My name is HippityHopHeads and I really like rap and rnb of all sorts. I feel this genre (rap) is really underrated in now how it’s changed the world, but people’s perspectives on life.
For the first week, I’m going to tell you a story about what I think is the greatest diss track in rap of all time. First, I’m going to talk about why I didn’t pick Hit ‘Em Up by Tupac because I know I’m going to be asked this.
Don’t get me wrong. Hit ‘Em Up is probably the 2nd greatest diss track of all time, and in its own ways it had that amazing message that basically said “fuck all our haters, we don’t care”. The thing is, I considered Tupac more of a rap deliverer than lyricist. The way he sings/raps his lyrics is what catch people onto him, and of course his clever lyrics.
I feel as though No Vaseline by Ice Cube has much hard-hitting lyrics, on top of that hard-hitting flow that Ice Cube delivers. But it’s okay if people disagree with this one, I completely understand, it’s really hard to pick between No Vaseline and Hit ‘Em Up.
Why No Vaseline by Ice Cube is the greatest diss-track in history.
No Vaseline may go down as the greatest diss song of all time, but to understand why this song is so important, you have to really understand the background and context.
For those of you who don't know, Ice Cube was a part of N.W.A (Niggaz With Attitude - one of the greatest rap groups of all time). N.W.A consisted of MC Ren, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Eazy E, DJ Yella, and their manager Jerry Heller. Their biggest songs are Fuk The Police and Straight Outta Compton.
Throughout N.W.A's existence, there have always been contract and money disputes within the group. Some members, like Ice Cube, thought their contracts were being lowballed, or not agreed on. Whereas others, such as Eazy E and Dr. Dre (well, at the beginning at least) said Ice Cube was in the wrong.
I've always said that I think Ice Cube is probably the most underrated person in N.W.A. The guy is an absolute madman on the mic, just look at anything he writes. It's Ice Cube, you know it's a hard song.
Here's the fucking thing. Ice Cube is probably one of the hardest lyricists in Rap culture, all the big songs N.W.A made were all done by Ice Cube. If I know anything about rap, it's that you never want to start a rap battle with someone who knows how to use words - let alone, WAS IN YOUR GROUP.
Well, they fucked up. N.W.A started the rap-feud with then Ice Cube with this line by Dr. Dre in "Niggaz Wit Attitude":
We started out wit too much cargo
So I'm glad we got rid of Benedict Arnold
Oh. My. God.
I don’t understand how this was a good idea. At the time, although Ice Cube had left, they were still on friendly terms when it came to a rap feud of any sort. This lyric gave way to what is called No Vaseline by Ice Cube. A song where he lets out every single problem that was evident in NWA.
First of all, go listen to it right now. It’s got that awesome old-school flow, hard hitting Ice Cube lyrics, that weird harmonica instrument that just fits perfectly. At not any point in the song does it go off flow, it’s just a relentless assault of perfectly constructed sentences, flowing right off the top of each other. Perfection dare I say.
For the purpose of time I will not be analyzing every line, but I will definitely cover the ones that hit the hardest. Let’s start with the first two lines:
Goddamn, I'm glad y'all set it off
Used to be hard, now you're just wet and soft
Once you hear this, you know the other person is getting fucked up no matter what else Ice Cube says in this song. He could literally cluck for the next 6 minutes over the track like a Chicken and still win. You can tell Ice Cube was writing this song before NWA even considered dissing him.
Oof. NWA didn’t want to hear this. Ice Cube was considering a solo career for quite some time whilst he was still in NWA. This confirmed to NWA that he was happy with his decision.
You remember that line I said earlier? Yup. This is how you single handedly out-write someone and make them look like a complete joke. Ice Cube make’s reference to Dr. Dre on “Niggaz Wit Attitude”. This always implied his was probably very financially well off in his solo career – this probably stung NWA.
The first line refers to Jerry Heller, and how Ice Cube claims that Jerry Heller was financially robbing everyone in the group. In classic Ice Cube fashion, he tells them they are just a bunch of phonies, and he’d put that on anything. Ouch.
Where do we start with this masterpiece? DJ Yella just gets straight up roasted, and Ice Cube tells Dre he should stick to producing not rapping, OUCH. This showed that at least on some level Cube and Dre were probably not bad off relationship wise (I imagine the insults would be a lot worse if they really hated each other – and considering they are friends to this day would imply I’m not far off). Ice Cube always did have respect for Dre’s producing.
The bottom 2 lines are about Dre’s diss on him in Niggaz in Attitude. No comment necessary.
This line is really savage. Ice Cube went on to start his own company (Da Lench Mob Records) and was doing well for himself on his own. He implies that NWA is trying to sound like Amerikka’s Most Wanted (awesome album by Ice Cube), but they would never come close to it. They just keep on coming and don’t stop… ouch man, ouch.
The important line here, punk-ass villain, is about MC Ren’s solo album “The Villain in Black”. A familiar pattern in this song is Cube rapping about how Eazy E and Jerry Heller are robbing people blind in the group, so it’s a reoccurring pattern of just lyrical masterpieces.
This one needs no explaining. MC Ren got destroyed.
Now I could go on and on, hell I only linked the best one from the first and second verse, but you get my point. Even NWA, years later, the members agree they all knew Ice Cube had won the rap feud between them.
And that is why I think No Vaseline is the prime example of gangsta rap. Ice Cube destroyed NWA in every single way possible inside and out on that track. Legendary.
I'll end with the scene from Straight Outta Compton.