Hip-Hop Diss Tracks That Are Better Than Songs They Respond To
The one who strikes first doesn’t always walk away with the W. That’s a lesson the rap world has learned through years of rappers’ clapback songs crushing the diss tracks from the enemies they’re responding to.
Sometimes, the rap clapback plays out exactly as you thought it would. When Nas unloaded his Hov-dissing track “Stillmatic Freestyle” after Jay-Z called him out at Hot 97’s 2001 Summer Jam, he had to know Hov had more heat coming his way. By the time Jay-Z’s The Blueprint album dropped that September, the rapper had delivered a ferocious blow everyone should’ve expected. That blow was “Takeover,” which, despite what a lot of fans had to say about Nas’ subsequent diss “Ether” being better, was by far the best record in that historic back-and-forth.
In other instances, the response diss track comes from places fans never expected. When Ice Cube used his guest verse on Mack 10’s 1995 song “Westside Slaughterhouse” to diss Common, it’s hard to imagine he knew the fury Com would strike back with the following year on the scathing reply “The Bitch in Yoo.”
As is the case with most diss songs, the artist who manages to be the most incisive and outright disrespectful usually takes home the win. Sometimes, one rapper will fire off a minor diss on a low-key track that isn’t even about beef only to have the person they name-drop or allude to come back to empty a full clip through a whole diss song.
Now, it’s time to look at some epic diss tracks that were better than the ones they responded to. Full disclosure: Tupac Shakur’s “Hit ’Em Up” won’t be on this list. The song, which was released after The Notorious B.I.G. dropped “Who Shot Ya”—the New York rapper recorded the track months before Tupac was shot, doesn’t respond to a particular diss track since Biggie’s effort wasn’t a diss track in the first place. Still, there are plenty of other epic clapbacks to address.
Today, XXL takes a look at diss songs that were better than the ones they responded to. Peep the list below to see which diss tracks made the cut.