What's beef? Is it when your mom ain't safe up in the street? Or is it actually the fifth element of hip-hop? Dating all of the way back to when Big Bank Hank of the Sugar Hill Gang borrowed Grandmaster Caz's rhyme book and used his lyrics without credit on "Rapper's Delight," MCs have been feuding on and off wax for years.
Hip-hop is a culture built around machismo and bravado, so backing down or losing a battle could be detrimental to an artist's career. One slip-up and you could find yourself with a one-way ticket to obscurity. Certain MCs have built entire careers around beefing with other artists, while others have had their careers destroyed with just a couple lines. But what once began as two rappers simply battling over skill has turned into big business, with parody music videos, elaborate stage shows, and entire albums dedicated to the coveted battle.
The ante is constantly being upped to keep the fans entertained, so lines will be crossed while artists strive to find unique and creative ways to slander their opponents. Mothers, women, and children have all been involved, and in the YouTube era, a rapper just might show up to your house with a camera crew looking for a brawl. So with beef always in season, Complex has compiled the 50 Best Hip-Hop Diss Songs for your consumption. Vegetarians beware.
Andrew Barber is a writer living in Chicago. Follow him @FAKESHOREDRIVE.