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Diss Tracks Outside of Rap

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How Do You Sleep?
Artist: John Lennon
Target: Paul McCartney
Album: Imagine
Released: September 9, 1971

Although Lennon denied the song’s malicious intent several years later, there is little doubt that in the context of 1971, “How Do You Sleep?” was a cold-blooded verbal attack on the former Beatle’s ex-partner-in-crime, Sir Paul McCartney. The feud was allegedly sparked by—along with a lifetime of diverging personalities—the release of “Too Many People,” a track off of McCartney’s second solo album where the pretty-boy Beatle admittedly dedicated a couple lines to disparaging Lennon’s growing activity as a public preacher. Not only does Lennon call out McCartney for being a has-been, but he references two of McCartney’s tracks, “Yesterday,” one of the Beatles’ most beloved songs, and “Another Day,” a hit song McCartney had just scored that hasn’t quite stood the test of time.

Sweet Home Alabama
Artist: Lynyrd Skynyrd
Target: Neil Young
Album: Second Helping
Released: June 24, 1974

For a rock band from the American South in the early ’70s grown numb to demonization from the Northern part of the country, the last thing Lynyrd Skynyrd would’ve wanted to hear was condemnation from foreigners, too. It must have really gotten under the band’s skin when rock music’s favourite Canadian, Neil Young, named a melancholy protest song off his seminal album Harvest after Lynyrd Skynyrd’s home state, Alabama. The band struck back with a joyful, patriotic Heart of Dixie celebration. However, needled into this sanctimonious joy-ride of Southern pride are these lines: “Well I heard Mister Young sing about us/ Well I heard Old Neil put her down/ Well I hope Neil Young will remember/ A Southern Man don’t need him around anyhow!”

Obsessed
Artist: Mariah Carey
Target: Eminem
Album: Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel
Released: June 16, 2009

If there’s anything we’ve learned from seeing 8 Mile, it’s that you don’t want to get into any sort of rap beef with Eminem. Perhaps Mariah Carey hasn’t seen the iconic film, because in 2009, she released this song. “Obsessed”, co-written by Tricky Stewart and The-Dream, is a disdainful call-to-arms against rapper Eminem, and it’s pretty powerful. After an on-track and off-track back-and-forth about whether Carey and Mathers ever had sex (he says they did, she says they didn’t), Mariah decided to set the record straight: “Why you so obsessed with me?/ Boy I wanna know/ Lying that you’re sexin’ me/ when everybody knows/ it’s clear that you’re upset with me.”

F*ck You
Artist: Lily Allen
Target: George W. Bush
Album: It’s Not Me, It’s You
Released: July 10, 2009

Not to be confused with the apolitical Cee-Lo Green song of the same name, this is the only entry on our list that calls out a world leader rather than a fellow artist. Although Lily Allen is a born-and-raised Brit, it’s clear that American politics (and American influence) is an area of interest and frustration for the songwriter. From gay rights to race issues to the War in Iraq—in Allen’s opinion, George Bush dropped the ball. Released six months after Obama’s inauguration, this farewell note to the controversial former President is scathing and personal.

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