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20 Notable Subliminal Disses in Rap History

Vaughn Ridley / Theo Wargo / Jamie McCarthy, Getty Images (3)
Vaughn Ridley / Theo Wargo / Jamie McCarthy, Getty Images (3)

Being an artist in rap is unlike participating in any other musical genre, if only for the possibility of being goaded into directly testing your mettle and going up against the very peers you’re competing with for attention. Much like boxing or football, rap is a contact sport and if you stick around long enough, chances are that you’re bound to get lyrically hit sooner than later, or, in some cases, to be the one doing the swinging. And while direct jabs like KRS-One’s takedown of MC Shan, or 2Pac’s tirade against The Notorious B.I.G. and the rest of the Bad Boy Records family may get the most shine and are among the more infamous instances of heated warfare between two acts or crew, rap has long been littered with broadsides that require a bit more decoding to decipher.

As of late, the amount of subliminal disses in rap has been trending upward, with any and everybody being susceptible to being broken down in just a few bars. Such was the case with Drake‘s recent diss record “Two Birds One Stone,” which saw him throwing thinly veiled slights at the likes of Pusha T, Kid Cudi and possibly Meek Mill as well. Though the OVO leader didn’t directly call out any names, he quickly drew the attention of critics and fans alike, who attempted to make sense of the lines and figure out the intended targets.

With the recent uptick in subliminal disses flying around in rap, XXL highlights 20 of the more notable instances of a rapper getting all Di Vinci Code on us.


1

“Follow the Leader”

Eric B. and Rakim
 
 

“No need to speed, slow down and let the leader lead/Word to daddy indeed/The R’s a rolling stone, so I’m rolling/Directions told then, the rhymes are stolen/Stop buggin’ a brother said dig him, I never dug him/He couldn’t follow the leader long enough so I drug him”

 
2

“Set It Off”

Big Daddy Kane
 
 

“Feel my blood fist, or my death kiss/The rap soloist, you don’t want none of this/Supreme in this era, I reign with terror/When I grab the mic believe you’re gonna hear a/Fascinatin’ rhyme as I enchant them/So let’s all sing the Big Daddy anthem”

 
3

“4, 3, 2, 1″

LL Cool J Featuring Method Man & Redman, Canibus and DMX
 
 

“When young sons fantasize of borrowing flows/Tell little shorty with the big mouth the bank is closed/The symbol on my arm is off limits to challengers/You hold the rusty swords, I swing the Excalibur” – LL Cool J

 
4

“Name Callin'”

Queen Latifah
 
 

“And all you rappers sellin’ more sex than skill, chill/I’ll rip your style, all the while keep my sex appeal/Don’t get it twisted yo, I never really favored you/And I was raised by my niggas from the Flavor U/So fuck givin’ props where they ain’t due, fuck you/And that nigga who wrote the rhyme for you too

 
5

“Bang Bang”

Capone-N-Noreaga Featuring Foxy Brown
 
 

“Why’s you frontin and kickin that street shit/Please, impress me, go back to that freak shit/While your broke-ass was guzzlin’ nuts and shit/I was choppin the weights, leak and O.Z.s and shit/A decoy bitch, like the Feds lie in you/Ain’t you supposed to have a little bitta Bed-Stuy in you?” – Foxy Brown

 
6

“The Summer’s Mine”

Rick Ross
 
 

“You niggas pathetic, leave you paraplegic/You throwin’ up sets but you really from Cleveland/Fuck boi, fuck boi, fuck boi, fuck boi/See I broke it down like a quarter ki/Bitch I run the south, I’m what you wanna be/This how you wanna live, this what you wanna drive/Be honest with yourself I’m who you idolize”

 
7

“Real Niggaz”

MC Ren
 
 

“Styles that kept them full of bull/’Cause the vocals were local in nightclubs and not getting paid in full/They got the nerve to cuss/Only reason niggas pick up your record is cause they thought it was us”

 
8

“Dumb Out”

Joe Budden
 
 

And these young motherfuckers is about to fuck up/Like leaving they whole career in some bitch car/No name, but it’s no sublime/Nigga, you know who you are, I’ll end it before it goes too far/Your buzz still fucked, you a liar money/I’m still spending ‘Pump It Up, ‘Fire’ money”

 
9

“What Up, What’s Haapnin'”

T.I.
 
 

“Just to whom it may concern and who so ever may tryI’m forever Westside and the featherweight dies/Tell them take your best shot, goin’ get yourself hot/’Cause I yell Bankhead and you felt left out I ain’t mention yo name/That’s what all this bout?”

 
10

“King Kunta”

Kendrick Lamar
 
 

“I can dig rappin’, but a rapper with a ghost writer?/What the fuck happened?/I swore I wouldn’t tell/But most of y’all sharing bars like you got the bottom bunk in a two-man cell/Somethin’s in the water/And if I gotta brown nose for some gold/Then I’d rather be a bum than a motherfuckin’ baller”

 
11

“Stay Schemin'”

Rick Ross Featuring Drake and French Montana
 
 

“Back when if a nigga reached it was for the weapon/Nowadays niggas reach just to sell they record/Spaghetti bolognese in the Polo Lounge/Me and my G from D.C. that’s how I roll around/Might look light, but we heavy though/You think Drake will pull some shit like that? You never know” – Drake

 
12

“It’s Okay (One Blood)”

The Game Featuring Junior Reid
 
 

“I don’t know why you niggas keep trying me/Everybody knows I’m the heir to the Aftermath dynasty/And I ain’t gotta make shit for the club/What DJ gonna turn down the 38 snub?/You 38 and you still rapping? Urgh/I’m 26 nigga, so is the dubs”

 
13

“Stomp (Remix)”

Young Buck Featuring Ludacris, T.I. and The Game
 
 

“So pimpin’, be easy; quit catchin’ feelings/’Cause you worth a couple hundred grand, and I’m worth millions/Nobody thinkin’ bout you; plus your beef ain’t legit/So please stay off the T-I-P of my dick” – Ludacris

 
14

“Man Down”

Mobb Deep Featuring Big Noyd
 
 

“Yo nigga Noyd, what’s the topic? Yo, the topic is this/Let me start from the beginning at the top of the list/First of all them tight niggas with that space down shit/I stick a rocket up in they ass and give em a lift/My marvelous Mobb is tonic, intoxicant, B. Sweet/Morphine raps, you get dope from N.O.Y.D” – Big Noyd

 
15

“We Will Survive”

Nas
 
 

“But fuck it Black, you livin your life, through your loved ones/Peace to your daughter and your newborn son/It used to be fun, makin records to see your response/But, now competition is none, now that you’re gone/And these niggas is wrong — using your name in vain/And they claim to be New York’s king? It ain’t about that”

 
16

“Kick in the Door”

The Notorious B.I.G.
 
 

“Ain’t no other kings in this rap thing/They siblings, nothing but my children/One shot they disappearin’/It’s ill when MCs used to be on cruddy shit/Took home Ready to Die, listened, studied shit/Now they on some money shit, successful out the blue”

 
17

“Exodus 23:1″

Pusha T
 
 

“Contract all fucked up/I guess that means you all fucked up/You signed to one nigga that signed to another nigga/That’s signed to three niggas, now that’s bad luck/Damn that shit even the odds now, you better off selling this hard now/You call it living out your dreams/You can’t fly without your wings”

 
18

“Quiet Storm (Remix)”

Mobb Deep Featuring Lil Kim
 
 

“The embezzler, chrome treasurer/The U-N-O competitor, I’m ten steps ahead of ya/I’m a leader, y’all on some followin’ shit/Comin’ in this game on some modeling shit/Bitches suck cock just to get to the top/I put a hundred percent in every line I drop” – Lil Kim

 
19

“Let Me Know”

Cam’ron
 
 

“Get 30 thou now your actions begun/Actin and fun nigga after taxes you’re done/Cars impounded, New York must stop biting and start writing/And start malice, when the fuck we start bouncin’?/We stash ounces, make a nigga start clownin/We spark round and nigga that’s your heart pounding”

 
20

“Ride or Die”

Jay Z
 
 

“Always gotta be the weakest nigga out the crew/I probably make more money off yo’ album, than you/You see the respect I get every time I come through/Check your own videos, you’ll always be number two/Niggas talking real greasy on them R&B records/But I’m platinum a million times nigga, check the credits”

 

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