The Best, Worst And Most Ridiculous Music Feuds Of The Decade
How do Iggy Azalea and Guy Sebastian have the funniest beef of the 2010s?
Anyone can feud, but some are masters. Over the past decade, a few reliable figures have popped up time and time again in ‘beefs’ with other musicians or celebrities.
Of course, the shockwaves from Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift at the 2009 VMAs shaped both artists’ output for the decade to come, proving that feuds can be a source of great inspiration. Mostly though, feuds are telenovelaic: gestural, high-drama, difficult to determine whether real or farce.
Cynics might say they’re a way to generate clout, and you merely need to look at Iggy Azalea arguing with Guy Sebastian to see there’s weight to that theory. But it’s hard to know whether the headlines translate into sales. As Music Junkee writer Kish Lal points out, the tepid reaction to Nicki Minaj and Drake’s most recent albums suggests beef isn’t always good for business.
They certainly are fun from afar, though. From Ariana Grande vs. America to diss tracks that leave their prey dead in the water, here are the most memorable, batshit and worst beefs of the decade, in chronological order.
2011: Ciara vs. Rihanna
Twitter peaked in 2011, after Ciara unwittingly unlocked Pandora’s Box by calling Rihanna rude while on Fashion Police, calling her cold on their first meeting. Rihanna got wind of it, tweeting out “My bad ci, did I 4get to tip u? #howrudeofme.”, to which Ciara wrote that “Trust me Rhianna u dont want to see me on or off the stage”.
Things went back-and-forth, and a truce was called, but not before Rihanna wrote the most devastating nine word sentence in history: “Good luck with booking that stage u speak of”. Absolutely brutal.
Good luck with bookin that stage u speak of
— Rihanna (@rihanna) February 26, 2011
2013-20??: Robbie Williams vs. Jimmy Page
Robbie Williams and Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin’s legendary ex-guitarist, have been engaged in a civil dispute since 2013, when Williams became Page’s next door neighbour.
Williams wants to build a swimming pool and gym in the basement of his west London home: Page is vehemently opposed, saying the construction’s vibrations would damage the façade of his red-brick Gothic Revival Tower House. The two have exchanged harsh words across the years, with Williams having to publicly apologise in 2017 for insinuating Page was mentally ill.
Five years after Williams moved in, the dispute was settled in 2018 by Kensington and Chelsea Council’s planning committee. Well, kind of.
While Williams’ team argued the vibrations would cause no damage, this May the council once again ruled on the side of Page. If any construction would take place, it’d have to be done by manual labour, which is pretty much near impossible. But he’s doing it.
Things have not cooled down between the neighbours. In his complaint, Page alleges that Williams continued to agitate by blasting the music of Zeppelin’s ‘rivals’ (Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple), as well as dressing up as Zeppelin’s lead singer Robert Plant, including a fake beer belly. Williams was recently slapped with a mandatory order to buy equipment to record the vibrations of the manual construction, setting him back £50,000 ($94,000). Wowza.
It’s all incredibly immature wealthy nonsense — naturally, the Guardian called the feud a tonic for the UK’s toxic heart
2014: Calvin Harris vs. Rita Ora
When Calvin Harris and Rita Ora broke up, the DJ reportedly forbid Ora from performing their hit ‘I Will Never Let You Down’ — aka her biggest song to date — or including it or any other music they worked on on an upcoming album. Ora’s career stalled as a result.
Her 2012 debut never made it stateside, and a difficult contract with Roc Nation left her unable to release a follow up until last year — her first album in the US, despite being around for the whole decade. It’s a pretty shitty move from one of the decade’s highest-paid DJs.
A special shout out to Rita Ora’s other unforgettable ‘feud’ with mysterious hackers that same year, who she blamed for tweeting out that she’d release new music if the tweet got 100,000 retweets, which it did not.
2014: Solange vs. Jay-Z
“Of course sometimes shit go down/When it’s a billion dollars on an elevator“, raps Beyoncé on ‘Flawless’, which is more or less the only time she’s referenced the physical fight between husband Jay-Z and Solange.
Despite CCTV footage leaking of Solange kicking and launching limbs at Jay-Z during a 2014 Met Gala — all while Beyoncé stood and watched — we still don’t know exactly what it was about. Public consensus is something to do with Becky with the good hair. But if the Beyhive hasn’t worked this one out yet, we’ll never really know.
For the record, the two are fine now — back in 2017, Jay-Z said that Solange is his “sister”, and they simply had a fight, as brothers and sisters do.
2015: Ariana Grande vs. America
Ariana Grande and then-boyfriend Ricky Alvarez (who she thinks of and laughs, ouch) enter a seemingly unstaffed doughnut store, lick several and put them back, with Grande uttering three potentially career-ending words: “I hate America”.
Well, actually, there was a bit more than that. While looking at a tray, she said, “what the fuck is this? I hate Americans. I hate America. That is disgusting.”
The CCTV footage leaked, with the store pointing out they were unaware of the licking at the time, and sold the doughnuts to the public. Grande was suddenly at the centre of a major controversy, to which she had to clarify, via a length Notes app apology, that she does not hate America.
“I am EXTREMELY proud to be an American and I’ve always made it clear that I love my country,” she wrote, before explaining that she actually hates the US’s child obesity rates. Cool!
2015: Miley Cyrus vs. Nicki Minaj
You know what’s good? Nicki Minaj calling out Miley Cyrus on-stage at the 2015 VMAs.
The whole thing began, as many feuds do, with Taylor Swift: Minaj was upset her video for ‘Anaconda’ wasn’t nominated for ‘best video’, and tweeted out her frustrations. Swift, naturally, assumed it was ‘shade’ (did she know that word yet?), and Minaj responded by saying, ‘this has no relevance to you’.
For unknown reasons, Cyrus then commented on the mini-saga in a NYT interview just days before the VMAs, which she was due to host.
“What I read sounded very Nicki Minaj, which, if you know Nicki Minaj is not too kind,” she said. “It’s not very polite. I think there’s a way you speak to people with openness and love.”
“You don’t have to start this pop star against pop star war. It became Nicki Minaj and Taylor in a fight, so now the story isn’t even on what you wanted it to be about. Now you’ve just given E! News ‘Catfight! Taylor and Nicki Go At It.'”
Minaj didn’t like being called mean, which fair enough: when she accepted an award from Cyrus and Rebel Wilson for best hip-hop video, she had words to say.
“And now, back to this bitch that had a lot to say about me the other day in the press the other day,” she said. “Miley, what’s good?”
Cyrus, in that moment, came off as very meek — ready to talk shit and appropriate black sounds for bad-girl profit, but unwilling to front up, responding by blaming the NYT for making shit up. A glorious 30 seconds.
2015-20??: 4/5 of Fifth Harmony vs. Camila Cabello
While the cracks between Camila Cabello and the rest of Fifth Harmony haven’t always been apparent, it’s clear that there was no love lost long before Cabello went solo in 2016.
And it’s all pretty understandable — between her open disdain for the rest of the band and the leaked text messages where Cabello’s friend calls Normani an epithet and she laughs (which, uh, is an ongoing trend for Cabello), there’s good reason for the girls to not have any time for her.
Various feuds, dramas abide over the years, plus some pretty awful situations, such as when racist Twitter trolls attacked Normani after she struggled to say something she liked about Cabello in a 2017 interview.
Of all the messy moments, we’ll never forget 5H’s post-Cabello exit 2017 VMAs performance, which made their feelings very clear: they begin with five hooded figures, but one falls backwards off-stage. Then the song begins. Now that’s choreography.
— Gustavo Braitt (@gbraitt1) August 26, 2019
2016: Kim Kardashian-West and Kanye West vs. Taylor Swift
This is exhausting to even think about, as is Katy Perry and Swift’s feud, which was so dumb we refuse to include it on here.
We’ve got the full-primer on this one if you need, but in short: Swift and West have butted heads ever since 2009, when West interrupted her VMAs acceptance speech for Best Video (side note: a lot of these feuds seem to spark up at the VMAs).
After a few quiet years, West reignited things in 2016 with his song ‘Famous’, which included the line that he made Swift, aka “that bitch”, famous, and that he and her still might have sex. Its video features West in bed with naked wax replicas of celebrities, including Swift.
Swift was horrified by the song and claimed to not have given any consent; Kardashian-West then leaked a phone call where Swift agrees to the lyric, recorded without Swift’s knowledge. Swift clarified she didn’t know about the video, not the lyric — it was one of many moments where the full truth sits somewhere between Swift’s account and the other party. Neither side looked great.
The moment essentially created the reputation era, as Swift shed her good-girl aesthetic for the snake, resulting in ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ — perhaps one of the pop-world’s worst diss tracks.
2018: Pusha T vs. Drake
Pusha T and Drake’s near-decade long beef, amazingly, predates Drake. Billboard’s extensive timeline is worth a read, but essentially, Pusha first started to diss Drake as a by-product of an on-going feud with Lil Wayne, since the Canadian rapper signed to Wayne’s imprint, Cash Money.
Over the years, Drake and Pusha T’s feud lost attachment to the original beef, as the two traded harsh words across several albums. In 2016, Pusha used ‘H.G.T.V Freestyle’ to allege Drake’s songs are all ghostwritten; the next year, Drake fired back on ‘Two Birds, One Stone’ to say that Pusha made up his drug dealer past.
But things went to the next level last year. In May, Pusha’s album Daytona was the first of five Kanye West-produced G.O.O.D Music albums released week-by-week. The track ‘Infrared’ pushed the ghostwriting allegations further, directly suggesting that rapper Quentin Miller was writing Drake’s music.
Days later, Drake responded by uploading diss track ‘Duppy Freestyle’, which paints Pusha as irrelevant and relying on this one-sided beef to get attention. It ends with Drake saying he’d invoice Pusha and Kanye for the publicity — and soon after, he did on Instagram, for US $100,000, no less. Slaughtered, right?
Not at all — Pusha responded with ‘The Story Of Adidon’, arguably one of the most savage diss tracks ever released. First, there’s the album artwork — a picture of Drake in blackface from a long-submerged photoshoot, which frames the rapper as uncomfortable with his own race, or some kind of traitor.
Then there’s the content, a pure character assassination. First, Pusha psychoanalyses his opponent to link Drake’s perpetual whore-Madonna treatment of women in his lyrics to watching his father abandon his mother. He then accuses Drake of himself abandoning a hidden, illegitimate son, Adonis — something rumoured online but never confirmed.
Turns out it’s true. Drake’s son was born October 11, 2017: his mother is Sophie Brussaux, an adult film-star and painter who he briefly dated.
In addition, ‘The Story Of Adidon’ was a coup, as a track from Drake’s then-pending album Scorpion was going to announce Adonis to the world with the dubious, defensive line “I wasn’t hiding my kid from the world/ I was hiding the world from my kid”. It read more as a publicity than a cathartic moment: ‘The Story Of Adidon’, cutting as it is, comes across as true.
2018: Azealia Banks vs. Elon Musk and Grimes
While we could exclusively include Azealia Banks’ many feuds on this list, top honours have to go to that time she was reportedly trapped alone in Elon Musk’s mansion for a weekend.
Banks spent a weekend in August 2018 in Musk’s Bel Air mansion after Grimes invited her over to work on music for Banks’ ever-impending Fantasy II mixtape.
Things quickly fell apart when Grimes ignored Banks to temper Musk, who was freaking out after allegedly tweeting while on acid about selling Tesla shares for $420 a pop — a move which could’ve jeopardised the company completely, as it arguably breaks several laws around influencing the stock market.
We learnt all this from Banks, who live-tweeted out her frustration while she waited around at Musk’s house for “days”, and suggested she was only invited over for “some weird threesome sex shit”.
There were a lot of insults thrown around too, as well as allegations that Musk tried to take Banks’ phone, and leaked text messages between Banks and Grimes about Musk’s big dick. Oh, and how Russians want to kill Musk.
If anyone can take down a technocrat, it’s Banks. God Bless.
2018: Cardi B vs. Nicki Minaj
The stiletto throw felt around the world — if it even happened. The two rappers have argued on-and-off for years, but last year there was some kind of incident at a New York Fashion Week party.
According to Cardi’s subsequent Instagram post, it happened because she believes Minaj has been threatening to blacklist producers if they worked with Cardi, and also made some sort of comment about Cardi’s ability as a mother. Minaj, for the record, denies all of the above.
But it was an alleged shoe throw that caught the internet’s attention. While there’s been no confirmation as of yet, we can tell by the paparazzi shots we have of Cardi leaving the party that she lost her shoe somewhere in the night.
Regardless of what happened, Cardi emerged with a bump on her head, and revitalised a previously dormant tradition of political protest that dates back to the Bible. We love to see it.
Cardi B leaving a New York Fashion Week party 2018 // “Resurrection” by Dieric Bouts 1455 pic.twitter.com/GBDE13Lpmf
— ɹʎɐnnɹǝʎǝs (@ryannreyes) September 8, 2018
2019: Iggy Azalea vs. Guy Sebastian
Did you know that Iggy Azalea and Guy Sebastian both worked together on X Factor Australia in 2016? We sure as hell didn’t, and it seems like the pair would prefer to forget it too.
In a radio interview, Sebastian threw the first shots, telling Kyle Sandilands he “never liked Iggy”.
“She was awful to me,” he said. “Like I had stuff on with my kids, she made us all wait for like three hours of something and then rocks up and has attitude. Like if I’m making everyone wait, which happens ‘cause you know, I’m not the best with time … at least [I] charm it on a bit.”
The rapper did not like that at all, and posted a lengthy Twitter thread outlining how Sebastian was a “complete liar”, and created false beef on-air during the filming because he hated outspoken women. The most-damaging part was the send-off: “best of luck to you and your fedoras”.
The best thing she’s ever done, bar none — though a close second is her ‘feud’ with Peppa Pig for daring to release her smash debut on the same day as the rapper’s comeback album.
Jared Richards is a staff writer at Junkee, and didn’t include his own beefs. Find him on Twitter.