah, I heard of the Boogiemann when I was a youth, scary!
then I found out that he was as fake as the Tooth Fairy
Since my last mission, this nigga's been ass-kissing
I took a minute, I gave your single a fast listen
Tell me this, with no pot to piss in, how you dissin'?
Your group home is about to be reporting you missing
"Consider me the clothes on your back and a warm meal
Who knows, this might just get you a deal
and the day your album go on sale for the first hour
just remember like Nas nigga, '
I Gave You Power'"
"Don't answer back, this is hard shit to follow
and you can't spit nigga, so you obviously must swallow, motherfucker!

13. Cypress Hill - No Rest for the Wicked (dissing Ice Cube)

Yet another example of friends splitting apart cause of petty rap beef. As the story goes, Ice Cube had asked Cypress Hill to contribute a song for the soundtrack to his upcoming film "Friday". When the Hill played the joint for Cube (titled "Roll it Up, Light it Up, Smoke it Up"), they decided to play a few cuts off their upcoming album, "Temples of Boom", including it's lead single "Throw Your Set in the Air". When Cube asked to get the latter song for the soundtrack instead, the Hill politely declined, saying they needed it as their first single. When the soundtrack came out, Cypress Hill frontman B-Real believed that Cube had taken the hook from their song (which went "Throw your set in the air (c'mon!) / wave it around like you just don't care") and used it on the soundtrack's title cut ("Friday"), with a few alterations ("Throw your neighborhood in the air / if you don't care, oh yeah"). It was then that B-Real decided to respond, including the venomous "No Rest for the Wicked" on the final release of "Temples of Boom". B-Real argues his point against Cube perfectly, making clever puns of previous Cube song titles like "The Wrong Nigga to Fuck With", "Check Yo' Self", "It Was a Good Day", and "Wicked", the last of which he apparently stole from Bronx rapper King Sun.

Body Bag Bars:

"So many fools swinging from my sack
let's talk about the one that had my back
down in the West Coast, so let me kick it
to the motherfucker who calls himself "Wicked""
"Let's talk about this
First solo album on the East Coast dick
the East Coast niggas all showed ya love,
Especially the one known as King Sun
He tried to warn us niggas about 'cha
but nobody would listen, even begain dissin'
Two albums later, you callin' my crew,
all 'cause you wanna be Cypress Cube!"
"I got Cube melting in a tray,
pulling up his card and fucking up his "Good Day"
Unoriginal rap veteran
the nigga who say he don't steal from his friends
Don't trust that nigga named O'Shea,
FUCK 'EM, and send him on his way"

12. 2Pac - Against All Odds (dissing Nas, Puff Daddy, Dr. Dre, Mobb Deep, and others)

By 1996, Tupac Shakur was a dissing machine. He had practically waged war on who he thought were Hip-Hop's wackest emcees, who just happened to be all from the East Coast. Now when you mention 2Pac's diss tracks, "Hit 'em Up" always seems to be unanimously brought up as his magnum opus, as well as the best diss track of all time. Well, I've already explained in the foreward why "Hit 'em Up" isn't included, not to mention that "Against All Odds" trumps it in ever way. It's more venemous, has better disses, and has no shitty verses from the Outlawz! While Pac throws a few shots at Mobb Deep and Dr. Dre (co-founder of Death Row Records, who left the label earlier in the year), as well as a few choice words for Puff Daddy and the people behind his 1994 shooting (peep the second verse), he aims most of his rage at Nas. Remember when I mentioned how Nas aimed "The Message" at Biggie? Well, Pac thought it was aimed at HIM, and specifically took offense to the line "I got stitched up and went through, left the hospital that same night, what". He responds by saying Nas took his new gangsta image from him, and his original lyrical rhyme style from Rakim. There's a long-standing rumor of Nas actually shedding tears over this song! Now THAT'S power.

Body Bag Bars:

"This little nigga named Nas thinks he live like me
talking about he left the hospital, took five like me
You living fantasies nigga, I reject your deposit
We shook Dre punk ass, now he out of the closet
Mobb Deep wonder why a nigga blowed them out
next time grown folks talking nigga, close your mouth"
"Puff, lets be honest, you a punk or you would see me with gloves
Remember that shit you said to Vibe about me being a Thug?
And you can tell the people you roll with whatever you want
but you and I know what's going on, don't you?"
"Lord listen to me, God don't like ugly, "It Was Written"
Hey Nas, your whole damn style is bitten (nigga sounds like Rakim, man!)
You heard "My Melody", read about my life in the papers
all my run-ins with authorities, felonious capers (punk)
Now you wanna live my life, so what's the hassle Nas?
Niggas that don't rhyme right, you've seen too many movies"

11. LL Cool J - To da Break of Dawn (dissing Kool Moe Dee, MC Hammer, and Ice T)

LL Cool J will probably go down in history as the most battle-tested emcee to ever exist. Ever since his debut in 1985, he's had to deal with challengers to his throne. In 1990, he released magnum opus "Mama Said Knock You Out", where he decided to take down all his rivals in one fell swoop with "To da Break of Dawn". First up was Kool Moe Dee, his arch rival who many thought had knocked L out with the massive "Let's Go". Second was pop rapper MC Hammer, who had the nerve to claim that he was "second to none", including LL in a list of rappers he was better than, in the song "Let's Get it Started". Finally, there was the West Coast native Ice T, who had a few choice words for LL in his song "The Syndicate". LL throws some swift blows at all three competitors: he gets at KMD for his goofy look, Hammer for rapping at his advanced age, and Ice T for putting his then-girlfriend half-naked on his album cover to sell records. While LL has let his ego get the best of him in some of his other diss songs, turning the attention away from the target and to himself (see "Jack the Ripper" and "The Ripper Strikes Back"), he keeps his ego in check here and does what he can to take out his detractors.

Body Bag Bars:

"Wouldn't bite because your rhymes are puppy chow
Made another million, so competitors bow
Homeboy, hold on, my rhymes are so strong
Nothing could go wrong, so why do you prolong
Songs that ain't strong, brother, you're dead wrong
and got the nerve to have them Star Trek shades on!"
"When I'm through, you'll need a brand-new identity
I was scoopin girls before you lost your virginity"
"You little snake in the grass
you swing a 'Hammer', but you couldn't break a glass"
"My old gym teacher ain't supposed to rap!"
"How dare you stand beside me
I'm Cool, I freeze I-C-E!"
"I'mma drink you down over the rocks
While I freak on your album cover jocks
You're gonna hear a real ill paragraph soon
I took the cover right home to the bathroom
In the immortal words of LL, "Hard as hell!"
your broad wears it well
she's the reason that your record sold a few copies
but your rhymes are sloppy like Oscar"

And that does it for part one of the Top 20 Diss Songs of All Time! The top 10 will be coming in a day or two, but until then, here's a couple of hints of what to expect: the one that started it all, one rapper versus an entire magazine, the most famous beef in recent history explored, plus the Greatest Diss Song of All Time! Stay tuned!


The Top 20 Hip-Hop Diss Songs of All Time (Foreword)

The Top 20 Hip-Hop Diss Songs of All Time (Part 1)

The Top 20 Hip-Hop Diss Songs of All Time (Part 2)

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