8 Subliminal Diss Records That No One Claims
The battle has been a staple of hip-hop since the inception of the genre and the diss record has been one of the most celebrated by-products of rap (What up, KRS?). But what happens when an artist, releases a record that doesn't name names but includes enough specifics to be declared a sneak attack by the greater hip-hop populous only to later recant the beef? We here at XXL were all excited about Nicki's perceived Lil' Kim diss on "Roman's Revenge" only to have the YM princess deny dissing Kim earlier this week.
Nicki isn't the only rapper to take the wind out of our fanatic sails, so XXLMag.com takes a look at a few examples when rappers don’t own up to their ether. —Rob Markman & Jesse Gissen
Lil’ Kim was throwing shots a Nicki Minaj ever since she became the main rap chick on the scene. Angry over Nicki’s failure to publicly thank and acknowledge her influence, Kim went on a campaign to discredit the Young Money princess. Minaj seemingly took the high road, never responding to the taunts, but once her collaboration with Eminem “Roman’s Revenge” was leaked, it seemed like she was saving her aggression for her debut album, Pink Friday. Yet, after the song dropped, she denied taking aim at The Notorious K.I.M. Hmm something smells fishy.
“What the fuck I look like getting bagged by a has-been/Yeah, I said it has-been/Hang it up, flatscreen.”
“Shoulda sent a ‘thank you’ note you lil’ hoe/Now I’ma wrap your coffin with a bow/(Nicki she just mad ’cause you took her spot)/Word that bitch mad 'cause I took the spot/Well, bitch, if you ain’t shittin’ then get off the pot/I got some niggas out in Brooklyn that’ll off your top.”
As far as we’re concerned, Nicki couldn’t have made it any clearer that she was talking about Kim. “Thank you note,” “Lil Hoe,” “Brooklyn”!!! Come on Nick', you shoulda owned up to this one, it would have made the song so much iller.
By the time he dropped his 2006 album King, T.I. was already an established star taking his talents out of the booth and starring his first feature film ATL. In rap’s underground, however, a beef was brewing between T.I. and a then up-and-coming Rick Ross. To address the tiff, T.I. released “I’m Talkin’ To You,” except he never name-dropped who it was that the song was directed at. Instead T.I. took a different approach and named all the rappers that the song wasn’t about: Jay-Z, Young Jeezy, Bun B, Dipset, Ludacris, Slim Thug and Scarface were just some of the artists Tip pledged allegiance to. Ross was not pardoned, however, and speculation flew that he was the track’s intended target.
“I know you wanna be just like me since you got ya new record deal, nigga/But I don’t give a fuck if you like me, no second diss, you not trill, nigga.”
Though the lyrics give few clues, the song dropped right around the time when Ross signed to Def Jam, making the above line raise an eyebrow or two. The two titans have since squashed the beef, but there was definite tension.
Back in August the streets were bubbling over Rick Ross’s smash hit “B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast)” but something didn’t sit right with the Miami Boss name checking the head of the Black Mafia Family, Big Meech, especially since the alleged incarcerated drug lord was so closely associated with Young Jeezy. It didn’t take long for Jizzle to put his thoughts on wax, but once reporters asked him if it was aimed at Rozay, he denied it. Did the Snowman get gun shy?
“How you blowing money fast, you ain’t know the crew/Oh, you part of the fam? Shit, I never knew.”
Who else could Jeezy possibly be talking about? Styles P? Lex Luger? Puh-lease, all arrows are pointed at Rozay on this one. Sorry, Jeezy, we don’t believe you, you need more people.
Just days after Jeezy released his “B.M.F. Freestyle,” Ricky Ross leaked a record of his own, that sounded a lot like a response. On top of the fact that the Miami MC didn’t ever publicly say Jeezy’s name and he never said the song was a response in interviews, the facts in the song that are supposed to confirm the identity of his target seem off, if he’s talking about Jizzle that is. But the coincidence remains, why release that song two days after Jeezy, if it wasn’t meant for him. You be the judge.
“Bitch, I run the South, I’m what you wanna be/This how you wanna live, this what you wanna drive/Be honest with yourself, I’m who you idolize.”
“Blowin’ money fast, yellow Maserati/Dead man walkin’, decomposing body/I’m livin’ large, this nigga been a mark/They use his credit card, to get they rental cars.”
Although the timing of this song may raise a few eyebrows, ultimately there aren’t too many strong indicators that Ross’s target is Jeezy. The South Carolina native isn’t from Cleveland, like Ricky says in the song, and Young’s never been known for having good credit. We think The Boss just put this song out to turn heads.
After Tupac Shakur was shot in the lobby of New York’s Quad Studios in 1994, bad blood between ’Pac and his one-time friend The Notorious B.I.G. ensued. ’Pac believed it was Biggie and Puff Daddy who set him up to be shot and robbed and didn’t keep his accusations to himself either. In 1995 Biggie released “Who Shot Ya?” and while both Big and Puff maintained the song was recorded before the Quad Studio shooting and wasn’t aimed at ’Pac, the fiery Death Row artist answered with a diss record of his own, “Hit ‘Em Up.”
“Who Shot ya?/Separate the weak from the ob-solete/Hard to creep on them Brooklyn streets/It’s on, nigga, fuck all that bickering beef.”
“Recognize my face, so there won’t be no mistake/So you know where to tell Jake/Lame nigga, brave nigga/Turn front page, nigga.”
Though Biggie and his entire camp have continuously denied that “Who Shot Ya?” was directed towards 2Pac, the timing of it’s release and the perceived subliminal shots (no pun intended) lead us to believe that this was most likely a diss record.
Speaking strictly in an artistic sense, 2Pac was a relentless opponent and during the height of the Bad Boy/Death Row rivalry he launched multiple scathing and blatant attacks. To his credit, Big maintained his cool. He did throw a little shot on "Brooklyn’s Finest" (“If Faye had twins, she probably have 2 ’Pacs”), and “Who Shot Ya?” remains highly contested, but the lyrics to “Long Kiss Good Night” were even more direct. The song was most likely recorded before 2Pac’s death in 1996 and to release a straight diss track a year later (after both B.I.G. and ’Pac were tragically gunned down) would have been in poor taste.
In the April 2003 issue of XXL, Lil Cease confirms the record was aimed at ’Pac, while Puff contends that “If Biggie was going to do a song about 2Pac, he would have just come out with it and said his name.”
“When my men bust, you just move with such stamina/Slugs missed you, I ain’t mad at cha (we ain’t mad at cha).”
"Slugs hit your chest, tapped the spine, flat-line/Heard through the grape-vine you got fucked four times.”
Despite Puff’s disclaimer on the song’s ad-libs (“And we ain’t talkin’ about no other rap niggas…”), “Long Kiss Goodnight” was definitely about ’Pac, no 2 ways about it. (Get it...?)
The key to being a good ghost writer is never revealing your client list. That being said, in 2000, the artist formerly known as Mad Skillz caused quiet a stir when he dropped his single “Ghost Writer.” In the song’s lyrics Skillz detailed his exploits as a writer for other artists, but cleverly edited the names out of the track. P. Diddy, Foxy brown, Ma$e, Will Smith and Jermaine Dupri have all allegedly used the VA rapper’s services, but only Puff has ever openly admitted it.
“Yo, don’t get me wrong, dawg, it’s the cheddar that counts/But fuck that nigga _______ ‘cause his fuckin’ check bounced.”
“And ______ from the South, dawg, you shook/Stop bouncing on stage like you wrote that hook.”
Years after the song was released Skillz began performing an uncensored version of the song, putting Ma$e, Will Smith, Foxy Brown and JD on blast. True story!
Biting one's style has always been a source of contention for MCs. After Bone Thugs-N-Harmony emerged as a national phenomenon with their sing-songy rap style, other acts followed with similar flows—in particular Chicago group Crucial Conflict. On the 1998 song “Ain’t Said No Names” Krayzie remains adamant that Bone is the originator of the wildly contested style.
“Ever since we came with ‘Thuggish Ruggish Bone’/Niggas been coming up out the woods singing we stole they flow and song.”
“Aww, shit, these niggas done started over here, they talkin’ shit, say we ain’t rappin’/Niggas got the nerve and look who platinum.”
Krayzie may have declined to name names, but there’s no doubt, Crucial Conflict was the target. As far as who really originated the style—The beat goes on.