There’s the old expression, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” Well, give that woman a mic and a beat and you’re looking at a whole world of hurt! For thirty years, lady MCs have been dishing out devastating diss tracks, hurling insults like it’s a martial art. Read on to hear 10 of the most brutal (and very NSFW), and learn about the beefs that inspired them!
1. “Roxanne’s Revenge” by Roxanne Shante (1984)
Aimed At: U.T.F.O.
Fightin’ Words: “Well, let me tell you somethin’ else about the Doctor, too/He ain’t really cute, and he ain’t great/He don’t even know how to operate/He came up to me with some bullshit rap/But let me tell you somethin’ ’cause you know it was wack”
Behind The Beef: Arguably the Big Bang of lady-diss tracks, the song came about when the rap group U.T.F.O. cancelled an live appearance at the last minute, leaving promoter/record producers Marley Marl and Mr. Magic in a tricky spot. Understandably annoyed, they conspired with 14-year-old Lolita Shanté Gooden to cut a humiliating “answer song” to their hit “Roxanne, Roxanne.” They sampled the beats from the original track, and according to hip-hop legend the young MC recorded her rap in one take, off the top of her head! Gooden released the cuss-filled song under the name Roxanne Shante, and it went on to sell 250,000 copies in New York City alone.
Comeback Track: U.T.F.O. wanted the last word, and decided to record a response record called “The Real Roxanne” with Elease Jacks and later Adelaida Martinez assuming the title role. This opened the floodgates, and soon other MCs and DJs wanted in on the battle. It became a phenomenon! Within the year, anywhere between 30 to 100 Roxanne-themed records flooded the airwaves, written from the point of view of her friends and family, or other dudes who dated her. The Roxanne Wars were on! And even after they ended in the late ’80s, Roxanne Shante (by then just Shante) was still making heavy diss tracks like “Have A Nice Day” and “Big Mama.”
2. “10% Dis” by MC Lyte (1988)
Aimed At: MC Antoinette
Fightin’ Words: “But I’ll wait for the day or night that you approach/And I’ma serve then burn ya like a piece of, toast!/Pop you in the microwave to watch your head bubble/Your skin just crumble, a battle’s no trouble”
Behind The Beef: MC Lyte wasn’t didn’t appreciate that hip hop newbie Antoinette’s first single “I Got An Attitude” sounded a little too much “Top Billin’” by Lyte’s label mates Audio Two. So she recorded her own song to let the world know!
Comeback Track: Antoinette fired back with “Lights Out, Party Over,” which got nasty with lines like “Lyte’s out, now the party’s over/Homegirl reminds me of my dead dog rover.” But MC Lyte finished it off with “Shut The Eff Up! (Hoe),” which featured the immortal line “In ’10%’ I popped your head in a microwave/I’m into blenders now, so you better behave.”
Bonus Points: Foxy Brown recorded her own version of the song in 1997, directing it at Queen Latifah and Queen Pen.