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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.

INGLEWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 08: Musician Drake performs onstage during REAL 92.3's 'The Real Show" at The Forum on November 8, 2015 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images); ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 20: Meek Mills performs during the Bacardi untamable house party on November 20, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images for Bacardi)

Drake, Meek Mill

Scott Dudelson, Marcus Ingram/Getty

Meek Mill vs. Drake

The controversial topic of ghostwriting in music was the basis of the summer 2015 feud between Meek Mill and Drake. Shortly after Drake was featured on Meek’s track “R.I.C.O.,” the latter took to Twitter to weigh in on the verse Drake contributed: “Stop comparing drake to me too. … He don’t write his own raps! That’s why he ain’t tweet my album because we found out!”

Rapper OG Maco supported Meek and furthered intrigue by naming names – Atlanta rapper Quentin Miller, a writer openly credited on Drake’s songs. Miller himself and Drake’s producer Noah “40” Shebib denied accusations of any misrepresentation in writing credits.

Drake promptly released a diss track called “Charged Up”: “Wow, I’m honored you think this is staged/I’m flattered, man/In fact, I’m amazed.” Meek Mill tweeted “Baby lotion soft……” Just days later, Drake released another diss track, “Back to Back,” more aggressively prodding Meek with lines like “Is that a world tour or your girl’s tour?” calling Meek out for opening for girlfriend Nicki Minaj on her Pinkprint jaunt. The track became a hit and was subsequently nominated for a Grammy for Best Rap Performance.

Meek responded with his own diss track, “Wanna Know,” which sources ranging Kevin Durant to Whataburger deemed an embarrassing flop. At OVO Fest, Drake kicked Meek when he was down, performing his pair of diss tracks (plus the ‘R.I.C.O.” verse that started it all), and projecting memes targeted at his foe. Meek’s comebacks in the form of onstage insults and some tracks on his January 2016 EPs 4/4 and 4/4 Pt. 2 proved too little too late, and Drake remained the obvious winner of the apparently lopsided feud.

In February 2017, after the dust had settled, Drake sat down for an interview with U.K. DJ Semtex on OVO Sound Radio and spoke at length on his beef with Meek. “[A]nybody that’s been in any room with me knows first of all knows that I am one of the best writers, period. That is what I do. That is what I’m known for. … I write my biggest songs, my biggest hits. The massive majority of my catalogue has all been written solely by me.”

But the battle between the two artists, he admitted, was “not something that I’m proud of, because it took just as much of an emotional toll on me, I mean, not as much as it did on him …” He concluded that he doesn’t see a truce down the line.

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 06: Musician Jack White performs onstage at the 25th anniversary MusiCares 2015 Person Of The Year Gala honoring Bob Dylan at the Los Angeles Convention Center on February 6, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The annual benefit raises critical funds for MusiCares' Emergency Financial Assistance and Addiction Recovery programs. For more information visit musicares.org. (Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage); Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys perform on night two of KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas at Gibson Amphitheatre on December 12, 2010 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

Jack White and the Black Keys

Lester Cohen/WireImage; Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Jack White vs. the Black Keys

Comparisons to the Black Keys had left White well and truly pissed, and he took every opportunity to distance himself from the band. I’m a lot more to do with Jay-Z than the Black Keys,” he told Rolling Stone in 2010 – and to keep it that way he barred Dan Auerbach from his Third Man Studio.

The feud escalated during White’s contentious divorce from Karen Elson in August 2013, when emails between the exes leaked. In one, White bemoaned Elson’s decision to send their kids to the same Nashville private school as Auerbach’s children. “That’s a possible twelve fucking years I’m going to be sitting in kids chairs next to that asshole with other people trying to lump us in together. He gets another free reign to follow me around and copy me and push himself into my world.”

The emails made headlines across the globe, but the Keys took it in stride. “As fucked up as that shit is, that was a private conversation,” Patrick Carney said in a May 2014 interview with Rolling Stone. Despite the gracious response, White continued venting. “I’ll hear TV commercials where the music’s ripping off sounds of mine, to the point I think it’s me,” he told Rolling Stone in a May 2014 cover story. “Half the time, it’s the Black Keys.”

As the interview hit stands, White shared an apology on his website. “I wish the Black Keys all the success that they can get,” he said. “Lord knows that I can tell you myself how hard it is to get people to pay attention to a two piece band with a plastic guitar, so any attention that the Black Keys can get in this world I wish it for them.”

It seemed as though the hatchet was buried, but Carney then accused White of trying to physically fight him when they crossed paths at a Manhattan bar in September 2015. Carney chronicled the alleged incident in a lengthy series of tweets. “Really really sad and pathetic,” he wrote. “Jack White is basically Bill Corgan’s dumb ass zero t-shirt in human form.”

White quickly issued a denial – sort of. “Nobody tried to fight you, Patrick. … Quit whining to the Internet and speak face to face like a human being.” Further details remain scarce, but not long after, Carney deleted most of the tweets detailing the supposed fight, instead writing simply: “Talked to Jack for an hour he’s cool. All good.” White shared a similar message of goodwill, tweeting, “From one musician to another, you have my respect Patrick Carney.”

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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