UPDATE: Azealia Banks has just dropped her response to Angel Haze's 'On The Edge'. Listen below.
Let it rain disses! The dry patch for old school rap battles is over. Angel Haze posted a cutting track aimed at Azealia Banks last night and Banks has tweeted that she'll respond later today. It's been a while since Eminem spat genius insults at all and sundry and Nas and Jay-Z's longstanding beef hit headlines. Nicki Minaj gave it a go with Lil' Kim a couple of years ago but it was weak. Thankfully the art of the diss track is dormant no longer.
What happened? It seems Angel Haze believed a tweet Banks wrote referred to her being born and raised in Detroit but claiming she "runs New York". This is the offending line:
Seriously, if you were not born and raised in NY.... DON'T CLAIM NY. YOU ARE NOT A NEW YORKER.
Haze then posts track "On The Edge'. In the very first line she compares Banks to a "fleshlight", a sex toy for men. "Bitch I'm from the 313/Whip the fuckin' meat cleaver out like who want beef," is the first example of her clever wordplay. She calls her a slut, and the "Easter bunny", referring to her teeth. Perhaps the most cutting insult is "Bitch put an album out/I think my album's more done than yours/And I just started a week ago". The release date for 'Broke With Expensive Taste' has been pushed back again and again.
Have a listen:
Banks then accuses Haze of jealousy, fancying her and questions whether she wrote the song in the 20 minutes she claims. Angel Haze challenges her to release her own diss, taunting her when nothing materialises. Banks tweeted this today:
Lol I def used that energy to write a fly new jam tho. It's not even really a diss anymore!
While we wait for Banks's musical riposte, here are the 20 mightiest, funniest, most sulphurous lyrics from diss tracks. I've chosen a mix of hip-hop and other genres. I've tended to avoid the obvious "Tim Dog suck a dick" type lines as well as lyrics about rape (never funny), or racist and homophobic examples (likewise).
In the beginning the rappers were pals, using each others vocals for samples and sharing mutual friend Biggie Smalls. The feud started in the late 90s with Jay-Z hurling the first diss in 2001. The two eventually reconciled in 2006 (Nas signed to Def Jam). Jay-Z's kick-off is arguably the best:
Four albums in 10 years nigga? I could divide/That's one every, let's say, two/Two of them shits was doo/One was naahhh, the other was Illmatic/That's a one-hot-album-every-10-year average
'Frankly, Mr Shankly' from "The Queen Is Dead' is a jibe at the head of Rough Trade records. Travis mused on why they wrote the track in an interview, saying "I think their beef with Rough Trade was that they thought they should be selling more records and riding around in limousines and helicopters." Key lyrics:
Frankly, Mr. Shankly, since you ask/You are a flatulent pain in the arse
Shante's diss tracks and flow are way too underrated. Key lines in this?
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
I'm sure I'm not the only Beatles fan who finds 'How Do You Sleep?' an uncomfortable listen. Lennon's acerbic attack on McCartney surfaced after he thought he was being dissed on McCartney's 'Ram'. Spikiest lyrics?
The only thing you did was yesterday/And since you're gone you're just another day
Way harsh, Tai.
Hung out with you on Mother's Day because your mother's dead
This one is a little different. 'Sweet Home Alabama' was written as an answer to two songs 'Southern Man' and 'Alabama' by Neil Young. In the tracks, Young pointed a finger at the South and wrote about its record of racism and slavery. Lynyrd Skynyrd responded:
Well, I heard Mister Young sing about her/Well, I heard ole Neil put her down/Well, I hope Neil Young will remember/A Southern man don't need him around anyhow
I told you Shanté was good at barbs. She hits the nail on the head with this one:
Now KRS-ONE you should go on vacation/With that name soundin' like a wack radio station
'Real Muthaphuckkin G's' is a response to Dr. Dre's 'Fuck Wit Dre Day (and Everybody's Celebratin')' which was a diss to Eazy-E. The former N.W.A bandmates had fallen out after Dre left the group. Key line:
All of the sudden Dr. Dre is the G thang/But on his old album covers, he was the she-thang.
Eminem has always been a God at trash talk. You could make up a top ten alone with his disses. Here he is on 'Girls' dissing Dilated Peoples, Everlast and Limp Bizkit.
You fuckin' sissy, up on stage, screamin how people hate you/They don't hate you/ They just think you're corny since Christina played you.
Considered the very first diss track, 'The Bridge Is Over' was performed by rapper KRS-One and produced by DJ Scott LaRock and KRS-One. It was one of the tracks in The Bridge Wars, in which early rappers argues over whether Queensbridge was the original home of hip-hop. Key line:
Manhattan keeps on makin' it/Brooklyn keeps on takin' it/Bronx keeps creatin' it/And Queens keeps on fakin' it
Geography is a common theme in the art of invective. Jadakiss cleverly takes on Fiddy's roots in 'Checkmate', saying:
Yeah, you got a felony, but you ain't a predicate/Never the King Of New York, you live in Connecticut
It's not every day you get called a "fuckin' traitor, chronic masturbator, shitlicker, user, self-abuser" by Nick Cave. Mat Snow, a music journalist, put Nick Cave and his girlfriend up at his house in Brighton. A couple of years later he wrote a review of the latest album in NME, calling it 'disappointing'. Cave came out with the song 'Scum' in retaliation. It's deliciously scathing. Key line:
He was a miserable shitwringing turd/Like he reminded me of some evil gnome/Shakin hands was like shakin a hot, fat, oily bone
It's not intellectually complex, but it's funny. Here's an example of the beef between 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G, from 'Hit 'Em Up':
That's why I fucked your bitch, you fat motherfucker
He totally does sound like the Cookie Monster. This is from 'Back Down'.
I'm back in the game, shorty, to rule and conquer/You sing for hoes and sound like the Cookie Monster
Freddie Mercury's caustic 'Death On Two Legs' takes no prisoners. It describes his hatred toward Queen's ex-manager, Norman Sheffield. Key quotes:
You suck my blood like a leech/You break the law and you breach/Screw my brain till it hurts/You've taken all my money - and you want more/Misguided old mule/With your pigheaded rules
In 'Can-I-Bitch' Eminem calls Canibus "little vaginal blister". Yikes.
Proving her genius as a poet, Lauryn Hill takes the rest of her old band The Fugees, and particularly Wyclef Jean to task in 'Lost Ones':
It's funny how money change a situation/Miscommunication leads to complication/My emancipation don't fit your equation."
The Pharcyde's 'Ya Mama' isn't aimed at anyone in particular but it's a brilliant example of a rap battle diss track. Key lyric:
Ya mom is so fat (how fat is she?)/Ya mama is so big and fat that she can get busy
with twenty-two burritos/but times are rough/I seen her in the back of Taco Bell with handcuffs
Listen to a selection of diss tracks below and let me know what you'd add