There's nothing quite like a good rivalry to stir up the music scene. For this month's collaborative blog, members of the collective discuss what they consider to be some of the most ruthless diss tracks and comeback songs.
Song: “Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth”
Artist: The Dandy Warhols
Album: ...The Dandy Warhols Come Down
Out of The Dandy Warhols/Brian Jonestown Massacre rivalry came one of the most smart-ass, disparaging diss tracks of the 90s. Unlike a decent majority of diss tracks, The Dandy Warhols didn’t use metaphors or have any hidden meaning on who “Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth” is about - it’s an obvious dig at Brian Jonestown for turning into asshole rockstar junkies. The Dandies were clever enough to use bold and straightforward lyrics (i.e. “I never thought you’d get addicted, just be cooler in an obvious way”) along with that super memorable hook (“heroin is so passe”) to not only make a harsh insult track, but a really catchy song. That’s key here, to not only tell your rivals that they suck, but get everyone in 1997 singing along in congruence and joining your side. Subsequently, Brian Jonestown made a comeback song “Not If You Were the Last Dandy on Earth”, which has some great jabs on the Dandies being sell-outs with that big production music video, but it’s not nearly as catchy or fun to listen to as the The Dandy's hit. Though I’m more of a Brian Jonestown fan myself, I can safely say that they lost this one.
Artist: Mariah Carey
Album: Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel
No one throws shade like Mariah. There are countless times that she’s shown the world how quick-witted and sassy she is (like this clip with Barbara Walters on her Nicki Minaj feud), but this song in particular cements her forever status at the Ultimate Queen Diva.Though she never uses his name, this is an obvious diss towards Eminem after he kept lying that he used to date Mariah. Eminem made a couple of insult tracks about her, which are all graphic and threatening, making him look so petty and obsessed with trying to take her down. Mariah, on the other hand, delivers her comeback with class. She makes him look delusional while also building herself up to be an unattainable and confident woman (“Finally found a girl that you couldn't impress/Last man on the earth, still couldn't get this”). Essentially, this song is a reminder to not fuck with Mariah, ‘cause this game is hers.
Song: “No More Dating DJs (Yam Who Radio Edit)”
Artist: Nick Holder feat. Jemini
Album: No More Dating DJs
Not a diss track to any particular artist or any siding for any particular rivalry, this diss track is directed toward the patriarchal culture of electronic and hip-hop artists. When I first listened to this one I just hooted and hollered 'cause it made me so happy to hear! I performed 15 consecutive somersaults for joy and gratitude for this track’s greatness.
Artist: Ride Committee feat. Roxy
Again, not a traditional diss/rivalry track, but more one that you could use as a hardcore diss to anyone whose boo you’d like to see have a ‘terrible, horrible accident’. Roxy is an incredible gem that really deserves way more attention for the marvelous qween and weirdo she was! Enjoy with a light heart while also getting down to the funky groove underneath.
Song: “Real Muthaphuckkin’ G’s”
Album: 187um Killa
My favorite thing about this song and the other songs on this album is that they call out Dr. Dre for going from a clear-eyed, cologne-sporting, polyester-wearing wedding DJ to a chronic-obsessed cop-killing 40-drinking gangster rapper in like two years. I mean, he invented the song that spawned the most Urkel-looking dance I’ve ever seen! It’s Dr. Dre, the guy who would go on to rap about bodies being found on Greenleaf with their fuckin’ heads cut off. Eazy-E said OK Dr. Dre I remember seeing you like in a different...context. And now you’re gonna come out and say you’re going to like fuck me and kill me in so many words well here’s the truth. But then the real truth is that the best part of this song is the echo during the chorus.
Song: “Hit ‘Em Up”
Album: B-side to “How Do U Want It”
Even though the opening little sketch of this song perpetuates what Gayle Rubin had long since identified as the “traffic in women” by rendering Faith Evans, the Notorious B.I.G.’s wife, exchangeable and leverageable in a dispute that’s essentially about making money more than anything else--even though this song probably only came out because Suge Knight and the profiteers in his ear were like Hey this diss track stuff is really lucrative we could get rich while these very talented poets and former friends literally start a war: despite those very important modern-day qualifiers, this is still way way way up there with the best diss tracks ever. In history. From the very beginning [of time] it’s like 2Pac saying, Here, here are all my cards. [And he’s got all the cards here.] You wanted to see my cards, here they are. [It’s a winning hand.] How could you think you could have better cards? I’m 2Pac! What the fuck were you thinking! And he’s drinking champagne and laughing and having a good time about it. Then cut to Puff Daddy sitting in his office getting fed grapes and fanned with palm fronds and suddenly an assistant comes in tells him, “It’s over. We lost.” And everything turns to ash. You can’t beat 2Pac rapping.
Song: “Seventy Times 7”
Artist: Brand New
Album: Your Favorite Weapon
This dude really said “I hope you choke and die.” And then he goes on about all the ice on the roads and the no-seatbelt, then the poor guy he’s singing about gets in a car crash and goes head-first through the windshield, flying through the air and probably landing dead on the pavement. What I wanna know is, how could this Brand New dude not have heard that song “Last Kiss”? Did he hear it and think, Wow, what an imaginative song I think I’m gonna try to write a song like that? Or was it more like, Wow, what a horrible tragedy--just horrible enough to apply to this situation with Taking Back Sunday?
Song: “Taped Conversation” a.k.a. “You Don’t Know Me”
Artist: Young Buck
Pretty sure this came out on a mixtape or something. Do y’all remember this? It was ten years ago now, but I can remember it as if it were yesterday. Times were simpler then; people only got online on their computers. Most folks would access the web to try and learn something, like what a zzxjoanw is, or what ever happened to Screech. They called it the “Information Superhighway.” And on that superhighway was a website, ostensibly run by 50 Cent, called ThisIs50.com. And on that website 50 published a secretly recorded conversation that caught Young Buck crying. 50 Cent was really rubbing Young Buck’s nose in it. And you know, this wasn’t that long after the Watergate scandal, which had really rattled the nation. We were just beginning to rally when 50 Cent came and pulled his back-stabbing publicity stunt. So this diss track is important because it shows 50 Cent to be a treasonous asshole who makes life hard for Young Buck and many other great Americans.
Song: “200 Bars and Runnin’”
Artist: The Game
Album: Another mixtape?
Allow me to really drive the point home here: 50 Cent is a bad guy--I mean much worse than, say, Dr. Dre or Eazy-E or 2Pac or Biggie or whoever--50 Cent is where you start getting into like the evil villain Mr. Burns-type of guy. But I heard he’s going bankrupt. Anyway, this song by The Game is another 50 Cent diss, I think, although it also touches on many other members with whom Game has feuded, which is maybe one reason why it had to be 200 bars because the Game talks so much shit. But at the same time it’s 200 bars! That’s a lot of bars. A lot of bars and a lot of drinking: the title of the Game’s memoir.
Song: “Back to Back”
Album: Back to Back - Single
A well-known philanthropist from Baltimore once said, “You come at the king, you best not miss.” Meek Mill learned this lesson the hard way in the summer of 2015. You see, Meek was upset with the fact that Drake wasn’t helping him promote his new album. In fact, he got so upset that he went on Twitter and accused Drizzy of using ghostwriters on their collaboration track “R.I.C.O.” About a week later, Drake responded - first with “Charged Up,” which I haven’t listened to in almost 3 years because the follow-up, “Back to Back” remains my favorite track Drake has ever dropped. It’s also a testament to Drake’s grip on the hip hop scene. Meek tried to fire back with the Undertaker-sampling hot mess “Wanna Know” - a song that I still stop giving a shit about 2 and a half minutes in. Meek became a walking internet punchline overnight and sabotaged his career in the process - all over a case of Twitter Fingers.
Artist: Fear Factory
In 2002, Fear Factory broke up. They reunited less than a year later; however, they left out founding guitarist Dino Cazares, who still had some bad blood with the rest of the band. Nowhere is this more evident than the title track from their comeback (from less than a year?) album, Archetype. The band initially broke up because Cazares attempted to downplay the contributing roles of vocalist Burton C. Bell and bassist Christian Olde Wolbers, and accused them of being all about the money. Bell and Wolbers accused Cazares of only chasing dollar signs in return, and made a jab at him with the lines “The infection has been removed/The soul of this machine has improved” when they came back. It’s my favorite Fear Factory song because it’s heavy, catchy, and those drums will stay stuck in your head for the rest of your life. Of course, Cazares made up and rejoined the band in 2009, and they haven’t really played it live ever since. Bummer.
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