Eminem set off a lyrical firestorm with his tenth, surprise album, Kamikaze.
Many of the songs on the 13-track project focus on his distaste for the current state of the rap game, as he feels lyricism has taken a backseat to "mumble rap".
But this isn’t the first time Eminem has given a rap peer a lyrical smackdown. In fact, Slim Shady has a long history of battling other rappers. In the past, Em has engaged in lyrical warfare with Everlast, Ja Rule, Vanilla Ice, Benzino, and Limp Bizkit among others.
We're taking a look back at some of Eminem’s legendary and not so legendary rap feuds. One thing’s for sure—when Slim Shady attacks, he goes for broke.
"Not Alike" Featuring Royce da 5'9" (2018)Target: Machine Gun Kelly
On Kamikaze, Em goes after a slew of rappers, but on the abrasive track “Not Alike,” the Detroit rhymer aims his lyrical venom at Machine Gun Kelly.
Apparently, Em is still upset over a tweet MGK made back in 2012 about his daughter Hailie, who was 16 at the time. “Ok so I just saw a picture of Eminem's daughter... and I have to say, she's hot as (expletive), in the most respectful way possible (because Eminem) is king," MGK wrote.
Em also took issue with MGK dissing him on Tech N9ne’s song, “No Reason” from Tech's just-released album, Planet.
Since then, MGK has responded with a very solid diss track called “Rap Devil,” a play on Eminem’s 2013 track, “Rap God.” The Cleveland rhymer described their feud “as a battle between the past and the f---in’ future.”
Reports have surfaced that Eminem has recorded a response to MGK and will release it soon. Get your popcorn ready, because this lyrical battle might get interesting.
"Fall" (2018)Target(s): Joe Budden, Joe Budden, Tyler, The Creator and Lord Jamar
On Kamikaze’s “Fall,” Slim Shady disses not one, not two, but three rappers. Joe Budden, Tyler, The Creator and Lord Jamar all get sprayed with acidic verses from Shady for publicly criticizing his last album, Revival. Tyler gets the worst of it in a line in which Em calls him a homophobic slur (although it's since been censored). Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, who sang on the song, has denounced the track and vowed to “kill it.” Meanwhile, Budden said he will not respond to Em because he has better things to do, while Lamar will address it on his popular podcast show - Yanadameen Godcast.
"I Remember" (2000)Target: Everlast
Back in 2000, the Detroit spitfire and House of Pain rapper Everlast (then known as Whitey Ford) engaged in a diss-a-thon that even Em admitted was totally unexpected.
Em's song “I Remember” was in response to Everlast’s subliminal shots on Dilated Peoples' "Ear Drums Pop (Remix).” Everlast returned fire with “Whitey’s Revenge” where he called Em a "candy-ass rapper" and a “punk ecstasy junkie” with no rap skills. “Yo, I hope you OD, don't be playin' with me / Little bitch, better watch what you're sayin' to me,” he rapped on the track.
The two eventually squashed their beef.
"Girls" (2001)Target(s): DJ Lethal and Limp Bizkit
Of course, with any rap feud, there will be some collateral damage. Former House of Pain member DJ Lethal, who was once Eminem's friend, was hit with a barrage of lyrical stray bullets during Em's rap beef with Everlast.
Apparently, when DJ Lethal was on MTV's TRL, he talked about their rap feud, saying "they'll work it out." However, Lethal added that in a fist fight, Everlast would win hands down.
Em felt some type a way about his comments (and a bit betrayed) and lashed out at him on "Girls" from D12's Devil's Night album. On the song, Em calls DJ Lethal a "weasel" among other derogatory remarks.
"Say What You Say" Featuring Dr. Dre (2002)Target: Jermaine Dupri and The Source Magazine
On The Eminem Show’s sinister track, "Say What You Say," Dr. Dre and Eminem aimed their lyrical darts at producer Jermaine Dupri and The Source magazine, respectively.
Dre took issue with JD’s interview in the mag where he said that he's a better producer than both Dre and Timbaland. In one line, Dre raps, "And don't think I don't read your little interviews... you midget, mini-me with a bunch of little mini-yous / Over 80 million records sold / And I ain't have to do it with ten or 11-year-olds."
Meanwhile, Em took The Source to task for absurdly giving The Marshall Mathers LP a two-mic rating, and slammed the magazine’s then-co-owner Raymond "Benzino" Scott for rigging the mic ratings, which kick-started their most contentious rap feud.
"Nail In the Coffin" (2003)Target: Benzino
Out of Eminem’s multiple rap feuds, his most intense lyrical battle was with Raymond "Benzino" Scott. A former member of the Boston rap group The Almighty RSO, Benzino went after Em using The Source magazine as his battering ram. He dropped the diss song “Pull Up Your Skirt” where he claims that he made Em a star by putting him in The Source and that he owes him for his success.
“You was unsigned hype, before you ever met Dre / I birthed your little career now you owe your life to Ray / The five mic giver, the Marshall maggot ripper / Better never let me see you with some jewels I'm gonna strip ya,” 'Zino rapped about the Detroit rhymer.
Eminem responded with “Nail in the Coffin” where he called Benzino an old and tired rapper who sits behind a desk.
“I don't really wanna hurt your feelings / But I'm only being real when I say / Nobody wants to hear they grandfather rap (nope) / And old men have heart attacks / And I don't wanna be responsible for that / So, put the mic down and walk away / You can still have a little bit of dignity,” he rapped.
Eminem and Benzino's rap feud was just getting started at this point.
"The Sauce" (2003)Target: Benzino and The Source Magazine
The rap feud between Eminem and Benzino wasn’t over just yet. Slim Shady delivered a couple of more diss tracks aimed at the Boston rhymer, including the song “The Sauce.” On it, Em called out Benzino for his unethical practices at the magazine, including manipulating the five-mic rating system to benefit him and his then-rap group Made Men.
In the midst of their diss-a-thon, The Source magazine held a press conference to reveal they were in possession of old tapes in which a young Eminem called a black woman a racial slur. In his defense, Em didn’t deny the tapes but claimed that he made the remark during his breakup with his black girlfriend.
Em apologized for using the racial slur and later sued The Source for defamation and copyright infringement. His complaint against The Source was eventually dropped in 2005, with Benzino (along with The Source co-founder David Mays) calling the act a "cowardly" move. They released the offending tapes in their February 2004 issue, as well as a CD of early Eminem songs.
Em and Benzino continued to take shots at each other until Eminem announced a ceasefire with the Encore single, "Like Toy Soldiers." Benzino responded back with his reflective track, "Look Into My Eyes."
"Role Model" (1999)Target: Vanilla Ice
Early in Eminem’s career, Vanilla Ice was a lyrical punching bag for the Detroit rhymer, who viewed the "Ice Ice Baby" rapper as a one-hit wonder. Adding fuel to the fire, in an interview with Vibe magazine, Ice reportedly said that Em's lyrical skills didn't impress him.
So, on the 1999 song “Role Model" Em clowned Ice for trying to rap again and for donning blonde dreads at that time. Em also threw a lyrical jab at Ice on D12’s “Purple Pills.”
Vanilla Ice had enough of Em’s barbs and responded with the unimpressive diss track, “Exhale,” from his 2007 album, Bi-Polar.
Eminem didn't need to respond back, and their lackluster rap feud was quickly forgotten.
"Marshall Mathers" (2000)Target: Insane Clown Posse
Eminem’s beef with Insane Clown Posse goes way back to 1995. Apparently, ICP wasn’t very supportive of Em when he was a just a local up-and-coming rapper in Detroit. So, whenever Eminem had a chance to diss ICP, he gleefully carried out the deed.
It started on 1999’s “Get U Mad” (from Sway & Tech’s This or That and The Slim Shady LP) where he addressed his beefs with ICP, Cage and Canibus (more on him later). ICP responded by teaming up with fellow Detroit group Twiztid and releasing the parody (and arguably homophobic) diss song “Slim Anus,” which flips Eminem’s track “My Name Is."
On the Marshall Mathers LP (2000), Em dissed ICP duo Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J on the title track with the homophobic verse, "Call themselves clowns ‘cause they look queer / Faggy 2 Dope and Silent Gay / Claiming Detroit, when y'all live 20 miles away (f---in' punks) / And I don't wrestle, I'll knock you f---in' f-----s the f--- out."
"Can-I-Bitch" (2003)Target: Canibus
Eminem had a brief lyrical skirmish with Canibus at the start of his rap career as well. According to Em, it started when Canibus accused him of ghostwriting a diss track for LL Cool J (“Ripper Strikes Back”) with whom he had a beef with at that time.
Years later, Canibus asked Eminem to jump on a song with him, which he initially agreed to do, but when he heard the track, he declined. This prompted Canibus to record another song called “U Didn’t Care” where he portrays Em’s most infamous evil character "Stan" who writes Em a letter telling him that he’s still a fan but he is now a rapper with the help of Canibus. While this may have been Canibus' way to subliminally diss Em, it quickly backfired on him.
Eminem responded with “Can-I-Bitch,” a fairytale-like story about Canibus’ weird obsession with him. The song is filled with homophobic slurs and derogatory remarks aimed at Canibus (who he also calls “Stanibus”). "Chillin' in the Bat Mansion relaxin' / When all of a sudden some bullshit comes across the scanners / It's / Canibitch, on some 'Stan Lives' s--- / It creeped me out at first; man, this is sick / But me, bein' just as sick, this conflict / Gets my d--- harder than arithmetic," he raps.
In the end, their rap feud ended quicker than Canibus' rap career.
"Bully" (2003) and "Hail Mary" (2003)Target: Ja Rule
Eminem inherited his rap beef with Ja Rule when he signed 50 Cent to Shady/Aftermath Records. Ja and 50's rap feud stretches all the way back into the late '90s, so inevitably, Ja would have a problem with Em and Dr. Dre. In various interviews, Ja Rule and Murder Inc. CEO Irv Gotti accused Fif of being a snitch and warned Em not to release a diss song attacking them.
Apparently, Eminem didn't get the memo.
In 2002, the Detroit rhymer dropped “Bully” insulting both Ja and Irv on the Dr. Dre-produced song. "Now that I'm down with 50 / Suddenly now I got beef with this f----- Ja / But his ass is such a puppet / Irv could shove his whole hand up it / And just make him say what he wants him to say / ... So now Ja thinks that he's so tough and Murder Inc.'s the big bad wolf," he raps.
Eminem further threw Ja under the bus on "Hail Mary" featuring Busta Rhymes and 50 Cent. On the song, Em slammed Ja for trying to sound like the late rapper Tupac Shakur.
"You ain't no killer, you a p---- / That Ecstasy done got you all emotional and mushy / Bitches wearing rags in photos, Ja's words being quoted / In The Source, stealing 'Pac's s--- like he just wrote it," he raps.
Ja responded with the heated diss song "Loose Change" where he spits, "Just shut up, Em / You claim your mother's a crackhead / And Kim is a known slut / So what's Hailie gonna be when she grows up?"
In 1998, Eminem had a brief feud with New York indie rapper, Cage, who accused him of biting his style. Cage dropped the brutal Eminem diss "The Illest 4 Letter Word," where he raps, "I heard some blonde bitch walking through New York looking for Cage / I'll stab you in the face, ten times in the same place."
Eminem responded to Cage on various songs like "Get U Mad." But on "Role Model," he raps, "'Cause when I drop this solo s---, it's over with / I bought Cage's tape, opened it, and dubbed over it."
Their beef eventually ran its course in 2000 and both men went their separate ways, unscathed.
"The Warning" (2009)Target: Nick Cannon
Eminem’s rap feud with Nick Cannon derived from him taking shots at Mariah Carey, who he once dated briefly, on various songs including “Bagpipes to Baghdad.” At that time, Cannon was married to Carey and, like a good husband, defended his wife’s honor with an unimpressive diss song, “I’ma a Slick Rick.” Eminem came back and lyrically destroyed him on his response song, “The Warning.”
When asked about his beef with Em, Nick told HipHop DX, “I never had an issue with him. But when another man crosses a line of disrespect, then you got to deal with it."
Later, Cannon challenged Em to a $100,000 rap battle. Eminem didn’t take the bait, and their feud was quickly forgotten.
"Greatest"Target: Die Antwoord
This is arguably Eminem’s most bizarre rap feud, and it’s over the mispronunciation of a rap group’s name. South African rap duo Die Antwoord (pronounced “Dee Ant-wood”) took issue with Em calling them “Die Ant-word” on the Revival track, "Untouchable" in 2017.
In an Instagram video, Die Antwoord member Yolandi Visser and co-member Watkin Tudor Jones (aka Ninja) corrected Em on his mispronunciation of their name before calling him “Eee-minem." "Eee-minem went to jail and got a bit of semen in his bum and was never seen again," they rapped in the clip.
On the Kamikaze track "Greatest," Em once again pokes fun at Die Antwoord by still mispronouncing the group's name.
In response, Visser and Ninja posted a YouTube video stating that his rhymes were weak. "Used to rap better on drugs”, said Visser, adding, “the kids aren’t feeling your rhymes or your botox.” Both members then spelled out “E-M-I-N-E-M R-I-P” repeatedly before ending the video.
"The Ringer" (2018)Target: Lil Yachty
Let's return to Eminem’s Kamikaze album. On “The Ringer,” Slim Shady delivers a slight jab at Lil Yachty who is among the so-called "mumble rappers" he has issues with.
"I can see why people like Lil Yachty, but not me though / Not even dissin', it just ain't for me, All I am simply is just an MC / Maybe "Stan" just isn't your cup of tea (get it)," he raps.
If Em was looking for a feud with Lil Boat, he's going to be disappointed. The Atlanta rapper went on his Twitter account and told his fans that he was honored by the mention, not offended.
“Lmao me personally I think it’s fye (fire) Eminem took a shot at me. I f--- wit Eminem," he tweeted.
"Lucky You" Featuring Joyner Lucas (2018)Target: Mumble Rappers
One of the standout tracks on Kamikaze is “Lucky You” featuring Joyner Lucas. Both Eminem and Lucas display their superior lyrical skills on the bass-heavy banger.
On the song, Joyner raps about his long journey to being recognized as a top MC in the rap game, while Em details his frustration with trying to stay current in today’s rap scene.
"They're askin' me, 'What the f--- happened to hip-hop?' / I said, 'I don't have any answers' / 'Cause I took an L when I dropped my last album / It hurt me like hell but I'm back on these rappers / And actually coming from humble beginnings / I'm somewhat uncomfortable winning," he raps.