Angel Haze and Azealia Banks have gotten 2013 off to quite the rip-roaring start with their rapidly ballooning beef of the last few days. Unlike the old days, where a feud might take months to reach wax on both sides, these days you can get a dis track up and out there in a matter of hours, with Haze v. Banks easily setting new land-speed records for rate of dis tracks produced. The whole thing has gotten our blood up, and left us craving more.
So for our weekend playlist, we're dipping into some of the greatest dis tracks of all-time—not just the hip-hop battle classics, but some of the best pop and rock snipes as well. Cue the "Shook Ones, Pt. II" beat!
CARLY SIMON, "YOU'RE SO VAIN"
The most legendary anonymous dis track of all-time, with the arrogant source of Carly's bile forever a mystery to the general public, though rumors have connected it to Warren Beatty, James Taylor and Mick Jagger over the years. (Simon has even given away three letters of the culprit's name, "A," "E" and "R," and once auctioned off the secret to NBC executive Dick Ebersol for $50,000.) Disses will rarely, if ever again come as inspired as the brilliantly simple "You're so vain / you probably think this song is about you."
The greatest dis track of the 21st century, with Jay-Z absolutely laying Mobb Deep and Nas to waste over a Kanye West Doors-sampling beat that sounds like a military phalanx gradually creeping on an unsuspecting group of foot soldiers. Nearly every line is an oft-referenced classic, from "We don't believe you, you need more people" to "You made it a hot line, I made it a hot song," to the door-closing final couplet "And all you other cats throwin' shots at Jigga / You only get half a bar, fuck y'all niggas." A gold standard in the format.
ROXANNE SHANTE, "ROXANNE'S REVENGE"
One of the first female-rapped dis tracks, and part of one of the most legendary back-and-forths in hip-hop history. Roxanne Shanté recorded "Roxanne's Revenge" in response to UTFO's "Roxanne Roxanne" (about a stuck-up girl who dissed the group, though not actually about Shanté) at the age of 14, setting off the "Roxanne Wars," which ended up encompassing about a dozen different songs from nearly as many different artists. So if anybody else feels like jumping in this Hayes-Banks beef for no real reason, there's historical precedent.
JOHN LENNON, "HOW DO YOU SLEEP?"
After dissolving at the turn of the decade, pop music's most beloved songwriting duo started taking some shots at one another, including John Lennon throwing Paul McCartney under the bus with 1971's "How Do You Sleep?," including "The only thing you done was yesterday / And since you've gone you're just another day" and "Those freaks was right when they said you was dead." It was apparently enough to make Ringo go "That's enough, John," and the dis records sorta stopped from there, but it remains a fascinating chapter in post-Beatles history.
KANYE WEST, "COLD"
Not a dis track, necessarily, but it contained the best lyrical dis of 2012, to Kanye's baby-mama-to-be's ex-husband Kris Humphries, then of the New Jersey Nets, where 'Ye brags that Kris is "lucky I ain't have Jay drop him from the team." Humphries has yet to recover, falling out of favor with the Nets and apparently being driven half-nuts whenever he hears a Kanye record in the club now.
For more dis tracks, including 2Pac and Taylor Swift, click NEXT.
ALANIS MORISSETTE, "YOU OUGHTA KNOW"
The "You're So Vain" of the '90s, except with lyrics about movie-theater blow jobs. They say that this one is actually about Dave Coulier of Full House, which makes us think that maybe it's best Carly Simon never tells us who "Vain" is about, after all.
2PAC, "HIT 'EM UP"
Any dis track that begins with the lyric "That's why I fucked yo' bitch, you fat motherfucker" is probably gonna be a corker, and indeed, 2Pac's "Hit 'Em Up" remains stunning nearly two decades later in its gleeful villainy. Pac's feud with the Notorious B.I.G. obviously escalated quickly and ended quite tragically, but the dis records it produced—also including Biggie's "Who Shot Ya?"—were some of the all-time best.
GUNS N ROSES, "GET IN THE RING"
Only Axl Rose would devote an entire track on his band's blockbuster double album to shooting back at the magazine critics who have said mean things about him over the years, naming names from the likes of Hit Parader, Kerrang! and SPIN, concluding "Get in the ring, and I'll kick your bitchy little ass, punk!" To date, none of the mag scribes have taken Axl up on his proposal, which is probably for the best.
50 CENT, "HOW TO ROB"
Really, the biggest dis of all when it came to 50 Cent's breakout single was probably being left off altogether, since nearly every rapper and R&B singer of note from the turn of the century makes an appearance, including TQ, Canibus and even gospel singer Kirk Franklin. About a half-dozen of the rappers that 50 jacked in this song created response tracks, which only leaves about 35 to go.
TAYLOR SWIFT, "DEAR JOHN"
Don't worry John Mayer, it's not actually being presumptuous—the song is definitely about you.