Haters Gonna Hate: 15 great examples of the diss track

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Haters Gonna Hate: 15 great examples of the diss track

Kendrick Lamar diss track
Words by Christie Eliezer

Someone took a potshot at Drake’s bodyguards although it’s doubtful it was Kendrick’s peeps.

The diss track has been around for over 50 years, spiteful, mischievous and sometimes very funny.

The latest outburst between Drake & Kendrick, and Taylor Swift’s latest scorecard on her latest suga boogas showed that the diss track is alive and well.


Billboard magazine this month looked at how rap gladiators on record made unproven accusations of spousal abuse, drug use and even pedophilia and asked lawyers if there was enough for a defamation lawsuit.

The answer was generally “No.”, because rap snipe-shots are protected by America’s free speech laws.

In any case the litigious rapper’s legal eagle would have to prove that the listener would think the banter was really serious and it was “malicious.”

Read up on all the latest features and columns here.


One attorney told Billboard: “Any plaintiff suing for defamation is putting their entire life and reputation on the line.

“If someone decided to sue over a statement that they preyed upon underage women, for example, then that person’s entire dating history would be fair game in the litigation.”

Diss track


The Lamar/Drake beat-down began in 2013 at the BET awards.

The rappers’ feud dates back to 2013, when Lamar was a relative newcomer.

During a set at the BET Awards, he hot-capped that his talent “tucked a sensitive rapper back in his pyjama clothes”, seen as a reference to Drake.

Big Three

On “First Person Shooter” J Cole and Drake described themselves, and Lamar, as the “big three” of rap.

The response came on “Like That” when Kendrick sniffed there was no “big three – it’s just big me”.

On one of Drake’s dissers, “Push Ups”, the Canadian bucko’d small height and musical realness.

Habitual Liar

On the six minutes+ “Euphoria” Lamar referred to Drake’s “manipulator and habitual liar”, who made safe music to “pacify” fans.

He slammed “This ain’t been ’bout critics, not about gimmicks, not about who the greatest/It’s always been about love and hate, now let me say I’m the biggest hater.”


Taking a break from Aerosmith’s Permanent Vacation sessions, singer Steve Tyler was wandering on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles when he saw a hot looking woman with straight blonde hair.

She turned around and it turned out to be Mötley Crüe’s Vince Neil.

Originally titled “Cruisin’ For The Ladies”, the rest of the title came from another Crüe encounter.


Tyler recalled: “We were hailing a taxi in New York one night and these fucks, Mötley Crüe, pulled up in a limo. 

“They called us in and every other word out of their mouths was ‘dude’. 

“You know, ‘Yo dude! Your dude is really dude, dude.’ I hadn’t heard this crazy ‘dude’ shit before.”

TUPAC – “HIT ‘EM UP”  (1996)

One of the greatest and most brutal diss tracks, “Hit ‘Em Up” was in response to rival Notorious B.I.G.’s smirking release of “Who Shot Ya?”.

This dropped months after an attempted assassination on Tupac on November 30, 1994.

The rap poet was convinced Biggie and Sean “Puffy” Combs instigated it, or knew about it, but didn’t warn him.


Those in the studio when Tupac put down “Hit ‘Em Up” in Los Angeles said he was absolutely enraged, as he threatened to mash up Biggie, Puff, and other New York rap names Lil’ Kim and Junior M.A.F.I.A.

It starts off with a message to Biggie, “That’s why I fucked your bitch, you fat motherfucker” before  “Who shot me?/But you punks didn’t finish/Now you’re about to feel the wrath of a menace.”

The rivalry between the West Coast and East Coast was already simmering but this magnificent hardcore pushed it over the edge.

It was believed that this call led to the drive-by assassination of Tupac three months later.

JAY-Z – “TAKEOVER” (2001)

Mr. Beyonce took his famed cookie-toss with Nas right into his bedroom and pressed the TNT!

On “Takeover”, Nas is told his music was mediocre, and that he invented his life story, with the accusation, “You ain’t live it you witnessed from your folks’ pad/Scribbled in your notepad and created your life.”


For a good measure, against samples of The Doors’ “Five To One” and KRS-One’s “Sound Of Da Police”, Prodigy of Mobb Deep was given a slap for being short and having ballet lessons as a kid (“I got the pictures I seen ya”).

Nas bitch-responded of his own (“Ether”), but Mobb Deep’s career never recovered.


Godsmack leader Sully Erna described “Cryin Like A Bitch” as: “It was more about just being fed up with prima donnas and certain rock stars in this industry that still feel they can push people around and are still relevant even though it’s been about 20 years since they’ve had their big moment.”

They’d just been on tour with Mötley Crüe, so everyone knew just where the vitriol was spat at. 


It’s no secret Jimmy Barnes doesn’t take kindly to being pushed around.

So “You Got Nothing I Want” off Circus Animals was a slam at the head of promotions at their US record company Elektra who was to look after them when they visited Los Angeles for a one-off show.


Chisel were already seething when they arrived to find “My Baby” had been released as a single, which they didn’t want.

More so to hear the single had been sent to every American radio station wrapped in a baby’s nappy!

Crying Lies

The line “I don’t need your crying lies/I don’t need stupid alibis” came from his answer when they asked if he was coming to their show.

Sorry, he replied, I have to go to the birthday party for the pet dog of a famous DJ.

“We were furious right?” Barnes recalled in his Working Class Man book.

Stormed Out

“So we stormed out of the office and that night we did the show and I remember finishing the show and he turned up we asked him whether he’d seen the set and he said he’d missed it.

“He took me aside and he offered me some cocaine he said, ‘Do this don’t tell any of the boys’, so I grabbed him by the throat, took it out of his hand and I went out and threw it at the audience and then I grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and pants and threw him out on the street and told him never to come back.”


Elektra was furious, more so when they sent them a copy of the song.

“Basically that was the end of Cold Chisel’s career in America!” Barnes wrote.

Start Me

Incidentally, producer Mark Opitz notes that if you detect a similarity in the opening of the Chisel song and that of The Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up”, Ian Moss used to tune up for the sessions using Keith Richards’ riff.


Pauline Pantsdown was the pseudonym used by Sydney satirist and gay activist Simon Hunt to take the mickey out of the polarising Pauline Hanson’s fashion style and idiotic phrases.

“It epitomised her whinging, she’d complain about things but never have solutions,” remarked Hunt, who’d started playing in heavy metal bands at 12.

It was initially just to be played at a dance party, with Hunt lip-synching dressed as Hanson to samples of the redhead loudmouth’s speeches cobbled together.


They formed sentences as “I’m a backdoor man. I’m homosexual. I’m very proud of it”, and “I’m a backdoor man for the Ku Klux Klan with very horrendous plans.”

But a copy was sent to triple j, whose audience took to it so much that it had to be played every hour.

But within eleven days, Hanson managed to get a court junction to pull it off claiming she had been defamed.

Follow Up

Pantsdown followed up with “I Don’t Like It”, with lyrics like “Why can’t my blood be coloured white? I should talk to some medical doctors; coloured blood is just not right” and gleefully played by triple j.

It became a Top 10 hit and nominated for the ARIA Awards.


The Beatles had officially broken up in 1970, and Fab Macca came up with “Too Many People” on his second solo album Ram as a dig at the political antics of John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

There were non-too-subtle jabs as “Too many people sharing party lines/Too many people never sleep-in late” and his role in breaking up The Beatles with, “You took your lucky break/ and broke it in two”.

He told Playboy in 1984, “(John)’d been doing a lot of preaching, and it got up my nose a little bit.”


John Lennon’s backlash to his former songwriting collaborator’s putdown came dripping with vitriol. 

It referred to the 1966 conspiracy theory Paul was killed in a car accident and replaced by a lookalike.

“Those freaks was right when they said you was dead”.


The line “You probably pinched that bitch anyway” came from how Paul’s best known compositions, “Yesterday” (1965) came to him in a dream.

For a month he worriedly kept humming it to others asking if they’d heard it elsewhere.

Another Day

The song is referenced in another line, along with McCartney’s single at that time, “Another Day”, 

“The only thing you done was yesterday / And since you’ve gone you’re just another day”.

Years later the pair had made up, and had a giggle about the songs.


The wah-wah referenced here was not the effects pedal but a slang for “you’re giving me a headache.”

It was written by George Harrison during The Beatles’ tense Get Back sessions in 1969, when the guitarist walked out of the band for a couple of days.


It was aimed at Paul McCartney’s bossiness in the studio and carping over his playing, and at John Lennon’s total indifference to anything Beatles and allowing Yoko Ono to come in and “do her screeching song”.


Olivia Rodrigo loved Taylor Swift to bits, and thought of her as her hero.

That was right until she yapped to Rolling Stone that her “Déjà vu” was inspired by Tay-Tay’s “Cruel Summer”.

Phone Call

Next came an “unhappy phone call” and she had to retrospectively share writing credit and royalties with Swift.

Fans speculated “Vampire” might have been about Swift, but “The Grudge” certainly was, with lines about someone who has “everything and [they] still want more”.


In 2009, Dave Grohl admitted: “I don’t think it’s any secret that ‘I’ll Stick Around’ is about Courtney.

“I’ve denied it for fifteen years, but I’m finally coming out and saying it. Just read the fucking words!”


It was no secret either that Grohl was pissed with Courtney Hole’s effect on his Nirvana bandmate Kurt Cobain, especially after he suicided in 1994.

I still refused all methods you abused

It’s alright if you’re confused, let me be

I’ve been around all the pawns you’ve gagged and bound

They’ll come back and knock you down and I’ll be free


The two have been exchanging shots at each for years, with the Foos leader slamming her “rehearsed insanity” and  “irrational, mercurial, self-centred, unmanageable, inconsistent and unpredictable” when she moved to dissolve Nirvana’s business company.

Hole even claimed Grohl tried to come on to her teenage daughter Frances Bean.

An embarrassed Bean had to publicly defend Grohl saying the incident never happened.


Pearl Jam drummer Dave Abbruzzese was probably standing on a banana skin with his future in the band when he inspired “Glorified G”.

At rehearsals one day, he announced he’d just become a gun owner.

Eddie Vedder responded, “Whaaaat, you bought a GUN?” 

Abbruzzese replied, “In fact, I bought two!”


A heated discussion began between the band members about why a modern American male would feel the need to bear arms.

For the song, Vedder created a toxic masculine character who felt the need to strut about being tough with guns, using lines from that robust discussion.

Abbruzzese: “I think it’s fair to say Eddie was pretty outraged!”


The first line in “You’re So Vain” certainly happened: at a party, one of singer songwriter Carly Simon’s girlfriends whispered to her when a celebrity arrived, “It’s like he walked on to a yacht”.  

The identity of this self-absorbed unfaithful wealthy playboy – “You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you” – has been the subject of debate for years.


Impossibly handsome womaniser actor Warren Beatty was always at the top of the list, as he himself acknowledged.

But in 1983 Simon revealed only one verse was about him.

Others thought to be were David Bowie, Kris Kristofferson, Cat Stevens and David Cassidy.


Mick Jagger, who sang backup vocals on the track was brought into the mix.

Simon said no. But David Bowie’s first wife Angie claimed in her 1993 book to be the “wife of a close friend” and that Jagger had been at the time obsessed with Carly.


In August 2003, as part of a charity auction to raise money for mental health and childcare services to her hometown Martha’s Vineyard, she revealed the identity on the condition she or he never divulge the name.

The highest bidder who paid $50,000 was Dick Ebersol, president of NBC Sports.

“You’re So Vain” originally had a fourth verse, possibly inspired by yet another male celebrity.


In an interview with Mojo, Nine Inch Nails leader Trent Reznor said of Marilyn Manson: “He is a malicious guy and will step on anybody’s face to succeed and cross any line of decency. 

“Seeing him now… he’s become a dopey clown.”


The two had met in 1989, when Manson (then Brian Warner, music journalist) interviewed him for a Florida magazine.

They kept in touch, and Reznor was instrumental in launching Manson’s music career.


But there were tears before teatime, and the relationship soured.

In the pulverising metallic song, from The Fragile album, Reznor initially flirted with using Carly Simon’s lines  

“You’re so vain

I bet you think this song is about you 

Don’t you?”

But it was eventually changed to:


And soon you’ll make us forget about you

Won’t you?

Looking to keep reading? Settle back with a drink and read about the Kendrick v Drake beef here.