Bomb First: A History Of Sneak Attacks In Hip-Hop

Alright, kiddies, here’s a little history lesson for y’all today. On December 7, 1941, some Japanese guys thought it was a good idea to bomb a US Naval base stationed in Hawaii. With no formal declaration of war acknowledged, the sneak attack went down as the biggest ambush against Americans (2,403 dead) pre-9/11. Of course the US bounced back and dropped bombs on Hiroshima (and Nagasaki for that matter) like my man RBX said.

In fact, “I drop bombs like Hiroshima,” is probably one of the most used rap metaphors of all-time. Clearly, rappers study their American history. So on the 68th anniversary of the day that lives in infamy, let’s go over the history of sneak attacks in hip-hop. Some of the most memorable moments none of us saw coming.

LL Cool J Schools Canibus

Talk about keeping your enemies closer. Back in 1997, rookie rapper Canibus had a buzz as big as Drake’s. So when LL Cool J invited Canibus to drop bars on “4, 3, 2, 1” alongside DMX, Method Man, and Redman, no one knew “little shorty with the big mouth” would be the target of Uncle L’s lyrical onslaught. As legend has it, in Canibus’ original verse he asked LL to borrow the famed mic tattooed to his arm. Even though Canibus removed the line, LL still had to let him know the symbol on his arm was off limits to all challengers, spitting’:

“Now let’s get back to this mic on my arm/If it ever left my side it’d transform into a time bomb/You don’t wanna borrow that, you wanna idolize/And you don’t wanna make me mad, nigga, you wanna socialize/And I’m daring every MC in the game to play yourself out position, and mention my name/I make a rhyme for every syllable in your name/Go platinum for every time your grimy ass was on the train/Watch your mouth, don’t ever step out of line/LL Cool J, nigga, greatest of all time.”

The fact that Canibus removed his line and LL still let him have it, led to beef. The clash produced two of hip-hop illest diss records in Canibus’ “Second Round Knockout” and LL’s “Ripper Strikes Back.”

KRS Sets It On P.M. Dawn

Prince Be, the frontman of 90’s rap/R&B group P.M. Dawn, once asked, “KRS-One wants to be a teacher, but a teacher of what?” So at a 1992 P.M. Dawn performance KRS and crew bumrushed the show, booting the “Die Without You” group from the stage before performing Boogie Down Production songs. KRS said of the one-sided altercation, “I answered his question. ‘A teacher of what?’ I’m a teacher of respect.”

It’s a Lil Mama Thang, Jay-Z

No one has ever played the third wheel quite like Lil Mama. While Jay-Z and Alicia Keys debuted their smash duet, “Empire State Of Mind,” at the 2009 VMA’s, the teeny-bopper rapper got so caught up in the moment she left her seat in the audience and diddy bopped on to the stage. In the wake of the bold move, she created a new hip-hop catchphrase, as having your show interrupted by an overzealous guest will forever be known as getting Lil Mama’d.

50 Snatches the Boss’ Wife… Twice

What started out as a war of words between Rick Ross and 50 Cent got real personal when Fif got Ross’ baby mother No. 1, Tia Kemp, to switch sides. If that wasn’t a big enough ace in the hole, 50 aired a sex tape of the Boss’ other wife baby mother, Brooke.

Suge Calls Out Diddy For Dancing in Videos

If anything, Rap Beef 101 teaches you that award shows are the prime location to air out your opponent. And hip-hop has Suge Knight to thank for that. The once feared Death Row Records mogul stroked the flames of a growing East Coast vs. West Coast rivalry when he fired an unexpected verbal shot at Bad Boy Records CEO Sean “Puffy” Combs during the 1995 Source Awards.

This was definitely a ballsy, unforeseen move by Suge. To be all up in New York, all up on enemy turf, dissing Puffy.

50 Phone Taps Buck

In battle every good sneak attack deserves a stealth counter offensive, one more diabolical than the first. Unfortunately, this was the case for Young Buck, who went up against 50 Cent. Buck pretty much kamikazed his career in 2008 at a Tampa show when he screamed, “Fuck G-Unit.” In retaliation, 50 set up a covert phone conversation that would sink Buck’s battleship for good. No one ever wants to be “dis-membered” from a group, but this ain’t the way to go out.

Jay-Z Has a Takeover on the Summer Jam Stage

Slick like a gato, Jay-Z made 2001’s Summer Jam stage the platform for his attack on rival New York rappers Prodigy and Nas. With thousands watching, Jay unleashed scathing verses going in on Prodigy for his days as a childhood dancer, and Nas for years of disrespect. Putting the Queens rappers on blast would pit Jay in and epic clash with Nas and produce a pair of stellar albums from both.

Kanye (Doesn’t) Let Taylor Swift Finish

No disrespect to anyone else, but we all know no one crashes an event like Kanye West. I’m sorry, but ’Ye had one of the best sneak attacks of all time. Okay, I’m finished. —Rondell Conway

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  • Jamal7Mile

    Wu-Tang is for the children!

    • Turd Ferguson

      “I went and bought me an outfit today that costed a lot of money today.”

      Greatest sneak attack in hip hop history!!

      RIP ODB

  • Casey

    Jay-Z’s whole career is one big sneak attack.

    But another good saga of sneak attacks is Prodigy vs Keith Murray

    • Curtis75Black

      I heard they had beef and supposely the ” I Shot Ya !” remix egged it on but what was the cause of their beef ? If anyone knows, please fill me in.

      • oskamadison

        On “The Infamous”, remember the interlude where Prodigy was talking about “all you rap-ass niggas talkin’ about how much weed you smoke, talkin’ about all that space shit that don’t even make no sense…” Def Squad took that pesonally being that…well, they were spaced out, weed-smoking niggas. I heard about Murray punching Prodigy in the face on a couple of occasions. But that’s where it started.

        • Tony Grands

          “& oh yeah, to all you rap ass niggas with ya half ass rhymes, talking ’bout how much you get high, how much weed you smoke, & that crazy space shit that don’t even make no since, don’t even speak to me when you see me, word. I’m ’bout to get on some old high school shit & start punching niggas in they face just for living. Yo, I’m finished what I had to say, y’all can continue on….”

          Hahahahahaha! P was hard as fuck back then!

        • that nigga

          Yeah until Keith Murray and Redman whooped on Prodigy’s head right in front of the police. P thought he was gonna get a pass cuz the cops was there, NOT. P wasnt and still aint hard he just got a big mouth and think he gets a pass cuz of his sickle cell. Punchin Bag P is his new name.

          Big Noyd
          Sherm da Worm
          Am I forgettin some one?

          “And I’ll be damned if you do a show in the bricks”- Redman

  • sealsaa

    “rookie rapper Canibus had a buzz as big as Drake’s.”

    Which is just crazy when you think about how talented he was. I had high hopes for him and Big L back in ’97. L got shot. What’s Bis’ excuse?

    • Chris S

      bad production selections.

  • gskull

    “In fact, “I drop bombs like Hiroshima,” is probably one of the most used rap metaphors of all-time”

    You mean similes.

  • $ykotic/Don McCaine

    Yo Grands!

    Think they read the blog?

    • Tony Grands

      @Don Mac


      Nah. Happenstance & coincedence make the world go ’round, I guess…

      I want Em & Cannibus to use their latest catfight to bring Hip Hop beef back to it’s essence. The battle scenes in ’8 Mile’, anyone?

      Cats have confused rap beef/sneak disses with A) street conflict & B) the job of an A&R.

      I would love Em to issue a challenge to ‘Bus, to go toe to toe, verbally, in front of a crowd. That would be a good look from a couple older spokesperson & a good nod for these no-rhyme having rapsters to step their game up a notch.



  • KingPoetic

    This post is a poorly thought out, loose collection of barely comparable events

  • Jake Steed

    pearl harbor was hardly a sneak attack

    • Hanch

      Really? Please Clarify

      • Jake Steed

        we needed an excuse to get involved and have the people be in full support of it. we cut off japan’s oil supply in the pacific forcing their hand.we had intelligence b4 the attack but let it happen. FDR didn’t expect it to be as bad as it was tho

  • Uh

    Lol did you really use the pearl harbor attack to open a conversation about rap battles?

    • HERM

      Yeah, seriously.

  • Pingback: - » Bomb First: A History Of Sneak Attacks In Hip-Hop | Museum And Art

  • Caino

    LOL fiddy is a sneaky bitch, kats gotta understand anything you say can be used as evidence (l still have Buck the world on rotation)

    Shit, Grands the whole world would love to see Em & Bis go at it toe to toe 8 nile style, shit would never happen tho, mores the pity!!

    • El Tico Loco

      Em needs to take the Bis challenge, take a note from Floyd Mayweather and get some real comp. Everlast? Cage? he never responded to Evidence (Dilated P’s) and that contest in which he was runner up when he got discovered was supposedly won by Rhymefest as I’ve been told.


    gotta give it to jay for what he did to punching bag p

  • gift

    Let’s not get it twisted. 50 may have did young buck in, but southern niggas are quite slick as well. Ain’t no nigga bout to hustle a motherfucka simply because of where he from. The chambers brothers were some country ass niggas, and they made alot more money than a great deal of east coast dealers in that day and time. REAL TALK!!!!

  • sealsaa

    “I would love Em to issue a challenge to ‘Bus, to go toe to toe, verbally, in front of a crowd.”

    ‘Bus is game(if for nothing else but to give his career a much needed shot in the arm), but Em is and has always been on some other shit. That Mariah Carey shit just made him look foolish. Its funny how similar he is to Jay-Z in this regard. He virtually ignores everyone, and has yet to prove himself with a genuine test of his skills(that first bout with Canibus was a letdown on both sides), yet is considered in many circles to be one of the best(although to be fair, Jay went at Nas and lived to tell about it).

    • Tony Grands

      Agreed. It’s very similar to Jay VS ???. I guess all the reason’s Jay won’t respond are the same one’s that have kept Em quiet so far.

      But, Em has fashioned himself the champion phoenix that rose to the top through being a battler (is that a word?). Now, with the world watching again, I’d want to prove that not only am I strong enough to bring it to a 50 year old MILF & her mink carrier, but I can also reach in my bag & serve these rappity-rap ass dudes, too. That’s the whole foundation of his “legacy”.

      Shit, I’d have to respond if only for the line ‘Bus said about having Em crying like his Step-dad when he was inside of him. Fuck that shit. That was bait for that ass.

  • $ykotic/Don McCaine

    “Empire State of Mind” RMX featuring NaS & 50 Cent

    What do y’all think of that? The next 4,3,2,1 or Coombaya 2K9?

  • Corbin

    The Scarface vs Troy disses are great aswell

  • sealsaa

    Very true. Em does have a legacy to defend as a battle rapper. Thing is though, we all know that Em’s still got it. I haven’t heard ‘Bus spit anything quotable since his heyday. Its bad enough that he’s got the deck stacked against him as a virtual unknown(I just fried my li’l brother’s 90′s baby brain 3 weeks ago when I turned him onto Bus spitting fire on Common’s “Making a Name for Ourselves”). Similar to Jay ignoring Beans, this may turn into another case of “Why should I bother with you?”

    • Tony Grands

      For that matter, ‘Air Strikes’ wasn’t impressive in the slightest. He had maybe on good line. It would be nice, though, because it would be hella entertaining, but like you said “why should I bother with you?”.

  • Jamal7Mile

    Anybody remember Tim Dogg from NY dropping that song “Fuck Compton” from out of the blue on The Box? To me, that was the first shot in the so-called East vs. West war. At the time, I thought dude was plum crazy to pull some shit like that. I remember Rodney O. and Joe Cool responding with “Fuck New York.” As much as I hate Suge Knight, I never agreed with people saying he started that coastal shit at that awards show.

    • Curtis75Black

      I 2nd that !! That track came outta nowhere. Tim’s career didn’t last too long but that song made a lasting impression. As far as starting the coastal, it was the 1st needle filled with heroin.

  • jay415

    hello kiddies japan didnt sneak attack the u.s we knew they were gonna attack. America promped them to attack learn some shit and cannibus started the beef indirectly

  • Big Jon

    The Best Rapper Alive…………mmh

    I think its has to be proven or decided by the public when you battle guys who are just as skillful. Everyone says this, but no one(signed) proves this in a contest. No one with a record deal battles(face to face). Em and Bis would be nice but, we are all wishful thinkers. my favorite: Lupe Fiasco


    JAY-Z vs Lil Wayne

    I go on record that JAY-Z vs Lil Wayne was kinda secret. Wayne diss Jay for coming back to rap and he said he’s the Greatest Rapper Alive.

    Jay fired back on the Kingdom Come album Listen to the track “TROUBLE”. Peep the 3rd Verse. Wayne got on the Beats Without Bass joint with Freekey Zekey a line Diss JAY-Z.

    LAST SHOT: T.I. ft. Jay-Z “Watch What You Say track. Jay Verse made Lil Wayne backed down and call a Truce. Thats when he and Jay was onstage and wayne said Jay was the BEST RAPPER ALIVE. AND WAYNE SAID HE’S THE NEXT RAPPER IN LINE.

    ALL FACTS. JAY WINS!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • GO-Getta’

    My heart goes out 4 Canibus. Dude so gifted yet his whole career flushed down the toilet.

  • js416

    i cant believe the game vs 50 wasnt here

    game mudered gunit on one song like nas did to jay

  • abdulnasir

    there’s an explanation for why kanye bumrushed taylor’s acceptance speech over at, if u care to check it out!


    EMINEM has went after Cannibus already but a battle has yet to take place now here it is years later about to, why would Cannibus wait so damn long?Obviously he needed some firepower.EM has also went after Everlast,Vanilla Ice,Icp,Limp Bizkit,Ja Rule,Cage, and Jermaine Dupri.No he has yet to really have some one worth battling but he has battled some actual rappers.Murder Inc and ICP are the only ones who ever tried to respond Murder longer have a career,and ICP well they suck anyway but have had a couple of good diss songs towards him, but none as good as the ones he tore them apart on. Now Cannibus and Haystak want it with him.I hope he does respond to both of them,it will be fun to watch unfold.Haystak has already made about ten diss songs all of them suck bad except the song virus, but Haystak took it one step further and decided to call out Dre, 50, T.I.,Ludacris,D12,AND G- Unit on the song virus because he thinks they will all ride with em.I feel for Stak he dont want a battle he wants a war.Shits about to get ugly.Bizzarre and King Gordy already responded back and clowned him.Stak fucked up he is sayin personal shit.

  • Master CHeef

    there’s a new em track called drop a bomb on em at nahright, sounds like a canibus response to me. he keeps saying “boy” like beans did.

  • donknottz

    The best sneak attack ever was KANYE WEST vs GEORGE W. BUSH hands down best ever. Fuck Bush

    • Big Gools

      Cosign completely. I was going to list this but you beat me to it. To call out the President of the United States in a live nationally televised event is the gulliest thing you can ever do. Fuck that Taylor Swift madness, the ODB MTV Awards incident was better than that.

  • P. Harris

    Em vs ????

    Canibus isn’t the beast he used to be… so I don’t think that would be a good one…

    Although I’d like to see it… Maybe we could get some of that old Bis going….

    I think Wordsworth would be a good match for Em…

  • TheRefriedMexican