Earlier this year, Drake's evisceration at the hands of Virginia rap legend Pusha T on the track "Story of Adidon" took over the hip-hop news cycle. We were all wondering if Drake would respond, if the rumors about him having a son were true and whether or not he was really signing with Adidas.
All these questions came to light — no, yes, and not yet, respectively. But the beef between Champagne Papi and King Push raised another classic debate for rap fans:
When does a rap beef cross the line from professional competition to unfair personal insult?
For most people, the fair boundaries of conflicts between rappers are broken when outsiders are involved, especially when they are friends and family members. Even legends of the game like
Ice Cube and Juelz Santana believed Pusha T crossed a line when he brought up Drake's mother and hidden son with former porn star Sophie Brussaux. He also taunted Drake's longtime producer Noah "40" Shebib for having multiple sclerosis, wondering how long he'd be around.
Push defended himself by saying that all rules were off once Drake mentioned Pusha's now-wife, Virginia Williams, in his original diss track "Duppy." Others point out that part of what makes rap beef so compelling in the first place is that they
never have boundaries.
Whichever side you're on, everyone can admit that Drizzy's mom and the mother of his child did nothing to provoke these insults. In honor of Sandra & Sophie, The Boombox has taken a look back at twelve people who got hit with stray bullets for no real reason other than being connected to the track's primary target — or in some cases— just for existing.
1 Dennis Graham "Story of Adidon" by Pusha T "Story of Adidon" by Pusha T Ethan Miller/ Getty Images, Roy Rochlin / Stringer
Of all the destruction wrought in the wake of Pusha's epic diss, the taunts against Drake's dad are some of the most brutal. Push first calls out his lackluster parenting: " Your father walked away at 5 / hell of a dad thing." Later, mentioning him by name, he critiques his fashion: "Monkey suit Dennis, you parade him / a Steve Harvey-suit n***a made him." Ouch.
2 Paul Rosenberg "Die Another Day" by Benzino Bill Pugliano, Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
Eminem's beef with
The Source magazine, and more specifically its co-owner Benzino, allegedly stemmed from what Slim thought was an unfair rating for his album, The Eminem Show. The feud produced some early 2000s classics, including "Go to Sleep" and this track, which tore into Eminem's longtime manager Paul Rosenberg.
Benzino starts this track with a tape of Rosenberg calling him to try to end the beef – a move Rosenberg denied. He then rips into him directly: "Paul Rosenberg you fat f**king pig / I'm holding you responsible for what this b**ch did." A bit extra for a guy who was just trying to keep the peace.
3 Instagram, Bennett Raglin/Getty Images
In early 2017, the simmering tensions between Remy and Nicki boiled over with this savage diss over Nas' famous track, "Ether." While Rem went in on Barbie on several fronts, from accusing her of sleeping with Drake to questioning the authenticity of her hind parts, she had especially devastating bars for Nicki's brother. Jelani Maraj was charged with predatory sexual assault against a child younger than 13.
Remy discusses how this reflects on Nicki's character: "You paid for your brother's wedding? / That's hella foul / How you spending money to support a pedophile? / He a walking dead man, sending threats to him / I guess that's why they call you Barbie, you was next to Ken / Talkin' bout your money long and your foreign sick / Why you ain't help your bro hide his cum from forensics?"
Harsh stuff - although in this case, he may have deserved it - Jelani was found guilty in November 2017 and is currently awaiting sentencing.
4 DJ Yella "No Vaseline" by Ice Cube Kevin Winter/Getty Images
It's tough enough being the least memorable member of N.W.A. But after things soured between Ice Cube and his former group, especially leader Eazy-E, things got worse for DJ Yella. Ice Cube slays him with one simple line: "Yella Boy's on your team so you losin'." The lack of attention paid here is an insult in itself, not to mention the brutal barbs Cube tossed at his boys Dr. Dre, MC Ren and Eazy-E. Yella even
admitted years later that his side lost because of this track. 5 Carmen Bryan "Super Ugly" by Jay-Z Kelly Sullivan, Getty Images/ https://www.instagram.com/carmenbryan/, Dave Kotinsky, Getty Images
No one needs a reminder of what happened in rap's most prominent beef. After suffering the original Ethering, Hov tried to save himself with this relatively forgettable single that is known mainly for being associated with Nas' archetypal diss track.
Jay spends much of the third verse going after Nas' daughter's mother, implying both he and NBA star Allen Iverson had relations with her:
"Me and the boy A.I. got more in common than just balling and rhyming / Get it? More in Carmen / I came in your Bentley backseat / Skeeted in your Jeep / Left condoms on your baby seat"
Really, Jay? On the baby seat!? Hov's mother made him apologize for the bar, but the damage was already done.
6 Kanye West "Duppy" by Drake Christopher Polk/ Larry Busacca/Daniel Boczarski, Getty Images
Once upon a time, it wouldn't have been farfetched to hold 'Ye as the game's top MC
and producer, simultaneously. Sadly, over the last few years, Mr. West is more known for his association with the MAGA movement and ridiculous views on slavery.
While going in on Pusha T, Drake also attacked Kanye, claiming writing credits for some of his most popular tracks from 2016's The Life of Pablo:
"What do you really think of the n***a that's making your beats? / I've done things for him that I thought he would never need / Father had to stretch his hands out and get it from me / I pop style for 30 hours and let him repeat."
7 Sisqo "F**k Beanie Sigel" by Jadakiss Tommaso Boddi/Ian Gavan/Ethan Miller, Getty Images.
This sometimes-forgotten beef between two highly-technical street MCs stemmed from a broader conflict between Roc-A-Fella and Ruff Ryders. Beanie & Jada exchanged several memorable tracks and on-stage freestyles, with notable performances by both at the Powerhouse shows of the early 200s.
In this diss, Jadakiss accuses Sigel of stealing his style and suggests a change in genre may be in order: "And I'm stuntin on a disco beat / You's a f*g / Your next rhyme should be on a Sisqo beat."
Sisqo has consistently denied the allegations of homosexuality that have followed him nearly his entire career.
8 Truth Hurts "Loose Change" by Ja Rule Mike Coppola/Getty Images , Fintage House/FUGA, Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
The genesis of the beef between 50 Cent and Ja Rule, two of the biggest rap stars of their era, is unclear — 50 claims it was from Ja associating him with someone who robbed him of his jewelry, while Ja says it started when
Curtis was left out of a video shoot.
This track might be most memorable for Ja Rule's difficulty spelling his own record label's name, but he also takes a jab at the one-hit-wonder Truth Hurts, who just happened to be a labelmate of Eminem and 50.
"And I know the truth hurts when I bust reckless / Battle of the sexes / Is that a woman or a man?"
9 Destiny Jones "Hate Me Now (Freestyle)" by Cam'ron Brad Barket, Hawthorne/Getty Images
At the beginning of 2002, Cam'ron was a young star on Roc-A-Fella Records. His label head was famously involved in a beef with Nas, but Cam stayed on the sidelines until God's Son called him out during a rant on the Power 105 radio station, labeling Cam's album "whack."
According to sources, Cam'ron was so angry at the insult that he recorded this diss over one of Nas' top tracks the same day. In it, he threatens a vulgar act against Nas' daughter, one that perhaps only the president could appreciate: "Take your daughter, R. Kelly, have my way with her face."
10 Hailie Mathers "Loose Change" by Ja Rule Ethan Miller/Getty Images, https://www.instagram.com/hailiescott1/, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
Ja's cruel knock at Truth Hurts was only the beginning of his verbal shots on "Loose Change." As is common in a particularly vicious diss track, he leaves his worst venom for Eminem's daughter, mother, and wife to close out his last verse:
"Em, you claim your mother's a crackhead / And Kim is a known slut / So what's Hailie gon' be when she grows up?"
11 Pookie Loc "Truth" by Gucci Mane Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images/ Amazon/ Michael Loccisano/Getty Images.
Young Jeezy and Gucci Mane rap with similar styles and began their careers around the same time, so it's not too surprising to hear that they've had some tension. It began over a conflict regarding the track they collaborated on, "Icy" back in 2004. After dying down a bit, the tension re-escalated when Jeezy described Big Guwop as "retarded" on a radio show interview.
Gucci responded with this track, slicing into his longtime rival over relationships, flows, and the infamous botched robbery attempt that took the life of Jeezy's friend Pookie Loc.
He begins viciously: "Go dig your partner up n***a, bet he can't say s**t." It gets even worse to close the track out:
"I know it's hard for you to sleep knowin' you killed your homeboy / You left his son to be a bastard, won't even raise your own boy."
12 Blac Chyna "92 Bars" by The Game Mike Windle/Getty Images, Maury Phillips/Getty Images, Paras Griffin/Getty Image
The L he took from Drake the summer before was painful enough, but Meek Mill wasn't done being the target of rap diss tracks. After accusing him of being associated with a police informant, Game released this banger that went at Meek Mill and his then-girlfriend Nicki Minaj. He also targeted stripper-turned-model Blac Chyna, who he claims to have had relations with:
"Let me tell you who suck like banana now-laters / Blac Chyna, head the bomb / Al Qaeda"
(IG image: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bli7UNBF3ur/?taken-by=blacchyna)