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