A steak. But more relevantly, a feud, a fight, or a battle—and in hip-hop, a cornerstone of the genre since its very beginning. Beef can go very wrong and its consequences can be tragic, but often, as Kendrick Lamar rapped in last year’s beef-centric verse of “Control,” it aims to “raise the bar high.”
And it’s really great when artists can ultimately come together for the sake of peace.
Here are eight beefs that ended on such a high note.
Boogie Down Productions vs. Juice Crew (a.k.a. The Bridge Wars)
What happened? The triple OG of rap beefs, the Bridge Wars arose after Boogie Down Productions—of the South Bronx and led by KRS-One—fought with the Juice Crew—of Queensbridge and led by Marley Marl—over which location was the birthplace of hip-hop. Marley Marl released a track called the “The Bridge” in 1985, implying that his borough invented the genre of hip-hop. KRS-One responded directly with the song “South Bronx.”
- Party people in the place to be, KRS-One attacks,
- Ya got dropped off MCA cause the rhymes you wrote was wack,
- So you think that hip-hop had its start out in Queensbridge,
- If you popped that junk up in the Bronx you might not live
And then things escalated from there for a few years.
How was it squashed? KRS-One and Marley Mal released an album, Hip-Hop Lives, together in 2007, with Mal saying he took on the collaborative effort to show kids that “beefs aren’t that serious.”
50 Cent vs. Kanye West
What happened? In 2007, 50 Cent and Kanye West decided to release their upcoming albums on the same day. 50 promised to retire if Kanye outsold him, and the two appeared staring at each other the cover of Rolling Stone with the headline “SHOWDOWN.”
How was it squashed? Marketing! Kanye thoroughly stomped 50 after nearly going platinum in week one, but both sides really won. The PR blitz of the “battle” increased sales for both Graduation and Curtis and 50, who has never sold the same since, says he wasn’t even mad. “That was just to build energy because Kanye [and I] didn’t have any beef at all…. It was just great marketing.”
(Although 50 did just say of Kim Kardashian, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”—so this could get good again.)
Common vs. Drake
What happened? This one was weird. Common, a rapper who isn’t really known for getting down and dirty, first (subliminally) called out Drake on his song “Sweet” with the lines, “Singing all around me man, la la la/You ain’t mutha—-ing Frank Sinatra.” Drake said in a Las Vegas show that Common should save the disses for a face-to-face meeting, then followed up with some words on “Stay Schemin.” Common responded on the same song’s remix. The Canada Dry line left no room for debate.
How was it squashed? The All-Star Game brings everyone together.
Ludacris vs. Big Sean
What happened? Ludacris criticized Big Sean for stealing his flow on the mixtape track “Bada Boom.” This didn’t thrill Sean.
How was it squashed? According to Luda, the two sat down and hashed things out. “So, we had a show in Australia, yeah, we had a show in Australia and we actually got a chance to sit down. So that’s why I said we gonna keep it positive right now. Everything’s positive.”
Young Jeezy vs. Rick Ross
What happened? In 2012, Rick Ross and Young Jeezy exchanged words backstage at the BET Hip Hop Awards. Shots were later fired in the parking lot and the two champions of Southern rap remained acrimonious for nearly two years.
How was it squashed? T.I.! The Atlanta rapper sat with Jeezy to tell him that he’d make more money if he’d squash his Ross beef. “I ain’t gonna say I brokered peace and got them in the studio, I simply said to… Young Jeezy, ‘We done did as much as we can do with this. It’s gone as far as we can take it, ain’t nothing else to do…. War cost money.”
The two later appeared on the vicious “War Ready,” a track off Ross’ latest album.
Ja Rule vs. 50 Cent
What happened? Oh, a lot. 50 arguably made a career off beefing with Ja Rule after a friend of Curtis Jackson’s allegedly attempted to rob Rule and 50 was stabbed. He recovered and released a slew of diss tracks including “Wanksta.” Ja Rule’s career was never the same.
Nas vs. Cam’ron
What happened? In the middle of his Jay Z feud (more later), Nas criticized Jay, Nelly, and Cam’ron for making commercial records that didn’t say anything “real.” Cam’ron responded with a few unprintable remarks about Nas’ mother, to which Nas responded in the song “Zone Out”: “You got a house in Virginia, the only way you sicker than us, gettin’ bagged with a .22 now you a ridiculous f*ck.”
“House in Virginia,” by the way, was Nas’ way of implying Cam had a certain transmittable disease.
How was it squashed? The two recently met up in a Las Vegas airport to discuss making records together, even posing for a conciliatory picture while a confused white guy photobombed.
Of course, all this was nothing compared to…
Nas vs. Jay Z
What happened? Arguably the most famous and most productive hip-hop beef of the 21st century, Jay Z vs. Nas featured the two best rappers in the world battling each other for the “King of New York” honor… in their primes. Hip-hop heads still debate the merits of “Ether” or “Takeover.” And everyone can agree that Nas’ plan to burn Jay Z in effigy at a 2002 concert was a really bad idea! (He didn’t.)
How was it squashed?
In 2006, Nas signed with Def Jam, of which Jay Z was the president. The two squashed the beef—ensuring Jay would stay an alive prez for some time longer—and now they appear together on songs. And hugging at album release parties.
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