Early in hip hop’s history, battle rapping was a way for two MCs to verbally “spar” or “combat” each other. Much of the battles consisted of bragging about oneself or dissing the other rapper. One of the earliest and most famous rap battles was been between Kool Moe Dee and Busy Bee Starski. This epic rap battle marked a pivotal change in hip hop music because of the distinct differences in the hiphop MCs’ style of rapping.
Kool Moe Dee was a story teller with hardcore lyrics, while Busy Bee Starski was more of crowd pleasing, entertaining style of rapper. Kool Moe Dee won this rap and its significance in hip hop is still being felt today. People began to expect that rap lyrics not only have substance, but that they be pleasing to the audience as well. After this battle, these notable hip hop beefs arose.
1. Easy E Vs. Dr. Dre
2. Westside Connection vs. Common
3. Boogie Down Productions vs. Juice Crew
4. LL Cool J Vs Kool Moe Dee
Famous Rap Battles
Notorious B.I.G. (Biggie Smalls) Vs. Tupac (2Pac)
The most widely known rap battle in hip hop history was the battle between Notorious B.I.G. vs. 2Pac. The rap beef between these two hip hop MCs set off a chain reaction in the United States, seemingly pitting West Coast Rap against East Coast Rap in the mid 90’s. The ironic thing about this battle was that Christopher Wallace and Tupac Shakur were once good friends. This rap battle had no winners as both rappers ended up being killed due to their escalated feud.
Benzino Vs. Eminem
This rap battle between Benzino and Eminem started when The Source Magazine ranked Eminem’s album with 2/5 Mics. At the time of the beef, The Source was one of the leading hip hop magazines with Benzino having a stake in a percentage of ownership. Benzino released a diss entitled “Pull Your Skirt Up”. In the diss Benzino challenged Eminem’s street credibility. Eminem responded to this diss shortly after with a verbal assault on the rapper and his Magazine. It was generally accepted that Eminem won this battle.
Ja Rule vs. 50 Cent
Before signing to Interscope/Aftermath/Shady, 50 cent was involved in a rap battle with Ja Rule. According to 50 Cent, the rap beef started in 2000 when a friend robbed Ja Rule for some jewelry. Ja Rule thought 50 put his friend up to it and retaliation ensued. 50 Cent was later stabbed and shot 9 times. In addition to physical violence, the beef went on wax. 50 cent ended up signing his deal with Interscope/Aftermath/Shady and brought with it an onslaught against Ja. 50 cent’s G-Unit affiliates, Eminem, D12, Busta Rhymes, and more got in on the verbal demolition to ultimately “end” Ja Rule’s rap career.
Nas Vs Jay-Z
This high profile rap battle between the two titans of hip hop began in 2001. Jay -Z and Nas verbally sparred on their respective albums, The Blueprint and Stillmatic. Jay-Z’s most notable diss on The Blueprint was his song entitled “Takeover”. Nas responded with “Ether”. The feud continued until 2006 when the lyricists retired their beef after Jay-Z became president of Def Jam. Hov signed Nas to Def Jam and two MC’s settled their differences.