Dissing: The New York Dolls
Rap song equivalent: Roxanne Shante, "Roxanne's Revenge" (1984)
The diss track that started it all. Debates about when punk "started" will never end, but two undisputed pioneers are the New York Dolls and the Sex Pistols. Naturally, they had beef.
The New York Dolls were a shambolic and incredible power-pop group that were borderline crossdressers—but street-tough just the same. The Sex Pistols changed the course of rock 'n' roll by unambiguously creating the obnoxious, sarcastic, loud and fast aesthetic template of British punk rock. They owed a lot to the New York Dolls, musically and attitudinally. So on "New York," they went right at the masters. "You porno faggot," Johnny Rotten sang, "you're sealed with a kiss." That's a reference to the Dolls' single "Looking For A Kiss," and Dolls guitarist Johnny Thunders took it very personal. (More on that in a second.)
"New York" also inaugurates punk's hidden tradition of diss tracks. It's on Never Mind The Bollocks, arguably the first pure punk album and indisputably among the most important (and best). But the song itself is also overshadowed—it's second to last on the record; leads into the better-known first-ever punk rock record label diss, "EMI'; and has nothing of the legend surrounding "God Save The Queen" or "Anarchy In The UK." Still, though it's most often considered album filler, "New York" isn't just a deep cut, it's the first time punk rockers turned on each other on some mixtape shit.