The Greatest Diss Tracks of All Time, Ranked

Rap battles have always spurred debate, but the recent feud between Drake and Kendrick Lamar has pushed these discussions into the mainstream. Their conflict, played out over seven tracks, revived old questions about the rules and ethics of rap battles.

The escalation reached a peak with Drake’s “Family Matters” and Kendrick’s counter with “meet the grahams.” These tracks were marked by severe personal attacks. Drake alleged personal misconduct in Kendrick’s life, while Kendrick accused Drake of drug abuse and questionable associations.

The severity of their exchanges divided public opinion, with many questioning if the artists had ventured too far. This incident is a reminder that while the stakes have risen with the commercial success of artists like Kendrick, the nature of rap battles has always involved pushing boundaries.

Reflecting on the history of rap battles, we compiled a list of the 15 most intense diss tracks to demonstrate that the aggressive spirit of these confrontations has been a constant, even if the visibility and impact of such tracks have evolved.

10. Eminem – “Nail in the Coffin”

At one time, the world’s largest rap label found itself embroiled in a heated conflict with the premier rap publication. The contention began when The Source awarded Eminem‘s fourth album, The Eminem Show, a rating of four out of five mics. Eminem speculated that the score was suppressed due to a personal vendetta from the magazine’s co-owner, Raymond “Benzino” Scott. Benzino retaliated with diss tracks “Pull Your Skirt Up” and “Die Another Day.” Eminem’s counter was the mixtape Shady Times: Invasion Pt. 1, which featured multiple tracks targeting The Source and Benzino. The standout track, “Nail in the Coffin,” saw Eminem aggressively criticizing Benzino’s rap credentials and financial status. While this feud wasn’t the sole cause of The Source’s decline, it certainly heralded the beginning of the magazine’s downturn in the rap industry.

9. Cam’ron – “Dear Stan”

Stanley Drayton, also known as Wise from Hype Williams’ 1998 film Belly, might not be a household name. However, he was the target of one of Cam’ron‘s most cutting diss tracks. At the peak of his career, following the success of his album Come Home With Me and the Diplomats’ Diplomatic Immunity, Cam’ron was preparing to launch Purple Haze. Despite his busy schedule, he found time to repurpose The 45 King’s beat from Eminem’s “Stan” for a ferocious attack on Stan Spit, as Drayton was known in the rap world. Cam’ron’s lyrics did not pull any punches, citing personal grievances and even invoking Stan’s late mother in his verses. He also accused Stan of using disses to gain fame and claimed a personal betrayal involving Stan’s wife. The track remains a stark example of how deeply personal rap battles can get.

8. Eazy E – “Real Muthaphuckkin G’s”

After being labeled “Sleazy-E” and targeted in several tracks on Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg‘s The Chronic, Eazy-E hit back with the sharp rebuttal “Real Muthaphuckkin G’s.” Recruiting Ruthless Records newcomers Dresta and B.G. Knocc Out, possibly with Dresta ghostwriting Eazy’s verses, the track delivered aggressive lyrics with convincing delivery, suggesting the words were truly Eazy’s own. The song didn’t shy away from controversy, directly mocking Dre’s authenticity as a Crip and flaunting the fact that Eazy was still profiting from Dre’s earlier contractual obligations to Ruthless Records.

Eazy-E didn’t hold back, explicitly denouncing Dre and Snoop Dogg, and even revisiting Dre’s past incidents of domestic violence to undermine his street credibility, referencing his earlier days with the World Class Wreckin’ Cru. Despite or perhaps because of its confrontational content, “Real Muthaphuckkin G’s” became a mainstream success. It remains one of Eazy-E’s most successful singles, reaching No. 42 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1993, marking his highest position on the chart.

7. Nas – “Ether”

After Jay-Z delivered the cutting “Takeover” in 2001, many hip-hop aficionados speculated whether Nas’s reputation would recover. Far from conceding, Nas took three months to craft a formidable response, “Ether,” which he featured on his album Stillmatic. In this track, Nas fired back relentlessly, accusing Jay-Z of imitating his style from Biggie and other Queens rappers. The song, underscored by a provocative Tupac sample chanting “F—k Jay-Z,” saw Nas ridiculing Jay-Z’s attempt at trendy fitness with Tae Bo, his overshadowing by Eminem on “Renegade,” and even taunting his physical appearance.

Nas’s sharp retort marked a turning point in the feud, tipping the scales in his favor and reigniting his prominence in the rap scene. “Ether” did more than just challenge Jay-Z; it reignited Nas’s career and elevated Stillmatic to an esteemed position in his discography, cementing his legacy as a formidable force in hip-hop.

6. Kendrick Lamar – “meet the grahams”

Described as “creepy,” “sadistic,” and “insane,” the song that Kendrick Lamar dropped in response to Drake certainly made an impact. Initially, it seemed Drake had taken the lead in 2024’s most talked-about rap feud with his release of “Family Matters.” However, Kendrick quickly turned the tables. Within 30 minutes, he released “meet the grahams,” which effectively nullified Drake’s effort.

The response was unprecedented. The track featured what was dubbed the Dennis Graham Dossier, showcasing items linked to Drake’s father. Kendrick’s somber dialogues set to Alchemist’s melancholic production, where he allegedly speaks to each member of Drake’s family, including his rumored daughter, was a striking display of psychological warfare. The track ended with Kendrick denouncing Drake as a liar, a move that resonated with many.

Despite some claims of limited replay value, the song has proved its potency, sounding potent on a good sound system and climbing to No. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100. This release was a strategic masterpiece in the realm of musical confrontations.

5. Nicki Minaj – Roman’s Revenge (ft Eminem)

Targeting Lil’ Kim with lines like “has-been/hang it up/flatscreen,” “Roman’s Revenge” draws its inspiration from the seminal diss track “Roxanne’s Revenge.” The song showcases Nicki Minaj and Eminem’s alter egos exchanging fierce verses. Minaj’s sharp lyrics take the lead, overshadowing Eminem’s typically intense contributions and relegating him to a secondary role. In response, Lil’ Kim’s “Black Friday” attempted to counter, but fell short of matching the impact of Minaj’s provocations.

4. 50 Cent – “Back Down”

Ja Rule still feels haunted by 50 Cent, even decades after their initial conflict began. The feud, one of the most prolonged in hip-hop history, features 50 Cent’s relentless barbs, both in his music and public comments. A notable example is the track “Back Down” from his album “Get Rich or Die Tryin’,” where 50 Cent unleashes a brutal verbal assault on Ja Rule and his associates at Murder Inc.

In “Back Down,” 50 Cent’s lyrics are particularly harsh, threatening to eliminate Ja Rule’s family in a merciless tirade. He even infuses humor into his insults, managing to make comparisons of Ja Rule to a Pop Tart and the Cookie Monster sound menacing. Beyond personal attacks, 50 Cent critiques Ja Rule’s career, crediting Jay-Z and DMX for any relevance he holds in the rap industry. This track exemplifies 50 Cent’s strategic dominance in the feud, further cementing his reputation as a master of rap battles.

3. Drake – “Family Matters”

In a rap battle that may be remembered as one of the greatest, Drake and Kendrick Lamar exchanged a series of diss tracks, culminating in seven releases within a single week. Among these, Drake’s “Family Matters” stands out as a pointed seven-minute critique targeting Lamar and his circle. Drake pulls no punches, levying serious accusations including domestic violence against Lamar’s fiancée, Whitney, with lines like, “Your baby mama captions always screamin’, ‘Save me’/ You did her dirty all your life, you tryna make peace.”

Drake further escalates the conflict by suggesting that Kendrick’s manager, Dave Free, might be the father of one of Kendrick’s children, with a cutting remark: “Why you never hold your son and tell him, ‘Say cheese’?” However, Drake’s attempt to dominate was short-lived. Kendrick responded swiftly with “Meet the Grahams,” a track that rebutted Drake’s allegations and shifted the balance less than half an hour after Drake’s song dropped, marking a pivotal moment in the feud.

2. 2Pac feat. The Outlawz – “Hit ‘Em Up”

Critics argue that diss tracks should be factual and respectful, and that excessive trolling diminishes their quality. Yet, tracks like “Hit ‘Em Up” have shaped the aggressive mold for such songs. “Hit ‘Em Up” was Tupac’s fiery response to Notorious B.I.G.‘s “Who Shot Ya.” Although it remains unclear whether “Who Shot Ya” was aimed at Tupac, its release shortly after Tupac was shot and robbed at New York’s Quad Studios was provocative enough for him.

In “Hit ‘Em Up,” Tupac’s references to Mobb Deep, Junior M.A.F.I.A., Lil Kim, and Chino XL suggested a broader conflict with the New York rap scene, and by extension, the East Coast. This perception fueled media and fan narratives of an East Coast versus West Coast rivalry, despite the fact that some of Tupac’s collaborators on the track hailed from New York and New Jersey. Nearly three decades later, “Hit ‘Em Up” stands as both a benchmark for diss tracks and a cautionary example of how such conflicts can escalate beyond music.

1. Pusha T – “The Story of Adidon”

The feud between Drake and Pusha T was intense but brief, marked by Pusha T’s sharp lyrical prowess. After Drake released “Duppy Freestyle,” attempting to undermine Pusha T and even mentioning his fiancée, Pusha T retaliated strongly. He shockingly revealed the existence of Drake’s son, Adonis, and criticized Drake’s plans to introduce him publicly through an Adidas campaign. Pusha T’s words were cutting: “You are hiding a child, let that boy come home/ Deadbeat mothaf–ka playin’ border patrol/ Adonis is your son/ And he deserves more than an Adidas press run, that’s real.”

Pusha T did not stop at revealing Drake’s son. He extended his critique to Drake’s family, labeling his father as a deadbeat and dismissively speaking about his mother, Sandy.