Sometimes, we find musicians deeply fascinating for reasons entirely unrelated to their music. In other words, the drama they stir up with their fellow artists. In the social media age, it’s especially easy to go from best friends to sworn enemies in a matter of seconds, and we voyeuristic Twitter followers reap all the benefits. Some beefs last only a couple days, some a lifetime. But even the short-lived ones can combust quickly enough for us to be talking about them years down the line. Where’s the beef? Right here.
Rachel — Grimes vs. Ariel Pink
Back in 2014, the world was once again forced to consider: is pop magician Ariel Pink a major troll or a major misogynist? The beef began when Pink dismissively claimed that he had been asked to contribute to Madonna’s new record, making fun of her recent work. Grimes responded on Twitter, stating that “Ariel pink’s delusional misogyny is emblematic of the kind of bullshit everyone woman in this industry faces daily.” Pink then told The Guardian that Grimes was “completely stupid and retarded” to believe the media’s statements about him. He also said, “I’m not a misogynist. Maybe she’s angry that I’m the male version of her, who was at 4AD [Grimes’ record label] before her.” The feud went down a month before the release of Pink’s 2014 album “Pom Pom,” but I think Pink’s various hateful claims (such as “I got maced by a feminist”) go further than an attention-grabbing satirical persona.
Jennifer —Taylor Swift vs. Nicki Minaj
A feminist-on-feminist battle between Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj was all the buzz last summer after Swift’s music video for “Bad Blood” was nominated for Music Video of the Year at the MTV Music Video Awards, while Minaj’s video for “Anaconda” was not. Minaj sent out a tweet about how only videos promoting “slim bodies” will be nominated for Video of the Year. Swift quickly responded that it was unlike Nicki to “pit women against each other” and that a man probably took her nomination for Video of the Year. A confused Minaj responded with a “Huh?” and said she was not making a jab at Swift, but rather stating that primarily white and slim artists tend to get nominations. Swift tweeted back that she “missed the point, misunderstood, then misspoke.” Minaj accepted her apology and said she has “so much more respect” for Swift. All is well in the superstar world again.
Amy — Drake vs. Meek Mill
The 2015 feud between Meek Mill and Drake was arguably the biggest musician showdown of the year. The feud began when Meek Mill, potentially jealous of Drake’s close relationship with his fiancé Nicki Minaj, went off in a series of tweets stating that Drake did not write his own raps. Drake refused to comment back, and instead dropped a diss track,“Charged Up.” Mill’s promised diss track never emerged, and he instead released Quentin Miller’s, Drakes’ supposed ghostwriter, versions of “10 BANDS,” “Know Yourself” and “RICO.” Drake retaliated and dropped three songs, including “Hotline Bling,” one of his most popular songs to date, and “Back to Back,” a fierce diss track that blew up and ultimately let the public know who the real feud winner was. Mill’s weak diss track “Wanna Know” followed, but didn’t spark with listeners. It could have all ended there, but Drake kept going. Shortly after “Back to Back” dropped, he performed it at his OVO Festival in Canada against a backdrop of humorous memes targeting Meek Mill. Both parties stayed silent for a few months, but Meek Mill isn’t over this fight just yet. He just dropped “Trap Vibes,” a remix of Drake’s new song “Summer Sixteen”. Based on how little attention this song has received, I think it’s pretty clear that Drake takes the crown.
Ignacio — Pavement vs. The Smashing Pumpkins
Seminal American indie rock band Pavement struck first against well-known curmudgeon Billy Corgan with a light-hearted jab in their song “Range Life” with the lyrics "out on tour with the Smashing Pumpkins/Nature kids, they don't have no function/I don't understand what they mean.” Smashing pumpkins frontman Corgan replied to the playful dig by threatening that the Smashing Pumpkins would not headline 1994’s Lollapalooza Festival if Pavement was also allowed to play the festival. Nowadays, Pavement has gone mostly dormant save for a few reunion shows here or there. Meanwhile, Corgan has tarnished his own legacy through a series of eccentric gestures such as attempting to reunite the Smashing Pumpkins via a full-page ad in The Chicago Tribune, allegedly dating Jessica Simpson and starting his very own professional wrestling company. Despite all of this, when Corgan discovered Pavement would be playing a show with the Smashing Pumpkins in 2010, he took to Twitter to reignite the feud, declaring Pavement to be sell-outs that “represented the death of the alternative dream.”
Kristin — Patti LaBelle vs. Diana Ross
Musician beefs are usually thought to exist between rappers or the occasional Gallagher brother. However, one of the longest-running artist feuds was between queens of soul Patti LaBelle and Diana Ross. The two were always compared to each other musically, and the rivalry finally came to head in 1967 when one of Patti LaBelle’s Bluebelles left the group to join Diana Ross and the Supremes. LaBelle never let this betrayal go and supposedly didn’t speak to Ross for 40 years because of it. The fight was not one sided, and both performers took every chance to smack talk each other in interviews. LaBelle even told tales of Diana Ross copying the Bluebelles’ outfits for a performance where Ross knew she would be on stage first. Supposedly the pair made up a few years ago thanks to a luncheon held by Oprah.
Bryan — B.o.B. vs. Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Once upon a time, B.o.B. was a perfectly mediocre pop-rapper of moderate success. He had a few hits under his belt with superstars like Bruno Mars and Hayley Williams, and his flow was competent, yet just bland enough, to land him on the Top 40. And then he blew it. He blew it because he’s a big dumb idiot who thinks the earth is flat and he felt the need to broadcast that to the entire Twitter-sphere. B.o.B.’s highly publicized “flat Earth” rant earned the derision of his critics — but even worse, it earned passionate support from some of his more naive fans. Enraged and determined not to let the bullshit slide on this day, esteemed astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson stepped in to remind B.o.B. just how stupid he is, dismantling all of his conspiracy theories and “evidence” of a flat Earth by showing his incorrect bases for calculation. B.o.B. didn’t like that, so he made a bad diss track (can you even call it that if you’re dissing a planet?) called — wait for it — “Flatline.” Tyson then employed his nephew, Stephen Tyson, to drop a diss track of his own called “Flat to Fact.” It’s set to the beat of Drake’s legendary diss track, “Back to Back,” but with Steve Urkel rapping. It’s all hilarious, and weird, and mostly just deeply unsettling. But at least we got to hear Tyson proclaim that he’s “the DJ Khaled of teaching Bobby about the Sun.” Mic drop.