The Notorious B.I.G.
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.