Kool Moe Dee vs. LL Cool J
Won't somebody please think of the Kangols! One of the premier hip-hop beefs of the 80s (See Also: Boogie Down Productions vs. Juice Crew, UTFO vs. Roxanne Shante vs. 25,000 Other Response Records) pitted Treacherous Three alum Kool Moe Dee against LL Cool J in an amazing battle of wills and skills that produced classic diss tracks like LL's "Jack The Ripper" and Kool Moe Dee's "Let's Go." What was all the tension over? Kool Moe Dee felt LL ripped him off and wasn't showing enough respect to the artists that came before him. Both MCs went after each other for years and it bled into the 90s with Ladies Love Cool James landing some big blows via his smash "Mama Said Knock You Out." LL would find himself in another high profile feud in the 90s courtesy of his beef with "Second Round K.O." combatant Canibus.
N.W.A. vs. Ice Cube
It's fairly safe to say that when the words "No Vaseline" show up in a group's bio, things didn't always go swimmingly for everyone involved. Ice Cube was a pivotal member of N.W.A. in their early years, but a royalty dispute had the future Are We There Yet? star exiting the group. (To be fair, he was responsible for writing a huge chunk of the lyrics on Straight Outta Compton.) N.W.A. took some shots at their old crewmate on the tracks "100 Miles and Runnin'" ("It started with five but yo, one couldn't take it / So now there's four 'cause the fifth couldn't make it") and "Real N***az" but were absolutely obliterated by Cube's legendary response track "No Vaseline." The feud also had a particularly nasty spinoff when Dr. Dre assaulted Pump It Up host Dee Barnes over an appearance Cube made on her program. The friction between Ice Cube and his former bandmates would dissolve over time and we've seen assorted reunions connecting the "It Was A Good Day" talent and his fellow N.W.A. alums.
Eazy-E vs. Dr. Dre
Elsewhere in the world of N.W.A. related tension, let's turn our attention to the Dr. Dre and Eazy-E beef of the early 90s. Both artists were out of the group when they laid into each other, but that was largely because Dre wanted out. (Legend has it took Suge Knight using Suge Knight tactics to lock down the release.) If you'll comb through The Chronic, you'll see a healthy barrage of barbs aimed in Eazy-E's direction. Eazy-E responded with an EP titled It's On (Dr. Dre) 187um Killa that featured its own stockpile of venom. In addition to trading shots in their recordings, music videos from both parties were laced an assortment of visual jabs.
Tupac Shakur vs. The Notorious B.I.G.
Unquestionably the most tragic of all the entries on this list, these two hip-hop luminaries gained martyr status in the late 90s after both were murdered in drive-by shootings. Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. went from friends to rivals to enemies in a fairly short span of time. Tupac interpreted Biggie's 1995 classic "Who Shot Ya?" to be a reference to Tupac being shot in Manhattan the year previous. The two parties dug into each other on a number of tracks ("Hit "Em Up" ranks as the best remembered of Tupac's attacks) and were seen as figureheads in the East Coast vs. West Coast hip-hop rivalry. Both men were killed before the feud could be resolved and music fans still wonder what could have been if the senseless tragedies had been avoided.
Sean Combs vs. Suge Knight
Suge Knight and Sean Combs (or "Puff Daddy" if we want the moniker to match the era) also had issues with each other in the East Coast/West Coast feud that extended beyond the Biggie/Tupac stuff. At the 1995 Source Awards, Knight called out Puffy after hitting the stage to collect his Best Soundtrack trophy. "Any artist out there that want to be an artist and stay a star and don’t have to worry about the executive producer trying to be all in the videos, all on the record, dancing... come to Death Row!" boomed the Death Row Records czar. Death Row and Bad Boy traded a number of shots during their beef and Suge Knight would allege that Combs had something to do with the shooting death of his friend Jake Robles.
Jay Z vs. Nas
The feud by which all others of the modern era are measured, Nas vs. Jay Z featured some absolute lyrical masterpieces from both parties. Heck, Nas may lay claim to the undisputed champ of diss tracks in the form of the soul-scorching cut "Ether." Hov was no slouch either, bringing tracks like "Takeover" and "Supa Ugly" into the world. Things got so heated during this beef that Nas was kicked off Hot 97's Summer Jam for planning to lynch a Jay Z dummy during his set. Oddly enough, Nasir Jones and Shawn Carter put an end to their feud a few years later when Nas was signed to Def Jam. The pair have since recorded and performed together like nothing nasty ever happened.
50 Cent vs. Ja Rule
50 Cent and Ja Rule were both chart titans at the time of their feud, but Ja Rule was the one that tumbled to the bottom by the time this beef cooled down. The origin story of their feud features a tale of (alleged) robbery and 50 getting stabbed by a Murder Inc. associate. 50 Cent and Ja Rule took repeated shots at one another with 50 gets a lot of mileage out of mocking Ja Rule's voice. (Eminem would also jump in after Ja Rule mocked his ex-wife and daughter on "Loose Change.") The Murder Inc rapper faded from view not long after the feud and his opponent was internationally recognized as the victor.
50 Cent vs. Kanye West
Clocking in as the most pro wrestling-esque of the feuds featured in this gallery, 50 Cent and Kanye West went toe-to-toe in a battle to see who could see more records in their first week. Ever the showman, 50 Cent declared that he'd never release another solo record again if Kanye's Graduation thumped Curtis on the charts. Yeezy would emerge victorious selling nearly a million copies of his album in its debut week, while 50 Cent trailed by over 200K in units moved. (In short, both guys had exciting news to tell their accountants.) As you may have noticed, 50 didn't stick to his solo album retirement vow. He chose to spin the high sales for both parties as a major win for the recording industry in general.
50 Cent vs. Rick Ross
50 Cent (yes, him again) and Rick Ross have had tension since the 2009 BET Awards when the "In Da Club" rapper may or may not have given Ross an unpleasant look. Ross and 50 Cent traded insults on a number of songs and Ross even staged a mock funeral for his rival in the video for "In Cold Blood." 50 Cent dug into Rick Ross' past to call it his former work as a correctional officer. The taunting also continued in a video where he interviewed the mother of one of Ross' children and he also showcased a sex tape featuring Ross' baby mama Lastonia Leviston. The sex tape would come back to burn 50 Cent in 2015 as he lost a lawsuit filed by the woman in the video.
Drake vs. Meek Mill
Drake vs. Meek Mill has served as the marquee beef for the Summer of 2015. Meek Mill took shots at Drake on Twitter where he accused the "Headlines" rapper of relying on a ghostwriter. Drake responded with a pair of tracks: "Charged Up" and "Back To Back." Both of those cuts were front and centre at OVO Fest with Drake playing a greatest hits collection of Meek mocking memes in the background as the crowd went berserk. (A backstage Instagram photo of Drake, Kanye West and Will Smith appearing to laugh about the meme deployment immediately blew up online.) Meek Mill swung back with a diss track of his own titled "Wanna Know." The reception to Meek's offering was lukewarm at best.