"Radio - suckers never play me" - Public Enemy, "Rebel Without a Pause" Eazy-E once walked up to legendary disc jockey Greg Mack and asked him what he could do to make his music radio-ready. Mack's reply? "Well, you could start by cleaning up the lyrics." Ever the savvy businessman, Eazy returned to Mack's KDAY studio the next day, a clean record in tow. In retrospect, Eazy-E took the road less traveled. When rappers get banned from radio, they usually head straight to the studio and haul a pile of manure at their detractors. Trae's feud with 97.9 The Box, which (allegedly) banned the local rapper's music from Houston's only hip-hop radio station, reminded us of other hip-hop artists that tried to stick it to the radio. As it turns out, he's in good company. Ice Cube Fighting Words: "Turn off the radio/ Turn off that bullshit."
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Cube's disdain for sucka DJs who do nothing "but gaggle that R&B love triangle" started on N.W.A.'s Efil4zaggin and continued on his solo debut, 1990's AmeriKKKA's Most Wanted. "Turn off the Radio" was such a classic diss that it inspired an entire mixtape series by Dead Prez a decade later. N.W.A. Fighting Words: "They ban my group from the radio/ Hear N.W.A. and say, 'Hell no!'" Hear this, Trae: Being banned from radio isn't always a bad thing. In N.W.A.'s case, it only made them seem more powerful to the masses. Despite being exiled from the airwaves, various arenas and possibly their own family BBQ, Dr. Dre's posse went on to sell a gajillion records. See, it's doable. You might have to form a supergroup with some dude named Ice Cube, convince Dr. Dre to produce your album and then flip the calendar back to 1986. But it's doable. Canibus Fighting Words: "Ya fi' just chill. I spit thousands of bars but you don't play that/ But den you want me to come gi' you 16 or 32 bars like I have some type of cord in my back." In November 2009, Canibus went on the Invasion Radio show with Keith Murray to plug their collaborative album. Now Canibus has been in the game long enough to know that DJs expect rappers of his caliber to kick freestyles when they come to promote their albums. When Canibus was asked to freestyle on-air, he flat-out refused. Murray tried to save face by spitting a few bars of his own and saying "This man's gon' do his thang. That's my man, ya heard." No dice. Instead, 'Bus broke out into a long-winded rant about respect or something. In patois, no less. Dead Prez Fighting Words: "So real that the radio won't play it/ But that's cool, the enemy is supposed to hate it."
M-1 and stic.man have been spewing venomous lyrics at radio throughout their careers. Between 2002 and 2006, the politically charged duo dropped a 3-part mixtape dubbed Turn Off The Radio, replete with assorted radio disses. OK, we get it. Dudes hate radio with every fiber in their bodies. No wonder they're the all-time top-selling act in hip-hop history. Chuck D Fighting Words: "Only black radio station in the city/ Programmed by a sucker in a suit." Chuck D was one of the first hip-hoppers to ever take a stand against wack on-air personalities. No one in radioland was spared from the wrath of Chuck Diesel. In the 1980s, Chuck famously lamented that many radio stations stereotyped hip-hop as "jail music outta New York." In the 90s, he accused "White-owned Black radio" for creating puppet strings that controlled their audience through payola. And it wasn't just incompetent DJs that ticked him off. He once pondered the possibility of killing a radio consultant. On wax, of course.