On Saturday, Remy Ma grabbed the attention of the rap world with "ShETHER," a vicious seven-minute diss record that attacked Nicki Minaj from every conceivable angle: her brother's legal problems, her rumored plastic surgery, her alleged use of ghostwriters, her collaboration with Gucci Mane on Thursday.
While the track caught many people by surprise (including, apparently, Trey Songz), fans who have been paying close attention knew that something was brewing. The relationship between Nicki Minaj and Remy Ma goes back a decade now, and much of it has been rocky.
Minaj's rise in the rap game happened primarily during the six years Remy was incarcerated for (accidently, she claims) shooting her friend. When Remy was sentenced in 2008, Nicki was appearing on mixtapes and street DVDs. When the Terror Squad maven returned in 2014, Minaj was an international superstar. That dynamic is worth keeping in mind as you check the following timeline.
July 2007: Nicki releases Playtime Is Over
Nicki's Playtime Is Over mixtape contained a freestyle that is frequently referred to as "Dirty Money," after one of her adlibs in the beginning. It used the beat from the Terror Squad's "Yeah Yeah Yeah." Right at the beginning, there are some lines that a lot of people, including Remy herself, saw as a shot.
"Tell that bitch with the crown to run it like Chris Brown," Minaj spits. "She won three rounds, I'mma need a hundred thou'.../Oh, y'all ain't know? Bet y'all bitches know now."
Between Remy's then-reigning status as New York's rap queen, the use of a beat from Ma's crew, and the fact that Remy had won a $20,000 battle against Lady Luck a few years prior, it wasn't long before the buzz started that a new MC was throwing rocks at Remy's throne.
Summer 2007: Remy confronts Nicki at a mixtape release party
Not long after that freestyle became public, Remy confronted Nicki at a party and asked who those lines were about. In a 2010 interview from jail, Remy recalled what went down.
"When I seen her at her party, I was like, 'Yeah, what was that line about?' To this day, I think it was a stab at me. That's what you do in rap, and I'm cool with that."
December 2007: That video...
In December 2007, Cliffy Barz uploads a video to the internet titled "Remy Ma Ex Lover Speaks!!!" The clip shows a young woman claiming that she "had relations with" Remy. The woman claims she's upset because Remy is no longer answering her calls.
The woman in the video bears a passing resemblance to Nicki (though their voices sound very different). This slight similarity was enough to start rumors that Nicki was the person in the video, and things traveled far enough that both Remy and Nicki had to publicly deny that they had had a relationship. Even five years later, the debunked rumor was still being reported.
August 2014: Remy is released and it's all love
Immediately after being released from jail, Remy gets back to work. In an interview she gives right after being let out, Remy seems to be in a peacemaking mood. "I think it would be dope if we can get an ill chick record with everybody doing what they doing," she says. "Me, maybe Iggy Azalea, Nicki…like just do a nice little collabo."
March 2015: The subliminals begin
In March 2015, Remy releases her own version of Nicki's "Truffle Butter." While no names are mentioned, the fact that Remy hops on one of Nicki's beats lends an extra edge to some of the lyrics about what Remy's return to the rap game will do to the people who have risen in her absence. "I'm 'bout to put y'all out of business, y'all case closed," she says.
June 2016: The BET Awards
At the 2016 BET Awards, Nicki Minaj unsurprisingly takes home the Best Female Hip Hop Artist award. Who is ready with heartfelt congratulations? You guessed it.
September 2016: The BET Hip Hop Awards
At the 2016 BET Hip Hop Awards, Remy is in a different state of mind. During her turn in one of the cyphers, she throws some (again, unnamed) shots at a certain heavily-styled female rapper.
November 2016: Who's the queen?
In November, Remy drops the Fat Joe collaboration "Money Showers." On it, she hearkens back to long-ago debates about who wears the rap crown. "Bitch claiming she the queen. What? Not hardly," she spits. "Who the fuck gave you your crown, bitch—Steve Harvey?"
Early December 2016: The Funk Flex freestyle
Remy and her husband Papoose appear on Funk Flex's show in December, and Remy spits some lines she wrote on the way to the studio. Many of them seem aimed directly at Nicki—one even seemingly taunted Minaj for her heavily pitch-corrected singing on pop records like "Starships." "Wanted to be an icon," Remy raps, "Ended up like Akon." An earlier section seems to poke fun at Nicki's frequent catchphrase, "All these bitches is my sons."
"All this talk about my son and your son/I’m hot and your whole world revolve around me—bitch, I am the sun," Remy rhymes. Check it out below.
Late December 2016: Twitter goes nuts
Towards the end of December, Remy hops on a remix of Phresher's "Wait a Minute." Her lines about ghostwriters and "fake breasts" get the internet going nuts. Even Phresher himself believes that Remy's lines are aimed at Nicki. And the lines about ghostwriters take on an extra bite when, not long after the song is released, Nicki's ex Safaree Samuels, who is a credited writer on some of her early work, poses for an IG photo with Remy and Pap.
February 15, 2017: A non-denial denial
In mid-February of this year, Remy appears with Fat Joe on the Breakfast Club. When asked if she's tired of people assuming her lyrics are aimed at Nicki, Remy gives an interesting answer. "Are you talking about Nicki Minaj?" she fires back. She continues in a way that seemed political then, but prescient now. "Whenever I've had a problem with any female in this entire game, I will say your name... I'm going to say your government. I'm going to look it up. I'm going to say your mother's name, your father's name, your kid's name. I want you to know that I'm talking about you."
February 23, 2017: Nicki (finally) fires back
On "Swalla," Minaj seems ready to reclaim her throne. "I gave these bitches two years, now your time’s up," she raps. "Bless her heart, she throwing shots, but every line sucks."
"Make Love" is even more direct. Nicki appears to be taking shots at the disappointing sales of Remy and Joe's new album Plata o Plomo. "Oh oh, you the queen of this here?" she asks. "One platinum plaque, album flopped—bitch, where?"
These songs unleash "ShETHER." Only time will tell whether things will die out here, or if Nicki vs. Remy will enter the canon of great beefs, ranking up there with Jay vs. Nas, LL vs. Kool Moe Dee, KRS vs. Shan, and, of course, T.I. vs. T.I.P.