Over the years, there’s been some epic Nigerian records resulting from one artist having a bone to pick with another, or even at other famous people or institutions.
As many will agree, beef is a fundamental part of rap culture, and many great beef songs have been indeed performed by rappers.
So, whether you consider them to have resulted from the pursuit of clout or commercial success, below is a curated playlist of the top 10 Nigerian beef songs that everyone should know.
#1 Igwe – Kelly Handsome
“Maga Don Pay” had earned Imo state singer, rapper, and record producer Kelly Handsome some prominence and a loyal fan-base when the smash hit debuted in 2008. But while Handsome was mainly dominating parts of Eastern Nigeria- home to the Ibo people and the Igbo language, Mo’ Hits Records and Dbanj were pretty much the name on everyone’s lips. No one could have guessed Kelly Handsome would have a bone to pick with Dbanj and his crew, targeting them with a diss song titled “Igwe.” “Igwe” was a follow-up to an earlier diss record, a satire of Wande Coal’s hit song with Kay Switch “Who Born The Maga.” In the record, Handsome accused Mo’ Hits of abusing his culture and traditions, declaring himself the original Igwe (King). People still think Dbanj and Don Jazzy’s 2008 hit song “Igwe,” where the DB Records’ boss joked he was honoured and made a chieftain when he visited Igbo land was the cause of the dispute. And perhaps it was.
#2 I Wan Finish Timaya – Nico Gravity
Perhaps the funniest and lightest beef song that’s ever come straight out of Naija. But it makes our list because of its directness and raw lyricism. Nico Gravity didn’t hold anything back, calling Timaya out on all fronts, before going on to give him advice. Well, wherever Gravity is today, he’d have swallowed his words given how successful and influential the Dem Mama boss is today. The hook too- Golden!
#3 Beef – MI
Kelly Handsome dominated one of the most exciting periods of beefing in the history of Nigerian music. Whether he was doing it for fun, clout, commercial success or because he truly had a problem with the artists he was taking shots at remains a mystery until now. But he gave us plenty to remember.
However, many will say he bit a little more than he could chew when he chose to add MI to his list of targeted artists in his rap song “Catch Me If You Can.” While the record was mainly targeted at Handsome’s arch-enemies Mo’ Hits Records, he did have a swipe at MI’s debut album “Talk About It,” referring to MI as short as a reply to the Choc City rapper’s claim he was sitting on top Naija hip Hop.
Everyone was pumped to see how MI handles the diss, given that Mo’ Hits never really indulged Handsome all the while, and the result is one of the most talked about diss tracks in the history of Nigerian music. Till now, people tout this record to be Kelly Handsome’s career waterloo, given that we didn’t really hear much from the rapper/singer after its release.
#4 Hit Em Up (Cover) – Warri 2Pac feat. Warri 50 Cent
Talk about ranting in Hip Hop and this is probably the hardest rant diss record you can get. Rappers Erriga and Yung6ix had put Warri on the map with their music, but these guys showed us exactly why you don’t want to cross a typical Wafsider. Asides perfectly mimicking the great 2Pac Shakur, this track probably contains some of the rawest lyrics you’ll ever hear in a diss track just like the original “Hit Em Up,”calling out several big names including Mode 9, MI, Ice Prince, Erriga, Banky W, 2Shotz, Rugged Man, and even accusing Wizkid of wearing pampers. Sick!
#5 Telli Person – Timaya feat. Phyno and Olamide
Although not targeted at anoter musician, “Telli Person” sparked a trend after Phyno appeared to have fired warning shots at then Instagram celebrity Hushpuppi. Phyno and Hushpuppi’s feud had resulted from the now convict accusing the rapper of flaunting fake jewellery. Phyno fired back in the record. The record would have even made more sense if it had been released in the wake of Hushpuppi’s controversial downfall plotted by the FBI.
#6 See me So – 2Face
The Plantashun Boys saga is one that will probably go down as the most serious and most controversial beefs of all time as far as Nigerian music is concerned. Although this song was supposed to be some sort of “I have moved on” message from 2Face to his former band members Faze and BlackFace, it will go down, ironically as one of the biggest diss songs that made the rounds. It later prompted a response from Faze. It’s a typical example of how the tone and choice of words can lead to the misinterpretation of a message. However, without the record, we wouldn’t have had Faze’s wonderful, evergreen track “Letter to My Brother.”
#7 Letter to My Brother – Faze
Talk about different personalities and temperaments. When 2Face dropped “See Me So,” his intention was to try and broker peace between him and his estranged Plantashun Boys family. However, Faze’s “Letter to My Brother” showed 2Face exactly how to preach peace from the heart. This song, although was the brainchild of quarrel, will forever remain one of Nigeria’s most classic records, and deserves to be in the hall of fame of Nigerian music, if we ever have something like that in the near future.
#8 Distractions – Vector feat. AQ
Of course, the history of beef in Nigeria will be incomplete without Vector in it. We later heard AQ didn’t even know Vector had planned this record as a diss track to fellow rapper Reminisce. As usual, Vector displayed why he’s considered one of the best rapper’s in the game, with punch lines that hit hard and his trademark wordplays.
#9 Judas the Rat – Vector
Twitter was the genesis of Vector’s beef with MI, and yeah, most fans consider them the undisputed supremos when it comes to Nigerian Hip Hop. And rightly so, when you consider that Mode 9 is an underground artist. As far as quality goes, the MI and Vector saga served fans premium diss records to sink their teeth into. Many still consider it a commercial antic by both rappers, especially after Vector claimed in an interview that the beef helped him sell more records. Well, beefing is a culture in Hip Hop and will never go away, and this one certainly raised the bar.
#10 The Viper – MI
One of the songs birthed by the MI vs Vector saga. Much like Jay-Z’s “Take Over” diss track to Nas, this record is touted by many experts as the best diss track ever recorded in a studio by a Nigerian artist. Many people were interested in seeing how MI would handle Vector’s call-out, and boy did he hold it down! MI and Vector have since buried the hatchet, going on to appear on this year’s Hennessy Artistry Cypher.
Which diss records do you think we left out?