A History of Eminem's Beefs, From Machine Gun Kelly & Mariah Carey to Joe Budden & Ja Rule
Eminem has gotten into an interesting war of words recently with Machine Gun Kelly, which has reignited the beef between the two rappers. On his recently released Kamikaze, Eminem fired several disses at Kelly in response to the shots the Cleveland rapper has thrown over the years. MGK answered swiftly with the cutting “Rap Devil,” impressing listeners with his formidable response. And after making fans wait nearly two weeks, Eminem clapped back on Friday (Sept. 14) with “KILLSHOT,” leaving fans divided between the two rappers.
In his 20-year career, Eminem has taken part in a number of beefs, which often found him poking fun at pop stars and battling a variety of rappers in memorable lyrical clashes. Not only does Marshall excel at writing bars, but he's exceptional at confrontations as well, which isn't a surprise given the way he came up. Born from the battle rap culture, Em is right at home when it comes to engaging in a lyrical skirmish -- it’s where he shines. As many have stepped into the ring with the precocious wordsmith, Em has damaged careers and embarrassed a lot of people with no one really putting a dent in sturdy body armor.
From confrontations with Christina Aguilera to Ja Rule and Limp Bizkit, Eminem has one of the most prolific, and eclectic, list of beefs in pop culture. As we wait for the next round in the battle between Eminem and MGK, Billboard takes a look at all the beefs Slim Shady has found himself in over the years.
In 1999, Eminem married his longtime girlfriend Kim Mathers after years of slinging violent lyrics about her on his earlier work. Em attempted to keep the union a secret, but during her MTV special What A Girl Wants, Aguilera leaked the information while also warning women about the consequences of physical violence in a relationship. After finding out Aguilera spilled the beans on his private moment, Em put his frustrations on wax dissing Aguilera for her rumored trysts with former TRL host, Carson Daly and Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst.
On “The Real Slim Shady,” Eminem spread rumors of his own, claiming Aguilera gave him an STD during their encounter. Aguilera’s camp disproved the rumors while Aguilera released a diss record of her own entitled “The Real Slim Shady (Please Shut Up)." The record gained little traction but the two buried the hatchet with a hug backstage at the 2002 MTV VMAs.
Prior to the release of The Slim Shady LP, underground rapper Cage claimed Eminem copied everything from his style down to his lyrics. Eminem wasted no time in dissing the rapper as he took shots on “Role Model” off The Slim Shady LP. Em continued dragging Cage as he dissed him on “Drastic Measures” and on a Tony Touch mixtape freestyle.
Cage responded on the song “And So Kiddies,” where he mentioned Eminem’s rhyming skills and referred to Slim Shady as a “b—h lady.” Cage kept the insults going on several songs but it wasn’t enough as Em’s career skyrocketed and his beef with Cage was soon forgotten.
The beef between Eminem and Everlast started for the most petty of reasons. Everlast wasn’t pleased when Eminem ignored him backstage at a concert back in 1999, so he went and dropped a few bars on Em and his daughter Hailie on the remix to “Ear Drums Pop” by Dilated Peoples. Em caught wind of the song and unleashed an onslaught of disses aimed at the former House of Pain frontman. One diss in particular (“I Remember”) features Em ridiculing Everlast’s heart troubles and his age.
Everlast replied with “Whitey’s Revenge” where he pulled no punches. He mentioned looking after Kim and Hailie once Em was sent to prison due to the assault charges he was facing at the time and even questioned Em’s sexuality. Eminem would respond one last time on “Quitter” where Em ridiculed Everlast’s career and transition into “country western rap.” The scathing diss ended the feud as Everlast never recovered from the Em’s lyrical firestorm.
Insane Clown Posse
Eminem’s feud with Insane Clown Posse began in 1995 when the Kamikaze rapper falsely advertised that the group would make an appearance at the release party for The Slim Shady EP. The group denied any involvement with the party, with Violent J allegedly telling Eminem “fuck that!” The disparaging response caused Eminem to diss the duo on several songs, including “Get U Mad,” “Till Hell Freezes Over,” and “Marshall Mathers.”
ICP would respond with a few disses of their own over the years. They derided Em’s relationship with Dr. Dre on “Nuttin’ But a Bitch Thang” and made a mockery of his single “My Name Is” on their rendition “Slim Anus.” The beef wasn’t resolved until 2005 when Violent J revealed the late Proof squashed it over a bowling game between ICP and Em's crew D12, though Marshall was not able to attend the Detroit 10-pin summit.
After Eminem had some choice words for The Source magazine and it’s co-founder Benzino for giving The Marshall Mathers LP a measly two mics out of five, the beef between the two would become one of the most talked about feuds in the early 2000s. Benzino kicked things off with a series of diss tracks that pushed Eminem to respond with “ The Sauce.” Following Em’s response things began to spiral out of control as both parties traded jabs for much of the early 2000s.
The beef hit its apex when Benzino released “Pull Your Skirt Up” calling Eminem the “2003 Vanilla Ice” and claiming he birthed Em’s career after featuring him in the Unsigned Hype column in The Source back in 1998. Eminem clapped back swiftly with one of the best diss records of all time, “Nail in the Coffin” in which he eviscerated Benzino on a number of things including his age, the his pseudo gangsta persona, and shady business practices. The beef didn’t get any better when Benzino used his own magazine to smear Eminem and released “Die Another Day” where the Boston rapper threatened Eminem’s daughter Hailie. The beef hit its breaking point when Benzino got his hands on a record titled “Foolish Pride” that featured Eminem using racist remarks against black women. The “Rock the Party” rapper released the song on The Source’s website and printed the lyrics in the magazine.
The song would be a dark spot for Eminem as he was forced to speak on its contents in a statement. Slim Shady explained that the song was made as a result of a bad breakup he experienced when he was 15. “The tape they played today was something I made out of anger, stupidity and frustration when I was a teenager. I'd just broken up with my girlfriend, who was African-American, and I reacted like the angry, stupid kid I was,” Eminem said in the statement. Eminem was forgiven and Benzino never recovered as a result of the beef and his questionable editorial practices. The Source parted ways with Benzino in 2005, leaving a legacy the once iconic magazine has yet to bounce back from. The beef was never resolved despite Benzino admitting in 2012 he was wrong for some of things he said in regards to Eminem’s family.
In the early ‘90s Eminem and Canibus shared many similarities as their rap careers began to blossom. While Em laid waste to the underground circuit, Canibus was making noise of his own via stellar guest appearances on tracks with Slick Rick, The Firm, and Common. Unfortunately, Canibus’ crowning moment was his beef with LL Cool J, as his self-titled debut album was a critical and commercial failure. The reason for the beef with Marshall was odd, as Canibus -- in the middle of his battle with LL Cool J -- got a tip from his mentor Wyclef Jean that Em may have ghostwritten LL's “The Ripper Strikes Back” response.
In an interview with Tim Westwood, Em says he met with Canibus to deny the rumor, but Canibus wasn’t having it as he left the conversation before Em could finish. What followed was a series of concept disses from Canibus rapping from the perspective of Eminem’s character Stan. Eminem responded with “Can-I-Bitch” where he mocked Canibus for his low album sales, his gritty voice, his nationality, and even calling him “Marshall Mathers’ sister.” Canibus would continue the “beef” with several more complex references to Eminem in his music, but he barely got any attention as the damage was done due to his low album sales.
Eminem found himself in the middle of 50 Cent and Ja Rule’s ugly beef when he signed the Get Rich or Die Tryin’ rapper to his Shady Records imprint in 2002. What started as a local beef between two Queens natives quickly turned into an all-out war between record labels. Em played a minor role in the beef until Ja Rule mentioned his daughter Hailie at the end of “Loose Change,” rapping “Em, you claim your mother's a crackhead and Kim is a known slut/ So what's Hailie gon' be when she grows up?" If there’s anything to take away from these beefs it’s to not mention Eminem’s daughter. In true Eminem fashion, The Slim Shady LP rapper went for the jugular on “Doe Rae Me (Hailie’s Revenge),” “Bully,” and “Hail Mary.” The beef helped accelerate the downward trajectory of Ja Rule’s career with the subsequent decline of Murder Inc following shortly after.
On the 2004 single "Like Toy Soldiers," Eminem goes into detail about the beef reflecting on the pyrrhic victory. “And even though the battle was won, I feel like we lost it/ I spent so much energy on it, honestly I'm exhausted/ And I'm so caught in it, I almost feel I'm the one who caused it,” Em raps.
Nick Cannon and Mariah Carey
Throughout his career Eminem had made references to an alleged relationship he had with Mariah Carey way back in 2001. His fourth studio album, The Eminem Show, contained multiple references to the alleged pairing, but Carey has denied the relationship numerous times. Things got hectic after Carey married Cannon in 2008, when Eminem unleashed “Bagpipes From Baghdad.” On the song, Slim Shady wastes no time expressing his lust for Mariah while dissing her and Cannon in the process. Mariah responded with “Obsessed” -- a song with an accompanying video that portrays Mariah being stalked by an Eminem look-alike.
The move angered Em and fueled him to release his diatribe against the couple titled “The Warning.” Cannon defended his ex-wife and took to his blog to write a lengthy post about “Miss Marshall.” The Wild’n Out star accused Em of racial bigotry and seemingly vowed revenge on Em joking that the Encore rapper had tainted his legacy and would be known as “the rapper who lost to corny-ass Nick Cannon!” Soon after, Cannon deleted the post and the beef came to an swift end.
The members of Limp Bizkit and Eminem were actually friends at one point. That is, until the band’s DJ, Lethal, said Everlast -- his former House of Pain band mate -- would beat Eminem in a fight on MTV’s TRL. Em didn’t appreciate this act of betrayal, so he released the profane “Girls,” a verbal attack on every member of Limp Bizkit. He rapped about the violent acts he wanted to commit against the band, while also calling them soft for backing out of his feud with Everlast. The animosity between the two acts never really settled despite Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst praising Recovery on Twitter.
At the 2001 Grammys, electronic musician and producer Moby called Eminem misogynistic, homophobic and anti-Semitic. Of course Em didn’t take the comments too lightly, so he dissed Moby on “Without Me” ridiculing his age and threatening to have his former protege Obie Trice assault the vegan electronic musician. It got to a point where Em challenged Moby to a fight at the 2002 MTV VMAs, but Moby was unphased.
In the interviews following the show, Moby praised Eminem for his talent, but was shocked at how angry he was given that they never met prior to the VMAs. He even pointed out Em’s contradictions in using homophobic slurs while telling Moby to “blow him” and wrote a post about how troubled he was by Em’s glorification of homophobia and misogyny given his influence on America’s youth. The two never resolved their differences but Moby did applaud Eminem for his song “Mosh,” admiring the strong lyrics and striking visuals.
Smith beat Eminem for the best male video category award at the 1999 MTV VMAs. In his acceptance speech, Smith made a note that he doesn’t have to use profanity or threaten people to sell records. Em felt Smith was taking a jab at him and anyone who used profanity to express themselves, so he called out the rapper-turned-movie-superstar and his nice guy image on “Without Me.” Smith wouldn’t respond until six years later with a smooth, lowkey diss on “Mr. Nice Guy” rapping, “Dissed by Eminem but didn't bother him/ Yup well he classy/ Big Will just did another 20 mill', walk right past E/ I'm a nice guy, why y'all harassin me, huh?”
Eminem’s problems with Budden go back to the release of Em’s ninth studio album, Revival. When he was a part of Complex’s Everyday Struggle, Budden heavily criticized Em’s ninth studio album, calling it trash and denouncing the heavy pop features and rock-inspired production on the Complex show and on his podcast. Despite a few subliminal shots on Em’s remix to “Chloraseptic,” the beef got serious once Eminem dissed the Mood Muzik rapper directly on “Fall.”
On the Kamikaze track, Em dissed Joe for his lack of hit records and his issues with domestic violence in the past. Budden issued his response on his podcast holding nothing back. "Let me tell you what Joe Budden has thought this entire time," Budden says in the three-hour podcast. "I've been better than you this entire fucking decade! In my rapper brain, I'm a content n---a. You gotta say something! You have not said anything for the better part of a whole fucking decade," he continued. He also warned Eminem not to test him on the mic saying, "I know you don't know about me, you better go ask some n---as close to you, I live for this type of shit." Following Em’s response to MGK on “KILLSHOT,” Budden took to Twitter to claim Eminem is afraid of him, proving that the beef is long from over.
Machine Gun Kelly
Again, if there’s anything to take away from this, it’s that you don’t mention Eminem’s daughter. MGK missed the memo as he once referred to Hailie as “hot as fuck” on Twitter. Over the years, MGK claimed the 8 Mile rapper allegedly played a part in having certain media outlets ban his music because of the tweet and he even mentioned it on an LA Leakers freestyle in 2017. Eminem would then diss MGK on “Not Alike,” poking fun at his lyrics and tough guy persona. MGK surprised everyone by releasing “Rap Devil,” a full blown diss record aimed at the Rap God, on whihc he made numerous claims, including Eminem allegedly asking Diddy to hamper MGK’s career.
The formidable response left people impressed on social media, with some believing MGK came out with the win in the first round. Eminem spoke to Sway about his issues with MGK, explaining that he dissed him because MGK thought Eminem was trying to hurt his career. "I don't give a fuck about your career. You think I actually fuckin' think about you?" em said. "You know how many fuckin' rappers that are better than you? You're not even in the fuckin' conversation.” He also admitted to Sway that he was stuck in a position of wanting to “destroy” MGK but not wanting to make him any more popular.
Following the interview, Eminem dropped his response to MGK titled “Killshot,” in which Em dissed MGK about his man bun, his lack of commercial success, and even dragging MGK’s ex, Halsey, into the mix. MGK took to Twitter to call the song trash while promoting his new EP Binge, scheduled for release on Friday (Sept. 21).