Shots Fired? Jay-Z's Sneakiest Diss Lines

Hov has been taking subliminal shots for years.

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Image via Complex Original
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Roughly 93.7% of rap beefs are the result of underhanded slights that go unnoticed by all but the “victim." To be honest, usually these perceived shots fired are, in fact, not shots at all, and just taken that way due to a confluence of weed-induced paranoia and artist-sized ego. But sometimes they are.

In an effort to psyche out their competitors, MCs occasionally fire stealthy lyrical bullets of ether at each other. If they’re successful, they knock their peers off their pivot, and then make them look like crazed paranoids when they respond. It’s ingenious, really. And, of course, no one is more the king of subliminal shots than Jay-Z.

So it should surprise none that rap’s master strategist recently licked off a questionable line on “Thank You” “This way after the Ruger shoots through a few clips/You can lay in your casket just as you is” begging the question of whether or not he's going at Complex cover boys Clipse, whose LP is called Til The Casket Drops.

Hov again ruffled feathers last week with his verse on one of many I Wanna Rock” remixes, saying, “It’s no Biggie, I’m the king.” But this is just the tip of the iceberg, Jay-Z's got a body of nameless slights big enough to sink the Titanic. Enjoy here as Complex has compiled, in chronological order, Jay’s most memorable sneak-disses...


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Jay-Z "Ride Or Die" (1998)

LYRIC: "Always gotta be the weakest nigga out the crew/I probably make more money off your album than you...Check your own videos, you'll always be number two/Niggas talkin' real greasy on them

R&B records/But I'm platinum a million times, nigga, check the credits.”


SHOTS FIRED? YES. The "greasy" R&B record in question is 112's "Love Me," on which Mase openly mocked the Roc's (then) newfound fascination with platinum: "What we hear is platinum that, platinum this/Platinum whips, nobody got no platinum hits." Jigga fired back on Vol. 2, and Mase presumably realized he was in over his head and deaded it.

Gillie Da Kid

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Jay-Z "Do It Again" (1999)

LYRIC: "Don't talk to me 'bout MCs got skills/'He's alright, but he's not real'"

TARGET: Gille Da Kid

SHOTS FIRED? MAYBE. It's never been 100% confirmed, but the story goes that Beanie had brought fellow Philly homies Gillie and his Major Figgaz crew to Jay, who in turn offered Gillie/MF the golden chance to appear on a Hov record. However, Gillie allegedly thought he was being low-balled and declined. Stunned by Gillie's impudence, Jay-Z went at his head on the first single off of Vol. 3. Or so the story goes, others claim that Jay is going at Jada or Nas in his verse. Whatever the case, for a largely irrelevant rapper, Gillie's sure been in some high-profile beefs.

50 Cent

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Jay-Z "It's Hot (Some Like It Hot)" (1999)

LYRIC: "Go against Jigga, yo' ass is dense/I'm about a dollar, what the fuck is 50 Cents?"

SHOTS FIRED? 50 name-dropped Jay-Z on "How To Rob," so Jay hit him with half a bar. Thus, a long frenemy-ship was born.

Jayo Felony

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Jay-Z "Change the Game" (2000)

LYRIC: "I wear more bling to The Source than Soul Trains / More chains and rings, niggas won't do a thing”

TARGET: Jayo Felony

SHOTS FIRED? KIND OF. Around the time that L.A. award shows turned into open season on rappers' jewelry, Jay defiantly stated that his baguettes were off-limits: "Niggas won't do a thing." Labelmate Jayo felt this was disrespectful to him and the Crips behind these alleged robberies, and came back with a non-subliminal dis record called "True'd Up (Crip Anthem)" on which he memorably promises to "sock that faggot in his big-ass lips." Hov then recruited Crips Daz and Kurupt for the "Change the Game" remix, and that was that.


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Jay-Z "Is That Yo Bitch?" (2000)

LYRIC: "Why you home alone, why she out with me? Room 112, hotel balcony/How she say, 'Jay you can call the house for me'?/That's no respect at all, you better check her, dog...”

TARGET: Nas/Carmen Bryant

SHOTS FIRED? YES. It may not have been clear at the time, but it would be soon: All of Jigga's verses on this song clearly allude to his affair with Nas's baby mama. Super ugly!


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Jay-Z "Mind Right (Remix)" (2000)

LYRIC: "Frontin' like you tougher than what you are/’til the gun is comin' through the driver's side of your car/usin' my name in vain like I won't damage the boy/think niggas was shootin' your fat ass out of cannons before? (I'm that!)/Niggas is pompous, first they in Evel Kenievel jumpers/ now they turnin' over Rovers like they want it with Hova..."


SHOTS FIRED? PRETTY FUCKING LIKELY. Ma$e's Harlem World compatriot Meeno, on a track from Dame Grease's 2000 album Live on Lenox Ave., said, ""Who the last nigga that you heard that was this great?/none other than myself and the, uhhh, late great Notorious..." Not much, sure, but given Jay's aforementioned tension with Pastor Betha and his own defensiveness in the "Brooklyn's Finest" showdown, he took a prime mixtape potshot, working the Harlem World video and Meeno's own single title into the mix.


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Jay-Z "The Ruler's Back" (2001)

LYRIC: "And you got a couple of Beans and you don't have a Clue?/Your situation is Bleek, I'ma keep it Rell/cause fuckin' with me, you gotta drop Amil/Cause if you gonna cop something you gotta cop for real"


SHOTS FIRED? YES. This was Jay's clever way of letting the world know that Amil was officially out the fam.


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Jay-Z "People Talkin'" (2000)

LYRIC: "But if you testing my life then, shit I gotta answer/Gotta cut off the cancer, young'n, pull your pants up/You getting too big for ya' britches, you fucking with a dude that did it with digits”
SHOTS FIRED? PROBABLY. Faced with a losing verdict on Hot 97, a lot of Jay's confrontational lyrics in the wake of the "Takeover"/"Ether" battle seemed aimed directly at God's Son. This entire track qualifies as evidence of his inability to lose. Gracefully, that is.

Joe Budden

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Jay-Z "Pump It Up (Freestyle) '03" (2003)

LYRIC: "Worry I'm not the Mike Jordan of the mic recording/Hovi baby you Kobe, maybe Tracy McGrady/Matter fact you Harold Miner, JR Rider, washed up on marijuana/even worse you a Pervis Ellis, you worthless fella"


SHOTS FIRED? KIND OF. Jay took the beat to Budden's biggest song and referenced a bunch of ballplayersin a verse that some interpreted as a Joey dis. Budden then took the beat back and fired off some sideways shots of his own. Call it a sneak-dis draw.

The Game

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Jay-Z "Dear Summer" (2005)

LYRIC: "It's like when niggas make subliminal records/If it ain't directed directly at me, I don't respect it/You don't really want it with Hov, for the record/I put a couple careers on hold, you could be next, kid/Keep entering the danger zone/You gon' make that boy Hov put your name in a song”


SHOTS FIRED? YES. Tired of Game's incessant dick-riding, Jay-Z put the rookie in his place on this epic verse, first spit on Hot 97, much to Funk Flex's squealing delight.


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Jay-Z "Hustlin' (Remix)" (2006)

LYRIC: "White on white, G4, hater get lost/I'm in the air I don't hear niggas' corny raps”
SHOTS FIRED? YES. As post-Black Album Jay receded from the scene, Cam became increasingly brazen with his disdain for Jigga on a number of freestyles. Jay returned with this disingenuous retort. Clearly, he heard.

The Game 2

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Jay-Z "The Prelude" (2006)

LYRIC: "The Game's fucked up/Niggas' beats is banging, nigga your hooks did it/Your lyrics didn't and your gangster look did it/So I would write it if y'all could get it, being intricate'll get you wood, critic”
SHOTS FIRED? YES. The first (and best) song off Kingdom Come went a few steps further than "Dear Summer" in its dissection of Jay's number-one Stan. And in case anyone missed these veiled darts, he went on in the verse to twist the Game's own line saying, "I used to think rapping at 38 was 'ewww' / but last year alone I grossed 38 mil..." Game over.

Dame Dash

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Jay-Z "Lost One" (2006)

LYRIC: "I heard motherfuckers saying they made Hov/Made Hov say, 'Okay so, make another Hov'/Niggas wasn't playing they day role, so we parted ways like Ben and J-Lo/I should have been did it but I been in a daze though/I put friends over business end of the day though/But when friends' business interests is day-glo/Ain't nothing left to say though, I guess we forgot what we came fo'”
SHOTS FIRED? YES. This is the first of what would be numerous lyrical shots at his former business partner, who could only desperately lash back in lame interviews.

Lil Wayne

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Jay-Z "Trouble" (2006)

LYRIC: "You little niggas ain't deep, you dumb/You niggas ain't gangsta, you gum, I chew lil' niggas/Hock-too, spew lil' niggas/I can only view lil' niggas like lil niggas”
SHOTS FIRED? PROBABLY. The king undoubtedly felt his throne was being challenged when Weezy claimed he was better than him in our memorable Dec. 05/Jan. 06 cover story. On this record off his un-retirement album, Hov seems more than a "lil'" annoyed at all the chatter.

Jim Jones/Cam'ron

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Jay-Z "Dig A Hole" (2006)

LYRIC: "You selling little tools, only time you went plat/My chain was on your neck, that's an actual fact/So I’m prayin’ that it spills outside of the booth, that’s when y’all niggas outside of your truth/Outside of your league, that’s not what you do/Niggas throwing Roc signs outside of your Coupe/Don’t look at Hov like he done something wrong to ’em/Cause he’s on to 'em? He just took what belonged to him”
SHOTS FIRED? YES. The Diplomats were a constant thorn in Jay's side ever since they "took over" the Roc in 2002; he mostly ignored the Dips' constant insolence until this record. Jay's first (semi-)direct shot at the crew is on this song.

Lil Wayne 2

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Jay-Z "30 Something" (2006)

LYRIC: "30's the new 20 nigga, I'm on fire still/These young boys is like fire drills (Uhh)/False alarms (Uhh), the next don (Naw)/He ain't got it (Uhh), on to the next one (Young)”
SHOTS FIRED? PROBABLY. "These young boys is like fire drills," yeah? Wayne's most recent single? "Fireman." Not too hard to connect those dots.

Lil Wayne 3

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Jay-Z "Watch What You Say To Me" (2007)

LYRIC: "I hear you baiting me lately, I been doing my best just to stay hater-free/Still watch what you say to me/Sooner or later I take you up on your offer/And put you all in your place like I'm replacing your father”
SHOTS FIRED? MAYBE. Just as a lot of Jay's pre-"Takeover" rhetoric could be interpreted as Nas disses, most of his recent challenges-including this, off T.I. vs. T.I.P.-seem like jabs at Wayne.

Dame Dash/LL Cool J

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Jay-Z "I Get Money (Billion Dollar Remix)" (2007)

LYRIC: "When I flip Rocawear I told'em give me money cash/Yeaaaah checks might bounce, alphabet boys might check my accounts/Still hustlin baby! Hurry up kill me/I'm already the GOAT, next stop is the billy”
SHOTS FIRED? PROBABLY. Jay killed two birds with one lyrical stone on 50's remix by referencing his Rocawear fleecing (sorry, Dame!) and slyly flipping the "GOAT" distinction made famous by a certain disgruntled Def Jam employee.

Dame Dash 2

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Jay-Z "Put On (Remix)" (2008)

LYRIC: "All these niggas taking credit for the work that I put in/If you really put me on, put yourself on then”
SHOTS FIRED? YES. More ire, more ire!

Deshawn Stevenson

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Jay-Z "Blow The Whistle (Freestyle) '08" (2008)

LYRIC: "Uh! Ask my nigga Lebron!/We so big we ain't gotta respond”
SHOTS FIRED? YES. DeShawn Stevenson became perhaps the unlikeliest person on the wrong end of a Jigga dis when he had the audacity to talk reckless about Jay-Z BFF Bron Bron during a heated Wiz-Cavs playoff series.


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Jay-Z "Jocking Jay-Z" (2009)

LYRIC: "That bloke from Oasis said I couldn't play guitar/Somebody should have told him I'm a fuckin' rock star”
SHOTS FIRED? YES. Noel Gallagher of Oasis publicly questioned the decision to book Jay-Z as the headliner for the U.K.'s biggest music festival. In addition to mock-crooning "Wonderwall" at the concert, Hov threw a dart at Noel on this track.

Lil Wayne/Black Eyed Peas

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Jay-Z "D.O.A. (Death of Autotune)" (2009)

LYRIC: "You niggas' jeans too tight/Your colors too bright, your voice too light”
SHOTS FIRED? MAYBE. T-Pain is the artist who caught the most feelings (despite Hov specifically noting that he and Kanye were not the subject of the song), but a closer read of Hov's diatribe suggests that he may be attacking Weezy (red jeans from "A Milli" video?) or even the last to successfully hop on the Auto-Tune bandwagon, BEP ("Boom Boom Pow"?). Like Marley said: Who the cap fit, let him wear it.

Joe Budden 2

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Jay-Z "Reminder" (2009)

LYRIC: "Now everybody's senile on me/Throwbacks, I threw 'em back, remember those, button-ups? Young Hov, tell them ordinary Joes button up”
SHOTS FIRED? MAYBE. Budden Stans tend to be a little paranoid but it's hard to overlook the wordplay on this otherwise forgettable song.

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