‘Diss’ in the English dictionary means to criticise or speak disrespectfully of a person. The concept of dissing is not new to the music industry; it has been committed by many artists against other artist and their loved ones. If we see the timeline of the usage of ‘diss’ in music it started with Joe Tex who wrote a song (“You Keep Her”) for his wife after she left him for someone else. She broke up with the other one too after some time and wrote letter to Tex that he could have her back, to which Tex refused and ridiculed her in his song
Not only in hip hop, diss is also prominent in other genres also. The song “How Do You Sleep?” (1971) from John Lennon’s the album Imagine is another good example of a diss track. Lennon assumed that the song “Too Many People” from by Paul McCartney (1970) from his album “Ram“ was a dig at Lennon, which Paul later admitted to being true.
In Lennon’s “How Do You Sleep?” he indirectly made fun of Paul’s musicianship. Though Paul is never mentioned in the song, there are many references which explicitly target him, particularly in the lyrics.
Check out the track here for yourself:
Diss tracks though seen in all music genre is now in dilemma whether or not they are really necessary in hip-hop. If you see it in a broader light it kind of make sense because what the artist can’t say directly to the other person for a fear of lawsuit they express it through their songs to vent out their anger and frustrations. Some songs like:
2Pac – “Hit Em Up”
Targeted artist like Notorious B.I.G., Lil Kim, Puff Daddy, Bad Boy Family, Mobb Deep, and Junior M.A.F.I.A.
Watch the video here:
Kendrick Lamar – “Control”
Targeted: J Cole, Big KRIT, Wale, Pusha T, Meek Millz, A$AP Rocky, Drake, Big Sean, Jay Electron, Tyler The Creator, and Mac Miller.
Watch the video here:
Dissing is not only popular in the west but also in the Desi Hip Hop scene. Artists diss against each other all the time. Check out some of the hottest diss tracks in the DHH scene by visiting our article “5 Desi Hip Hop Diss Tracks You Need To Hear”
A fact to take into consideration is that the hip-hop music industry is like contact sport. One day or another someone is going to diss you in one of their songs. Though I don’t support the concept of dissing a person, it is looked at as a common trend in the scene and something which is not frowned upon by the peers.
The dilemma whether it is necessary or not in the hip-hop scene totally depends on one’s perspective and their thinking. We can’t just make a law that will make dissing in a song wrong. It will occur time and again and we just have to find a way to be okay with that. In a competitive world of hip-hop, the artist will take a dig at each other whether they like it or not.