Why do rappers feud with each other? Well, the simple answer is that hip-hop simply wouldn’t be hip-hop without a bit of competition. The genre is a competitive sport, and if you’re not eyeing up your competitors and looking over your shoulder at all times, you can go from a winner to a loser in a flash, and Kool Moe Dee knew this in 1987.
Diss tracks have always played an enormous part in the history of hip hop, and one of quality can grant you the top spot within the industry, so if you’re anywhere near the height of fame, prepare yourself to be hit with one. One very famous old school hip hop feud is the one between Queens rapper LL Cool J and Kool Moe Dee.
The beef originated when Moe Dee claimed that LL had stolen his rap style. He accused LL of stealing his lyrics and flows as well as labelling him a copycat. Of course, LL Cool J would not accept these allegations. However, Moe Dee would continue attacking LL Cool J, alleging that by LL calling himself “rap’s new grandmaster”, he was disrespecting his predecessors and originators of hip hop, such as Melle Mel and Grandmaster Caz.
Before recording his legendary diss track, Kool Moe Dee decided that he needed to make one final statement. When previewing the album artwork for his debut album, How Ya Like Me Now, the rapper can be seen standing by a jeep with the wheel crushing one of LL’s trademark red Kangol hats. This was him signifying that he himself crushes LL.
That was the MC’s last sign before he let loose on his legendary diss track to LL Cool J entitled ‘ How Ya Like Me Now’. Written in collaboration with its producer Teddy Riley, ‘How Ya Like Me Now’ was the lead single for Moe Dee’s debut album. The track is potent, and on it, he addresses LL directly, telling him, “you all shoulda stayed out of the business, what is this amateur night at the Apollo?”
Moe Doe goes further as he tells LL “I’m bigger and better, forget about deffer. Every time I rocked the mic, I left a stain in your brain that will remain.” Telling the Queens rapper I’m not impressed, get real, you’re nothing but a toy!!”
‘How Ya Like Me Now’ sparked a long exchange of tracks in what was a legendary hip hop saga. Tracks that followed include the likes of LL Cool J’s ‘Jack The Ripper’, Kool Moe Dee’s ‘Let’s Go’, LL’s ‘To Da Break of Dawn’ and ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’.
There’s nothing like a bit of competition to jumpstart the culture, and most agree that competition in hip hop is healthy. Some even promote it as it can help the participants develop their skills and hone their craft. Listen to ‘How Ya Like Me Now’ in the video below.