Beef is as much a part of hip-hop as beats and bars. It's part of the lifeblood of the hip hop culture, even though it can sometimes get violent and ugly. Usually beef is resolved peacefully, and artists then come together with a newfound respect for one another. In that sense, beef is like a sport of gaining respect. The best beefs make for iconic clashes between our favorite titans of rap, where bars are exchanged, insults are traded and we might get some great music in the process.
Here are the most iconic beefs in rap history.
22. Azealia Banks vs. Everybody
It seems like everywhere Azealia Banks goes, she invites drama. In fact, Azealia has been in so many beefs, feuds and spats that her Wikipedia page lists nearly 50 celebrities she's battled with. Amongst the names are heavyweights like Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, Rihanna and of course, Cardi B. Azealia is a queen of beef, and she's probably thinking of who she's going to call out next.
21. YG vs. Tekashi 6ix9ine
This might not seem as monumental as a ton of the other beefs on this list, but what we know now is that YG was dead-on when he was dissing Tekashi. The beef is just another one of Tekashi's ploys, as the duo exchanged social media taunts for weeks after Tekashi questioned YG's authenticity.
Well, after the New York rapper went to jail on racketeering charges, YG called him out for being a snitch and getting his entire gang thrown in jail. Well, lo and behold, a year later Tekashi has been exposed as a federal informant and testified in open court against his former gang. When you're right, you're right.
20. Nicki Minaj and Meek Mill vs. Joe Budden
In the last few years, Joe Budden has become one of the most powerful and respected voices in all of hip-hop. Joe is never afraid to speak his mind, and when his topic of conversation became Meek Mill and Nicki Minaj he suffered the wrath of the barbs, in epic proportions.
The whole feud started because Joe joked about the former couple on his podcast. Meek responded by calling Joe a "hating noodle," while Nicki called him jealous. Eventually Meek took to Twitter to tell Nicki's fans "Barbz get em!" and they did exactly as they were told, pelting Joe with insults for days upon days.
19. Tyga vs. Drake
Sometimes you have to put the gloves on and even fight with family members. That's what happened when Drake and Tyga locked horns back in 2014. Tyga called Drake "fake" and Drake went on the attack. First he involved Blac Chyna and Kylie Jenner, liking their pictures and posting them on his Instagram.
Then he told Tyga "act your age not your girl's age" on 6 PM In New York, slamming the door shut on the beef before it ever really got going.
18. Eminem vs. Machine Gun Kelly
At first glance this doesn't seem all that important, but by virtue of MGK striking Eminem hard enough to elicit a response, this beef became pretty well known. Eminem is a fabled battle rapper, crushing opponents for years before he told us "My Name Is" and became one of the biggest rappers in history. Some still think MGK won for being competitive to begin with, and you have to admit, that is pretty impressive.
17. T.I. vs. Shawty Lo
Two Bankhead legends were kind of always bound to bump heads, right? Well, they finally did when Lo dropped "Dunn Dunn" when he questioned T.I's Bankhead roots, saying "It must be two sides."
T.I. responded in kind, showing up to Lo's former home the Bowen projects to shoot the video for his diss track "What Up, What's Haapnin'" while mocking Lo by doing his dance. The duo eventually squashed their beef, linking up for a few songs before Shawty Lo tragically perished in a car accident in 2016.
16. Drake vs. Common
This beef may or may not have been over Serena Williams, depending on who you believe. Either way, Common thought he was picking off an easy target until Drake stuck back with force on the Rick Ross banger Stay Schemin.'
Of course, in true Drake fashion, he had to eventually apologize to Kobe for that song’s most memorable bar “B**ch you wasn’t with me shooting at the gym!” but that’s a whole other story.
15. Kanye West vs. 50 Cent
For many, this feud was a watershed moment and the point where sales became the be all end all in rap. For Kanye West and 50 Cent, it lives on as one of the most successful promotional runs ever. Everything kicked off when Kanye West decided to move his release date for his album Graduation to September 11th, the same day 50 was set to drop his new album Curtis.
Kanye was ascending, but 50 was still one of the biggest stars in the world, and both realized they had an opportunity to do something massive. So 50 offered a challenge, saying he would retire if Kanye outsold him. Kanye did, by nearly 300,000 units, but 50 didn't keep his promise.
14. Cam'ron vs. Jay-Z
Only Cam’ron could make his diss rant even better than his diss song. Former label mates exchanged barbs after Cam set off on his own and swiped at the king on the way out. His rant about Jay’s chancletas is as iconic as just about any diss record ever, but Jay struck back just as hard when he reminded Cam “only time you went plat, my chain was on your neck, that’s an actual fact.”
The duo squashed their beef just this year at a concert in New York, and now maybe we can get that “Oh Boy” remix, finally.
13. T.I. vs. Lil Flip
The south is no stranger to beef and their most classic beef might have been between two legends fighting for the crown of King of the South. T.I. and Flip's battle began when Flip challenged Tip's status as "King of the South," and T.I. took offense over the fact that Flip chose to do that while he was in jail.
Eventually, T.I. was released and dissed Flip relentlessly and even got Scarface to co-sign him as King of the South. After an altercation in Flip's neighborhood, Cloverland, the beef was squashed by J Prince before it went any further.
12. Nicki Minaj vs. Cardi B
It's not everyday a rap beef turns physical, but it's even rarer that it happens at a Harper's Bazaar New York Fashion Week party, cue Nicki Minaj and Cardi B. But after circling each other and sending jabs on songs and social media, the two finally met up on that faithful night in New York and things went haywire. Supposedly Cardi was upset that Nicki was liking tweets and comments online about her being a bad mother.
Security stepped in before Cardi could get a hand on Nicki, but she allegedly threw her shoe at her anyway, and somehow walked away with a knot on her forehead. Things have never really cooled between the two, as both still have animosity towards one another and with Nicki retiring from music recently, we might never get them on the same track again.
11. Kendrick Lamar vs. Drake
This kinda-beef has be brewing for years, even if it probably won’t escalate into full-scale war. Things were much friendlier in the beginning of the decade when Kendrick opened up for Drake on tour and both rappers appeared on the other’s album.
In what looks to be just good ol’ competition between two elites, random jabs begun being volleyed back and forth somewhere along the way. Most have Kendrick landing the harder blows, but Drake hasn’t been shy about shooting back, even if they remain friends behind the scenes.
10. Drake vs. Meek
Drake sure is on here a lot, ain’t he? This beef probably robbed us of incredible summer collabs, but at least we got a classic diss record out of it. Drake beat Meek with Execution and memes as much actually lyrics, but “Back to Back” will live on in infamy and definitely knocked meek down a few pegs.
They're back to being friends now, even giving us "Going Bad" to bring in the new year last December, so all is right in the world again.
9. Lil Kim vs. Foxy Brown
Lil Kim and Foxy Brown may have been friends in high school but it's been years since they've spoken and it doesn't seem like they'll speak anytime soon. That's thanks to a decades-long competition turned beef that began around the time they were scheduled to release their debut albums just a week apart.
From there, the feud evolved into everything from diss records to a shootout outside the Hot 97 studio. Lil Kim eventually did a year in jail for perjury related to the shooting and the two queens of hip-hop have yet to mend fences even after all these years.
8. Drake vs. Pusha T
A beef nearly a decade in the making, after tons of poking and prodding by Push, Drake finally took the bait and responded to the VA legend. Unfortunately for The 6 God, that’s exactly what Pusha wanted. While it felt like Drake landed a knockout blow with "Duppy Freestyle," which included scathing disses of both Push and his label boss Kanye West, that just set the stage for Push.
When he replied with "Story of Adidon," the brutal track came complete with an embarrassing blackface photo of Drake that was so damaging he had to come out and apologize and explain the shoot. Plus, Push revealed to the world that Drake was "hiding a child," a son named Adonis that would soon be revealed to all on his album More Life. Even if you think Drake had the better song, Push clearly landed the more damaging blows, doing the unthinkable and slaying the undefeated giant that was Drake.
7. Boogie Down Productions vs. Juice Crew
What publicly was a battle over the birthplace of hip-hop, was actually one icon being miffed over a slight he'd received from another and became one of the most legendary feuds in hip-hop history. When KRS-One's Boogie Down Productions launched their attack at Marley Marl's Juice Crew, it set off years of back and forth disses between the two crews.
It also catapulted KRS to superstardom, as he remains one of the preeminent voices of hip-hop even now. The two leaders officially called a truce when the recorded an album together in 2007, 20 years after "The Bridge is Over" flipped hip-hop on its head.
6. NWA vs. Ice Cube
What happens when a group becomes living legends and sits on top of the music world? They break up, of course. That's exactly what happened when Ice Cube began to seek larger payouts for all his work with NWA, and when he was rebuffed he responded by leaving the group and dragging them through the mud on "No Vaseline."
Many have the track listed as the greatest diss song ever, even decades later and though Cube mended fences with Dr. Dre eventually, "No Vaseline" catapulted him to a legendary solo career outside the NWA banner.
5. Gucci Mane vs. Young Jeezy
When Gucci and Jeezy made "So Icey," it seemed like the two Atlanta rappers would be making incredible songs together for years. It wasn't meant to be though, after a dispute over the royalties for the track, they've been embroiled in beef ever since.
Things came to a head when four men tried to rob Gucci and he killed one in self defense. It was later discovered that the slain man was an affiliate of Jeezy's, and Gucci even rapped about it to taunt Jeezy. At one point Gucci announced a truce between the two, but that ended quickly and they continue to have animosity towards one another all these years later.
4. 50 Cent vs. The Game
Nobody beefs quite like 50 Cent, but his former protege The Game comes about as close as anybody. Naturally when they stepped into the ring it was a knock down drag em' out fight that lasted for several years.
According to Game, he never really wanted to be G-Unit and just plain didn't like 50 Cent, so he launched an all out assault including the G-Unot campaign and multiple diss songs and entire mixtapes flaming 50 and his comrades. The beef continues even know as the duo constantly swipe at one another on social media and in songs here and there.
3. Ja Rule vs. 50 Cent
This is a beef decades-old that seems like it won't even end. Ja and 50 send shots at one another until this day, and where the beef even started is anybody's guess. Ja says 50 became jealous after 50 saw him getting love from fans in his own neighborhood, while 50 says the beef started because he robbed Ja for his jewelry. Either way it's still raging on and these guys will probably grow old hating one another.
2. Nas vs. Jay-Z
The beef that coined the phrase “Ether” and causes debates to rage on, even now, nearly 20 years later. A grudge match between two New York titans, seemingly caused by the fact that the city and the throne simply wasn’t big enough for the both of them. This clash was the rare battle where both combatants come out even stronger than they went in, and Jay and Nas have been respected associates ever since they squashed the feud back in 2005 at the legendary “I Declare War” concert in New Jersey.
1. Biggie vs. Tupac
Unfortunately, the greatest beef in rap history ended in tragedy. It may or may not be connected to the years long feud between Pac and Big, but both rappers were mysteriously and infamously gunned down in eerily similar fashion six months apart in 1996 and 1997.
Depending on who you believe, the whole beef was either a ploy by 2 Pac to sell records, or a revenge rampage after he was shot in New York in 1994. Either way it produced some of the greatest albums and diss records of all-time before both rappers were tragically slain.