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Music’s 30 Fiercest Feuds and Beefs

From classic-rock squabbles to hip-hop diss tracks and social media wars, here are the ridiculous, rancorous conflicts that have held us rapt

Creative differences, financial disputes, drug abuse, love triangles – in the music industry, the opportunities to butt heads are basically limitless. The bigger the star, the bigger the ego, and when two tangle, you get a supernova of spite and bile that holds the world in rapture, turning mature adults into spit-flecked children chanting “Fight, fight, fight!” in a circle at recess.

Many clashes are over in a flash, while others drag out for years and even decades. Some feuds are undoubtedly hilarious, birthing otherworldly insults like Liam Gallagher’s “Potato” and Mariah Carey’s beyond catty “I don’t know her,” both of which will live on until the end of the Internet. Others are tragic and have no possible upside as friendships, bands, families and even lives are destroyed in the process. Others still have inspired an entire sub-category of song that crosses all genre boundaries: the diss track. (See: “Bad Blood,” “Swish Swish,” about 25 percent of all rap songs.)

Read on for 30 of the most explosive beefs in music history. Pick a side, or simply spectate. No judgment.

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 30: Katy Perry and Taylor Swift at the 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards - Salute To Icons Honoring Doug Morris held at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 30, 2010 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

Katy Perry and Taylor Swift

Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Katy Perry vs. Taylor Swift

The pair shared the stage in 2010 to duet on Perry’s “Hot n Cold,” but four years later Swift was singing a new tune: “Bad Blood.” In her September 2014 cover story with Rolling Stone, she admitted that the 1989 track was written about another woman in the music industry who “did something so horrible” that it ended their friendship for good. It later came out that the misunderstanding was over backup dancers who had defected from Swift’s Red tour to Perry’s Prismatic trek. Though she never mentioned Perry by name in the profile, the California Gurl shared a telling tweet the day after the story hit stands: “Watch out for the Regina George in sheep’s clothing …”

Perry would periodically chime in from the sidelines over the next few years when Swift engaged in high profile Twitter confrontations. One 2015 tiff with Nicki Minaj – who protested that her video for “Anaconda” had been shut out from the VMAs in favor of ones that celebrated “women with very slim bodies” (like the supermodel-packed clip for ‘Bad Blood”) – led Swift to fire back, “It’s unlike you to pit women against each other.” Perry noted that the accusations from Swift were “ironic” considering her own VMA-nominated song was literally about women fighting.

The feud bubbled under the surface until Perry released “Swish Swish,” a single from her album Witness, in May 2017. Lyrics like “You’re calculated/I’ve got your number/Because you’re a joke/And I’m a courtside killer queen,” caught everyone’s attention. A guest verse by Minaj left little doubt that this was the long awaited follow-up to “Bad Blood.”

Perry got extremely candid about her disagreement with Swift during the Witness press tour (noting that Swift tried to “assassinate my character”), but Swift didn’t need words to respond. After famously pulling her music from Spotify several years earlier, Swift announced on June 8th that her catalogue would return to the streaming service at midnight the following day – the same time Witness was due to drop. A press release claimed the move was in celebration of 1989‘s sales figures, but many saw it as an attempt to steal Perry’s limelight.

Perry was ready to bury the hatchet soon after, telling Arianna Huffington, “I forgive her and I’m sorry for anything I ever did,” but Swift wasn’t done. In late August she dropped “Look What You Made Me Do,” a no-holds-barred assault on all who ever crossed her. In the music video that premiered at the VMAs days later, Swift can be seen wearing a wig looking suspiciously like Perry’s new cropped ‘do, wrecking a sports car that looks uncannily like the one from Perry’s 2009 “Waking Up in Vegas” video. Not content with (seemingly) comparing Perry to a metaphorical car crash, Swift then holds up a Grammy, a possible reference to the fact that she has 10 to Perry’s zero.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 25: Zayn Malik performs onstage at ZAYN Album Release Party On The Honda Stage at the iHeartRadio Theater on March 25, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for iHeartRadio ); GOOD MORNING AMERICA - One Direction performs from Los Angeles as part of the 40th anniversary celebration of "Good Morning America," 11/18/15, airing on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Randy Holmes/ABC via Getty Images)

Zayn Malik and One Direction

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty; Randy Holmes/ABC via Getty

Zayn Malik vs. One Direction

Malik’s split from One Direction seemed as amicable as it could be when he first announced his departure in March 2015. He cited a desire to step back from the spotlight and be a “normal 22-year-old,” but eyebrows arched when he was photographed just days later in a recording studio with producer Naughty Boy. Louis Tomlinson began a heated Twitter exchange with Naughty soon after the split, citing his “inconsiderate” choice to retweet a video which the One Directioner believed was “clearly trying to wind the fans up” in the wake of the band’s personnel change.

Malik himself managed to stay out of the conflict at the time, but that would change that May when Naughty tweeted a photo of the two together with the caption “Replace this.” Tomlinson, believing the message to be a thinly veiled dig at rumors that One Direction were planning to replace the departed Malik, did not bite his tongue. A lengthy back and forth with Naughty culminated in Tomlinson writing, “Jesus, forgot you were such an in demand producer … How does it feel to be riding on the back of someone else’s career?” Unamused, Malik replied to his former bandmate: “Remember when you had a life and stopped making bitchy comments about mine?”

For fans, the feud was a sad reminder that Malik, who had just purged his social-media bio of any reference to his prior band, was unlikely to return to the fold in the foreseeable future. In the coming months he was brutally honest about One Direction’s new output. “I heard the second single and yeah, I didn’t buy [their] album,” he told Billboard in January 2016. He elaborated in an interview with Fader: “That’s not music that I would listen to. Would you listen to One Direction at a party with your girl? I wouldn’t.”

Relations between the former friends grew still frostier that winter. “The truth is I haven’t spoken to any of the boys at all really,” he told L’Uomo Vogue that January. “I tried to reach out and be their friend, but they haven’t even replied to any of my calls or texts.”

Ultimately it was tragedy that helped restore relations. After Tomlinson’s mother died that December, Malik reached out to offer his condolences and support. “[Zayn and I] got back in touch with each other and kind of cleared the air and talked everything through,” he said on Andy Cohen’s radio show in August. “So we’re mates again, I suppose.”

Remy Ma during 2006 VH1 Hip Hop Honors - Arrivals at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jason Kempin/FilmMagic); Nicki Minaj hosts BET's Rip The Runway 2010 at the Hammerstein Ballroom on February 27, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

Remy Ma and Nicki Minaj

Jason Kempin/FilmMagic; Bryan Bedder/Getty

Remy Ma vs. Nicki Minaj

Remy Ma’s career was sidelined in 2008 by a weapons and assault conviction that brought a six-year prison sentence, leaving the lane open for Minaj – who had taken shots at her on 2007’s “Dirty Money” – to secure the Rap Queen title. After her release, Remy started making her play for the throne in March 2015 when she remixed Minaj’s “Truffle Butter,” seemingly mocking the Queens rapper’s transition into catchy electro songs like “Superbass” and “Starships.” The shots continued throughout 2016 with Remy’s verse on “Money Showers” (“Bitch claiming she the queen, what? Not hardly/Who the fuck gave you your crown, bitch? Steve Harvey?”) and Phresher’s remix of “What a Minute” (“Will I smoke this bitch? Yes/Probably fail my piss test/Get rid of those fake breasts/And put a vest on this bitch chest”).

Nicki retaliated in February 2017 with her featured verse on Jason Derulo’s “Swalla.” “Bless her heart, she throwing shots but every line sucks.” She followed up with a jab on Gucci Mane’s “Make Love,” which references the disappointing album sales of Remy’s collaboration with rapper Fat Joe, Plata O Plomo.

Remy responded by launching an all-out assault with the seven-minute diss epic, “ShETHER,” which took aim at Minaj. “I’m jealous? Bitch, you was happy when they took me/Best thing that ever happened to you was when they booked me,” she seethed on the track.

Remy gave Minaj a 48-hour deadline to respond to the song, which she did – sorta. Instead of a response track, Minaj shaded her on Instagram by posting a (since deleted) screenshot of Plata O Plomo‘s “disappointing” album sales with a caption reading “yikes.” She also shared a video in which Beyoncé, pop royalty in her own right, acknowledged Minaj as a “rap queen” on her rework of Prince’s “Darling Nikki.”

Remy dropped an equally brutal diss track four days later, “Another One,” and continued the taunting with a (since-deleted) throwback Instagram photo of Minaj captioned “#B4TheButtJob.” Addressing the feud on The Wendy Williams Show the following day, Remy, resplendent in funeral attire, quipped, “My grandmother told me to never speak ill of the dead.” Minaj eventually came for her with some help from her Cash Money friends Drake and Lil Wayne to serve up the “#3PackFromPARIS,” a trio of diss tracks led by “No Frauds.”

Remy scored her biggest triumph at the 2017 BET Awards in June, when she ended Minaj’s seven-year run as the Best Female Hip Hop Artist. She paused during her acceptance speech to rap a few victorious verses from “Spaghetti,” an anti-Minaj Plata O Plomo album cut. The following day, Minaj chose to perform two of her Remy disses, “Realize” and “No Frauds,” at the NBA Awards.

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