58. GZA f/ RZA & Masta Killa "Labels" (1995)
Album: Liquid Swords
For GZA, a song like "Labels" was more than just impressive wordplay using practically all the label names associated with rap music to construct an attack on wack MCs. This was personal. Dissatisfied with their prior experiences with Cold Chillin' and Tommy Boy, this cunning track is also a not-so-subliminal dis. "Tommy ain't my motherfuckin' Boy/When you fake moves on a nigga you employ... 'Cause I smother you Cold Chillin' motherfuckers/I still Warn a Brother" are lines directed specifically at their former record companies. (Cold Chillin' was picked up and distributed by Warner Bros.)
With the music industry currently in decline, the younger generation may not recognize all the references The Genius makes if they're not familiar with labels like Livin' Large, Ruthless, Sleeping Bag, Profile, Tuff City, Virgin, Mercury, Capitol, Epic, RAL, East West, Atco, Next Plateau, Wild Pitch, Uptown, MCA, 4th & Broadway, Island, Priority, First Priority, and A&M (which GZA cleverly flips to mean Abbot and the Master).