The rap world is a better place when artists get along. Rap beefs can be fun to spectate, and diss songs are a crucial part of rap culture, but lingering issues between artists mess up the ecosystem. Even when the diss volleys aren’t actively firing between a pair of acts, a beef that isn’t explicitly squashed means that an artist’s labelmates, go-to producers, and other allies don’t feel comfortable reaching out to the other side.
More artists should do what Jay-Z, Drake, and others have in the last several years and squash beefs that haven’t passed the point of no return. Rap consumers are missing out on too much potential fire for no reason.
Last week was a perfect example. For the first time ever, Jay-Z got busy over an Alchemist beat on “The Neverending Story” from Jay Electronica’s A Written Testimony album. The Alchemist was close friends with the late Prodigy, who had acrimony with a slew of artists, including Jay-Z. Prodigy and Jay-Z’s issue slowly dissipated into mutual respect before Prodigy’s death in 2017. But Alchemist and Jay-Z had never actually collaborated until recently. The circumstance made us think of other moments where even more serious beefs were squashed and made way for dope collaborations. Here’s a list of even more of the best post-beef collaborations, in ascending order:
Drake — “Talk Up” Feat. Jay-Z
Drake and Jay-Z never quite got into the all-out generational war that fans speculated about every time one of them dropped an eyebrow-raising subliminal. But between Jay calling Drake “Mrs. Drizzy” and Drake saying “I used to wanna be on Roc-A-Fella then I turned into Jay” on “Summer Sixteen,” it’s clear that they weren’t on the up and up for most of the 2010s. It’s unclear what specifically eased the tensions, but Drake probably was a step in the right direction. They finally mended fences with Scorpion’s “Talk Up,” their first real collaboration since 2013’s “Pound Cake.” Both artists took it lightly over a brooding DJ Paul production, rhyming about their superiority and proving there was enough room for them to flex their power on a track together.
G-Unit — “Changes”
When a leader likens his former underlings to “spoiled milk” and calls another a “junkie,” it can be hard to envision a reunion. But perhaps 50 Cent’s G-Unit soldiers are just used to a little tough love from the general. After Young Buck was excommunicated from the group in 2008, and 50 Cent started making inroads into Hollywood that halted his music career, it didn’t look like there would ever be any more G-Unit projects. But in 2014, 50 Cent, Tony Yayo, Lloyd Banks, and Young Buck reconciled (along with New Orleans rapper Kidd Kidd) to release The Beauty Of Independence EP. One of the standout tracks from the project is “Changes,” a rare moment of reflection and vulnerability from the normally bulletproof crew.
Eminem and Royce Da 5’9 — “Welcome To Hell”
Royce Da 5’9 is one of Eminem’s closest pre-fame friends and a chief advocate of the now-polarizing legend. But there was a time when they weren’t so tight. In Vibe magazine, Royce’s then-manager Kino observed, “I’ve seen Eminem sit down Dr. Dre in the studio and make Dre look like a pupil.” Dr. Dre wasn’t too happy with the take and halted their burgeoning creative relationship (Royce was writing for Dre’s Chronic 2001) after Royce refused to let go of Kino. The circumstance drove a wedge between Royce and Eminem, which became worse after D12 became Eminem’s next musical priority.
Royce traded disses with D12 on wax for most of the early ‘00s, until the 2006 death of he and Em’s mutual friend Proof abruptly stopped the tension. Royce and Em reconciled and made a Bad Meets Evil album together, of which “Welcome To Hell” is a standout track. The two take turns with dizzying verses, putting on an incredible display of lyricism while trying to one-up each other.
Slaughterhouse — “Slaughterhouse”
Nowadays, Joe Budden is regarded as “podcast Joe” by many of his fans. But as Royce Da 5’9 reflected on Drink Champs, there was also a “troublemaker Joe” when the New Jersey MC was in the heat of his rap career. After Joe threw a shot at Royce for a poor performance in a 2007 rap battle, Royce began throwing shots back. As a consummate fan of rap, Joe actually liked the disses and called Royce to jump on a track with him. When Budden told Royce that the song would also feature Joell Ortiz and Crooked I, Royce recalls saying it sounded like “a slaughterhouse.” This song may not be the most commercially successful song on the list, but it’s the most functional, as it became the springboard for a beloved coalition of gifted MCs.
Rick Ross — “War Ready” Feat. Jeezy
In 2011, Rick Ross scored his biggest hit ever with “BMF (Blowing Money Fast).” Jeezy, who actually knew infamous BMF co-founder Big Meech, soon recorded a freestyle over the Lex Luger beat entitled “Death Before Dishonor,” rhyming “how you ‘Blowin’ Money Fast?’ You don’t know the crew / Oh, you part of the fam? Sh*t, I never knew.” That not-so-subtle shot sparked a war of subliminal shots that was finally squashed in 2014 (with T.I.’s help), which paved the way for “War Ready,” a single from Ross’ Mastermind album. The track displayed the two previously-frequent collaborators back in their zone, talking filthy over Mike Will Made-It’s sinister synths. “War Ready” has the distinction of being one of Jeezy’s most technically precise verses ever.
Dr. Dre — “Natural Born Killaz” Feat. Ice Cube
Ice Cube’s “No Vaseline” is one of the most relentless diss tracks ever. The track was an all-out assault at N.W.A.’s manager Jerry Heller and everyone in the group that stayed behind after he left due to contract issues — including Dr. Dre. Ironically, it would be Dre that left the group next because of similar money gripes. That shared experience helped the friends mend fences, which led to “Natural Born Killaz,” a 1994 gem the Murder Was The Case soundtrack. The surging single is emblematic of the era, with sturdy drums, squealing synths, and menacing Cube lyrics like, “I got a problem solver and his name is Revolver.”
Rick Ross — “Gold Roses” Feat. Drake
Drake and Rick Ross are such a surefire one-two punch that they were at one point rumored to be collaborating on a YOLO (you only live once) mixtape. Unfortunately, Ross’ MMG partner Meek got into it with Drake, putting any future collaborations into jeopardy this lifetime. Meek and Drake putting their issues aside made way for Rick Ross and Drake to rekindle their impeccable chemistry. They showed the world exactly what they were missing on “Gold Roses,” a luxurious track where the two take turns floating over a delicate vocal sample ripe for Drake to plead for fans to “put some flowers in my vase, won’t you?” Instead of a bouquet, the Grammy committee tried to put some trophies on their case with a 2020 nomination for Best Rap Song.
Meek Mill — “Going Bad” Feat. Drake
In terms of 21st-century rap beefs, Jay Vs. Nas is closely rivaled by Meek Vs. Drake in terms of sheer hysteria. We all remember that zany July 2015 night when Meek accused Drake of having ghostwriters, which set off a surprisingly one-sided war on wax. The two carried on their beef for years, until Meek ended up going to jail on a probation violation. Months after Meek’s release, he came out during Drake’s Boston stop on the Aubrey and the Three Amigos tour, squashing the beef once and for all. They then collaborated on “Going Bad,” a feel-good single from Meek Mill’s Grammy-nominated Championships album.
Jay-Z — “Success” Feat. Nas
Jay-Z and Nas had one of the most epic rap rivalries ever. The disses stopped in the early 2000s and their devout fans still debate who won the clash for the “King Of New York” crown. Luckily, the two artists squashed their beef in 2006, which was an early enough time period to make way for several collaborations between the two artists. But while “Black Republicans” was epic and “BBC” was fun, “Success” from American Gangster was their best collaboration. Both artists took turns churning through a searing NO I.D. production, using Frank Lucas’ despondency with wealth (depicted in 2007’s American Gangster flick) as the foil to riff about their own loneliness at the top.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.