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#50_Battle_Tested_MCs_410x350

XXL Breaks Down 50 Battle-Tested MCs

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It's been roughly two weeks since Drake and Common traded shots in hip-hop's most recent feud, and the battle's at a standstill. There's no clear winner as of yet. Will they squash the beef? Will they go a few more rounds until fans crown one or the other the victor? Things could go either way. While Drake's a newcomer to battling, Common's been in the arena before. His feud with Ice Cube made for a legendary back and forth. Yes, Com's battle pedigree is pristine for now. But how about others. Where do battle-tested vets like Jay-Z, Nas and LL Cool J fit in? XXL looks back at 50 embattled MCs and breaks down how well they've fared in combat.—XXL Staff

Nicki Minaj

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Nicki Minaj may be one of the biggest pop stars in the world these days, but the Queens MC can still rap her phatty off. Her platinum status in an age void of femcees has made her a target for rapstresses. She typically brushes them off. She did, however, put a spanking on Lil' Kim on "Roman's Revenge" and appears to have taken additional shots on the recently released "Stupid Hoe." Note to femcees: keep baiting Nicki at your own risk.

Young Jeezy

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Jizzle hardly ever owns up to dissing anyone, but he's stepped into the ring several times. He's addressed his long-standing feud with Gucci Mane several times and has even taken a swipe at OJ the Juiceman. Though both sides continually downplay it, his feud with Rick Ross has also made it to wax. Jizzle set it off with his "BMF" freestyle and Ross answered with "Summer's Mine." Neither record was particularly damaging, but Ross appears to have the edge at the moment.

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Beanie Sigel

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Jadakiss

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Nothing ever came out of Jadakiss and Jay-Z's rumored underground feud, but the LOX lyricist did square off against Roc-A-Fella's own Beanie Sigel. Spanning a few rounds, the battle came to a halt after Siegs edged Kiss on his own beat, "Throw Your Hands Up." The battle even got physical, but the two MCs eventually squashed their issues and are now friends and collaborators again. Kiss also went toe to toe with 50 Cent—delivering a razor sharp record with "Checkmate." Though Kiss won the battle lyrically, Fif won the war, as his star presence affected D-Block, who was also signed to Interscope Records. They've since made peace and D-Block and G-Unit have worked together several times.

Jeru the Damaja

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Jeru doesn't exactly believe in picking on someone his own size. He typically battles up. He took it to Puff Daddy on "Me or the Papes" and struck back at The Fugees' Pras and Wyclef on "Black Cowboys." In the end, the damage was minimal.

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Pras

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Pras inexplicably dissed Jeru the Damaja on The Score's "Zealots." The Brooklyn lyricist retaliated on "Black Cowboys" from The Wrath of the Math. He's later gone back and forth with former Fugee Wyclef.

Tim Dog

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The BX's own Tim Dog took shots at the West Coast years before the East Coast/West Coast feud even started. His 1991 single, "Fuck Compton," dissed N.W.A. Ruthless Records R&B singer, Michel'le. Dr. Dre retaliated on several songs off The Chronic and DJ Quik took a stab TD "Way 2 Fonky" and "The Last Word." The feud nearly got physical during one of Tim Dog's trips to California. Word is that none other than Tupac Shakur came to his aid—prompting the BX MC to big 'Pac up on his Doe or Die album.

T.I.

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Who says southerners don't battle? The King of the South has had to defend his crown several times. He and Ludacris has a memorable showdown—dissing one another on the original version of Young Buck's "Stomp." Luda came out on top. The two are now on good terms. Tip did, however, body his other opponents. He all but finished Lil Flip's career with a series of freestyles and dismantled Shawty Lo on "What Up, What's Happenin." Tip and Lo later made peace.

Lloyd Banks

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As one of 50's shooters, Banks has been part of some highly entertaining feuds. He was on the front line during G-Unit's war with Murder Inc. and stepped up to the plate when Game began dissing the crew. Though he's penned memorable lines, he did take a hit as a result of Game's relentless onslaught.

Game

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Game has never seen a battle he didn't like. A perpetual instigator, the Compton MC has a long history of taking gratuitous swipes at innocent bystanders. His friends and foes have seemingly been interchangeable. Game's feuds have also spilled from the wax onto the streets on several occasions—namely his bouts with G-Unit and Ras Kass. Though he's a dangerous wordsmith, his impulses have earned him Ls, as evidenced in his inability to bait Jay-Z. But, he's the first MC to expose the chinks in 50 Cent's armor. Though he was wounded during the war against G-Unit, he dealt his former crew an equally devastating blow.

Prodigy

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Joe Budden may be right. Prodigy's been in several feuds, but he doesn't have a win under his belt. He does have a few draws. He's sparred with Keith Murray, Nas, Jay-Z, Saigon, 2Pac, Tha Dogg Pound, and was one of few New York MCs holding down the fort during the East Coast Vs. West Coast feud. He escaped most of his battles unscathed until he collided with Hov. The God MC famously bodied him on "Takeover," off The Blueprint. Still, Prodigy has the distinction of being involved in some of hip-hop's most memorable battles.

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Snoop Dogg

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Snoop Dogg solidered up years before Memphis Bleek and Beanie Sigel stepped in the line of fire during Jay-Z's feuds. Signed to Dr. Dre's Death Row Records, the Doggfather inherited the Good Doctor's feuds with Eazy-E and dissed the Ruthless boss in songs like "Fuck With Dre Day" and a memorable freestyle on The Arsenio Hall Show. The song also dissed Luke.

Roxanne Shanté

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Picking a fight isn't too rewarding nowadays, but it did the trick for the Juice Crew's own Roxanne Shanté. Only 16 at the time, the Queensbridge femcee took it to UTFO over their single, "Roxanne, Roxanne." She emerged victorious against the crew, but was ethered in a single on KRS's "The Bridge Is Over." "Roxanne Shanté is only good for steady fuckin'," he rhymes on the track. Ouch!

Young Buck

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Hammer

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With Hammer's success came a lot of hater. Perpetually under fire, Hammer feuded with LL Cool J. Uncle L emerged victorious of course. More recently he took offense to Jay-Z's line on Kanye West's "So Appalled" and released a diss video titled, "Better Run Run." Hov addressed the issue in interviews, but never responded on wax. Hammer ended the beef shortly after the video's release.

Foxy Brown

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Fox Boogie's career has been volatile to say the least—partially because of the feuds she's been involved in. Her and Lil' Kim were friends briefly before they began beefing in the mid '90s. Fox's best moment came with her verse on Capone-N-Noreaga's "Bang Bang," but Kim's had the edge during most of the beef. She also had issues with Miami rapstress Jacki-O with the conflict reportedly getting physical in a 305 studio. Jacki claims to have beaten up Foxy. She still finds herself in controversy to this day, but not too many records come out of it.

Rick Ross

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Rick Ross has the distinction of being one of the few rappers of starting beef with 50 Cent and living to tell about it. The Bawse called Fif out on 2009's "Mafia Music"—igniting a feud leading up to the release of Rozay's Deeper Than Rap. Ross emerged a bigger star than ever. He's also hurt Jeezy's bottom line. Though the "Summer's Mine" failed to put a dent in Jeezy's armor, the Bawse's rising popularity currently gives him a leg up on the Snowman.

MC Shan

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To let MC Shan tell it, he's the only rapper to have battle an entire borough. The bigger star at the time, he responded to KRS-One's "South Bronx" with "Kill That Noise," which birthed the deadly, "The Bridge Is Over." Kris often gives credit to Shan for his career—citing that the Queensbridge MC could have won the battle by simply ignoring him. The two have since squashed the feud and are friends to this day.

Nelly

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Say what you will about Nelly. Pimp Juice will go down in history as one of the few MCs ballsy enough to take it to KRS-One. Even the Blastmaster has giving him kuddos for it. While his battle with Kris was sort of a draw, he got the better of fellow St. Louisan Chingy.

Royce Da 5' 9"

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Already at odds with Eminem, Nickle Nine began feuding with the other members of Em's D12 collective. Though things got testy with Proof and other members of the crew, the feud never crossed the line with Eminem. Royce released three diss tracks. D12 fired back. Among the crew's standout records was Proof's "The Beef Is Ova." the feud was squashed before Proof's untimely death in 2006. Royce eventually appeared on D12's Return of the Dirty Dozen in 2008 and is now signed to Em's Shady Records as part of Slaughterhouse. Royce also had a brief spat with Joe Budden, but the conflict never made it to wax. They're now group mates in Slaughterhouse.

MC Lyte

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Modern day femcees like Lil' Kim, Foxy Brown and Nicki Minaj had a blueprint to draw from when they stepped in the battling arena. In the late '80s, BK's own MC Lyte recorded one of the most memorable diss track in, "10 % Diss." "Hot damn, hoe, here we go again," she spat in the beginning of the track. The line was later swagger jacked by Kim on Mobb Deep's "Quiet Storm (Remix)." The verse was believed to be taking subliminal shots at Foxy, among other femcees. Though Antoinette responded with "Lights Out, Party Over," her effort was no match for the Lyte.

Ludacris

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Ludacris and T.I. had been rumored to be at odds for some time when they finally faced off on Young Buck's "Stomp." Luda won the battle. The feud even got physical when Tip assaulted 'Cris's manager, Chaka Zulu during the BET Awards weekend in 2007. The beef was soon squashed and the two ATLiens collaborated on one another's albums the following year. He's recently taken it to Big Sean and Drake on "Bada Boom," the youngins have yet to respond.

Lil' Kim

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Can't femcees all just get along? Lil' Kim and Foxy Brown have pretty much been feuding for their entire careers. The rivalry has taken several turns throughout the years. Fox Boogie shockingly began sounding Kim-esque on her sophomore record, Chyna Doll and shots were fired as members of Capone-N-Noreaga and Kim's entourage in front of New York's Hot 97 radio station in 2001. Kim had taken issue with CNN for letting Fox diss her on their single, "Bang Bang." Though both had good moments in battle, Kim's mainstream star power gave her the advantage. Kim's stock had significantly dropped by the time she faced off with Nicki Minaj in 2010. Her jabs on the Barb never quite landed and Nick's "Roman's Revenge" all but put the nail in Kim's coffin. The Young Money's "Stupid Hoe" also appears to be a kick on Kim while she's down. Win some, lose some.

Lauryn Hill

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Aside from KRS-One's "The Bridge Is Over," not too many diss records have translated into hit songs, but L Boogie's "Lost Ones" did just that in '98. Though she doesn't mention names, legend has it that the track is about her former Fugee group mate, Wyclef Jean. 'Clef addressed the song in interviews, claiming that The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was about him, but never returned fire on wax.

KRS-One

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The Blastmaster keeps one in the chamber. To this day, Kris writes a diss record for every MC who's in the Top 10 of the charts just in case. It also keeps his skills sharp. He's famously bodied MC Shan and scarred Roxanne Shante with a single line. KRS's respect in the game has prevented him from getting into more feuds, as MCs have historically been cautious to not test him on the battle field. His issues with P.M. Dawn never even made it to wax. Kris tossed the group off stage during one of their concerts and proceeded to treat the audience to some of his classics. He picked a fight with Nelly in the new mill—taking offense to the St. Lunatic's "#1" single. The battle was laughable at best and Nelly surprisingly fared well, but Kris's legend as a battle MC is still pristine.

Joe Budden

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Joe Budden's battle record doesn't reflect how good he is when push comes to diss. His friendly competition with Jay-Z evolved into a contentious relationship during Hov's years as Def Jam president. The two have gone back and forth for years. The fact that Hov—who typically ignores MCs "beneath" him—still acknowledges Budden is a testament to how skilled Jump Off is. He's gone several rounds against Game with neither emerging as the clear victor. The two have since squashed their beef and worked together. Though short, his rumble with Saigon produced solid tracks on both side. They've also made peace and have collaborated. Unlike Hov, Joey's above no one. Say something, get dealt with, as evidence on the Jersey City MC's bout with Ransom— his only clean with by knockout no less. But, with Shady behind him and his stock rising with Slaughterhouse, Joey's next fight could prove costly for challengers.

Ja Rule

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Ja Rule became a verb in the wake of his feud with 50 Cent. Though they're still on bad terms, the rivalry is nowhere near as heated as it once was 10 years ago. It all started with a physical altercation. Ja claims to have punched 50, while Fif says he whooped Ja. Fif took it to wax first with "Life's on the Line," but Ja--the bigger star at the time--downplayed his rivalry with the controversial upstart. The G-Unit built momentum soon enough and continued to mount a campaign against Rule and Murder Inc. As both sides released countless diss records, Fif became one of the biggest stars in music, while Ja began struggling to keep his career afloat. Eminem and Busta Rhymes also joined in on the feud. Ja has also had issues with DMX. The Dark Man X has accused the Queens MC of biting his style. Their disses against one another made for unmemorable records and no one truly won or lost in the feud. They eventually squashed the beef at Irv Gotti's request.

Dr. Dre

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Though he's had soldiers involved in hs battles, the Good Doctor's not opposed to getting his hands dirty. He took a tough loss to Ice Cube alongside his N.W.A group mates on "No Vaseline," but later dismissed Eazy-E and Uncle Luke with assistance from Snoop. Dre eventually reconciled with the aforementioned parties. He later feuded with Jermaine Durpi. Dre's beefing days are a distant memory now.

Ice Cube

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Cube's battling track record doesn't quite add up. He tried turning the other cheek when N.W.A unloaded a barrage of diss songs against him for leading the group. Finally, he struck back with one record, the vicious "No Vaseline" off Death Certificate. Five years later, Cube and West Side Connection took shots at Common on "West Side Slaughterhouse." The conflict started when Cube and company took issue with a line off Com's "I Used to Love H.E.R." "I wasn't salty she was with the boys in the hood," he rhymed. Com took everyone by surprise with his venemous reply, "The Bitch in Yoo." Cube never responded. Minister Farrakhan eventually put a stop to the feud.

Busta Rhymes

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There's been rumors of Busta having issues with folks behind the scenes for years, but the Dungeon Dragon never feuded publicly until he was dragged into Shady/Aftermath's feud with Murder Inc. He surprisingly delivered a cutting verse on the crew's remake of 'Pac's "Hail Mary"—mocking Ja Rule's gruff sing-songy vocals. Beware of Busta.

"Every Girl"

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"Baby, I'm a groupie, my sex game is stupid, my head is the dumbest I promise I should be hooked on phonics, yeah"

Common

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Common's battle-ready rhymes should have been an indication that he could spar, but no one saw the Chi-Town MC coming. "The Bitch in Yoo"--a scathing record responding to Ice Cube and Westside Connection's "Slaughterhouse" is considered one of the best diss records in history. Cube never responded and the two MCs made peace at the urging of Minister Farrakhan. Sixteen years later, Com is currently embroiled in a feud with Drake. Drizzy spat subliminals on Rick Ross's "Stay Schemin" and Com rebutted only days later with an unofficial remix. "You ain't wetting nobody, you Canada Dry," Lonnie raps to conclude the 16-bar verse--causing Com, Drake and Canada Dry to become trending topics on Twitter. The feud is currently at a standstill.

Canibus

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Canibus earned a buzz for murdering established MCs on their own tracks in the late '90s, but he wasn't as lethal in battle. He won the battle against LL Cool J, but eventually lost the war. His diss to Uncle L, "Second Round KO" is considered one of the best diss records of all time, but his debut album, Can-I-Bus, flopped. He blamed the poorly-received on former mentor Wyclef Jean, which prompted the two one-time collaborators to diss each other back and forth several times. No one emerged a clear winner. He later took offense to a line on Eminem's "Role Model" and dissed the Blonde bomber. By the time Marshall retaliated, he'd become a superstar and 'Bus's career had gone downhill.

Cam'Ron

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Cam's always been quick to take issues to wax. The Harlemite's impulses have led him to clash with several New York Giants. He relentlessly disses Nas for years, but never got a response. Hov gave him a similar treatment until he finally addressed him with a few subliminals on Rick Ross's "Hustlin' (Remix)." Meanwhile, his stand off with 50 Cent was one of the most entertaining feuds in recent memory and he's demolished Stan Spit (remember him) with one record. Cam's been staying out of trouble lately, but he's always one misconstrued statement away from combat.

Eminem

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Em paid his dues battling in Detroit's underground and the experience sure came handy. Marshall's hardly ever entered a battle where he hadn't destroyed his opponent. He's made a mockery of Cage, Ray Benzino and Ja Rule. Surprisingly Everlast—who'd pretty much left rap for a rock career at the time—held his own. He also engaged with a past-his-prime Canibus, but the battle proved disappointing. Still, Em isn't to be messed with. Let's not even talk about Nick Cannon.

Ray Benzino

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'Zino embarked in an all out war with Eminem nearly 10 years ago. The two were clearly unmatched adversaries. Em destroyed the former Source boss with two songs, "The Sauce" and "Nail in the Coffin."

Kool Moe Dee

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Moe Dee's no stranger to battling. In fact, the former Treacherous Three MC was at the center of one of the first high-profile feuds in hip-hop against Busy Bee. Years later—then a veteran in the game—Moe Dee warred against LL Cool J for years. The feud included several rounds until L delivered the final blow on "To da Break of Dawn."

Fat Joe

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Fat Joe's had plenty of issues, but not all of them have made it to wax. He's addressed feuds with Cuban Linx, Remy Ma and Papoose in interviews, but was involved in a high-profile battle with 50 Cent. Countless diss records later, the two New York MCs still don't see eye to eye. Joey Crack's stock has definitely dropped since he started feuding with Fif—giving the Queens rapper bragging rights in this particular beef.

Ras Kass

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Ras's feud with Game is yet another example of hip-hop feuds getting physical. The two West Coast MCs reportedly got into two altercations. The feud started when Game interpreted Ras's "Caution" as a diss. "When you get merked, I'ma raise your son," Ras raps on the track. Ras released "Hush Little Baby" after the altercation. Though the record was a vicious attack, Game appears to have bested Ras in the war.

Jim Jones

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Jim Jones's never fancied himself an MC, but he dives head-first when battle calls. He's sort of trigger-happy when feuding—relentlessly berating his foes in interviews and record—but he often misfires. His attacks on Nas were funny, but uneffective. The same goes for his tirades against Ma$e. He did, however, inexplicably got Jay-Z to bite the bait. Though Jones is nowhere near close to Hov's lyrical weight class, his approach paid off. He recorded a remix to Jay-Z's "Ballin" Freestyle—comically ad-libing over the God MC's vocals before spitting a verse of his own.

Saigon

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Sai-Gitty's a man of his word. He's feuded with Prodigy and actually punched him on stage during a concert at SOBs in 2007. He's also gon a few rounds against Joe Budden. The feud was later squashed and the two lyrically-inclined MCs have since worked together.

50 Cent

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50 Cent's many run-ins with rappers have earned him a reputation as a bully. His introductory single, "How to Rob"—a song on which he fantasizes about sticking up some of rap's biggest stars—made him a villain as an upstart and also sparks several feuds. He delivered a devastating blow to Ja Rule's career, but none of his subsequent wins were as clear. He set it off with Nas, Jadakiss and Fat Joe with "Piggy Bank." Though Nas and Kiss bested him on wax, his star power prevented him from taking a real L. The same goes for his lengthy war with Game, though, the Compton MC did put a hurting on Fif's G-Unit. More recently, he's gone to war with Rick Ross, but the rotund rapper emerged from the feud an even bigger star. Fif hasn't feuded with a rapper since.

The Notorious B.I.G.

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The world knows about Nas's Biggie wars by now. Perhaps ignited by Raekwon and. Ghostface's "Shark Biter" ski-- in which the two Shaolin MCs accused Biggie of biting Nas's Illmatic cover with Ready to Die--the two New York legends traded subliminals. Nas remarked, "There's one life, one love, so there can only be on king" on "The Message" off It Was Written. Biggie responded, "Ain't no other king in this rap game they're siblings" on "Kick in the Door" from Life After Death. But, Biggie died before the former was released, so the clash of the titans never came to a head. Though he's never confessed to it, Big's "Who Shot Ya?" is believed to be about Tupac Shakur, who was shot at Quad Studios months before the recording's release.

2Pac

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Rappers at the top of their game typically become targets, 'Pac did most of the shooting. In his time with Death Row, the controversial rapper called out an unprecedented amount of MCs on and off record. His attack on Biggie Smalls and Bad Boy, "Hit 'Em Up," remains arguably the most scathing diss record to this day. Though he was working on squashing some of his feuds behind the scenes, most of them remained unsolved at the time of his untimely death in 1996.

Nas

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Nas entered the battlefield during a critical time in his career. With his stock plummeting after his fourth album, Nastradamus the Queensbridge MC rose to the challenge after being called out by Jay-Z. First, he put Memphis Bleek in his place on "Da Bridge 2001," the conflict never materialized into a full-fledged battle. Nas and Jay, however, went two rounds, but the Nasty MC delivered a lethal blow with the legendary, "Ether." Nas then reclaimed his rightful place atop rap's elite. He quickly disposed of on-again-off-again friends Cormega and Prodigy on "Destroy and Rebuild" and orchestrated a superb sneak attack on 50 Cent on "Don't Body Yourself." Though undoubtedly potent, the track barely affected Fif who was riding high as arguably hip-hop's biggest star at the time. Despite countless attacks from Dipset, Nas refused to engage in battle—preferring to clown them in interviews instead. "I mean, look at how they dress," Nas mocked during an interview with MTV.

Jay-Z

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Jay-Z's the antithesis to 50 Cent and Game: a rap snob who will only engage in battle with MCs worth his time. Aside from a brief lyrical stand off with Ma$e, the God MC pretty much remained beef-free for the early portion of his career, but, as he began watching the throne, Hov became a target. He's beaten Cam by simply ignoring him, but lost to Jim Jones for taking the bait. He took a L to Nas, but bodied Prodigy of Mobb Deep. His issues with Queens's finest have since been squashed. He even signed Nas to Def Jam during his tenure as the label's president. More recently, Hov's answered Beanie Sigel on "Why I Love You" and has been trading subliminal shots with Lil Wayne. The battle's a draw as it stands, but hip-hop fans are hoping for more rounds in the near future. Time will tell.

LL Cool J

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Uncle L may be known as hip-hop’s premier sex symbol, but the Queens legend has remained, “hard as hell” throughout his storied career. Never one to back down, he’s gone through wars of words with pop stars (MC Hammer), gangstas (Ice-T) and a pioneer (Kool Mo Dee) on “To da Break of Dawn” and proved he was still not to be tested against a hungry upstart (Canibus) on “4, 3, 2, 1” and “Rip the Jacker” seven years later. Though ‘Bus’s “Second Round K.O.” is considered the stronger record, his inability to find success after the battle, earned L the win—making him one of few MCs with no Ls on his rap sheet.