The Diss-Track Family Tree

Who to insult, how, and why

Rick Ross and 50 Cent may be pushing the boundaries of multimedia rap beef, but they're just riffing on the tried and true strategy of insulting members of a rival emcee's family. Here, a primer on who to target, and select examples showing how to lyrically pulverize someone's dear auntie.

Mother: The classic. If originality is less important than impact, immediately attack the woman from whose tainted womb your opponent sprung. Angles are endless: sexual humiliation, appearance, physical harm, the emotional damage that shanking her child will cause. ("Cut out your momma's ovaries," Kool G Rap, "3 to the Dome"; "Stake your house out/Know what your momma cook/Fuck her with a broom," Sheek Louch, "D-Block"; "Here's a jimmy joke about your momma that you might not like/Heard she was a 'Frisco dyke," Snoop Dogg, "Fuck Wit Dre Day"; "Ya' mama's got a peg leg with a kickstand," the Pharcyde, "Ya Mama"; "Your moms call me Frankie Sanchez/On deck with penis out/Pine tar like Tony Pérez," Kool Keith as Dr. Dooom, "I Run Rap.")

Father: Considering the number of single-parent households, there's a reasonable chance that insulting someone's father will garner a response of "Yeah, I don't like that dickhead, either." But when in doubt, call him gay. ("Your daddy is a queer," Central Coast Clique, "Gangsta Shit"; "Your daddy likes to cuddle and touch too much," Ice-T, "Always Wanted to Be a Ho"; "Your father dress in drag/Stick out his chest and brag how he molest a fag," Tony Touch, "The Foundation"; "Your pops is a politician," Del tha Funkee Homosapien, "Followers.")

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Grandmother: Going after the family matriarch is unorthodox, but it illustrates a penchant for "mature" sex and a sociopathic zeal for cruelty against the helpless—of course, the latter is preferable. ("I bet you even got a baldheaded-ass granny," Willie D, "Bald Headed Hoes"; "I'll pimp your momma, your sister/And I'll even take G.P./That's 'granny panties,' " D-Nice, "Pimp of the Year"; "Dick in the dirt/Shit in your drawers/I'll make your grandmother get on the floor," Jadakiss, "Show Discipline.")

Great-Great-Grandmother: Pointless. ("I got my feet up on your momma Mabel's/Mother's mother's mother's three-generation table," Abstract Rude, "Feet Upon the Table.")

Son: As long as your hated foe has actually sired a male child, this one is sure to inspire fury and hilarious hand-wringing from onlookers. ("Run up in your cribbo and suffocate your son with a pillow," Big Pun, "Who Is a Thug"; "You got rats and roaches and your kids have got the mumps," J-Dee, "Ain't Got No Class"; "My nigga Gutta fuckin' kidnap kids/Fuck 'em in they ass, throw 'em over the bridge," Notorious B.I.G., "What's Beef?")

Daughter: Just as effective as slurring a son, except with rad sexual abuse! ("If you got a daughter older than 15/I'm-a rape her," DMX, "X Is Coming"; "Throw your daughter in the air/Hope that bitch break her leg/Be nice and help her up/And kick her dead in the head," Ganksta NIP, "Psycho"; "Lickin' on your daughter/Say, south of the border," C.L. Smooth, "For Pete's Sake.")

Baby: It's less personal than insulting a young child with a name and a personality, but threatening a pamper-swathed tot surely shows a respectable degree of depravity and remorselessness. ("Your baby's crying—pop, pop, pop—I put some in the crib," Beanie Sigel, "What a Thug About"; "Put six in the clip/Put it up that clit/And watch that baby's brains drip out that fetus," Brotha Lynch Hung, "Return of Da Baby Killa"; "Back-smack you so hard all your seeds will be born deformed," Holocaust, "Silkworm.")

Brother: Excellent for inflaming familial vengeance imbroglios. If you don't know the tale of how Joab killed Abner to avenge his hermano in Samuel 3:27, it makes a great belly tat. ("Kidnap your family/Make your brother eat your mother out," Cam'ron, "357"; "I'm on some other shit . . . duct-tape your brother shit," B.G. "Bounce with Me"; "Garbage bag around your brother's head/Smother him out," J Hood, "Don't Mean Nuthin'. ")

Sister: Everyone's sister has probably had sex—this just drives the terrible truth home. ("Now everybody in the world know that your sister is a nasty little girl," Pimp C, "Something Good"; "I reminisce/I miss playing Twister with your sister," Kool G. Rap, "Keep it Swingin' "; "I heard your sister had sex with Colin Powell," Humpty Hump, "The Odd Couple"; "Your sister just got married/I'll shoot up her reception," B.G., "Gun Slinger.")

Aunt: Inventive, but it honestly sounds like you're just throwing shit at the wall. ("I was drinking Asti Spumoni with your auntie," Tha Alkaholiks, "Bottoms Up"; "I fuck you, your mama, your auntie, and your lady," Kurupt, "New York, New York"; "We both saw your mama get beat down by your pops/And saw your auntie get freaked down by your pops," Paradise, "Hoochies Need Love Too.")

Uncle: Maybe you could hurt General Petraeus's feelings? ("Tax-free/I ain't giving shit to Uncle Sam," Young Jeezy, "What They Want.")

Cousin: No one cares. ("I'm bustin' your sister and your pregnant-ass cousin," Bloods & Crips, "Steady Dippin'.")

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