10 of rap's most controversial lyrics

by Tyler Munro

January 22, 2014






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Hip-hop is no stranger to controversy, and we’d argue that a biting line is often necessary to bring a track to the next level. On Beyoncé’s new visual album, a guest rap from her husband Jay Z references Ike and Tina Turner’s abusive relationship with the line: “I’m Ike Turner, turn up Baby know I don’t play, now eat the cake, Anna Mae Said, ‘Eat the cake, Anna Mae!'”

It’s playful enough, but given the context, nauseating. The lyric references an incident from the Ike & Tina biopic What’s Love Got to Do With It?, which features a scene where Ike utters the line before beating his wife. Misguided? Check. In poor taste? Check. Can lines be crossed? Should Jay Z apologize?

When Rick Ross was chided over a line about drugging and taking advantage of a woman, he played it off like it was our fault for interpreting it that way. But the line is “put molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it. I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it,” so how else are we supposed to take it?

Below we’ve outlined some of the genre’s most memorably scathing and confrontational lyrics that have all caused cultural controversy to varying degrees.

Tyler, the Creator in “Tron Cat”

Offending lyric: Honey on that topping when I stuff you in my system / Rape a pregnant bitch and tell my friends I had a threesome.

On Goblin Tyler, the Creator toned down much of the rapist misogyny that plagued Bastard, but “Tron Cat” showed that the enterprising young cat still had some hate flowing through his veins. Like the songs on that first record, this one is rapped as one of Tyler’s inner monologues, but curiously, it’s allegedly named after this picture.

J. Cole in Drake’s “Jodeci Freestyle”

Offending lyric: Go check the numbers dummy, that’s just me gettin’ started / I’m artistic, you niggas is autistic, retarded.

Like “5AM in Toronto” and “Girls Love Beyoncé,” “Jodeci Freestyle” is an unreleased cut from Drake’s pre-Nothing Was the Same circuit, but a line like J. Cole’s could be one reason he ended up holding it off. Eventually, both J. Cole and Drake apologized for the line and before long it had been cut from the track. Unfortunately “Jodeci Freestyle” never saw an official release, so Cole’s rap still lives online.

Nas in Main Source’s “Live at the Barbecue”

Offending lyric: Slamming MC’s on cement / Cause verbally, I’m iller than a AIDS patient

This pre-Illmatic crew cut from Main Source introduced the hip-hop world to one of its most iconic voices. Like Chayne says in the above video, this is one of those lines that can make a song. Or, in this case, a career. This same verse also features scathing bites about kidnapping the First Lady, murdering cops and killing Jesus.

Lil Wayne on Future’s “Karate Chop (Remix)”

Offending lyric: Bout to put rims on my skateboard wheels / Beat that pussy up like Emmett Till

A black 14-year-old living in segregated Mississippi, Emmett Till was brutally beaten to death in 1955 for reportedly flirting with a white woman. Ultimately, both assailants were acquitted. This one manages to be equally insensitive and nonsensical in that special way only Weezy can muster.

Eminem on “I’m Back”

Offending lyric:: I take seven [kids] from [Columbine], stand ’em all in line / Add an AK-47, a revolver, a nine / A MAC-11 and it oughta solve the problem of mine / And that’s a whole school of bullies shot up all at one time

You could throw a dart at the Marshall Mathers LP lyrics sheet and hit something repulsive, but this one was so scathing that it was censored even on the album’s explicit version. Years later, Em would recreate these lines on The Marshall Mathers LP 2‘s “Rap God”.

Bun B in UGK’s “Pregnant Pussy”

Offending lyric: I love to fuck them pregnant hoes / Your babies sneezing out nuts because I bust one in his nose.

Released on the Banned EP, this cut is clearly just Pimp C and Bun B working overtime to gross you out. And it works: this line is only a single selection from a song full of nastiness. Take, for example, this one: “Pregnant pussy is the best you can get / Fuckin’ a bitch while her baby suckin’ dick”

DMX in “Where the Hood At?”

Offending lyric:: I show no love to homo thugs / Empty out, reload and throw more slugs / How you gonna explain fucking a man? Even if we squashed the beef, I ain’t touching ya hand.

This ghastly homophobic vitriol was reportedly a jab at Ja Rule, who X was beefing with at the time. What’s weird is that while Eminem was getting grief from GLAAD at this same time, DMX’s line went virtually uncriticized, and that’s in spite of the fact that it topped the charts back in 2003, nearly three full years after the Marshall Mathers LP.

MC Ren in N.W.A’s “Fuck the Police”

Offending lyric: Smoke any motherfucker that sweats me / Or any asshole that threatens me / I’m a sniper with a hell of a scope / Taking out a cop or two, they can’t cope with me.

“Fuck Tha Police” is the Ché Guevara shirt of controversial hip-hop; while its lyrical guile is harder to contextualize in 2014 Canada, the song was hugely impactful when it dropped in 1988 for its depiction of the increasing racial tensions in California and the cop controversies that would finally boil over in the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

Ice-T in Body Count’s “Cop Killer”

Offending lyric: Cop killer, it’s better you than me / Cop killer, fuck police brutality / Cop Killer, I know your family’s grieving (fuck em!) / Cop Killer, but tonight we get even

“Cop Killer” turned shit upside down. It led to a Time-Warner boycott by law enforcement across the United States and caused anti-art advocate Tipper Gore to compare Ice-T’s rhymes to Hitler’s antisemitism. While “Fuck Tha Police” was more of a narrative indictment on what N.W.A. considered a police state, “Cop Killer” was more strictly an endorsement of violence. Case in point: “DIE, DIE, DIE, PIG, DIE! FUCK THE POLICE!”

Immortal Technique in “Dance with the Devil”

Offending lyric: Right before he pulled the trigger, and ended her life / He thought about the cocaine with the platinum and ice / And he felt strong standing along with his new brothers / Cocked the gat to her head, and pulled back the shirt cover / But what he saw made him start the cringe and stutter / Cause he was staring into the eyes of his own mother

Immortal Technique’s biggest and best song is a cautionary tale that pulls no punches, narrating the story of a rape and murder-filled gang initiation that kicks on a heavy hearted twist. By the end you’ll be gasping, and in spite of its solid beat, this is one song you probably won’t be able to stomach too many times in a row.

Tags: Music, Lists, News, Bun B, chayne likes rap, Eminem, Ice-T, J Cole, Lil Wayne






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