Roxanne Wars: The Hip Hop Feud That Started Them All?

Rappers often spice up their albums with diss tracks that areā€¦ let's just say, they don't always remain between the boundaries of civilized conversations. Just take a look at Eminem's provocative lyrics: aside from expressing his discontent with fellow musicians and performers, he mentions many other personalities, from Osama Bin Laden to Anderson Silva.

Diss tracks are insanely popular – and let's face it, they do add an extra spin to hip-hop. But when did they begin? The answer closest to reality is probably "in 1984" when the Roxanne Wars broke out.

Roxanne, Roxanne

Hip-hop band UTFO released a single "Hanging Out" in 1984 that wasn't a very big success – but there was a track on its B-side called "Roxanne, Roxanne" that received more airplay. Enough to convince Tyrone Williams, Mr. Magic, and Marley Marl to invite the band to a show. UTFO refused, and this made the three a bit angry. 14-year-old Lolita Shante Gooden overheard them talking about this and proposed an answer record with her taking on the stage name Roxanne Shante – the three agreed, and recorded "Roxanne's Revenge" in just one take, with Shante freestyling the lyrics.

To this:

"With the bang bang, brother I feel bad
But I ain't committing suicide for no crab
But calling her a crab is just a figure of speech
Cause she's an apple, a pear, a plum, and a peach"

... she responded with this:

"I met this dude with the name of a hat
I didn't even walk away, I didn't give him no rap
But then he got real mad, and he got a little tired
If he worked for me, you know he would be fired"

That's how the Roxanne Wars began

The response to "Roxanne, Roxanne" became a surprise hit, selling more than 250,000 copies in the New York area alone. UTFO couldn't leave this without a response – they hired Elease Jack who, under the moniker "The Real Roxanne", recorded a self-titled track with the band. This was, of course, followed by another response, then another, then another... and other MCs have joined the fight, impersonating Roxanne's parents, her brother, her little sister, even her doctor.

The Roxanne Wars generated anywhere between 30 and 100 (!) response tracks. Finally, it was The East Coast Crew that called an end to the war, releasing the track "The Final Word - No More Roxanne (Please)", calling an end of the feud.

To this day, the Roxanne Wars is remembered as one of the longest-running – if not the longest-running – feud in hip-hop history. And it started Roxanne Shante on her long and fruitful career.