Battles and hip-hop. Beefs and rap music. One can not immagine one without the other. From standing on the corner boasting about how you are the best to multi-million dollar artists trying to outsell each other: beefs and battling have always been an integral part of rap music. On his last albums, Tupac was no stranger to attacking people and adversaries in his songs. Two important things to point out though: first, Tupac was very paranoid (being portrayed very negatively in the media and not knowing who to trust), especially after the 1994 Quad Studio shooting and spending time in jail. Second, some of the below beefs where actually squashed before Tupac died. The 1996 MTV Video Music Awards in New York (September 4) was pivotal in this, having Tupac return in a different state of mind. He wanted to withdraw some of his already recorded bars and verses, but his untimely death prevented him from actually doing so. As he said so himself in probably his last, long interview (recorded end of August 1996): Maybe next month, all of this will be over. But this month? I’m taking every moving target out. Because this is a very perosnal thing for me and I feel like people should’ve gave me my respect. Y’all know, I was not like this before. I did not attack people. He didn’t live another month.

  1. The Notorious B.I.G.

    Biggie Smalls mural in Little Haiti, Miami (Phillip Pessar / CC BY 2.0)

    Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G. (a.k.a. Biggie Smalls; born Christopher Wallace) were once close friends. When they met, Tupac was already a rap and movie star and he took Biggie somewhat under his wings to let him get a taste of the (commercial) rap game and fully unfold his talent. Tupac would interrupt his own shows to let Biggie do his thing, bought him his first golden Rolex and advised him to stop his party rhymes and start rapping about street life.

    Their friendship turned sour rapidly end 1993. In September, while Tupac was on trial for sexual abuse, Biggie’s debut album Ready to Die (1994) drops and Tupac felt it’s exactly like the one he was working on at that time: Study how ‘Party & Bullshit’ was me before I met Biggie. You don’t hear my style in his rap. Study how after I met Biggie, Ready to Die come out and his whole style changed. Study it! Study why I would be mad. Around the same time, Tupac got robbed and shot in the lobby of Quad Recording Studios in New York.. Biggie was there, upstairs, and Tupac felt that Biggie was holding back information on what he thought was a setup. Tupac went on to say: Study why I would be mad when half of New York, half of the major New York rappers or their managers or their agents or their somebody, was there when I got shot and nobody couldn’t give me no information. Just study that. […] If you gonna act like you a gangsta or a G or the King of New York, I’ma expect that. And if when don’t come through, then I’m gonna wanna crush your empire and that’s what it’s time for.

    While incarcerated, Tupac saw Biggie becoming a big rap star, filling the void he had temporarily left behind. Meantime, Biggie never visited Tupac. Hearing Biggie’s ‘Who Shot Ya?’ (reportedly recorded way earlier, but released only 1 month after the Quad Studio shooting) didn’t help the situation. After his release from jail, Tupac teamed up with Death Row Records, which was already in fierce competition with Biggie’s record label, Bad Boy Records and its C.E.O., Sean “Puffy” Combs. Tupac started recording songs day and night, attacking Biggie on many of them, most famously on ‘Hit ’em Up’: That’s why I fucked yo’ bitch / You fat motherfucker! […] You claim to be a player / But I fucked your wife […] Biggie, remember when I used to let you sleep on the couch / And begged a bitch to let you sleep in the house? / Now it’s all about Versace / You copied my style / Five shots couldn’t drop me / I took it and smiled / Now I’m back to set the record straight.

    Officially, Biggie never really responded – he said he didn’t want to feed into it, didn’t want to blow the whole thing out of proportion – although there was of course the one reference on Jay-Z’s ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’ (Reasonable Doubt, 1996): If Fay’ had twins, she’d probably have two Pacs / Get it? … 2-Pac’s. However, there seem to be many subliminal messages about Tupac on his posthumously released ‘Long Kiss Goodnight’ (Life After Death, 1997), which was clearly written after Tupac’s death. On the intro, Biggie starts with Yo yo, that stupid nigga man […] He fucked up, yo, to continue in his rap: When my men bust, you just move with such stamina / Slugs missed ya, I ain’t mad at cha (we ain’t mad at cha), followed by: I’m flamin’ gats, aimin’ at / These fuckin’ maniacs, put my name in raps / What part the game is that? Like they hustle backwards and Now you rest eternally sleepy / You burn when you creep me / Rest where the worms and the weak be.

    On March 1, 1997, Biggie appeared on Sway’s “Wake Up Show” performing a live “freestyle” of previously recorded verses of ‘Long Kiss Goodnight’ and ‘You’re Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You)’. Eight days later, and a mere six months after Tupac’s murder, The Notorious B.I.G. was shot and killed in Los Angeles on March 9, 1995.

  2. Sean “Puffy” Combs

    Sean Combs (92YTribeca / CC BY-NC 2.0)

    Sean John Combs is the C.E.O. of Bad Boy Records/Entertainment and better known by one of his 8(!) stage names: Puffy, Puff Daddy, P. Diddy, Diddy, Sean John, Swag, Brother Love or B. Love. His history with Tupac is very similar to that of his protégé, Biggie Smalls: once friends, but fallen out after Tupac’s 1994 shooting in New York. Tupac immediately saw the attack as being a set-up with Puffy either directly involved, informed about it in advance or at least knowing who orchestrated it. One possible motive for Puffy’s involvement could have been Tupac’s refusal to join Bad Boy.

    After the shooting and his stint in jail, Tupac joined Death Row Records, headed by Marion “Suge” Knight. Suge had his own problems with Puffy: not only a sales war between the two record labels to be the biggest in the rap game, but more importantly a shooting incident in Atlanta in 1995, in which Suge’s friend “Big Jake” Robles was killed. Many believe Puffy’s bodyguard Wolf to be the perpetrator.

    With joint forces, Tupac instantly started dissing Biggie, Bad Boy and of course, Puffy. Apart from the obvious ‘Hit ’em Up’, Puffy gets mentioned on ‘Against All Odds’ – Puffy, let’s be honest / You a punk or you will see me with gloves / Remember that shit you said to Vibe / About me bein’ a thug? / And you can tell the people you roll with / Whatever you want / But you and I know what’s goin’ on […] Puffy gettin’ bribed like a bitch / To hide that fact / He did some shit he shouldn’t have did / So we ride him for that – and ‘Toss It Up’ – Puffy, I read your little interview buddy, c’mon / You still ain’t touching us, all that peace talk / I don’t care if you kiss my ass from here to across the street, boy / It’s on! – both off The Don Killuminati: the 7-Day Theory (1996). On the never officially released ‘Watch Ya Mouth’, Tupac was one of the first to publicly raise questions on Puffy’s sexual orientation, when he referred to Puffy as Cream Puff.

    In interviews, Puffy was always very peaceful and playing down the beefs, but some of his ad-libs on records could easily raise some eyebrows, such as his outro on Biggie’s ‘Long Kiss Goodnight’ (Life After Death, 1997): I’m telling you right motherfucking now / The shit that ya’ll done started / Is never gonna stop! / We are never gonna stop! / And we’re not talking about no other rappers / We’re talking about you, motherfucker! / You know who I’m talking to / We comin’ for you / We comin’ for you.

  3. Bad Boy Records

    Bad Boy Records

    After getting robbed and shot in New York under the eyes of the self-proclaimed rulers of New York, Tupac aimed lots of his anger towards Puff Daddy and The Notorious B.I.G., whom he thought were either involved in the attack or should have been able to warn him. The two being the label’s C.E.O. and premier star, respectively, it is no surprise Tupac extended his attacks to the whole Bad Boy crew. As Tupac said in an interview: Everybody that’s trying to help them, I will destroy. Whoever it is, I will destroy. Everybody that’s trying to side with them, or do a record with them, or trying to unify with them, I’mma destroy. On ‘Hit ’em Up’, this translated to: Bad Boy killas […] We bust on Bad Boys / Niggas fucked for life […] Fuck Bad Boy as a staff, record label and as a motherfuckin’ crew! / And if you wanna be down with Bad Boy / Then fuck you too! Other artists from the label that got mentioned in 2Pac-songs include Faith Evans (Biggie’s wife) and Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s Lil’ Kim and Lil’ Cease. More references to Bad Boy can be found in songs such as ‘Troublesome ’96’ (Greatest Hits, 1998), ‘Intro/Bomb First (My Second Reply)’ (The Don Killuminati: the 7-Day Theory, 1996), ‘This Life I Lead’, ‘Fuck Em All’ (both Better Dayz, 2002) and ‘Runnin On E’ (Until the End of Time, 2001). This last album also contains ‘Breathin’, in which Tupac says: Westside Outlaw / Bad Boy killer / Complete my mission / My competition no longer beefin / I murdered all them bustas / Now I’m the last motherfucker breathin.

    Apart from his personal feelings, Tupac’s dissing of Bad Boy was backed up by Marion “Suge” Knight’s – C.E.O. of Tupac’s record label, Death Row Records – personal problems with Puffy (over a 1995 shooting in Atlanta which saw Suge’s friend “Big Jake” Robles killed, allegedly by Puff’s bodyguard “Wolf”) and professional beef with Bad Boy (over dominating the mainstream rap sales). Also, it is known that Bad Boy would hire Crips to handle security for them when travelling the West Coast. Furthermore, there are strong suspicions that Bad Boy Records was founded by Puffy, using money from the Black Mafia Family, with the help of Jimmy Henchman.

    The issues between Tupac/Suge Knight/Death Row and Puffy/Biggie/Bad Boy got blown up by the media into a coastal feud between East and West.

  4. East Coast

    East Coast

    More often than not, people point the finger at Tupac for the so-called East Coast versus West Coast feud in rap. However, looking back at the origins of the rivalry, it seems the situation didn’t need Tupac to get started.

    Hip hop emerged from the streets of the Bronx in the 1970s. New York City produced numerous stars such as Run-DMC, LL Cool J, KRS-One, Slick Rick, Rakim, Beastie Boys, etc. In 1986, on the West Coast, Ice T released what can be considered the very first so-called “gangsta rap” song. The L.A. rap scene quickly exploded and took over the charts, thanks to N.W.A. (with Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, …), The D.O.C. and later Snoop Doggy Dogg, Warren G, Tha Dogg Pound and 2Pac. As of 1993, the New York scene reinvented itself with darker, more rugged street narratives and acts like Wu-Tang Clan, Nas and The Notorious B.I.G.

    With growing popularity of West Coast rap, its artist outsell their competitors residing on the East Coast. Tensions rise. On August 3, 1995, – while Tupac is serving time in jail – the Source Music Awards take place in New York. The event would turn out to be pivotal in the East-West rivalry – some called it “The Day Hip-Hop Died”. The crowd still cheers when Dr. Dre picks up his award for Video of the Year (‘Natural Born Killaz’ in collaboration with Ice Cube), but things quickly go sour when Death Row Records’ C.E.O. Marion “Suge” Knight picks up the award for Motion Picture Soundtrack of the Year (for Above the Rim, 1994) and takes a direct shot at local competitor Sean “Puffy” Combs, C.E.O. of Bad Boy Records/Entertainment: […] I’d like to tell Tupac to keep his guards up; we ride with him. And one other thing I’d like to say: any artist out there that wanna be an artist, that wanna stay a star, and won’t have to worry about the executive producer trying to be all in the videos, all on the records, dancing — come to Death Row! When shortly after this Dr. Dre wins the award for Producer of the Year, the crowd responds with some boos and commotion. Snoop Doggy Dogg, who had joined Dr. Dre on stage, grabs the microphone and adds fuel to the situation: The East Coast don’t love Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg? The East Coast ain’t got no love for Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, and Death Row?! Y’all don’t love us? Y’all don’t love us?! after which Dre tries to calm things down expressing: We’re trying to make music for everybody to enjoy. By end of September, Snoop Doggy Dogg and Tha Dogg Pound had released their controversial ‘New York, New York’ (Dogg Food, 1995) accompanied by an even more controversial video (in which NY buildings get destroyed), and Suge Knight accuses Puffy’s bodyguard, “Wolf”, of shooting and killing his friend “Big Jake” Robles. All the while, Tupac is locked up.

    Once out on bail, Tupac found support with Suge and Death Row to attack, take down and destroy Biggie, Puffy and Bad Boy Records. He felt he needed to represent and battle for his new crew. Meantime, Tupac felt that New York and (old school) East Coast rappers were not giving enough credit to the West, seeing themselves as superiour because they were at the origin of hip hop. Tupac explained: We gotta have this beef, and these words, and this dialogue until we can re-negotiate the terms of the treaty. I love the East Coast, I’m from the East Coast, but they have to understand you just can’t be saying shit about us and think we’re not gonna take it personally. You just can’t be calling us fakers and pretenders and non-creative and say we can’t freestyle, and we just sit back and say, ‘Naw it’s cool, ‘cause we love them because they started hip hop’. Hell no, we’re gonna take it personal. […] It’s not both Coasts. What it is…is the people on the East Coast are real proud and real cultural and real strong like we are on the West Coast. […] I’m riding…for my side. […] Recognize us. The only way the East Coast is gonna recognize us if for us to do it on record, by money, by sales and by representing. Just like KRS-One. When PM Dawn got on stage and he had been talking shit about him, what did KRS-One do? [He bum rushed him] So why are people telling me I’m wrong for doing what I’m doing? They love KRS-One! He is hip hop, am I correct? I’m mad at Biggie and I’m rushin’ the nigga. What’s the problem? As soon as the East Coast separate themselves from Biggie, we will do shows in the East; everything is beautiful.

    On ‘Why U Turn On Me’ (Until the End of Time, 2001) he adds: They say we hate the East coast / But that’s funny / Got a lot of love for / Any nigga gettin’ money / I made a song about my enemies / And niggas tripped / It was hip-hop / Until 2Pac fucked Biggie bitch / Y’all niggas hypocrites and bitch made / Now either love me or hate me / But real thug niggas get paid. On the intro to The Don Killuminati: the 7-Day Theory (1996), 2Pac/Makaveli puts it like this: It’s not about East or West / It’s about niggas and bitches, power and money, ridaz and punks / Which side are you on?

    In closing, we give you an excerpt of Tupac’s last interview with MTV on the night of 1996 MTV Video Music Awards in New York (September 4) when asked about the East-West situation and the presence of Puffy and Biggie: Nobody thought we would show up here. […] We got beef with the people we got beef with, but we could go anywhere in the country because we are Amerikaz Most Wanted. […] We are business men; we are not animals. It’s not like we gonna see them on rush them and jump on them. If [Biggie and Puffy] see us and they want drama, we’re gonna definitely bring it like only Death Row can bring it. But we’re here as business men to enjoy and support the Video Music Awards for MTV, because they support us. So if they wanna come and use this business opportunity to get on some gangsta, you know, we do that better than anybody. […] There’s no dream of makin’ no album with Biggie and Puffy or any of them. We’re not sweatin’ it like that. We peacefully coexist right now, ’cuz we are cool. Everybody’s here, everybody’s… They sell records, we sell records. Well, I guess you could call that selling records, what they do. We sell large amounts of records and they sell a few records. And, really, there’s no competition. People are really making too much out of it than it is. […] The East Coast-West Coast thing is something that the journalists and people are making up, just to get paid off of it […] They are perpetuating it, so there can be drama. I still love MTV, but when it all go down, don’t look at me and Biggie and be like ‘Why is there a big East Coast-West Coast war?’ when you’re shooting this to thirty…threehundred homes…threehundred countries, telling them about an East Coast-West Coast war that they would never know exists. So that’s where information becomes a problem. […] If it did exist, I wouldn’t be sitting here in New York, talking about it. We’ll try to be better rolemodels and y’all try stop putting that drama out there. You got a lot of power, a lot of responsibility; we both do. We both need to exercise greater restraint.

    Three days later, Tupac was fatally shot in Las Vegas.

  5. Jacques “Haitian Jack” Agnant

    Jacques Agnant (

    Jacques Agnant, better known as “Haitian Jack”, was born in Haiti but grew up in Brooklyn, NY (Bedford-Stuyvesant, the same ’hood as Biggie Smalls). He started his criminal career as a teenager, teaming up with, among others, Walter “King Tut” Johnson, as the ‘Black Mafia’. Later on, much like Jimmy Henchman, Agnant would find his way into the entertainment business, associating himself with Brooklyn rapper Shawn “Little Shawn” Wilkins, former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson and even pop singer Madonna. Haitian Jack got introduced to Tupac in a New York nightclub early November 1993. Tupac, who was in the Big Apple to prepare for his role as ‘Birdie’ in Above the Rim (1994), was impressed by his lifestyle and started hanging out with him. He would even base his movie character – a local drug lord – on Agnant. Despite several warnings from Biggie and Mike Tyson about the real nature of Agnant and Jimmy Henchman, Tupac kept hanging out with them.

    It was an associate of Agnant that introduced Tupac to the young woman that would later accuse him of rape. Agnant was also accused, but got a seperate trial and was eventually cleared. This convinced Tupac that Haitian Jack had set him up (could it be a mere coincidence both Tupac and Mike Tyson got accused of rape while being around him?) and was even working as an informant. On ‘Against All Odds’ (The Don Killuminati: the 7-Day Theory, 1996) he says: I heard he was light-skinned, stocky / With a Haitian accent / Jewelry, fast cars and he’s known for flashin’ / Listen while I take you back and lace this rap / A real live tale about a snitch named Haitian Jack / Knew he was workin’ for the feds / Same crime, different trials, nigga / Picture what he said. Many also point the finger to Agnant and Jimmy Henchman for the 1994 Quad Studio shooting in November 1994. Haitian Jack to date, denies the robbery/attack happened on his command.

    Agnant was sent to jail in 2004 after shooting a man at a nightclub in Los Angeles. Three years later, in 2007, he was deported to Haiti.

  6. James “Jimmy Henchman” Rosemond

    Jimmy Henchman (

    James Rosemond, better known as Jimmy Henchman, was born to Haitian parents in New York in 1965. By the age of 16, Rosemond was already spending time in the C-74 juvenile detention center at Riker’s Island. It would be the start of an impressive criminal career, including a second degree murder charge at the age of 18. In the early 1990’s, Rosemond found his way into the music and entertainment business representing former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, Salt-n-Pepa, Brandy and later on The Game. He is believed to have been involved in the financial support of the Black Mafia Family to start up Puff Daddy’s Bad Boy Records.

    Tupac got contacted by Jimmy Henchman, a known associate of Haitian Jack, to appear on a Little Shawn song, an artist he represented. This was scheduled to happen on the night of the robbery at Quad Recording Studio’s. Tupac quickly felt like the whole thing was a set-up, orchestrated by Rosemond. On ‘Against All Odds’ (The Don Killuminati: the 7-Day Theory, 1996), he calls out Rosemond (And did I mention? / Promised to payback, Jimmy Henchman / In due time / I know you bitch niggas is listenin’ / The world is mine / Set me up, wet me up / Niggas stuck me up / Heard the guns bust / But you tricks never shut me up / Touch one of mine / On everything I owe / I will destroy everything you touch) and tells him he’s prepared for more: You said don’t go to war / Unless I got my money right / I got my money right now / Now I want war. This last bit is a reference to a message from Henchman to Tupac, delivered by Stretch.

    Rosemond is currently serving life in prison plus 20 years on a murder-for-hire case, in connection with the death of G-Unit affiliate Lowell “Lodi Mack” Fletcher.

  7. Nas

    Nas (Mikamote via Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0)

    Nearly 25 years after dropping his instant-classic debut album Illmatic (1994), Nas (born Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones) can indisputably be considered as one of rap’s greats. During his comin-up, though, Nas got himself caught-up in a beef with Tupac. Tupac was actually not happy about this situation, quickly making it clear to Nas not to get involved, because he and Death Row had nothing but love for him. Then, in July 1996, Nas’ second album, It Was Written dropped, containing ‘The Message’. The opening bars say: Fake thug, no love, you get the slug CB4 Gusto, a reference to the MC Gusto character (played by Chris Rock) from the film CB4 (1993), in which the character claims to live the criminal life of a local kingpin. When he further on continues So dumb, felt my leg burn, then it got numb / Spun around and shot one / Heard shots and dropped, son, caught a hot one / Somebody take this biscuit ’fore the cops come / Then they came askin’ me my name / What the fuck? I got stitched up and went through / Left the hospital that same night, Tupac interpreted it as an attack.

    Tupac responded on several songs, most notably on ‘Against All Odds’ (The Don Killuminati: the 7-Day Theory, 1996): This little nigga named Nas / Think he live like me / Talking ’bout he left the hospital / Took five like me / You live in fantasies, nigga / I reject your deposit and Lord, listen to me / God don’t like ugly / “It Was Written” / Ayo, Nas / Your whole damn style is bitten / You heard my melody / Read about my life in the papers / All my run-ins with authorities / Felonious capers / Now you wanna live my life / So what’s a “Hausa”, Nas? / Niggas that don’t rhyme right / You’ve seen too many movies. On ‘Untouchable Swizz Beatz Remix’ (Pac’s Life, 2006), Tupac also references Nas’ ‘If I Ruled the World’ (Illmatic, 1994): No offense to Nas, but this whole fucking world is mine.

    Like some other beefs, this one was squashed at the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards in New York on September 4. Tupac commited to removing his attack on Nas from the song, but he got fatally shot only two days later. Nas was actually in the middle of a live concert when Tupac was pronounced dead; he interupted his show for a moment of silence. In his own beef with Jay-Z, on ‘Ether’ (God’s Son, 2002), Nas refers to 2Pac as one of the greatest of all time. Nas would later also have a guest verse on ‘Thugz Mansion (Nas Acoustic)’ (Better Dayz, 2002) – on Nas’ God’s Son (2002) there’s a version with two Nas-verses and one 2Pac verse.

  8. Jay-Z

    Jay-Z (Joella Marano via Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0)

    Mr. Beyoncé Knowles (born Shawn Corey Carter) came to real (inter)national fame in 1995, with the release of his debut studio album Reasonable Doubt. The album contained a song featuring The Notorious B.I.G., called ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’, which famously contains Biggie’s only direct reference to Tupac attacking him lyrically: If Fay’ had twins, she’d probably have two Pacs / Get it? … 2-Pac’s. Although Jay-Z was originally mentioned in ‘Hit ’em Up’, this was later removed because some of the Outlawz convinced Tupac that he had nothing to do with the conflict between Bad Boy and Death Row. Tupac obviously changed ideas after Jay-Z clearly associated himself with Biggie.

    Another reason why Tupac was not too fond of Jay-Z, was because of the sudden change to fame he saw Jay-Z had gone through. End 1980’s, beginning 1990’s, Jay-Z appeared on some The Jaz/Jaz-O records, such as ‘Hawaiian Sophie’ (1989) and ‘The Originator’ (1990): very light, playful, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince-style songs. When Reasonable Doubt dropped, however, he was suddenly rapping about his hustler and mafioso life style. Tupac consequently saw him as a studio gangster. In the end, the beef never took huge proportions, but was never squashed before Tupac died neither.

    Jay-Z gets mentioned on ‘All Out’ and ‘Fuck Friendz’ (Until the End of Time, 2001): Bustin caps to Jay-Z and Understand this, ain’t no nigga like me / Fuck Jay-Z, he broke and I smoke daily, respectively. Tupac also includes Jay-Z on ‘Intro/Bomb First (My Second Reply)’ (The Don Killuminati: the 7-Day Theory, 1996): Jay-Z from ‘Hawaiian Sophie’ fame and I’m a Bad Boy killer, Jay-Z die too. Jay-Z was ready to strike back, but never released what is (by DJ Clark Kent) claimed to be a super-hard diss song, because Tupac had died in the meantime. It was performed live at the Apollo once, though.

    In 2002, Jigga teamed up with Beyoncé Knowles to record ‘’03 Bonnie & Clyde’, sampling Tupac’s ‘Me and My Girlfriend’ (The Don Killuminati: the 7-Day Theory, 1996). The video showed a Tupac mural as an added tribute. Five years later, Jay-Z would tell MTV News: [The beef] was nothing personal. We never met. You know, he and Big went through their thing. I was Big’s man, that was the extent of our big beef. Whatever [animosity] we had, died with him.

  9. Mobb Deep

    Mobb Deep (Wikimedia Commons)

    The issues between Tupac and Mobb Deep – consisting of Prodigy and Havoc and most famous for their epic 1995 ‘Shook Ones (Part II)’ – finds its origin in Tha Dogg Pound’s video for ‘New York, New York’ (Dogg Food, 1995). In this video, Tha Dogg Pound are stumping over New York buildings, Godzilla style. Mobb Deep found that disrespectful and responded, defending their home state and city. Furthermore, on ‘Survival of the Fittest’ (The Infamous, 1995) they seemed to claim Thug Life (Thug life, we still livin’ it) while Tupac was serving time in jail.

    Out on bail, fresh to Death Row, Tupac seemed to take it on himself to set the record straight. Mobb Deep get mentioned on ‘Why U Turn On Me’ and ‘Runnin On E’ (Until the End of Time, 2001) and more ferociously attacked on ‘Hit ’em Up’ (Oh yeah, Mobb Deep / You wanna fuck with us? / You little young-ass motherfuckers / Don’t one of you niggas got sickle-cell or somethin’? / You’re fuckin’ with me, nigga / You fuck around and have a seizure or a heart attack / You better back the fuck up / Before you get smacked the fuck up […] Fuck Mobb Deep!), ‘Intro/Bomb First (My Second Reply)’ (Lookin’ out for Mobb Deep / Nigga, when I find you / Weak motherfuckers don’t deserve to breathe), ‘Against All Odds’ (Mobb Deep wonder why a nigga blowed ’em out / Next time grown folks talk, nigga / Close your mouth) and ‘When We Ride On Our Enemies’ (I run a train on Mobb Deep / Don’t fuck with me / Nigga you barely livin / Don’t you got sickle cell? / See me have a seizure on stage / You ain’t feelin well).

    They responded on the first/promotional single of Hell On Earth (1996), ‘Drop a Gem on ’em’, which was released end of August. The entire song is full of references to and shots at Tupac, without ever mentioning his name, for example: It’s 2 Not, knocked out the box and got rocked / Got raped on the Island, you officially got / Kick that thug shit, Vibe magazine on some love shit / Keep it real, kid, ’cause you don’t know who you fuckin’ with and And use that shit, think fast and get reminded / Of robberies in Manhattan, you know what happened / Sixty G’s worth of gun clappin’ / Who shot ya? You probably screamed louder than a opera.

    Lyrically, this was a serious beef, however, since Tupac’s passing, Mobb Deep have shown much respect on numerous occasions. For instance, they pulled their ‘Drop a Gem on ’em’ single off the radio to have it stopped being given airtime out of respect for Tupac’s family and the dead (although they still kept it on the album, which was only released in November 1996). In June 2017, Prodigy died in a Las Vegas hospital as a result of complications related to his sickle-cell anemia.

  10. Chino XL

    Chino XL in 2012 (Jimdabomb via Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0)

    Small-time New Jersey rapper Chino XL (born Derek Keith Barbosa) saw an opportunity to take a cheap shortcut to fame by dissing Tupac, one of the biggest stars in the rap game at the time – and to date. Their beef started when Chino made a reference to the Wendy Williams rumour that Tupac got raped in jail. In the first verse on ‘Riiiot!’ (Here to Save You All, 1996) he raps: By this industry / I’m trying not to get fucked like 2Pac in jail. Although Chino claims to be misinterpreted, Tupac took notice and struck back on the infamous ‘Hit ’em Up’: Chino XL, fuck you too!. Chino XL then responded with a long freestyle on a New York radio station (summer 1996), hitting Tupac hard. Here are some snippets: Still have lipstick on your back / If Suge didn’t bail ya […] Nigga, you ain’t never ever seen drama / Fuck you and your dope fiend mama / Niggas is shady / I shed ya california blood and kill Brenda’s baby […] A nigga with one ball shouldn’t speak / I grab my crotch when I see 2Pac.

    It seems like this beef was squashed before Tupac’s death in September 1996, as Chino mentioned on ‘Chianardo Di Caprio’ (I Told You So, 2001): Squash beef with ’Pac and ’em.

  11. Dr. Dre

    Dr. Dre (Ed Kavishe via Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0)

    Before signing to Death Row and actually working with the man, Tupac thought of Dr. Dre (born Andre Romelle Young) as one of his heroes. That quickly changed after Dre was “too busy” to come foreward as a witness on Snoop Doggy Dogg’s murder trial. Despite the fact that Snoop and Dre were very close (and Snoop was somewhat his protégé), Dr. Dre apparently did nothing to get Snoop cleared. Tupac saw this as a lack of loyalty towards Snoop and Death Row. Furthermore, Tupac didn’t like how Dr. Dre was getting all the producing credits for All Eyez On Me (1996) while in reality Dre’s contributions were quite limited. Tupac would comment to Vibe Magazine: He wasn’t producing shit […] Other niggas was producing the beats and he was getting all the credit! […] He is a dope producer, but he ain’t worked in years […] Taking three years to do one song!

    After Dr. Dre left/was forced to leave Death Row, Tupac would diss him often, also alleging him to be gay/bisexual. On The Don Killuminati: the 7-Day Theory (1996), he says: We shook Dre punk ass, now we out of the closet (‘Against All Odds’) and calls ‘To Live & Die in L.A.California Love part motherfucking two / Without gay-ass Dre. On the same album, nearly the entire third verse of ‘Toss It Up’ is dedicated to Dre and includes: No longer Dre Day, arrivederci […] Check your sexuality, as fruity as this Alizé […] Screamin Compton, but you can’t return, you ain’t heard / Brothers pissed cause you switched and escaped to the burbs. The song’s beat (especially before the remix on the album) is actually very similar to Blackstreet’s ‘No Diggity’, produced by… Dr. Dre. Most of the first verse on a song that never made it to any official album, ‘Watch Ya Mouth’, was also aimed at Dre, specifically because Dr. Dre was working with Nas immediately after leaving Death Row. This reference includes: He ain’t made a beat in six years, swear he the shit / Won’t get no record sales sucking Nas’ dick.

    Dr. Dre never actually responded (all 2Pac’s disses were released posthumously) and even gave Tupac a proper tribute during the 2000 “Up in the Smoke Tour”, saying it was a bliss to have worked with him.

  12. Snoop Doggy Dogg

    Snoop Dogg in 2005 (Wikimedia Commons)

    This is probably one of the lesser-known, especially because it was never referenced in any songs and Snoop Dogg (born Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr.) keeps up this image of being Tupac’s best friend until today. Behind the scenes – and espcially during the last days before the fatal Vegas shooting – both ‘2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted’ (All Eyez on Me, 1996) stars had some tension going on, though.

    Some say this goes back to long before Tupac joined Snoop at Death Row Records, when Snoop’s cousin Lil ½ Dead claimed Tupac stole ‘Brenda’s Got a Baby’ (2Pacalypse Now, 1991) from him. Fast forward to 1996, when Tupac joined Death Row and became the absolute superstar of the label, with the full support of its C.E.O. Marion ‘Suge’ Knight, and outshining its then-star Snoop. The pinacle was when Tupac, Snoop and the whole Death Row crew were in New York in early September 1996, for the 1996 MTV Music Video Awards. First, Snoop did not show up for rehearsal and recording of his appearance with Tupac on Saturday Night Live. Then, in full East-West feud, Snoop went on a local radio station, stating he had nothing but love for Biggie and Puffy. Tupac and Suge Knight were furious. Tupac was especially offended because, as Napoleon of the Outlawz recently stated in an interview, Snoop and Tupac had been recording songs dissing the two just before that. An uncomfortable flight back West later (during which Snoop would fear for his live, as he would later say on numerous occasions) the 2 rappers went their seperate ways and Tupac got fatally shot just a couple of days later, without an opportunity to settle the argument.

    On April 27, 2017, Tupac was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Snoop Dogg; a very controversial choice and performance.

    Keep in mind, also, that Snoop has always been Crip-affiliated, while Marion ‘Suge’ Knight and many within Death Row were famously Blood-affiliated – a bit of a weird situation on every level.

  13. Randy “Stretch” Walker

    Stretch in 1993 (Wikimedia Commons)

    Live Squad’s Stretch (born Randy Walker) was a close friend of Tupac, working on several songs together and both appearing in Bullet (1996). Things went sour after Tupac (in the company of Stretch) was robbed and shot 5 times in the lobby of Quad Recording Studios on November 30, 1994. Tupac was convinced he got set up – and that maybe Stretch was involved in some way. While incarcerated, Tupac learned Stretch was associating himself more and more with the people that he believed were behind the attack: The Notorious B.I.G., Puff Daddy and especially Haitian Jack and Jimmy Henchman. Tupac’s last words on ‘Against All Odds’ (The Don Killuminati: the 7-Day Theory, 1996) – You said don’t go to war / Unless I got my money right / I got my money right now / Now I want war – were a response to a message he had received from Jimmy Henchman, through Stretch.

    Tupac made several references to Stretch in various songs, but mostly without mentioning his name explicitly. In that same ‘Against All Odds’, he said: And that nigga that was down for me / Restin’ dead / Switched sides / Guess his new friends wanted him dead / Probably be murdered / For the shit that I said.

    Stretch was killed on November 30, 1995, exactly 1 year after the infamous Quad Studio shooting.
  14. De la Soul

    De La Soul in 2004 (Matti Hillig via Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0)

    Long Island hip-hop trio De La Soul (Posdnuos, Trugoy and Maseo) stayed far away from so-called “gangsta rap” with their quirky lyrics and jazz influences. In ‘In the Woods’ (Buhloone Mindstate, 1993) they clearly rejected the then-current mindset: Catch me breathin’ on planes where the gangsta’s outdated / Fuck being hard, Posdnuos is complicated. Ironically, the album didn’t find its way up the charts, contrary to many albums/artists they were targeting with that line. Add to that the fact that the video for their ‘Ego Trippin’ - Part 2’ off the same album is a toe-curling parody, clearly ridiculing Tupac’s classic ‘I Get Around’ video, it’s no wonder Tupac felt personally attacked. In 2010, Posdnuos would claim that the whole “misunderstanding” was settled, after Tupac reached out to them asking for an explanation: [Tupac] thought we were showing him in the mansion but then we were saying it wasn’t his mansion… And I reached back to him like ‘Dawg, we’re definitely not dissing you… We’re being clowns making fun of how certain people take the shit a little too serious.’ He was like, ‘Aight, cool’.

    But it didn’t simply end there. In 1996, when their much maligned “gangsta rap” was clearly winning, Posdnuos dropped a dubious line on the ‘Intro’ to Stakes is High (1996), referring to Treach of Naughty by Nature: A talker of the verb without weed influence / So stick to you Naughty by Nature’s and your Kane. A shout-out or a diss? Another unfortunate misunderstanding? Tupac, being very close with Treach, couldn’t let this second strike go by unnoticed. Check out the ad-lib on ‘Against All Odds’: Niggas lookin’ like Larry Holmes / Flabby and sick / (Look at De La Soul!) / Tryin’ to player hate on my shit / You eat a fat dick. There’s another diss towards De La Soul on a song that never made it to any official album, ‘Watch Ya Mouth’: De-La got a problem with this hard shit / Ever since ‘Me myself and I’ y’all been garbage / (You know I’m tellin’ the truth).

    In the meantime, things have cooled down and Treach and De La Soul made amends, even touring together.

  15. Fugees

    Fugees (
    Fugees… Fugees and Mobb Deep tryin to diss now too, huh?

    Many were probably surprised to hear the name of the group around Lauryn Hill and cousins Pras Michel and Wyclef Jean in the opening sentence of a 2Pac beef track, ‘When We Ride On Our Enemies’ (Better Dayz, 2002).

    One possible reason is by association: according to Haitian Jack, he and Wyclef Jean were related through their fathers. As many other East Coast hip-hop artists, Pras Mitchel and Wyclef Jean were close to Jimmy Henchman. Another possibility is that Tupac took offence of some lines on the Fugees’ ‘Cowboy’ song (The Score, 1996): Rappers want to be actors / So they play the Jesse James character / And get they bones fractured.

    Another reference on ‘When We Ride On Our Enemies’ seems to hint more at the alleged Cowboys-diss: Heard the Fugees was tryin to do me / Look bitch, I cut yo’ face / This ain’t no motherfuckin movie. Oddly enough, Tupac seems to have a cameo in Lauryn Hill’s video for ‘The Sweetest Thing’ (Love Jones: The Music, 1997) – about 2 minutes into the video.

    According to Pras Michel, this beef was squashed before Tupac’s death. In 2013, Wyclef Jean also stated: I don’t necessarily think whatever was said, was necessarily geared towards the Fugees. I think it was more geared by association of the Fugees […] At the time [there] was just a lot of tension, you know? It was like, I would more say clique-orientated.

  16. LL Cool J

    LL Cool J (Daniel Mayer via Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0)
    LL Cool J, born James Todd Smith, was one of hip-hop’s superstars in the 80’s. Early on in his own career, Tupac stated that LL’s ‘I’m Bad’ was a big inspiration for starting to write his own rhymes. In ‘Old School’ (Me Against the World, 1995), Tupac gave shout outs to all rappers that influenced him and made hip-hop and rap music big, including LL Cool J: I remember, breakdancing to Melle Mel / Jekyll and Hyde, LL when he Rocks the Bells […] LL Cool J is hard as hell.

    The reason for the beef between these 2 generation-icons is most probably twofold: on the one hand Tupac figured LL’s ‘I Shot Ya’ (Mr. Smith, 1995) was a response to ‘Who Shot Ya?’ by The Notorious B.I.G. and aimed at him; on the other hand, Tupac’s fiancée Kidada Jones previously had a near 2-year-relationship with LL Cool J. Tupac referenced LL in the original recording of ‘Lil Homies’, but on the version released on Until the End of Time (2001), the song fades out before reaching that line: LL Cool J, say what? / Nigga, I’ll rock your motherfucking bells!

    LL Cool J never directly responded, although he did refer to Tupac after his death, in what may have been a cheap shot, expressing his feelings towards Tupac’s style and character. On 1997’s ‘Phenomenon’ (Phenomenon, 1997) – produced by… Sean “Puffy” Combs – he says: Baby girl was draped in Chanel / Said she love 2Pac but hates some LL […] Do you really want a thug / Or do ya want love? Still not quite over the break-up with Kidada, maybe?

  17. C. Delores Tucker

    C. Delores Tucker (

    Cynthia Delores Tucker, former National Chair of the National Political Congress of Black Women, was one of the early adversaries of Tupac and (gangsta) rap music in general. She was on the forefront of a campaign to ban rap music in the beginning of the 1990’s. She stated: We’ve found negative gangster rap, misogyny, and a promotion of violence in Tupac’s lyrics. It’s nothing more than pornographic smut.. She also fought against the NAACP’s decision to nominate Tupac for its Image Award for outstanding lead actor in a motion picture (for Poetic Justice) in 1994.

    Many rap artists mentioned her in various songs, but Tupac was the one (posthumously) being sued for $10 million, because two of his songs “inflicted emotional distress, were slanderous and invaded her privacy”. The case was eventually dismissed. On ‘How Do U Want It?’ and ‘Wonda Why They Call U Bitch’ (both All Eyez On Me, 1996) Tupac raps C. Delores Tucker, you’s a motherfucker / Instead of tryin’ to help a nigga / You destroy a brother and Dear Ms. Delores Tucker / Keep stressin’ me / Fuckin’ with a motherfuckin’ mind / I figured you wanted to know, you know / Why we call them hoes bitches / And maybe this might help you understand / It ain’t personal / Strictly business, baby / Strictly business, respectively.

    She died in October 2005, at the age of 78.

  18. Dan Quale

    Dan Quayle in 1989

    Dan Quayle, 44th Vice President of the United States under the Bush administration (1989-1993), was, just like C. Delores Tucker, not a big fan of rap music. On September 23, 1992, he ordered Interscope Records to witdraw 2Pacalypse Now (1991) from stores, claiming the record was responsible for the death of a Texas state trooper, who was shot to death in April that year by a suspect who allegedly was listening to the album on the tape deck of a stolen truck when he was stopped by the officer. He said: There is absolutely no reason for a record like this to be published by a responsible corporation. […] It has no place in our society.

    Tupac honoured Dan Quayle with some shout outs, especially in several songs on Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. (1993): And I’ma throw a change up / Quayle ain’t do nothing but blow my name up! he says on the album’s opening track, ‘Holler If Ya Hear Me’. The song is followed by ‘Pac’s Theme [interlude]’, in which Dan Quayle can be heard. Tupac continues with Dan Quayle, don’t you know you need your ass kicked? / Where was you when there was niggas in the caskets? on ‘Last Wordz’ and What the fuck does Quayle know of young black males? on ‘Souljah’s Revenge’. The finishing touch is on ‘Peep Game’: Vice president Dan Quayle eat a dick up.

  19. Wendy Williams

    Wendy Williams (FeastOfFun / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

    Wendy Williams has an impressive, long list of celebreties she insulted or otherwise ended up having problems with: Method Man, Mariah Carey, Witney Houston, Beyonce, etc. In 1995, while being a radio host on New York based Hot 97, she insinuated Tupac got raped in jail. This rumour was later referenced by others, such as Chino XL.

    Tupac responded in the posthumously released (and censored) ‘Why U Turn On Me’ (Until the End of Time, 2001): Said I got raped in jail / Picture that / Revenge is a payback bitch / Get your gat / Fuck (** “Wendy Williams” - censored **) / And I pray you choke / On the next dick down your throat / For turnin’ on me and I put Jenny Craig / On your fat ass / You fat troll / Anybody ever seen (** “Wendy Williams” - censored **) fat ass? / Why you always wearin’ / Spandex you fat bitch? / I know your pussy stinks / You fat ho. There is another song in which he addresses Wendy Williams, but it was never officially released. In ‘Watch Ya Mouth’ he says: Wendy Williams is a fat bitch / That’s the truth / I got a jar full of niggas nuts / That’s for you.