The hip-hop diss track can trace its roots all the way back to playing the dozens. At its best, a diss track can offer memorable one-liners that fans will remember forever—those “oh, snap!” moments that make us gasp or laugh or realize something brand-new and damaging about the intended target. At its worst, however, the diss track can fuel violence, the still-unsolved murders of Notorious B.I.G. and 2Pac being the obvious touchpoints in 1990s.
A smart, witty and precise takedown of a rival MC—over a proper beat and accompanied by some sly cover-art imagery, of course—can boost a career. That weak sauce, however? It can crush your career and ruin your respectability.
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