Music Beefs of the ’10s

Music+Beefs+of+the+%2710s

Bart Carmody

It’s been a historic decade for music and the entertainment industry in general. Several genres of music have undergone a drastic evolution, with hip-hop burgeoning subgenres like alternative hip-hop and mumble rap, and pop music spawning subgenres like bedroom pop and PC music. Artists like Beyoncé, Kanye West, Ariana Grande, Drake, Solange, Ezra Koenig, Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean, Taylor Swift, Charli XCX, Future and Tyler, The Creator have all left a substantial impact on the music industry as a whole with their exceptional works and concepts of the decade. International genres are finally getting the U.S. recognition they deserve, with Rosalía dominating the flamenco/Spanish pop music genre, artists like Skepta and Stormzy leading a U.K. grime revolution, and Peggy Gou putting the Korean house and dance scene on the map. Also, LGBTQ+ representation is far more abundant than it has ever been in the music industry. All in all, it was a pretty tremendous decade for music.

While it’s easy to focus on the highlights and milestones that defined the 2010’s, many people tend to gloss over the messier parts. Here, we rank some of the most iconic, chaotic, and sometimes downright brutal music industry beefs of the decade.

Drake vs Meek Mill


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We’re kicking off the list with perhaps one of the most recognizable beefs in hip-hop history, as you can probably recite a good amount of one of the two artist’s diss tracks from this era. The infamous Drake vs. Meek Mill beef started off with a Tweet, as many beefs in the digital age do.

While rumors of Drake hiring ghostwriters on some of his most career-defining songs were already circulating, Meek took to Twitter to say: “Stop comparing Drake to me too… He don’t write his own raps!” The Tweet was, Meek claims, in response to Drake’s radio silence after Meek’s “Dreams Worth More Than Money” album rollout, expecting some kind of public nod or shoutout. In Meek’s defense, Drake was featured on the song “R.I.C.O.” after all. The beef was only further fueled by Drake’s past will-they-won’t-they relationship with Meek’s girlfriend at the time, Nicki Minaj.

After several more Tweets containing more ghostwriting accusations, numerous artists such as Rick Ross, OG Maco and Lupe Fiasco began picking and choosing sides. One of Ross’s now-deleted Tweets read: “Drake>>>>>>Meek.” Simple, yet effective.

Amongst all the turbulence, Drake premiered a track titled “Charged Up” during his  two hour Beats 1 radio show, “OVO Sound.” He raps, “Done doing favors for people ’cause it ain’t like I need the money I make off a feature,” alluding to the previously mentioned “R.I.C.O.” The track had a mixed reception amongst fans, Meek himself calling it “baby lotion soft.”

It all seemed like a fairly lackluster beef until Drake’s foreboding and now iconic “scary hours” Tweet went out in the early hours of July 29, 2015, which was quickly complemented by the notorious diss track, “Back to Back.” This relentless cut featured several stand-out lines targeting Meek’s lack of popularity, his tendency to jump on Twitter to type disses, and his radio silence following the initial diss track. Perhaps the most brutal line on the track, “Is that a world tour or your girl’s tour?” references Meek’s opening spot on Minaj’s “The Pinkprint” tour.

After a substantial amount of time, Meek did respond with a diss freestyle on Funkmaster Flex’s Hot 97 Radio Show, which was met with mostly negative reception…and a lot of memes. Drake seemed to have claimed champion in this beef, although the two rappers have put their differences aside since and began collaborating again following Meek’s highly controversial and lawfully questionable convictions ranging from 2015 to 2019.

THIS BEEF: MEDIUM WELL

While this beef did have a wholesome ending, it was vicious while in the thick of it, and not only did Drake come at Meek’s neck on “Back to Back,” but he managed to make it into a club banger so that nobody, not even Meek himself, could escape the vicious track. A fine beef.

 

Nicki Minaj vs Cardi B

The aforementioned rap queen and pop icon Minaj found herself in a fresher beef over the course of the past year or two. At the time of this beef, Minaj essentially had been made the poster child for female rappers of her time. The rap queen’s reign lasted a while, and while her name still holds massive respect and recognition in the game, it wasn’t until Cardi B began climbing in popularity that Minaj’s title was truly challenged.

It’s difficult to pinpoint where exactly the two artists’ beef began to stir; some argue it was when Minaj name-dropped Cardi’s now-husband on Katy Perry’s “Swish Swish,” while others claim it was Cardi’s affiliation with Remy Ma during Ma and Minaj’s rivalry.

However, it was Migos’ hit single “Motorsport” that truly deepened the tension between the two. Cardi expressed disgruntlement in the fact that Minaj’s verse wasn’t fully finished by the time Cardi had first heard it, to which Minaj responded via Twitter claiming that Cardi had put in a request to Atlantic records to change the verse before its release. Cardi had felt as if some of the relentless bars such as “Pull up in the space coupe, I done linked with Marty/I can actually afford to get a pink Bugatti” were directed at her.

Though the two were spotted shortly after at the Met Gala engaged in a seemingly pleasant conversation, Minaj’s next album “Queen” was full of subtle to not-so-subtle jabs. After mocking everything from Cardi’s self-claim that she pays for radio spins to circulating rumors about her having ghostwriters, the two came face-to-face again on Sept. 7, 2018, at the Harper’s BAZAAR ICONS Party, where things got physical. Fists, curses, and even shoes were thrown when the two came face-to-face because, according to Cardi, Minaj was liking comments on social media libeling both Cardi and her newborn daughter Kulture.

After a few harsher words thrown around on social media and Minaj’s Beats 1 “Queen Radio” show, Minaj finally took to Twitter to seemingly squash the beef, stating: “Ok you guys, let’s focus on positive things only from here on out. We’re all so blessed. I know this stuff is entertaining & funny to a lot of people but I won’t be discussing this nonsense anymore. Thank you for the support & encouragement year after year. Love you,” to which Cardi responded with a similarly lighthearted comment. The beef did seem to fizzle out since then, but the two have yet to collaborate on another song together.

THIS BEEF: MEDIUM RARE

The beef was juicy while it lasted, but for the most part, it seemed as if the two superstars were pitted against one another by the media simply because it’s implausible for society to accept the fact that there is room for more than one female rap queen. So, in hindsight, it looks to have been a little underwhelming and artificial… but that shoe toss tho.

 

Taylor Swift vs Kimye

A beef that has been cooking since 2009 and undoubtedly changed the course of pop culture drastically is the infamous and intricate feud between pop sensation Taylor Swift and the Kardashian-West family, specifically Kim and Kanye.

It all started on the night of the 2009 MTV Music Awards when a disgruntled West grabbed the mic from the pop star claiming that it was Beyoncé who deserved the award for Best Music Video, not Swift. Tension between the two built consistently until they apparently made up by the time the 2015 GRAMMY Awards came around, where West and Swift gave one another a warm backstage welcome before the show.

Then, in March of 2016, West unofficially released his single “Famous,” in which he rapped: “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that bitch famous.” And just like that, the feud was launched back into the spotlight, more tumultuous than before.

“I want to say to all the young women out there,” Swift responded in her 2016 GRAMMY Awards speech, only days after the song’s release, “there are going to be people along the way who try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments and your fame. But if you just focus on the work and you don’t let those people sidetrack you.” West defended himself in claiming that the pop star had approved of the lyrics before the release of the song, but ultimately found himself in hot water from Swift fans and the general public.

It wasn’t until Kim Kardashian took to Snapchat to broadcast a phone call between the two artists that West was painted as the villain in this clash. After that night, people weren’t sure where to stand. The video’s content contained a friendly phone conversation between the two in which they discussed the hit song’s lyrical content in-depth, with Swift even describing the line that started the entire quarrel as a “compliment.”

Almost instantaneously, #KimExposedTaylorParty began trending on Twitter, a hashtag that Swift was not hesitant to act upon. “Where is the video of Kanye telling me he was going to call me ‘that bitch’ in his song? It doesn’t exist because it never happened,” she wrote on a statement on her Twitter and Instagram pages. “Being falsely painted as a liar when I was never given the full story or played any part of the song is character assassination. I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative, one that I have never asked to be a part of, since 2009.” The narration did, for the most part, dissolve for some time following the leaked phone call via Kardashian, but Swift did speak largely upon the subject on her 2017 album, “Reputation.” The two artists have not publicly reconciled since.

THIS BEEF: RARE

Yes, a pivotal moment in pop culture history and a highly controversial beef in both hip-hop and pop genres, but both parties involved seemed to have discredited themselves through their behavior throughout the feud. With West characteristically snagging the mic from the pop star in her shining moment only to later downplay his churlish behavior with some equally churlish lyrics, and with Swift being disingenuous towards her fans on the basis of the whole story, it’s arguable that this beef, while many beefs are, was unnecessary. An undercooked beef. And the greens are dry too. Send it back.

 

Pusha T & Kanye vs Drake

Drake and Kanye both found themselves in another, fresher beef around the close of the decade, this one involving rapper Pusha T. While the two parties’ diss tracks towards one another both dropped in 2018, their grudges actually date all the way back to the very beginning of the decade with Drake’s 2010 LP release of “Thank Me Later.” It was a monumental moment in the Canada rapper’s career when his self-cited “biggest inspiration” West produced and co-wrote one of the songs on his debut full-length release.

However, with this blessing came popularity, and in no time the two superstars were pitted against one another in mainstream media. “I was fine with writing ‘Find Your Love’ on Drake’s first [album],” West claimed on the Juan Epstein Podcast in 2019, “until he got too big, that was the moment that I had to adjust and deal with this new energy that’s taking over the room.”

Up until around 2016, the beef consisted of nothing but mere one-upsmanship. The pettiness of the beef even went as far as Drake dropping bars like “Now I got a bigger pool than Ye / and look man, Ye’s pool is nice / mine’s just bigger is what I’m saying”, to which West shyly replied on Big Boy’s Neighborhood, “…I have three pools.” It seemed as if that’s all the feud was going to be—petty drama—since they continued to collaborate with one another on songs like “Glow” and “Pop Style.”

All seemed tame until West’s unforgettable weekend retreat in Wyoming, where several artists and icons were flown out to hear attend the listening party of West’s new album simply titled “ye.” Before this release, West seemed to have stepped on Drake’s toes by, once again, one-upping his release date announcement by not only revealing he had a project on the way, but that he also had produced seven-song projects for Pusha T, Nas, Teyana Taylor, and a joint project between himself and Kid Cudi. West had also released a long-awaited comeback song that seemed almost facetious at the time, but had grimmer intentions behind-the-scenes. “Lift Yourself” featured the rapper essentially performing scat music, and many listeners wrote it off as a joke. In all fairness, the opening lines to the song are: “Poopy-di scoop / Scoop-diddy-whoop / Whoop-di-scoop-di-poop.”

However, it was later revealed that West basically wasted this exhibition of great production on this nonsense because the beat had primarily been reserved for Drake. All of these petty acts gave Drake even more reason to respond when Pusha T directly dissed him on his song “Infrared.” “It was written like Nas but it came from Quentin,” Push raps, addressing the old allegations of Drake hiring ghostwriters. Drake hastily responded with the Soundcloud-released “Duppy Freestyle,” but despite the obvious disrespect from Push, he still directed most of his malice towards West. “I’ve done things for him I thought he never would need / Father had to stretch his hands out and get it from me.”

Diss or no diss, Push saw his opportunity and almost immediately responded with the now-infamous track “The Story of Adidon,” the cover art featuring a previously unacknowledged photo of Drake wearing blackface. This bombshell alone ranks their beef as the most ruthless of the decade, as Push went were no one would have dared to have gone, revealing the fact that Drake had a secret child. “You are hiding a child, let that boy come home,” Push raps, “deadbeat motherfucker playin’ border patrol.” Alongside some other borderline immoral bars that also addressed Drake’s father’s absence and his producer OVO 40’s MS disease, the beef was thrown into astronomical status, with the diss now standing at 19 million views. While Drake never directly responded—albeit he mentioned his son on the track “Emotionless”—in a later interview on LeBron James’s show “The Shop,” he admitted that he did record a diss track in response. “I just listened back to it and I was like, man… This is not something I ever wanna be remembered for.” While much was revealed and finally talked about during the interview between the rapper and NBA player, the beef seemed to have ended (for now) with Push having solidified his place in hip-hop history as the rapper who took shots at the biggest artist in the world—and won.

THIS BEEF: WELL DONE

Perhaps the most historic and certainly the most brutal beef of the past decade. Yes, Push seemed to have crossed some lines here and there, an act that sparked a conversation on where “the line” is in rap beef. But there’s no denying that Push revealing Drake’s hidden child was a devastating blow, certainly leaving a mark in the internationally known artist’s legacy. The perfect beef *chefs kiss*.