This article is missing information about diss tracks in hip hop. (October 2019)
A diss track or diss song (diss – abbr. from disrespect) is a song whose primary purpose is to verbally attack someone else, usually another artist. Diss tracks are often the result of an existing, escalating feud between the two people; for example, the artists involved may be former members of a group, or artists on rival labels.
The diss track as a medium of its own was popularized in the hip hop genre, fueled by the hip hop rivalry phenomenon (especially the East Coast–West Coast hip hop rivalry of the mid-1990s). More recently, entertainers from outside the traditional music landscape have adopted the genre.
In the course of constructing their argument, artists often include a wealth of references to past events and transgressions in their diss tracks, which listeners can dive into. Artists who are the subject of a diss track often make one of their own in response to the first. It is this back-and-forth associated with a feud that makes this type of song particularly viral. The term sneak diss refers to a type of verse in a song which an artist refrains from mentioning a specific individual but describing or referring to them in a negative or derogatory manner.
Origin and early examplesEdit
An early example of a diss track was "You Keep Her" (1962) by Joe Tex. He wrote the song after his wife left him for soul singer James Brown, who then broke up with her and wrote Tex a letter saying he could have her back. Tex refused and ridiculed this offer in his song.
After Lee "Scratch" Perry left producer Coxsone Dodd, he released a track called "Run for Cover" (1967) poking fun at him. Perry in particular has a long history of releasing diss tracks directed at former musical collaborators. The musical single "People Funny Boy" (1968) attacked his former boss Joe Gibbs by adding sounds of a crying baby into the mix. In response, Gibbs himself released a track called "People Grudgeful" (1968). Perry's "Evil Tongues" (1978) was aimed at The Congos and "Judgement Inna Babylon" (1984) and "Satan Kicked the Bucket" (1988) at Chris Blackwell. Perry also attacked Michael Jackson (with whom he had never worked) on the track "Freaky Michael" (2010).
John Lennon wrote Sexy Sadie (1968) from the Beatles album The Beatles as a diss track aimed at Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a guru whom he felt had been a let down to them. The original lyrics specifically targeted him, but at the request of George Harrison the lyrics became more vague.   
John Lennon's "How Do You Sleep?" (1971) from his album Imagine is another prototypical example of a diss track. Lennon had the impression that the song "Too Many People" from Paul McCartney's Ram (1971) was a dig at him, something McCartney later admitted. Lennon thought that other songs on the album, such as "3 Legs", contained similar attacks, and the back cover of Ram, showing one stag beetle mounting another, has been described by McCartney as indicative of how he felt treated by the other members of the Beatles. As a result, Lennon's "How Do You Sleep?" indirectly mocked McCartney's musicianship. While McCartney is never mentioned in the song, the many references make clear he is the target, particularly in the lyrics "The only thing you done was yesterday/And since you've gone you're just another day", the first lyric being a reference to The Beatles' 1965 song "Yesterday" and the second line referring to McCartney's 1971 song "Another Day".
The opening track on Queen's album A Night at the Opera, "Death on Two Legs (Dedicated to...)", is a prime example of a hard rock diss track, directed toward the band's former manager. The Sex Pistols recorded two diss tracks, New York, aimed at The New York Dolls, and E.M.I., aimed at their former record label EMI.    
Wild Man Fischer wrote a song called "Frank" in 1980, which was aimed at his former record producer Frank Zappa, who enabled him to record his debut album An Evening with Wild Man Fischer (1969) but afterwards broke all contact when the mentally disturbed Fischer threw a bottle at Zappa's infant daughter and missed. Dr. Demento once played "Frank" when Zappa was a guest on his show and to his amazement Zappa turned absolutely livid with anger when he heard it, even threatening the radio host to never ever play this song again on the air.
Coalescing of the genre: Early hip-hop rivalriesEdit
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East Coast vs West Coast eraEdit
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Diss tracks surged in popularity during the East Coast–West Coast hip hop rivalry in the 1990s, the most prominent of which was the feud between Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. Local feuds continued, including a feud between West Coast rappers DJ Quik and MC Eiht. One of the most notable diss tracks of this album is Hit 'Em Up, a diss track from Tupac directed at the east coast rappers.
Diss tracks found a resurgence in the late 2010s as personalities from platforms outside of music, especially YouTubers, entered the medium. Diss tracks performed especially well on the platform, often drawing tens or hundreds of millions of views, spawning internet memes, and earning millions of dollars in AdSense revenue for their creators. Notable participants in this movement included Logan Paul, Jake Paul, RiceGum, KSI, and PewDiePie.
In 2018, YouTuber Jake Paul was certified RIAA platinum for his track "It's Everyday Bro", and YouTubers RiceGum and Alissa Violet were certified platinum for "It's Every Night Sis", the diss track they made in response.
- Alexander, Julia (21 August 2018). "YouTube creators reinvented diss tracks to make millions". Polygon. Retrieved 5 November 2019.
- Capitao, Brian (2019-06-17). "The Art of the "Sneak Diss"". The Freeze. Retrieved 2020-01-26.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-10-26. Retrieved 2016-01-29.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "The Upsetter", Black Music (January 1975). Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine "Perry says the song was his was of expressing how he felt about the way Clement Dodd (Sir Coxsone) had treated him financially while he had been working for Dodd. It spoke of revenge: 'You take people for fool, yeah / And use them as a tool, yeah / But I am the av-en-ger...'."
- "People Funny Boy". rougheryet.com.
- "Red Bull Music Academy Daily". www.redbullmusicacademy.com.
- "Playboy Interview With Paul and Linda McCartney". Playboy. Playboy Press. 1984. Retrieved 23 August 2008.
- Cadogan, Patrick (2008). The Revolutionary Artist: John Lennon's Radical Years. Morrisville, NC: Lulu. p. 141. ISBN 978-1-4357-1863-0.
- Barker, Emily (29 July 2015). "19 Of The Fiercest Diss Tracks In Hip-Hop, Rock And Pop History". NME. Retrieved 2019-10-25.
- http://telegraphco.trendfuture.net/news/obituaries/culture-obituaries/music-obituaries/8626665/Larry-Wild-Man-Fischer.html[permanent dead link]
- "FAME Review: Wild Man Fischer - Derailroaded: Inside the Mind of Larry 'Wild Man' Fischer (DVD)". www.acousticmusic.com.
- "American certifications – Jake Paul – It's Everyday Bro". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
- Lorenz, Taylor (14 May 2018). "The Recording Artist Who Went Platinum for His Diss Tracks on Jake Paul". Daily Beast. Retrieved 5 November 2019.
- "American certifications – Jake Paul – It's Everyday Bro". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved November 4, 2018.