The Tragic Story Behind the Infamous Tupac and Biggie Beef

The 1990s rivalry between rappers Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. has gone down in hip hop lore as one of the most captivating and consequential feuds the genre has ever seen. Though they started out as friends, Tupac and Biggie ended up at the center of the so-called East Coast-West Coast rap war, and their beef culminated in violence and tragedy. So how did these former collaborators turn into bitter enemies? The origins of the Tupac and Biggie conflict can be traced back to growing tensions between their respective record labels, misunderstandings, and an infamous 1994 shooting incident.

A Friendship Turned Sour

Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls (also known as The Notorious B.I.G.) were both part of a tight-knit hip hop community in the early 1990s. They collaborated on music, hung out together, and initially had a great mutual respect for one another as artists. Tupac even referenced Biggie in a shoutout on the song “Stretch” from his sophomore album Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. … in 1993.

But tensions started brewing behind the scenes between their labels, Death Row Records and Bad Boy Records. Though based on opposite coasts (Death Row in Los Angeles and Bad Boy in New York), the labels were in direct competition over everything from profits to chart dominance. Rivalries among rappers were intentionally stoked to boost record sales through manufactured drama.

As the beef between the labels intensified, close friendships began cracking under the pressure. Tupac and Biggie were essentially caught in the middle of rising East Coast-West Coast tensions.

The New York Shooting

The crux of the Tupac and Biggie beef lies with a November 1994 incident in which Tupac was robbed and shot multiple times in the lobby of a New York City recording studio.

Tupac suspected that Biggie and Sean “Diddy” Combs of Bad Boy Records knew about the shooting beforehand and failed to warn him. He believed Puff Daddy had set him up as retaliation for Death Row CEO Suge Knight poaching one of Bad Boy’s most popular acts – rapper The Dogg Pound.

“From that day on, it was all-out war between Death Row and Bad Boy,” explains hip hop journalist Rob Marriott. “The shooting made Tupac feel vulnerable and betrayed. It destroyed his trust.”

Though Biggie denied any involvement, Tupac interpreted hisactions in the aftermath as suspicious. Biggie and other New York rappers seemed to mock him in songs about the shooting.

The fateful event fueled Tupac’s paranoia about former friends turning on him, hardening his suspicions that Biggie had something to do with the ambush.

Shots Fired on Wax

Following the shooting, tensions boiled over as Tupac and Biggie began taking public shots at each other in their music.

Tupac’s vitriolic 1996 diss track “Hit ‘Em Up” viciously called out Biggie and Bad Boy Records, featuring inflammatory lyrics threatening violent retribution. It marked an unprecedented level of hostility between the former collaborators.

Biggie responded in kind with verses perceived as sly taunts mocking Tupac, including the line “Who shot ya? Separate the weak from the obsolete” in “Who Shot Ya?” Though never straightforward diss tracks, these subtle lyrical jabs kept the feud alive.

“The constant back-and-forth on records made the beef bigger than it was,” says hip hop producer Chucky Thompson. “It got personal.”

From 1996 onward, the Tupac and Biggie beef spiraled further and further out of control, stoked by broader tensions between their fanbases, labels, crews, and coastal regions. Their exchange of lyrical shots became a proxy war.

Violence and Tragedy

As the beef raged in the mid-1990s, it was accompanied by violence, tragedy, and paranoia. The lyrical feud bred real-life danger, with Tupac and Biggie both traveling with increased security.

Tupac’s lyrics specifically identifying Bad Boy Records as his enemies implicated Biggie and his entourage. Tensions culminated in Tupac’s still-unsolved 1996 murder in a Las Vegas drive-by shooting. Biggie himself was killed in an L.A. drive-by in 1997, leaving behind countless questions.

Many theories even speculate their murders were revenge killings linked to their ongoing beef. The truth behind the violence has never fully come to light.

“The deaths of Tupac and Biggie remain two of the biggest unsolved mysteries in music,” says journalist Touré. “There are still so many unanswered questions about what really happened.”

Their murders marked the devastating end of a beef that grew wildly out of control. Two hip hop legends were lost far too soon, leaving fans to mourn what could have been.

Why the Beef Endures

Decades later, the East Coast-West Coast rivalry and Tupac/Biggie beef still hold an outsized place in hip hop lore. But why does this feud continue to captivate rap fans so many years later?

Complexity – The origins of the beef involved nuanced tensions among many players behind the scenes. Misunderstandings and subtleties made uncovering the truth challenging. Fans still debate the details.

Lyrical War – Trading lyrical disses back and forth, Tupac and Biggie shaped the art of the hip hop battle. Their war of words was almost Shakespearean in scope.

Unanswered Questions – With two unsolved murders and no definitive conclusions, the mystery surrounding the saga still lingers for music historians to untangle.

Legacy – As hip hop icons cut down too soon, Tupac and Biggie’s storied careers have become the stuff of legend. Their beef only adds to the mythology.

Cautionary Tale – For many, the tragic outcome serves as a sobering reminder of how rap beefs can spiral out of control into real-world violence.

Though many wish the conflict had played out differently, the epic East/West Coast feud capped by the deaths of two luminaries shaped hip hop history like few stories ever have. The Tupac and Biggie beef stands as a riveting, complex, and ultimately heartbreaking chapter of music lore.

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What happened between Biggie and 2Pac?

After being called up to the studio by Biggie’s affiliated rapper Lil’ Cease, Pac was shot, beaten, and robbed of his jewellery. Later finding Biggie and Puff inside the building, Pac was lead to believe that Biggie was behind the shooting. Their friendship ended that night.

Did Biggie go to Tupac funeral?

Biggie told a friend that he wasn’t going to Tupac’s service. It turned out he couldn’t have gone even if he’d wanted to. Two days after Tupac’s death, New York police arrested Biggie and his friend Lil’ Cease for marijuana possession.

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