Is there anything better than a good diss track? It ignites a childish joy and visceral bloodlust at the same time—like the secondhand embarrassment of watching someone get roasted at the lunch table back in the day.
Here are the ten greatest, cruelest, most entertaining, and inhumane diss tracks of the 2010s. Well, the ones people will remember, at least.
10. The Game — “Bigger Than Me”
TARGET: The 2014 XXL Freshmen Class
Petty and unprompted, it’s very characteristic of The Game to randomly aim a bazooka at a XXL Freshmen Class and see where the limbs land. It may seem easy to dismiss “Bigger Than Me” as Game being a bitter oldhead until you blast it at full volume and remember that he can still spit with the best of them. Everyone duck.
BEST BAR: “Tampon lyricists, evacuate the premises / mute BET cyphers ‘cause I don’t wanna hear that shit”
CRUELTY LEVEL: Ditching your prom date at the after-party to go hang out with her older sister.
9. Pusha-T — “Exodus 23:1”
TARGET: Young Money
Push tried (and failed) to convince us this wasn’t a shot at Young Money, but that’s like when my ex tweeted, “I’m so tired of dudes who spend their whole paychecks on Angry Orchards” and acted like it wasn’t a subtweet directed at me. We all know the truth. Named after a Bible verse, Pusha-T jumps YMCMB and goes Biblical on their asses.
BEST BAR: “Now you out here all by yourself / ask Steve Jobs, wealth don’t buy health”
CRUELTY LEVEL: Drunkenly saying, “Look... this will NOT last” while giving a speech at your best friend’s wedding.
8. Rick Ross — “Idols Become Rivals”
There’s nothing more disappointing or profound than when your hero becomes your enemy. I can relate—one time, I did stand-up at The Comedy Store, and Jon Stewart heckled me and said I look like the kid from Stranger Things... Actually, let’s move on. I don’t wanna talk about this.
BEST BAR: “And then I met you out on LiveNation dates, came to the realization that your watch was fake / Damn.. you nearly broke my heart, I really thought you n****’s own them cars”
CRUELTY LEVEL: Heckling a young, struggling comedian to tell him he looks like the kid from Stranger Things.
7. Drake — “Charged Up”
TARGET: Meek Mill
The History Channel needs to make a Ken Burns documentary about the Drake/Meek Mill saga. In 10 years, Oliver Stone needs to make a movie about it. In retrospect, “Charged Up” feels like a calm warm-up to the knockout punch that was “Back To Back,” but it’s still a great diss track on its own.
BEST BAR: “I did some charity today for the kids / but I’m used to it ‘cause all y’all charity cases”
CRUELTY LEVEL: Asking your friend to split a $4 Uber with you. You cheap fuck.
6. Machine Gun Kelly — “Rap Devil”
“Rap Devil” has an overabundance of corny moments. Straight faced bars about Eminem’s “weird beard” and “bad selfie” are cringe enough to make your eyes roll to the back of your head and get permanently stuck there. But funny jokes about Em’s age, temper, and thin skin were vicious jabs, connecting perfectly to Eminem’s weirdly bearded chin.
BEST BAR: “Don’t have a heart attack now, somebody help your mans up / knees weak of old age, the real slim shady can’t stand up”
CRUELTY LEVEL: Putting your grandma in a home just because she told you you'd gained some weight.
5. Joe Budden — “Making a Murderer, Pt. 1”
Joe Budden’s new throne as the hip-hop Howard Stern has made people forget the dude can rap his ass off. Part of Joe’s back and forth with Wheelchair Jimmy in 2016, “Making a Murderer, Pt. 1” effectively interrupts Drake’s “Hotline Bling” dance to toss him into a swimming pool of laser sharks. An underrated diss track from an underestimated MC.
BEST BAR: “You’re so indirect, shit wasn’t real clear / Either Jimmy actin or he really miss a wheelchair”
CRUELTY LEVEL: Getting pissed off at your brother and buying him tickets to a Limp Bizkit reunion tour as a Hanukkah gift.
4. Remy Ma — “Shether”
TARGET: Nicki Minaj
Set to the instrumental of Nas’ “Ether,” this one is an especially brutal slash to the jugular. Accusing Nicki Minaj of stealing lines, having Drake and Lil Wayne ghostwrite for her, passing off plastic surgery as her natural body, and rampant infidelity? Yikes. Diss tracks rarely get more personal or dark than this. A rough listen.
BEST BAR: “Talkin about your money long and your foreign sick / Why you ain’t help your bro hide his cum from forensics?”
CRUELTY LEVEL: Texting someone at 1 a.m., saying, “We need to talk” and then turning your phone off.
3. Eminem — “Killshot”
TARGET: Machine Gun Kelly
Eminem is the last man on Earth you wanna piss off. He sits alone in his mansion, impatiently waiting for someone to diss him so he can ruin their life. As we speak, Marshall is on his toilet, praying someone makes a diss track about him while he punches yet another hole in the wall. Speaking of which...
BEST BAR: “It’s funny but so true / I’d rather be 80-year-old me than 20-year-old you”
CRUELTY LEVEL: Asking Donald Trump to say a complete sentence.
2. Drake — “Back To Back”
TARGET: Meek Mill
Once upon a time, “Back To Back” was a humiliating L that Meek Mill had to wear like a scarlet letter. Drake rips Meek to pieces with a bunch of instant, bite-sized quotables that were tailor-made for the Twitter era. He belittles Meek for living in the shadow of his then-girlfriend Nicki Minaj and just generally embarrasses him in front of the whole school. A commercial hit, the casual catchiness adds to the sting, like Drake was taking three minutes out of his day to ruin Meek’s life before making himself a sandwich nonchalantly.
BEST BAR: “You love her then you gotta give the world to her / Is that a world tour or your girl’s tour?”
CRUELTY LEVEL: Fathering, abandoning, and hiding a child. Wait a minute...
1. Pusha-T — “The Story Of Adidon”
What the fuck did you expect? Rap Twitter spontaneously combusted when Pusha-T surgically tore Drake apart and sold his vital organs on the black market in the first diss track that doubled as a CNN investigation piece. How’d he find this info? We’ll never know, but, clearly, Pusha needs to work for the FBI. Maybe even help with this impeachment inquiry.
BEST BAR: “You are hiding a child, let that boy come home / Deadbeat motherfucker playing border patrol”
CRUELTY LEVEL: Drake frantically waking Quentin Miller up at 3 a.m. to force him to ghostwrite his response by dawn.