The beauty of the sneak diss is that it provides its author with at least some measure of plausible deniably: I wasn’t rapping about you; I was just rapping, in general, about wack MCs. Think about Kurupt’s “Calling Out Names.” Now imagine the opposite.

The Notorious B.I.G. was a ruler of the sly, nameless diss in the 1990s, Jay-Z grabbed the baton during the next decade and Drake appears to have picked up that mantle for his own generation.

Slick wordplay is integral to the foundation of hip-hop. But what’s slicker than destroying or threatening your opponent so casually that you don’t even bother to drop his or her name on a track? These salty, veiled, subliminal disses have long been part of the culture. Often, they slip through the cracks undetected by the casual listener or they require multiple hearings to decode. Sometimes, they can come and go, amounting to nothing more than warning shots. No harm, no foul.

Or, they can plant the seeds for a full-on lyrical assault, where the target eventually becomes easily identified. Memorable feuds like Jay-Z vs. Nas and Drake vs. Pusha-T began with the exchange of subliminal disses first.

XXL takes a look at 10 rap tracks that you might have been unaware contain some hidden disses and give educated guesses as to who the intended target may be. Listen closely. —Luke Fox

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