As Eminem's feud with Machine Gun Kelly has most of the rap world rolling their eyes, it's worth remembering that he has a long and impressive resume in the world of beef.
Eminem returned to the world stage last month with the surprise release of his latest album, Kamikaze. The record featured lyrics as controversial as ever and for all the same reasons, leaving many fans disappointed. However, the real interest flared up a few days later when Machine Gun Kelly instigated a good old fashioned rap beef with Eminem. The two have been exchanging diss tracks ever since, reminding some fans where Eminem's strengths lie.
Eminem entered the world of rap at a very different time in the genre's history, when competition and combative language were more essential to success. He got a big boost early on when he competed in the 1997 Rap Olympics, "battling" against other rappers with harsh rhymes off the top of his head.
Over the years, Eminem carried that energy through his career. Even on high-budget studio albums, he never hesitated to dedicate entire four-minute long songs to insulting a single person — from ex-girlfriends to peers to random celebrities. In addition, he released numerous diss tracks outside of his regular studio albums, showing an ongoing ferocity that put many lesser opponents on the map.
Now, Eminem seems to have returned to these linguistic gladiator battles in an effort to drive interest and stay relevant. Whatever one thinks of his motives or execution, it is impossible to deny that he has a remarkable talent for insults. Here is a look back at some of Eminem's most infamous celebrity feuds of all time.
Starting in 2001, Eminem often referenced a relationship he said that he had with Mariah Carey. The singer always denied the romance, which only infuriated Slim Shady more and more. Many infamous lyrics about Carey slipped into Eminem's studio albums.
However, after Carey released her own diss track of sorts, titled "Obsessed," Eminem made a more direct response in a song titled "The Warning." In it, he threatened to release voicemails and even photographs, proving that he and Carey had been intimate.
Eminem's beef with Carey just so happened to be heating up around the time she had married Nick Cannon. After "The Warning" was released, Cannon wrote a lengthy post on his personal blog, accusing Eminem of racism. He was self-depricating, even joking that Eminem would soon be known as "the rapper who lost to corny-ass Nick Cannon."
However, The Wild'n Out host soon deleted the post. He and Carey fell silent while Eminem continued to mock the couple on his next studio album, Relapse, with the song "Bagpipes from Baghdad."
Will Smith and Eminem were both nominated in the best male video category at 1999's MTV Video Music Awards. Smith ultimately took the trophy home, and he seemed to make a dig at Eminem in his acceptance speech. He said that he did not need to use profanity or threats to sell records. In response, Eminem showered the rapper in profanity and threats.
"Will Smith don't gotta cuss in his raps to sell records," Eminem rapped mockingly on "The Real Slim Shady" the following year. "Well I do," he answered himself, "so f— him, and f— you too."
Smith finally responded to the attack six years later, with a track titled "Mr. Niceguy."
"Dissed by Eminem but didn't bother him / Yup, well he classy / Big Will just did another 20 mil, walk right past E."
Joe Budden was pretty ruthless in criticizing Eminem's album Revival a few months ago. Budden went after the pop music production and celebrity features on his podcast and on Complex's show, Everyday Struggle. Eminem could not take the dismissal lying down. After hinting that he was holding a grudge, he went after Budden in earnest on "Fall" last month.
Unlike many of the people Eminem has gone after, Budden seemed to lean into the fight. He responded on a podcast not long after the album was released.
I told y’all that 2 weeks ago & got called crazy…. ??♂️ https://t.co/ZEx8rgN1n2— Joe Budden (@JoeBudden) September 14, 2018
"I know you don't know about me, you better go ask some n—s close to you, I live for this type of shit," he warned. Later, after Eminem released a diss track aimed at Machine Gun Kelly instead of responding to him, Budden tweeted that the 45-year-old rapper must be scared of him.
Ja Rule was in the middle of a beef with 50 Cent when he suddenly called down the wrath of Eminem back in 2002. The conflict got extremely personal when Ja Rule mentioned Eminem's young daughter on a song titled "Loose Change."
Eminem responded with at least three diss tracks: "Doe Rae Me (Hailie's Revenge)," "Bully" and "Hail Mary." He also made mention of the animosity on his studio albums, telling the story of beef in 2004 on "Like Toy Soldiers." In the end, Ja Rule was left worse off for having gotten involved in the dispute. His record label, Murder Inc., took a downturn shortly afterward.
Eminem and Limp Bizkit actually began as friends back in the late 1990s. However, the group was closely associated with Everlast, a rapper who went after Eminem and made mention of his daughter on a 1999 song. Limp Bizkit's DJ Lethal publicly took Everlast's side during an appearance on MTV's TRL, and from that point on, there was no repairing their relationship.
Eminem systematically eviscerated every member of Limp Bizkit on a diss track called "Girls." He then slipped lines about his hatred for the group into various songs in the years to come. Even a decade later, when Fred Durst praised Eminem's album Recovery in a tweet, Eminem never spoke favorably of Limp Bizkit again.
The feud with electronic musician Moby is perhaps Eminem's most petty, laughable beef. Moby condemned Eminem's misogyny, homophobia and anti-Semitism at the 2001 Grammy Awards, and the rapper took it personally. He went spared several lines for the vegan artist in "Without Me," and even publicly challenged Moby to a fight at the VMAs the following year.
"And Moby? You can get stomped by Obie / You 36-year-old baldheaded f—, blow me! / You don't know me, you're too old, let go / It's over, nobody listens to techno!"
Despite all this vitriol, Moby never retaliated, and seemed generally confused. His only response was to write a lengthy post online concerning what effects Eminem's homophobia might have on the younger generation. A few years later, he even set aside the beef to compliment Eminem on his song "Mosh."
Finally, Eminem, now 45, is at it once again in a highly publicized dispute with Machine Gun Kelly. The 28-year-old Texas rapper made the same fatal mistake as so many others before him: he disparaged Eminem's daughter. After that, he complained that Eminem was sabotaging his career using his own media connections, and before long, he released a diss track.
At this point, the two rappers have fired off a song each aimed at one another, with various mentions of the beef in other songs. As he entered the rap beef circus once again, Eminem remarked on the process in an interview with Sway, brushing aside Kelly's claim that his career was under attack.
"I don't give a f— about your career," he said bluntly. "You think I actually f—ing think about you? You know how many f—ing rappers that are better than you? You're not even in the f—ing conversation.”
He also admitted that he hesitated to "answer" Kelly's insults, knowing that by doing so he would "make him bigger."