The biggest jerks in music

Musicians often like to think of themselves as tortured geniuses. Unfortunately, some of them apparently have a habit of torturing others. From feuding with their peers to bitter breakups and terrible rap sheets, the following artists all have controversial reputations. 

Kanye West and Taylor Swift both made this list, in part for their antics involving one another. Rumor has it that Madonna will eat you alive and that Gene Simmons' famous mouth spews nastiness a plenty. Calvin Harris supposedly sabotaged an ex's music career, and Zayn Malik dissed the dudes that made him famous. Nicki Minaj eats proverbial beef for dinner, and Azealia Banks' attitude proved too much for Twitter. Is Miley Cyrus a hypocrite making bank off cultural appropriation? Has 50 Cent become a full-time troll? From licking doughnuts to urinating in mop buckets, these stars may make incredible music, but if you believe the bad press about them, they're also among the biggest jerks in the industry. Listen up and decide for yourself.

Kanye West: being a jerk is a choice

Kanye West became infamous when he interrupted Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. Since then, the rapper has made a habit of storming the stage at awards shows, even interrupting Beck at the 2015 Grammys, but his bad behavior doesn't end there. 

West seems to routinely run low on self-awareness. In January 2016, he came under fire for slut-shaming ex Amber Rose because she was a stripper. That was coming from a guy whose wife rose to mega-stardom via a sex tape and provocative selfies. In June 2016, West stirred the pot with Swift yet again when he released a video for his song "Famous." In the track, he takes credit for making Tay a household name. Oh, and he refers to her as "that b**ch." The vid also features Swift, Rose, and a slew of other celebrities' likenesses in the buff. 

Demonstrating that he doesn't quite grasp the concept of first-world problems, let's recall the time West begged Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for money (over Twitter, no less), despite the rapper's own net worth coming in at an estimated $250 million. Last but not least, do we even want to bring up that time in 2018 when he said slavery "sounds like a choice" on TMZ Live? Let's move on…

Taylor Swift's bad rep inspired an entire album

Taylor Swift's reputation has been tainted by hypocrisy over the years. It's not her fault Kanye West interrupted her at the MTV Video Music Awards all those years ago, but she's certainly capitalized on her alleged victimhood. In 2010, she performed her song "Innocent," which was reportedly inspired by West, barefoot at the VMAs, and she has continued to fan the flames of that tired ol' feud

In her personal life, Swift's sob stories continue. She has claimed she wants to keep her personal life private, yet she documents her numerous relationships in her lyrics, leaving clues in her liner notes about each song's muse. Swift has also been accused of staging photo shoots with her beaus, and rumor has it she picks fights with women too. The songstress allegedly dissed Katy Perry with "Bad Blood" and sparred with Nicki Minaj when the rapper overshadowed Swift's success by accusing the VMAs of being racist. 

Then there was Swift's high-profile crusade against Apple Music's streaming service, which ultimately culminated in her performing in the company's commercials, leading many to believe her previous statements were nothing more than a publicity stunt for the entire campaign. Swift has even acknowledged that her reputation's "never been worse," though she's managed to spin album gold out of that haystack of haters. 

Gene Simmons delivers a tongue-lashing

Kiss frontman Gene Simmons may want to keep that notorious tongue from wagging so much. When Run-D.M.C. was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Simmons told Radio.com (via Rolling Stone), "Run-D.M.C. in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? You're killing me. That doesn't mean those aren't good artists. But they don't play guitar. They sample and they talk. Not even sing." He also had beef with Grandmaster Flash and N.W.A.'s induction, griping, "I am looking forward to the death of rap." 

Simmons took issue with Prince after the legend's death in April 2016, telling Newsweek, "I think Prince was heads, hands and feet above all the rest of them. I thought he left [Michael] Jackson in the dust. Prince was way beyond that. But how pathetic that he killed himself. Don't kid yourself, that's what he did. Slowly, I'll grant you … but that's what drugs and alcohol is: a slow death."

To top it off, Simmons is notoriously misogynistic. In an interview with NPR's Terry Gross, he said he wears a codpiece because, "The notion is that if you want to welcome me with open arms, I'm afraid you're also going to have to welcome me with open legs." He has faced allegations of sexual assault and battery, making his claim of having bedded 5,000 women "so far" downright terrifying.

Miley Cyrus and her 'shtick'

Miley Cyrus' issues with race have been rather prominent for years. In June 2013, songwriters Rock City told Vibe that Cyrus specifically asked them for an "urban" and "black" sound. She has proclaimed her love for "hood music," and her notorious performance at the 2013 VMAs was likened to a "minstrel show" by Vulture, who declared that a "doctoral dissertation could (and will) be written on the racial, class, and gender dynamics of Cyrus's shtick." Yep, Cyrus stirred up all that hoopla, only to switch styles completely in subsequent musical releases.

Cyrus may also possess hypocritical views on feminism. She has championed gender equality with campaigns such as "Free the Nipple," yet she has also aligned herself with photographer Terry Richardson, who was accused of sexually coercing models. Cyrus not only posed for Richardson but rocked a T-shirt that mocked his alleged victims. The shirt said, "I was touched by Terry." Not cool.

Justin is un-Beliebable

Justin Bieber's assorted troubles have been well-documented: There was that time he peed in a janitor's bucket. That time he got kicked out of some Mayan ruins for climbing where he wasn't supposed to and reportedly mooning other tourists. How about that time he lobbed a racial slur on camera, or that time he had to pay $80,000 in damages to a neighbor's house that he egged. He may have assaulted a photographer, and he may have cheated on Selena Gomez (and then fought Orlando Bloom over it). The bad press goes on and on, keeping tabloids in business. The Biebs has also compared himself to a zoo animal when fans ask for photos and brawled with a total stranger.

But hold up! Bieber may be turning over a new leaf and carving out a reputation we can beliebe in. He's been very vocal about his deepening religious beliefs, declaring that faith has emancipated him from "bondage and shame," and he's waxed poetic about starting a family with model Hailey Baldwin. The pair wed quietly in September 2018. 

Azealia Banks may be her own worst enemy

You may have trouble naming an Azealia Banks song, but you can probably rattle off at least half a dozen Twitter feuds the rapper has launched during her stint in the spotlight. The "212" chick has taken shots at everyone from Lady Gaga to Rihanna — both of whom subsequently dropped her from collaborations. She launched what some considered to be racist attacks against Zayn Malik and even targeted a 14-year-old Skai Jackson. Her frequent tirades got her booted from Twitter, but her rage isn't contained to the internet. 

In March 2016, Banks screamed homophobic slurs at photographers outside of a Manhattan courtroom, where she was facing an assault charge for allegedly biting a female security guard's breast at a nightclub during a December 2015 tirade. Prior to that incident, Banks was caught on camera hurling slurs at flight attendants. Her temper has cost her work, which may explain why she's grown apologetic on the few social media platforms she has left.

Chris Brown ran his reputation into the ground

Where do we even begin? Chris Brown's public persona was pretty much squeaky clean until his February 2009 assault on then-girlfriend and fellow singer Rihanna, which left her so battered she was almost unrecognizable. Two years later, he hurled a chair at a window when Good Morning America had the nerve to ask him about the assault. In 2012, Brown was involved in a bottle-throwing nightclub brawl with rapper Drake, reportedly over Rihanna. The problems didn't stop there.

Brown also tore ex-girlfriend Karrueche Tran apart on social media when she dumped him … after reportedly discovering he'd gotten another woman pregnant when they were together. In 2016, Brown's baby mama accused him of giving their daughter asthma with his frequent marijuana smoke. Also that year, his tour manager quit – as in "she jumped off the tour bus and quit on the spot" — because he allegedly threatened her. His publicist also bounced after he allegedly degraded her via text. Perhaps the lowlight of 2016 was Brown's "surreal standoff" with police at his home "over allegations that he threatened a woman with a gun," per the Los Angeles Times. During the standoff, Brown posted videos to social media, at one point calling the cops "idiots."

Madonna 'owns you'

Madonna is the Queen of Pop and possibly also bad manners. In June 2016, she reportedly found a way to make a mass shooting in Florida all about her. A month earlier, Madge performed a tribute to Prince, who died of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs. Her musical performance went off without a hitch, but in her Instagram tribute to the late artist, she's toting a handbag emblazoned with the word "dealer."

If you believe the tabloid press, Madonna seems well-versed in exploiting others for her own gain. "She will give these dancers, stage crew, nannies, and assistants what she considers to be a great life — but it's always all on her terms," a source told the New York Post. "If there is a difference of opinion or if she feels that they are no longer appreciating her, she can turn nasty. If she doesn't fire them, she's been known to freeze them out: the glacial stares can be very hard to tolerate." Another insider added, "If you are with her, she owns you." 

Nicki Minaj eats beefs for dinner

Nicki Minaj is undeniably talented and successful. That said, she doesn't seem like a very nice person. Remy Ma claims Minaj blocked her from attending various events. Minaj's rival rapper, Cardi B, echoed those accusations during their infamous feud. Speaking of Cardi, Minaj seems to have no interest in making peace with her peer. TMZ reported that Minaj and rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine cut a lyric about Fashion Nova from "MAMA" because of the brand's affiliation with Cardi. And get this: TMZ reported that Minaj hired two strip club bartenders to appear in her "Good Form" music video. Those video vixens just so happen to be the same ladies who are reportedly planning to sue Cardi over an incident in a club.

Need more proof that Minaj can be a jerk? She released a music video rife with Nazi imagery and was accused of appropriating Asian cultures to promote "Chun-Li." She attacked Travis Scott for selling bundles to promote his music (something she's done too) when it blocked her Queen album from debuting at No. 1. Minaj was allegedly disrespectful to rapper Lil' Kim and was even accused of threatening Mariah Carey.

Of course, if you call Minaj out on her allegedly bad behavior, she'll assume you're just aboard the "Nicki Hate Train," which she seems to blame for any criticism she receives, especially when it's criticism for working with convicted sex offender Tekashi 6ix9ine. 

Calvin Harris is a bitter ex-boyfriend

Pop star Rita Ora dated Calvin Harris for about a year before they split in 2014. In addition to reportedly breaking her heart, Harris may have also hurt her career. The couple collaborated on "I Will Never Let You Down," but Harris reportedly blocked Ora from performing the song on TV. She scrapped an entire album after the split. Harris claimed he "had a damn good reason" not to let her perform, but Ora apparently saw things differently. She told Marie Claire, "There was a reason why I split up with him. And there was a reason why I'm at this point in my life where I feel like I have so much musical freedom, and I don't have to explain myself to anybody … I thought he had my back and that he'd never steer me wrong."

When Harris dated Taylor Swift, he released "This Is What You Came For." After he and Swift split, Swift's camp revealed she'd co-written the song under a pseudonym; Swift and Harris reportedly agreed to keep her contribution under wraps to keep the attention on his music instead of their relationship. Harris erupted about the reveal, tweeting (via Us Weekly): "I figure if you're happy in your new relationship you should focus on that instead of trying to tear your ex bf down for something to do…"

Dr. Luke produces more drama than hits

Record producer Dr. Luke has been embroiled in a bitter court battle with former protégé Kesha for years, but his bad reputation in the industry extends beyond her allegations. "A lot of artists that have worked with him don't work with him anymore for pretty good, solid reasons," said superstar Kelly Clarkson in a radio interview (via Rolling Stone). "He's not a good person to me. We've clashed." Clarkson claimed to have skipped out on a songwriting credit for her hit "My Life Would Suck Without You" because she didn't even want to be associated with Luke. In November 2018, she alleged in legal documents (via The Blast) that Dr. Luke tried to take credit behind her back for writing her hit "Behind These Hazel Eyes."

According to Billboard, singer Becky G sued Dr. Luke's Core Water company for $105 million for allegedly pressuring her to promote the brand. "It became apparent that Core was simply using [Becky G] as a walking, talking, and singing billboard to turn its irrelevant water brand into a hip and culturally relevant water company," legal docs said. "All the while, Dr. Luke made it clear both directly and implicitly that [Becky G's] ability to have a music career would be tied to her continuing involvement in promoting Core." 

There are plenty more stars with Dr. Luke horror stories, which you can check out here.

Quincy Jones blows up everyone's spot

Legendary producer Quincy Jones made a lot of waves in February 2018, when an interview with Vulture went viral. In the piece, Jones claimed screen legend Marlon Brando hooked up with music icon Marvin Gaye and famed comedian Richard Pryor. (Some surviving family members have denied those claims.) Jones also accused Michael Jackson of stealing music, insulted singer T-Pain, and claimed to have dated Ivanka Trump. Oh, that's not enough for you? Jones also claimed that the Italian Mob — specifically Sam Giancana — assassinated President John F. Kennedy.

Jones later apologized for his "word vomit," admitting that his daughters had staged a "family intervention" to address "some silly things I've said." Jones said he learned his lesson and thanked his friends and family "for calling me out when I've clearly made a mistake … many mistakes." He vowed to keep quiet in the future, which is probably a very wise move.

50 Cent is a professional troll, and his son isn't even safe

Rapper 50 Cent has feuded with a slew of people online. According to XXL, 50 sparred with boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr. for his alleged illiteracy (and, validly, for Mayweather's history of domestic violence). Capital Xtra pointed out that 50's feud with former G-Unit member The Game culminated in a series of more than 100 diss tracks. Seems a tad excessive, no? He beefed with rapper Ja Rule for years, and in October 2018, XXL reported that 50 bragged about buying 200 seats to a Ja Rule show just so the venue would be empty. He also dissed Ja Rule collaborator Ashanti for canceling a concert due to low ticket sales.

50 engaged in a public war of words with his ex, actress Vivica A. Fox, blasting her for alleged plastic surgeries. To be fair, People reported that Fox may have started it by implying he was gay on national television. Regardless, 50 has proudly owned his reputation for being a jerk. "Man, somebody should have told her I'm a troll," he posted on Instagram. "I got my a**hole merit badge on now." 

Perhaps his saddest beef is with his own son, Marquise. TMZ reported that 50 and Marquise have been estranged for years, and in November 2018, 50 commented on a photo of Marquise saying he "wouldn't even have a bad day" if the 21-year-old got hit by a bus.

Chad Kroeger has a big ego for being the frontman of Nickelback

Chad Kroeger of Nickelback has a reputation for being a jerk both to audiences and industry alike. The disturbing stories about him are diverse. Kroeger boasted to Men's Health that he convinced a drum tech to stick his private parts in a whirling metal fan. The Calgary Herald reported that Nickelback refused to let its portion of an Alberta Flood Aid concert be broadcast on live feeds. Kroeger openly dissed Slipknot and Stone Sour frontman Corey Taylor to Metal Covenant in 2017, accusing him of biting Nickelback's sound (even referring to Stone Sour as "Nickelback lite.") That jab opened a big can of worms that Kroeger likely didn't expect.

Taylor fired back in an interview with 98 KUPD, calling Kroeger an "idiot," even asserting that Kroeger was the only member of Nickelback who was a creep. "I love everybody else in that band, I'm very, very cool with [them]," Taylor said. "I've hung out with them. It's just Face Like a Foot who I can't really hang out with." (Good luck unseeing that now.)

Justin Timberlake is a cad of the woods

Justin Timberlake built his post-N*SYNC career off the backs of women he's scorned or artists he's insulted. He threw ex-girlfriend Britney Spears under the bus more times than we can count, and he allegedly had a bad habit of cheating on actress Jessica Biel before they tied the knot. And when they did tie the knot, People reported that he and his pals exploited homeless people for giggles.

Timberlake also avoided accepting any responsibility for the infamous "wardrobe malfunction" at the 2004 Super Bowl. That incident curbed Janet Jackson's career for years, and while she went on an apology tour, he bragged to Access Hollywood (via Entertainment Weekly) that he was happy he got people talking. In fact, the dude even got to headline a Super Bowl halftime show again in 2018. That show included a tribute to Prince — an icon JT has been accused of dissing in the past. Jackson was nowhere to be seen.

Tekashi 6ix9ine's rap sheet paints an ugly picture

Tekashi 6ix9ine is a convicted sex offender. According to Billboard, the rapper, whose real name is Daniel Hernandez, pleaded guilty to three felony counts of "use of a child in a sexual performance" after posting videos with a partially nude 13-year-old girl and a second defendant, Tyquan Anderson. In 2018, he was arrested for allegedly choking a teenager in a Texas mall and for allegedly driving with a suspended license and assaulting a police officer in New York. 

There's more. In November 2018, Hernandez was arrested on federal racketeering and firearms charges. According to the Daily Beast, "the Brooklyn-born artist is a member of the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods, a gang that allegedly peddled fentanyl and other narcotics and engaged in 'brazen acts of violence,' Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement." Prosecutors alleged that at one point, "Tekashi and his crew agreed to shoot someone who had disrespected the gang. The result was an innocent bystander being wounded at a barbecue in Brooklyn," reported the Daily Beast. Combined with his probation violations, Tekashi 6ix9ine is potentially facing up to 25 years behind bars.

Zayn Malik went in the wrong direction

Zayn Malik told Complex that when he was a member of wildly successful boy band One Direction, he felt inauthentic. He claims he was cast as "the mysterious one" and never got a chance to speak or show his personality in interviews. Fair enough, but fast forward to his solo career, and Malik doesn't seem to be itching to rewrite his image. "I don't really want to do s**tloads of promotion," he told The Fader in 2017. "I'll do the music interviews and stuff like that." Except sometimes he doesn't even finish those, like when he ghosted on a GQ writer in 2018, after saying he was going to the bathroom. It's no wonder Variety reported his management team dumped him in April 2018 amid claims that he was "verbally abusive."

Let's pause to consider the circumstances under which he left One Direction in 2015. In an excerpt from his autobiography, Zayn (via The Sun), Malik claims he'd been in "a bad place" and that his relationship with then-fiancée, singer Perrie Edwards was crumbling before he quit the band. Again, fair enough, except the reason his relationship with Edwards may have failed is because he was rumored to be cheating on her a lot – the allegations coincided with his exit from 1D. (Malik even hinted about cheating in his debut album.) Sources told The Sun he dumped Edwards via text, which she later confirmed in Little Mix's autobiography, Our World.

Ariana Grande is a doughnut-licking diva

Ariana Grande is an immensely talented vocalist and entertainer who has overcome some tragic circumstances during her career, but that doesn't mean she's a particularly nice person. In 2014, the New York Daily News reported that she said she wished her own fans would die. Sources told Page Six she was incredibly difficult to work with, demanding to only be filmed from one side — a habit that, if you Google Image her, seems to have continued. And who could forget #DonutGate! In 2015, Grande was caught on camera licking donuts in a shop and muttering that she hates America. She later went on to say in a statement that she was trying to express concern for the obesity epidemic, though she eventually issued an actual apology on Good Morning America.

In more recent news, Grande may have pulled a jerk move after her quickie engagement to comedian Pete Davidson came crashing down in 2018. Davidson joked about the breakup at his own expense on Saturday Night Live, but TMZ reported that Grande was furious because they supposedly agreed to never address the breakup publicly. Then she released "Thank U, Next" — her only No. 1 single to date, which just so happens to mention Davidson by name.