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25 tracks that diss other artists

The diss track is a musical track aimed at throwing shade or trash-talking another person, often a fellow artist who has somehow wronged the musician. The concept of the diss track is largely attributed to hip-hop; but while that genre definitely gave the diss track its name and prides itself on its strong diss track roots, diss tracks have been going on for far longer. Examples can be found throughout the history of modern music and across every genre from rap to rock.

Using a variety of resources, including music news from magazines like Rolling Stone and The Hollywood Reporter and other industry sources like Billboard and MTV, Stacker compiled a list of 25 epic diss tracks.

The stories behind these tracks range from funny to tragic. They signify the ends of friendships, the escalation of tensions, or the breakdown of communication. They are between bandmates, lovers, and rivals.

One track isn’t really a diss at all, but rather a miscommunication. Another track is a remake of a diss track. Yet another track features a 14-year-old female rapper. Keep reading to take a closer look 25 diss tracks and the wonderfully inventive insults they have to offer.

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‘Black Friday’ by Lil Kim

Nicki Minaj and Lil Kim have both been very vocal about their lack of love for each other, but things escalated in 2010 when Lil Kim released “Black Friday,” a diss track calling Minaj out with a variety of explicit insults. Apparently, Lil Kim was just getting back at Minaj for dissing her on “Roman’s Revenge,” though Minaj denied that the track was about Lil Kim.

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‘Call Me When You’re Sober’ by Evanescence

In this rock diss, Evanescence’s Amy Lee had some things to say about her ex-boyfriend, Seether’s Shaun Morgan. Just as Morgan was entering rehab, the song aired on radio stations. Although he was unhappy, Morgan said he would not respond using his band’s music. “I just refuse to lower myself to that level. But it was a painful thing, and it got me down—people coming up to me on the street and referring to that song. But I didn’t feel the need to write back and be mean,” the rocker told MTV news.

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‘Cry Me a River’ by Justin Timberlake

Featured on Justin Timberlake’s debut album, “Justified,” “Cry Me a River,” was aimed at his ex, singer Britney Spears. Not only did it accuse her of cheating while they were together, but the music video for the song used a Britney lookalike. When Spears talked to Rolling Stone about Timberlake and the song’s video, she said, “I think it looks like such a desperate attempt, personally. But that was a great way to sell the record. He’s smart.”

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‘Don Henley Must Die’ by Mojo Nixon

Rockabilly singer Mojo Nixon has had more than his fair share of disses; from American pop culture with “Burn Down the Malls” to 1980s pop queen Debbie Gibson with “Debbie Gibson Is Pregnant With My Two-Headed Love Child.”

One of Nixon’s most famous targets was one-time Eagles vocalist/drummer and solo artist Don Henley in the aptly titled “Don Henley Must Die.” That track has lyrics like, “Poet of despair / Pumped up with hot air / He’s serious, pretentious / And I just don’t care,” building up to a chorus of, “Don Henley must die / Put him in the electric chair / Watch him fry!” Henley was a good sport about it, and one night, he even joined Nixon onstage to sing the song along with Nixon.

‘Down in the Dirt’ by Black Flag

The original Black Flag featuring founder Greg Ginn and 1979-era vocalist Ron Reyes called out the newly formed FLAG featuring former Black Flag vocalist Keith Morris and the band’s former drummer and bassist in diss track, “Down in the Dirt.” The lyrics, “Come down from you’re outta the tower / I’m not amused by hissy 15-year-old power / Fiction romance all the things that you say / Come down in the dirt and play,” reveal the power struggle between the now-splintered band. Ginn stated in a press release that Black Flag is “not to be confused with the ‘fake’ Flag band currently covering the songs of Black Flag in an embarrassingly weak ‘mailing it in’ fashion.”

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‘Dude Looks Like A Lady’ by Aerosmith

One night while out at a bar, Aerosmith bandmates saw a pretty lady with long blonde hair—but when the lovely blonde turned around, it was actually singer Vince Neil from Motley Crue. One of the bandmates said, “That dude looks like a lady,” and a hit song was born. The diss was not really a diss but rather a silly mixup, and frontman Neil had no hard feelings. He even writing about the incident in his autobiography, “Tattoos & Tequila: To Hell and Back with One of Rock’s Most Notorious Frontmen.”

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‘Hit ‘Em Up’ by Tupac Shakur

The Notorious B.I.G. released “Who Shot Ya?” a diss track thought to be aimed at fellow rapper Tupac Shakur after he was shot in a 1994 robbery. In response, Shakur unleashed what has been referred to as the most savage and disrespectful diss track of all time. “Hit ‘Em Up” called Biggie out, though the latter refused to respond with a diss track of his own. Both men wound up dead in separate and suspicious drive-by shootings.

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‘Hollaback Girl’ by Gwen Stefani

Gwen Stefani crafted a pop-track-clap-back following Courtney Love’s insulting quote in an issue of Seventeen magazine that said: “Being famous is just like being in high school. But I’m not interested in being the cheerleader. I’m not interested in being Gwen Stefani. She’s the cheerleader, and I’m out in the smoker shed.” Stefani channeled her anger into the 2004 hit about a “Hollaback” girl that mocked the stereotype with lyrics, “That’s right, put your pom-poms down / Getting everybody fired up” and called Love out saying, “heard that you were talking s**t / And you didn’t think that I would hear it / People hear you talking like that/ Getting everybody fired up.” Years later, Love told Howard Stern on his radio show that she and Stefani’s ex-husband Gavin Rossdale had a fling while he and Stefani were dating.

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‘Hot Dog’ by Limp Bizkit

The rift between Nine Inch Nails frontman and solo artist Trent Reznor and Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst began when Reznor used explicit terms about Reznor in a Rolling Stone interview. In response, Durst dissed Reznor on his track “Hot Dog” which featured the lyrics, “You like to think that I am a perfect drug / Just know that nothing you do / Will bring you closer to me,” and references to several of Reznor tracks woven along with a string of expletives.

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‘How Do You Sleep?’ by John Lennon

The animosity between John Lennon and Sir Paul McCartney was well-documented, ran deep, and included a lawsuit and a damning interview. McCartney’s song, “Too Many People,” on his 1971 solo album, “Ram”, was a dig at John. Lennon responded with “How Do You Sleep?” off his 1971 solo “Imagine” album, where he says, “The only thing you done was ‘Yesterday’ / And since you’ve gone you’re just another day.” McCartney said in an interview with GQ that after years blaming himself for breaking up The Beatles, he overcame his depression, realized he was not solely at fault, and made up with Lennon.

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‘How To Rob’ by CupcakKe

Rapper CupcakKe’s remix of the 50 Cent song “How to Rob” called out Lizzo, Megan Thee Stallion, Cardi B, and a host of other rappers. She drags Lizzo with the line, “Catch Lizzo and drag her out the food court.” When a fan came to the rapper’s defense pointing out that diss tracks have been a part of rap forever, CupcakKe responded in a since-deleted tweet with “I think it’s a beautiful thing and anyone upset with it [is just used] to the mediocre. Understand it’s not rappers complaining it’s female rappers. Sit back and enjoy talent at its finest and for the last time, it’s all love to all the rappers mentioned. Don’t be sensitive.”

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‘Kill Rock Stars’ by NOFX

Riot Grrrl matriarch Kathleen Hanna is the target of this tongue-lasher of a song filled with lyrics like, “Kinda like the punk rock Gloria Steinem / You can’t change the world by blaming men / Can’t change the world by hating men.” The band even goes on to reference Courtney Love who was rumored to have punched Hanna at Lollapalooza 1995. Hanna didn’t miss a beat though and unfurled a return lashing on her next album, “Le Tigre,” with the song “Deceptacon,” featuring the lyrics, “Your lyrics are dumb like a linoleum floor / I’ll walk on it / I’ll walk all over you,” which referenced NOFX’s song “Linoleum.”

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‘New York’ by The Sex Pistols

The British band released its only studio album, in 1977, and on it the track “New York” called out the group’s predecessors the New York Dolls with the lyrics, “An imitation from New York / You’re made in Japan / From cheese and chalk / You’re hippy tarts hero/ ‘Cos you put on bad show / Oh don’t it show.” In 1978, Johnny Thunders the Dolls’ former guitarist dissed the then disbanded Pistols with his own track, “Little London Boys.”

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‘Rap Devil’ by Machine Gun Kelly

While it is sometimes difficult to get to the origins of a beef, the one between Eminem and Machine Gun Kelly aka Colson Baker started with an inappropriate Tweet Kelly made in 2012 about Eminem’s then-teenage daughter, Hailie, which Eminem discovered while tumbling down a YouTube rabbit hole.

In response, Slim Shady shredded Kelly in the only way a rap god can, with a diss track “Not Alike” in 2018, which Kelly quickly responded to in the same year with “Rap Devil” where he unleashed saying, “We know you get nervous, Rabbit / I see Momma’s spaghetti all over your sweater / I wish you would lose yourself on the records / That you made a decade ago, they were better.” Eminem responded with his own 2018 track “Killshot.”

Later, a 2010 tweet of Kelly’s emerged where he talked of his admiration for Eminem.

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‘Roxanne’s Revenge’ by Roxanne Shanté

In 1984, 14-year-old amateur Roxanne Shanté burst onto the hip-hop scene with her scathing response to U.T.F.O’s “Roxanne, Roxanne,” a song about a woman who basically wouldn’t give them the time of day. Recorded in her living room, her lyrics, “Every time that he sees me, he says a rhyme / But, see, compared to me it’s weak compared to mine / A-every time I know that I am sayin’ somethin’ fresher / In any category, I’m considered the best” put U.T.F.O in their place and gave female rappers some serious street cred. U.T.FO followed up with a response track, called “The Real Roxanne,” which led to a series of rap disses known as the Roxanne wars.

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‘The Show Stoppa (Is Stupid Fresh)’ by Salt-N-Pepa

In an attempt to get their names out there and leave behind their day jobs at Sears, Salt-N-Pepa needed to really wow the hip-hop world and there seemed no better way to do that than to create their very own diss track, which they did when they boldly answered Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh’s “The Show.” Both women were nervous that the male rappers would respond to their track but that never happened. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Pepa said, “Doug is such a great person, by the way. … I remember Doug E. Fresh telling me that Slick Rick was gonna get us, but Doug Fresh said, “Ah, let ’em live.” Those were his exact words, “Oh, let them girls live.”

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‘Something Personal’ by Bright and Early

While this diss track may not be as well-known as some of the others on the list, “Something Personal” deserves a mention for its funny digs at notable bands Green Day and All Time Low. Obscure New Jersey pop-punk band, Bright and Early called these bands to the mat for selling out with lyrics like, “Never looked good in high tops or camo / Never had a fake fur-hooded coat/ I won’t strike a pose like All Time Low.”

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‘Sorrow Will Come in the End’ by Morrissey

Drummer Mike Joyce filed a lawsuit against his former bandmates, Morrissey and Johnny Marr, nearly a decade after The Smiths broke up. Joyce won the suit and received 25% of the band’s earnings instead of the 10% they’d given him. This annoyed Morrissey who made his feelings known on the track, “Sorrow Will Come In the End,” from his 1997 album, “Maladjusted,” with the threatening lyrics, “You pleaded and squealed / And you think you’ve won / But sorrow will come / To you in the end.”

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‘Surfer Girl’ by The Beach Boys

Before the East Coast/West Coast hip-hop rivalries, there were The Beach Boys and The Four Seasons who both dominated the pop charts and had similar record sales in the early 1960s, and who were known for their rivalry. The Beach Boys called The Four Seasons out on their 1963 album, “Surfer Girl” with their song, “Surfer’s Rule,” when they not only said “Four Seasons, you better believe it,” but also followed the line up with a very Four Season-esque falsetto. The Four Seasons indirect jab came in return on the 1964 B-side of “Dawn” with a track called “No Surfin’ Today,” in what could be known as the early East Coast/West Coast rivalry.

‘Sweet Home Alabama’ by Lynyrd Skynyrd

After Godfather of Grunge Neil Young took a few jabs at the South with songs “Southern Man” and “Alabama,” Lynyrd Skynyrd clapped back with the following lyrics from “Sweet Home Alabama”: “Well I heard Mister Young sing about her / Well I heard old Neil put her down / Well, I hope Neil Young will remember / A Southern man don’t need him around anyhow.”

The lyrics were all in good fun, though—just after the song’s release, Ronnie Van Zant said “We wrote ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ as a joke. We didn’t even think about it. The words just came out that way. We just laughed like hell and said, ‘Ain’t that funny.’ We love Neil Young. We love his music.”

Young played a medley of “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Alabama” as a tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd just weeks after Van Zant and other Skynyrd band members were killed in a plane crash in 1977.

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‘Teenage Wildlife’ by David Bowie

Around the time of the release of “Teenage Wildlife,” David Bowie, though at the top of his game, saw musician Gary Numan moving up the ranks quickly and he didn’t like it. The song’s lyrics find a bitter Bowie singing, “A broken-nosed mogul are you/ One of the new-wave boys/ Same old thing in brand new drag/ Comes sweeping into view/ As ugly as a teenage millionaire/ Pretending it’s a whiz-kid world.”

In an NME interview, Bowie gave Numan a backhanded compliment with “What Numan did he did excellently but in repetition, in the same information coming over again and again, once you’ve heard one piece.” Numan, for his part, was sad to see he spurned such distaste from a singer he admired—though years later, he understood and said of Bowie to Uncut, “He was still a young man, with ups and downs in his own career, and I think he saw people like me as little upstarts. But later, he said some nice things about me, so that made the whole thing better!”

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‘This Land Is Your Land’ by Woody Guthrie

Folk singer Woody Guthrie’s version of “This Land Is Your Land” became one of the nation’s most enduring anthems. While not a traditional diss track, Guthrie considered it a response to Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America.” Guthrie considered Berlin’s tune an inaccurate representation of America; the folk singer got sick of Berlin’s overly patriotic musings and crafted a different kind of song about the country.

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‘The Warning’ by Eminem

When Eminem claimed he had a relationship with songstress Mariah Carey, not only did she deny it—she called Slim Shady obsessed on the track “Obsessed” from her 2009 album, “Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel.” Eminem teamed up with Dr. Dre to produce and record his response, the diss track “The Warning” with scathing lyrics like, “Wanna hear something wick wack? / I got the same exact tat that’s on Nick’s back / I’m obsessed now / Oh gee, is that supposed to be me in the video with the goatee?” The battle has continued since, with Carey impersonating Eminem on TikTok in June 2021.

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‘You Get What You Give’ by New Radicals

This one-hit wonder called out several celebrities with the lines, “Fashion shoots with Beck and Hanson / Courtney Love, and Marilyn Manson / You’re all fakes / Run to your mansions / Come around / We’ll kick your a** in.” The band’s frontman Gregg Alexander later told The Hollywood Reporter that he was disillusioned by the fact that people chose to focus more on the lyrics mentioning celebrities than on the song’s more pointed lyrics.

Marilyn Manson spoke to MTV’s Kurt Loder about his feelings about being included in the song: “I’m giving an open invitation to the singer of the New Radicals, because he’s all strange and spiritual, and he challenged me in one of his songs. A lot of people would say, ‘Y’know, don’t give him the attention, ’cause that’s what he wants.’ But I think I’ll crack his skull open if I see him…I’m not mad that he said he’d kick my a**, I just don’t want to be used in the same sentence with Courtney Love.”

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‘You’re So Vain’ by Carly Simon

While a host of male musicians were rumored to be the subject of Carly Simon’s song, “You’re So Vain,” including David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Cat Stevens, and Simon’s ex-husband James Taylor, Simon finally came clean. The singer/songwriter told People magazine that the second verse refers to Warren Beatty, though she said Beatty thinks the whole song is about him.

She vowed not to reveal who the remaining song verses were about, but did admit it was two men.

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