For rap O.G.s only!
So generational rap wars are the new thing now, huh? Yawn. Common fans will call Drake soft. Drake fans will call Common old and a “hater.” Ice-T vs. Soulja Boy. KRS vs. Nelly. Lil Kim vs Nikki Minaj. What’s next, Sister Souljah vs. Kreyshawn? (That’d be a good one, though.) The whole purpose of dissing someone is to show them up in front of one audience.
Speaking of which, I got into a discussion with some rap O.G.s about prime time vitriol rap shit that slipped through the cracks and missed Complex Magazine’s Top 50 (and just about every other list of this kind). This list is only for completists of the most venomous in feelings-hurting rap. Good luck finding most of these in physical form, but when it comes to selling wolf tickets, naming names of their time, and avoiding rapping in codes, they’re just as vicious and cruel as the noted greats.
#8. “Death In the Arena” - Raheem (1992, Rap-A-Lot Records)
TARGETS: Monie Love, LL Cool J, 3rd Bass, Chuck D, Rakim, OG Style, Too $hort, KRS-One, Rob Base, MC Shan, Big Daddy Kane, Intelligent Hoodlum (Tragedy), Vanilla Ice, Janet Jackson, King Tee, Candyman.
How the hell can one man have Intelligent Hoodlum, Janet Jackson, and Candyman on the same hit list? Theoretically, that can only happen if you get jumped in the Queensbridge projects while watching Good Times and eating a 5th Avenue bar. Well, another connection was all three artists were on A&M records, as was Houston rapper Raheem until he left the label to resurface on the local Rap-A-Lot imprint for his 1992 album, The Invincible . On an album that’s overlooked even by Rap-A-Lot collectors, this song is far more than an ethering of old label mates. Fans of standard, '90s happy-rap fare will note attacks on the defenseless Vanilla Ice, Monie Love, and Rob Base, but Raheem crosses the line to address the un-dissable Chuck D and Rakim. The reason? Rap ain’t 'posed to be positive, son, so knock it off.
FIGHTIN' WORDS: “Monie in the middle, just shake your ass for the camera / Commercial and silly you need a brother to slam ya.”
#7. “Outta Here” (featuring Tweedy's crew) - Tweedy Bird Loc (1994, Dangerous Records)
TARGETS: KRS-One, Ms. Melodie, Rap City, The East Coast, The Fresh Prince, Fat Joe, Vanilla Ice, 3rd Bass, Everlast, Ultramagnetic MCs, Poison Clan, Tim Dog, Luke, Queen Latifah, positive rap, white folks, oak trees, chandeliers, frogs, sunshine, Sno-Cones, life in general, etc.
It didn’t take much to land on Tweedy Bird Loc’s bad side. (Tweedy’s verse comes in at the 2:37 mark.) If you were white, hi-yellow, Asian, Hispanic, from Miami, from the South Bronx, from Compton but not a part of the Bloods & Crips “Bangin on Wax” album, opposed to violence and/or gangsta rap, an amphibian, or down with or related to anyone who was any of the above, you just might be shot for no apparent reason. That leaves only Raymond Washington, Stanley “Tookie” Williams and Tweedy’s crew left to celebrate at one big loc’d out BBQ on Crenshaw and Slauson. A curmudgeonly, Crippin', Compton antagonist, Tweedy made two albums rife with dissing, misogyny, racism, and gleeful, random violence, before vanishing into a cloudy mist of curl activator and thin air (rumors of his return are circulating the interwebs). Although “Outta Here” is primarily a response to KRS-One’s track of the same name, it’s one of many diss tracks in Tweedy’s catalog venomously directed at any and everyone with no real sense of aim - and that’s why it’s so damn entertaining. Ah, the days when meeting the disser in person could mean meeting your life’s end. More Tweed in the feed; just continue to read.
FIGHTIN' WORDS: “[KRS], I can see that you like them fat hoes / And like Toucan Sam, you got a big nose.”
#6. “Little Hooker” - Willie D (1992, Rap-A-Lot Records)
“Who the fuck is Choice?” Let me edumacate ya, bruh. She was Lil’ Kim before there was a Lil’ Kim; a slutty, shock value hood rat who rapped about how not one dick, but multiple dicks are what suffice in the bedroom. Well, when she recorded “Payback,” a Roxanne-esque attack on every woman-bashing male of her era, she unwisely included her label mates, The Geto Boys, as a gimmick. Bad choice, Choice (hear "Payback" in player below).
After this thrashing from Willie D, Choice had no choice but to choose another career.
FIGHTIN' WORDS: “Transvestite/ You can’t fight/ Got your ass whooped in the club one night.”
#5. “Going For the Throat” - Craig G (1991, Atlantic Records)
TARGET: MC Shan
With all the current hoopla surrounding the differing MC Shan / Marley Marl / Masta Ace accounts re: “The Symphony,” this heartless, incestuous diss track lives on in obscurity. One of two MC Shan dis tracks on Craig G’s sophomore album, Now That’s More Like It , “Going For the Throat” is a far less acknowledged, but way more personal diss track than the known BDP anthems. I always thought Shan was dope, though.
FIGHTIN' WORDS: “Point blank, Shan, you suck.”
#4. “Pussy Ass Kid and Hoe Ass Play” - Luke (1992, Luke / Atlantic Records)
Complex did actually note this one, but it shocks me to see how little it’s recognized in the pantheon of the all-time greatest diss tracks, so I had to include it. At the height of the anti-dancing, anti-happy rap era, Luke calls on Poison Clan’s JT Money and New Orleans’ own Bustdown to thrash the House Party duo for talking shit. I usually side with whichever team has a fellow hi-yellow, but the Funhouse was put into foreclosure, then burnt to a crisp on this. To complete the three-part formula of ghetto hardness, humor, and skill is a rare feat - and the ‘house nigga vs. field nigga’ soliloquy from Mr. Luke at the end is worthy of infringement for Obama’s next go at the Republicans. I can see him addressing the masses on his campaign:
“If all niggas in the world was real like me, y’all wouldn’t buy them fuck niggas’ shit no mo’.”
This is also the greatest (and most direct) title for a diss song in the history of diss songs and Luke was without a doubt the 50 Cent of the early ‘90s when it came to calculated dissing (see his “Cowards in Compton” video).
FIGHTIN' WORDS: “Both movies I boo 'em/ ‘Cause ya had hoes but wasn’t stickin’ pipe to 'em/ Thought they was fantastic, but through the whole fuckin’ movie Kid was gettin’ his ass kicked/ And ‘bout that other nigga, Play/ He need to get dissed ‘cause he a punk nigga anyway/ Be ‘round here kissin hoes, while I’m dissin’ hoes... and stabbin’ em with fishing poles.”
#3. “Burning Bridges” - The U.B.C. (1990, EMI Records)
TARGETS: Audio Two, First Priority Records
An obscure, albeit talented quintet from Hempstead, Long Island, The U.B.C released one slammin’ album ( 2 All Serious Thinkers ) in 1990 and then disappeared from the scene. Unaware of how to market rap but eager to jump on the bandwagon (ask the Jaz and Jay-Z), EMI records signed a number of intriguing rap acts and this was one of them. Apparently First Priority Records released this early U.B.C. 12" a few years prior to the album (on their Bumrush imprint) , but things didn’t work out and this song is equal parts loaded pistol and explanation why.
While allegations of family nepotism and rappers claiming places they don’t live wouldn’t be anything to abhor in today’s rap climate, that behavior was grounds for a punking circa 1990. Events that only The U.B.C., Audio Two, and (label founder and Audio Two’s father) Nat Robinson would know about are rapped about in detail and peppered with fighting words. For rap nerds and the Kevin Beachams of the world, “Burning Bridges” is a largely unheard but equally barbarous diss track that you had to be a product of that era to appreciate.
FIGHTIN' WORDS: “Cause [Milk Dee] is a jerk, [Gizmo] is a lunatic, undespicable, ass-kickable dick.”
#2. “Big Mama” - Roxanne Shante (1992, Livin Large Records)
TARGETS: Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Monie Love, Yo-Yo, Salt-N-Pepa, Isis
If you were rapping circa 1992 and didn’t possess a penis, you were getting hammered on this one. Written by Grand Daddy I.U., Shante’s “comeback” was comprised of low-blow after low-blow to all top females of the era. As a young intern at Power Play studios when this was recorded, I thought it was the most incredible shit I’d ever heard. I still think it’s an unheralded classic diss track, but refer to the first few words of the second sentence of this paragraph for a probable explanation of why hardly anybody else does.
FIGHTIN' WORDS: “Now as for that West Coast slut [Yo-Yo], with fake ass hair, contacts and a padded butt/ Instead of stomping to the ‘90s, use your brain/ And stomp your ass down to Jack LaLanne/ You better hurry and hop on a diet plan/ And keep the pork chops out the frying pan.”
#1. “I’m Calling You A Bitch” - Tweedy Bird Loc (1994, Dangerous Records)
TARGETS: Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Nefertitti
Not everyone was down for U.N.I.T.Y. in the nine-fo. No. Tweed went after Queen Latifah completely unprovoked for... well... saying she’s “not a bitch or a ho” on her song to no man in particular. Some provocation. But the way Mr. Loc tells it, if the shoe fits, get a shoe horn and slide your foot in snugly. A hysterical interpolation of the Living Single theme song (a-la Tim Dog crooning “No More Lies” on “Fuck Compton”) takes away the head-scratching and makes it one of the most mean-spirited and ignorant (albeit funny) diss songs ever.
MC Lyte and Nefertiti weren’t dissed, but rather called upon to receive “some dick” in an offer to “turn your ass back straight” from Tweed. Good to see that although his “dicc is prejuduced,” that does not include discrimination against females who can rap.
FIGHTIN' WORDS: The entire first verse.
E-40’s “Record Haters,” Too $hort’s “Get in Where You Fit In,” Kurupt’s “Callin Out Names.”
What'd I miss?
J-Zone's book, Root for the Villain: Rap, Bullshit, and a Celebration of Failure, is available in soft cover and e-book formats now on amazon.com and directly from Zone himself at www.govillaingo.com