For this list, we have selected 10 dope tracks that sparked up some (or a lot of) controversy upon their release. No doubt we omitted a lot of tracks that could have or should have found a place here – don’t hesitate to hit us up in the comments with songs you feel deserve a mention!
10. 2Pac - Hit Em Up (1996)
“First off, f*ck your bitch and the clique you claim / Westside when we ride, come equipped with game / You claim to be a player, but I f*cked your wife / We bust on Bad Boys, n*ggas f*cked for life / Plus Puffy trying to see me, weak hearts I rip / Biggie Smalls and Junior M.A.F.I.A. some mark-ass bitches…”
There have been dozens of hard-hitting dis tracks in Hip Hop that sparked controversy. Few though, if any, have ever been so mean-spirited as 2Pac’s “Hit Em Up”. The song’s lyrics contain vicious insults to several East Coast rappers, chief among them, Shakur’s former friend turned rival, The Notorious B.I.G. 2Pac, together with The Outlawz, literally threatens to kill Biggie, Puffy, and other Bad Boy artists and other New York acts. It was all part of a sad escalation of bad blood between the two factions that would eventually end with the deaths of both 2Pac and Biggie.
9. Bin Laden ft Mos Def (2005)
“This sh*t is run by fake Christians, fake politicians / Look at they mansions, then look at the conditions you live in / All they talk about is terrorism on television / They tell you to listen / But they don’t really tell you they mission / They funded al-Qaeda / And now they blame the Muslim religion / Even though Bin Laden was a CIA tactician / They gave him billions of dollars, and they funded his purpose / Fahrenheit 9/11, that’s just scratchin’ the surface…”
This controversial Immortal Technique single (produced by DJ Green Lantern) features Mos Def on the chorus and samples Jadakiss and Eminem. It purports 9/11 was an inside job. Right or wrong? You decide.
8. Ice Cube - No Vaseline (1991)
“Goddamn, I’m glad y’all set it off / Used to be hard, now you’re just wet and soft…”
One of the hardest dis tracks EVER. After the ugly break from N.W.A and the disses thrown at him by the remaining members on N.W.A’s N****z4Life album, Ice Cube came back HARD with this song, the last track on his epic second solo album Death Certificate.
7. Paris - Bush Killa (1992)
“So where’s he at? / I just might wait for his motherf*cking ass on a rooftop next tour / Buck his dome cause I’m known to play for keeps / Lay low to the flow and keep it neat…”
In this inflammatory track from his second album Paris directly threatens to kill then-President George H.W. Bush. It doesn’t get more controversial than that.
6. Eminem - Kim (2000)
“You really f*cked me, Kim! You really did a number on me! / Never knew me cheatin’ on you would come back to haunt me / But we was kids then, Kim, I was only eighteen / That was years ago, I thought we wiped the slate clean…”
We could have included any number of Eminem tracks in this list, as he built his career on controversy (and of course exceptional lyrical skill). We chose to go with “Kim” because of the authenticness of the raw emotion it projects and the graphic violence Em fantasizes about.
5. 2 Live Crew - We Want Some Pussy (1986)
“You see, me and my homies like to play this game / We call it Amtrak but some call it the train / We all would line up in a single-file line / And take our turns at waxing girls’ behinds…”
From their 1986 debut album 2 Live Is What We Are, this is one of the first shamelessly explicit sexual rap songs ever, a song the 2 Live Crew would build a career on – becoming one of the most controversial acts in Hip Hop and most prominent defenders of freedom of speech at the same time.
4. Immortal Technique - Dance With The Devil (2001)
“So when the devil wants to dance with you, you better say never / Because the dance with the devil might last you forever…”
“Dance With The Devil” is an extremely descriptive metaphor for the degradation of values and culture, and the consequences of that degradation for individuals and society as a whole. An incredibly powerful and hard-hitting song – vile and fascinating at the same time – with a clear message: don’t ‘dance with the devil’. Think about it.
3. Geto Boys - Mind Of A Lunatic (1989 / 1990)
“Think this is harsh? This ain’t as harsh as it gets / No telling what’s being thought up in the mind of a lunatic”
One of the extremely controversial tracks that earned the Geto Boys their infamy. Together with ‘Assassins’ of the 1988 album Making Trouble, this track was one of the first ‘horrorcore’ raps where psychopathic fantasies were described.
Two versions with slightly different lyrics and musical backdrops exist: the original one from the Grip It! On That Other Level album and the revamped version from The Geto Boys remix album. Both are dope as hell, the remix version just edges the other.
2. Ras Kass - Nature Of The Threat (1996)
“Let freedom ring with a buckshot, but not just yet / First, we need to truly understand the nature of the threat…”
This controversial afro-centric trip through human history touches on religion, homosexuality, Afrocentrism, racism, government corruption and more – all in a stunning display of lyrical mastery by one of the most underrated emcees ever.
1. N.W.A - F*ck Tha Police (1988)
“F*ck the police! Comin’ straight from the underground / A young n*gga got it bad ‘cause I’m brown / And not the other color, so police think / They have the authority to kill a minority…”
The most controversial song in Hip Hop ever? The sad thing is that in 30+ years since this song was recorded nothing has changed…