Music rivalries have existed for as long as music has been played in a professional capacity. From Mozart to Meek Mill, musical artists in the public eye have continually found themselves at odds with their contemporaries. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at some of the biggest music rivalries in recent history. From hip hop beef to classic rock fall outs and from subtle spats to rivalries that ended in murder, the Kore team invite you to explore the often wild world of musical rivalry.
Oasis and Blur
While it was certainly a cultural powerhouse at the time, many people who look back to the Britpop era of the past can’t help but associate the movement primarily with its most controversial feud. We’ve spoken at length about the internal conflicts occurring within Oasis, but in 1995 at the height of the ‘Battle of Britpop’, it was the Mancunian band’s vicious rivalry with Blur that was on everyone’s lips.
Oasis had released the fastest-selling debut album in history with Definitely Maybe in 1995, a year after Blur’s critically acclaimed Parklife had landed on the scene. Both bands were constantly bumping into one another at award shows and industry parties and it was abundantly clear that they didn’t like one another from the start.
The feud really started after Liam Gallagher approached Damon Albarn in a Covent Garden club bragging about Some Might Say reaching number one. Blur took the brags as a challenge and decided it was time for a bit of friendly competition. Oasis, on the other hand, decided that it was worth developing an intense hatred for Blur over the next few years. Blur maintain that they weren’t doing anything to fan the flames of the feud (aside from the time Damon Albarn said that Oasis sounded like Status Quo), instead placing all of the blame on the Gallaghers.
By the release of both bands’ next singles, the competition was on and Oasis’ Roll With It went up against Country House for an unprecedented chart battle. The media lapped up the race to number one with NME running a cover story on the battle and propelling it into the spotlight. Almost like voting for a political party, thousands of people bought the two singles, signalling their support for their preferred band — the rivalry was in the public domain. Once the dust had settled, Blur had won, outselling Oasis by 50,000 copies.
Of course, that wasn’t the end of the feud. Oasis claimed that faulty barcode scanners hadn’t registered purchases of their singles while Blur trashed Oasis’ songwriting ability. Even 20 years down the line, the feud doesn’t seem to have come to a complete stop, with Liam Gallagher continuing to put down Damon Albarn as “That d*ck out of Blur” after the release of Gorrilaz’ 2017 album Humanz. Never change, Liam.
Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G
If there’s one genre where rivalries run rampant, it’s hip hop, and what could be a better example of hip hop beef than the feud between Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G?
Like many musical rivalries, 2Pac and Biggie started their relationship as close friends. First meeting in 1993 at Tupac’s house, the pair were firm friends instantly, with Biggie sleeping on ‘Pac’s couch whenever he’d fly into Los Angeles. In many ways, Tupac mentored Biggie and influenced him to produce softer, more radio-friendly songs such as Big Poppa, as opposed to his earlier, more aggressive tracks like Party and Bull***t. So, where did it all go wrong?
In 1994, on the way to a recording session with Biggie in Brooklyn, 2Pac was mugged at gunpoint before being shot five times by a group of unknown men. 2Pac believed that Biggie had set him up due to his rising stardom, while Biggie was adamant that it was simply a random heist. 2Pac found his support in volatile record executive Suge Knight who consistently took verbal shots at Biggie, his manager and label head Sean “Puffy” Combs and eventually every rapper from America’s East Coast.
Shortly after the shooting, Biggie released Who Shot Ya?, a track that many believed to be a laser-focused diss towards his former friend that mocked the incident. What followed was a slew of direct disses towards Biggie from 2Pac’s side, most notably Hit ‘Em Up released in June 1996. Biggie’s Brooklyn MCs never directly went for 2Pac but subliminal lyrics and snide remarks in interviews were all directed towards the West Coast rapper.
The feud came to an abrupt end in 1997 when Tupac was killed in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas. While no suspects were ever charged for the shooting, many believed the culprit to be an associate of the Notorious B.I.G. Six months later Biggie was also killed in a drive-by. The shootings made for a bloody end to the feud and go to show that musical rivalries aren’t always a bit of friendly banter.
Slash and Axl Rose
The relationship between the vocalist and lead guitarist of rock legends Guns N’ Roses is far from a sweet one. While the top hat-wearing guitarist and Axl had never been the best of friends, the first real cracks appeared after the release of the 1988 track One In A Million. Some of the song’s racially insensitive lyrics had angered Slash, whose mother is black, although he stated that he wouldn’t condemn his bandmate for it.
Following the release of G N’ R Lies, the album on which the song was featured, Slash and Rose began to disagree on the band’s musical direction. These petty squabbles paled in comparison to the major blow delivered to their relationship following Slash’s contribution to the 1991 Michael Jackson hit Black Or White.
The song was released when the child abuse accusations against Jackson had first entered the media spotlight. Due to abuse that Rose himself had suffered as a child, he saw Slash’s collaboration with the King of Pop as a betrayal and their working relationship suffered its first major blow.
Over the next few years, Slash and Axl’s relationship continued to strain, with the guitarist being left off a Guns N’ Roses cover of Sympathy For The Devil from the Interview With The Vampire soundtrack in 1993. By 1996, Slash left the band for good. Over the next two decades, both parties made it very clear that there could be no reconciliation, with Slash going on to achieve a successful solo career, while Axl was banning fans from wearing Slash t-shirts from Guns N’ Roses shows.
Amazingly enough – and in incredibly out of the blue fashion – in 2016 the band announced that the original Guns N’ Roses lineup would be putting their differences aside and going on tour. After 20 years of well-documented disdain, Slash and Axl once again shared a stage, and they continue to remain on good terms.
Euronymous and Varg
This list of great musical rivalries now takes us to the icy tundra of Norway, perhaps not the prime location for the previous music rivalries we’ve looked at, but certainly the location of one of the most gruesome.
The Norwegian black metal scene of the 1990s is renowned not only for changing the face of metal music as we know it - with bands such as Immortal, Emperor and Darkthrone delivering a refreshingly raw sound - but also for the arson, Satanism and hate crimes that the scene spawned too.
Perhaps the most memorable event to come out of Norway’s 90s black metal bands was the rivalry between Varg Vikernes and Øystein ‘Euronymous’ Aarseth. Euronymous’ band, Mayhem, had become the driving force behind black metal at the time, despite the suicide of their vocalist.
While working on Mayhem’s first LP, Euronymous worked closely with Varg Vikernes. A young bassist from Bergen, Vikernes moved to Oslo and began working on his solo project — Burzum — while also contributing to Mayhem’s debut, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. Varg and Euronymous’ working relationship was relatively stable until it came to the release of Vikernes’ own music through Euronymous’ record label.
A lack of payments owed to Vikernes by Aarseth was putting everyone on edge, especially once Euronymous talked about potentially killing Varg to solve the situation once and for all. Unfortunately for Euronymous, Varg got to him first and, in 1993, left him with 23 stab wounds. Released from prison in 2009, the feud between Varg and Euronymous has well and truly finished.
Pusha T and Drake
This slice of hip hop beef is a lot fresher than much of the other rivalries on this list, but in it was the musical rivalry that took 2018 by storm and will no doubt be looked back on as one of the biggest musical rivalries of all time. Like all good stories, this one begins with Lil Wayne.
After Pusha fell out with Lil Wayne all the way back in 2006 over some fashion choices, Drake joined in to support Wayne, his Cash Money Records label mate, with some not-too-subtle shots towards Push. Since then, the beef was growing with diss tracks, snide lyrics and, from time to time, some direct bars against either Drake’s ‘fake gangsta’ persona, or Pusha’s drug-dealing past.
2018 was the year that the beef reached a fever pitch, with Pusha’s album DAYTONA. On the track Infrared, Push went in on Drake over, amongst other things, his supposed use of a ghostwriter throughout his career. In under 24 hours, Drake hit back with Duppy Freestyle. The responded directly to Pusha’s accusations, while also taking aim at producer Kanye West.
Pusha T, not content with being on the backfoot, hit back one final time with The Story Of Adidon. With a cover depicting an unaltered photo of Drake in blackface and venomous lyrics that took shots at Drake’s parents, his producer and his deal with Adidas, it seemed that Push was coming back strong. However, the real nail in the coffin were the lyrics that targeted Drake’s supposed lack of ability as a father. The lyrics “You are hiding a child / let that boy come home” began the verse in which Push revealed to the world that Drake had secretly fathered a child with adult actress Sophie Brussaux.
How Pusha got his information is unclear, but what is clear is that, as of December 2018, Drake is yet to respond. Despite this, there are likely to be many more years of scathing insults and venomous barbs for years to come – for what it’s worth, we can’t wait.
Hopefully, you won’t be facing any rivalries within your own band, but if you couldn’t think of anything better than coming out on top in your own Oasis vs Blur battle, then contact Kore Studios and get recording today.