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How 'beef' in hip hop may help make the rap game better

Drake closes out Day Three of the Coachella Music Festival.
Cameron Kell/KPCC
Drake is currently in a beef with Meek Mill over ghostwriting

For as long as rap and hip hop have been around, rappers have had reasons to feud.

For as long as rap and hip hop have been around, rappers have had reasons to feud.

‘Beef,’ as it’s known colloquially, has become an integral part of hip hop over the years, with some of the biggest and most well-known rappers of all time finding themselves embroiled in controversy because of a comment they made or a lyric or song they wrote.

Legends like Tupac Shakur, Biggie Smalls, Jay-Z, Nas, and Ice Cube have all found themselves feuding with fellow rappers or former friends at some point in their careers. However, many of these so-called ‘beefs’ lead rappers to write ‘diss tracks,’ songs aimed at disparaging a person or group, and often these tracks become some of their most influential and popular songs.

How has ‘beef’ or conflict helped to shape rap and hip hop? What are some of the most memorable beefs of all time? How much of an impact did the ‘East Coast vs. West Coast’ conflict have on the game? Are there songs originally written as diss tracks that have become iconic raps?



Reggie Ossé a.k.a ‘Combat Jack,’ author, attorney, and host of "The Combat Jack Show," a weekly podcast focusing on hip hop culture, music, and current events.

Todd Boyd, Ph.D., professor of race and popular culture at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. He’s also the author of books such as ‘The Notorious Ph.D’s Guide to the Super Fly 70s,’ (2007), ‘Young, Black, Rich, and Famous,’ (2008) and ‘Am I Black Enough for You?’ (1997)

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