Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G., also known as Biggie, were perhaps the two greatest rap icons of all time. The rappers entered the music industry in the mid-1990’s with Biggie’s release of “Ready to Die,” and Tupac’s release of “2PAc.” Biggie’s album went quadruple platinum and catapulted him to the forefront of the hip-hop industry. Tupac was able to match Biggie’s style of grittiness and realism as well as his popularity with the release of “Me Against the World.” The two were on good terms until a November 1994 shooting.
The epic beef between the two rappers started when Shakur was shot in the groin during a hold up by two armed gunmen in the lobby of a Manhattan recording studio. Tupac turned to his music to express his anger about the shooting, which he felt Sean Combs and Biggie were involved in. It was after Tupac signed with Death Row Records that the beef grew to epic proportions.
Artists from Death Row and Bad Boy began to exchange verbal jabs, including Tupac claiming to have had sex with Biggie’s wife, Faith Evans. In September 1996, Tupac was killed in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas, and just six months later, Biggie was gunned down in Los Angeles.
Despite the pairs violent deaths and the fact that no one has ever been held accountable for either murder, Tupac’s and Biggie’s influence on hip-hop and their unprecedented rise to superstardom can not be overlooked. Both men forever raised the bar in terms of what fans expected from hip-hop, including expecting hip-hop to simultaneously embrace socially conscious music while also raising awareness about how gritty life in the hood can be.
In the following video published by Black Watch Television, Tupac and Biggie freestyle together in a rare show of solidarity before they became enemies.