Too many battles are being settled on Twitter. We want music, as one house music legend tweeted, after Drake released the diss track to Meek Mill “Back to Back” in July. Black Coffee tweeted: “Now that’s hip hop, not this nonsense some of our local hip hop artists do. Some even attacking tweeps. Put [it] in a song. We want music.” With AKA and Cassper Nyovest having both just released diss tracks (against each other), it seems our rappers are finally taking their frustration out in the booth, as they used to. Here’s our list rating, in no particular order, our favourite diss tracks from the past few years.
Cassper Nyovest – “Beef” (2015)
The competitive Cassper was unhappy with getting the second spot on the MTV-Base Hottest MC list in 2014, losing only to Cashtime Life’s K.O. He took it to the booth and emerged with “Beef”, an expression of his frustrations about the response South African hip hop authorities were giving him: “Ever since I dropped ‘Gusheshe’, everybody tried to mimic me/ I’m underrated lyrically”. He was mostly bragging about the money he had made and his album going gold, “Everybody ignoring that I went gold/ Don’t tell me how you feel, tell me how much you sold.” He also took a shot at K.O. “I’m cool with number 2 ‘cause I’m richer than number 1” and a few days later, in pure Cassper style, he apologised on social media. Though “Beef” came with weak lines like “I’m a ruler you can’t erase me”, it managed to cause a stir and have a lot of hip hop heads talking.
Reason – “F.W.S” (2015)
But Cassper wasn’t the only rapper who was unhappy with the MTV-Base list. Reason, one of the most lyrical rappers in South Africa, was so upset he didn’t make the top of the list, he wrote a short track, “F.W.S” about it. The track opens with: “Guess I need to start talking all that ign’ant shit/ Empty words that can fill a club and make sisters dip/ Remix some kwaito shit and invent a dance/ Kill a show, make a lotta dough and say I’m the best/ I’m the best, n*gga, I’m the best/ Put us all on one song, I can show you all I can cause some stress.” Reason took shots at, well, pretty much every rapper he thinks he’s better than, especially the club hit-makers and their new school kwaito hits. Reason has always been about more bars and less tweets (remember his year-long monthly freestyle series in 2013?). His history as an indomitable battle emcee came through on the track.
L-Tido – “Black Suit” (2010)
Around 2010, L-Tido and AKA’s beef got so heated that there were even reports of physical fights between their camps. AKA challenged L-Tido to a live battle, which L-Tido didn’t attend. On that night, AKA performed a harsh diss in his opponent’s absence. L-Tido responded with “Black Suit” on his City of Gold mixtape. The Alex-born emcee tried to bury AKA in three cold verses. L-Tido’s not a gifted lyricist but his street cred and hit-making abilities have kept him on our playlists. On “Black Suit”, Tido alleges that AKA didn’t contribute creatively to IV League, the beatmaking trio he was part of: “I don’t care if you’re part of IV League/ You’re not in my league/ Imma expose you and give the public a taste of the truth/ You don’t really make beats, you’re just the face of the group.” Lines like “Somebody tell me why would IV League try us/ When ‘IV’ stands for ‘infected vaginas’” and “You’s a b*tch, you probably sit when you urinate/ Coloureds don’t relate when you make tracks/ I asked about you, they don’t know you in the Cape Flats” on the diss track made for a hilarious listen.
Stream “Black Suit” here.
AKA – “Composure” (2015)
AKA recently let off a barrel of clever lines aimed mostly at Cassper Nyovest. Lines like “That’s the problem with new school cats/ Took your style from Malumkoolkat/ I throw my hands in the dirt/ Such a pity you can’t dance on a verse”. “When I go to Maftown, Imma sit on the throne/ [You] tryna fill up the Dome/ [I’m] ‘bout to fill up your home” are some of the many quotables that reduce Cassper Nyovest to ashes. AKA addresses other rappers like iFani, Riky Rick and Anatii, who he says charged him R80 000 for a beat. “I’m the reason n*ggas had ‘The Saga’ on repeat/ Now you wanna charge me 80 000 for a beat”. “Composure”, though done over a candy beat, is vicious and shows AKA at his most relentless, as he spits quotable after quotable with his solid delivery.
Blaklez – “Good Night” (2009)
There was no beef between Pretoria rapper Blaklez and AKA, until the latter called himself the best rapper in 2009. As expected, that didn’t go down well. ‘Lez challenged AKA to write a song to Ja Rule’s dreary “New York” beat and he would do the same. The results were, to say the least, pleasing. The rhymes are delivered in Lez’s velvet projection and smooth flow. Blaklez doesn’t lose you, he engages you until the end, with both hilarious and cold lines. Lines like: “Saying you the best in public/ But face to face with me you wanna change the subject/ And I’d rather hear Da Les on auto-tune/ At least he can dance, tell me what the hell you can do.”
Image: Lucky Mthabela