You’ve probably all been in the situation, where a life-long friend, with whom you’ve shared nearly everything for years, turns out to be one of the worst people to ever be in your existence. If you haven’t experienced something similar then good for you – it’s not a fun place to be. Hip-hop legends Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls were probably quite familiar with the feeling.
If you haven’t indulged yourself to read about both men’s relationships in detail, then the first part of the title might literally come as a shock to you. The battle for the title of greatest rapper during the ’90s was an iconic one since it was exactly these two behemoths at the head of all charts. And as we well know, fame and success can have a massively detrimental effect on people and their relationships with others, even with themselves. Something similar must’ve happened with Pac and the B.I.G around 1994.
Over the next few paragraph’s we’ll turn the clock backward, in order to rewind how two of the best friends in rap history – an incredibly talented pair of fellow, might I say, eventually turned out to be on the opposite sides of the notorious East Coast vs West Coast feud. And as you might already know, the thing ended quite gruesomely.
A friendship made in heaven
We’ll kick the story off by going all the way back to 1993, when Tupac was already the go-to rapper around, with a platinum album to his name, fame, fortune, and also an infamous rape court case. Not too shabby for a 23-year old man. But that was also the time when the hip-hop scene knew nearly nothing of The Notorious B.I.G, who was struggling to kick start his musical career under the guidance of Puff Daddy.
Well, as the story pans out, both men actually managed to click almost instantly and their bond seemed logical in so many ways. Both men would later be associated for their aggressive and provocative stage behavior, along with masterful and very witty lyrics. In reality, both were very different and many, who were part of their entourage would speak of them as very down to earth. In Biggie’s case, Wallace himself would admit to being shy and quiet, using his music to voice things, which he would otherwise probably never have to courage to say.
As per some quotes from different books, Tupac and Smalls quickly found a similar language and in 1993 began hanging out, eating, and drinking together. For the up-and-coming B.I.G., it was also described as a bit of a learning experience. The following quote from hit producer D-Dot tells all you need to know, really.
“I wouldn’t say that Pac sat there and gave him lessons. That’s not what I’m saying. But when you got a guy that’s been in it, you kind of learn vicariously through that guy without actually being told. You just take little things, apply it to what you’re doing, and if he asked questions, Pac would answer.”
Of course, there’s nothing more natural than a young rapper, with little to no portfolio, to take all the possible lessons he can from Pac. We can’t forget that even at that time Shakur was already being mentioned in the greatest of all-time books, and his “2Pacalypse Now” album had hit platinum status. The gap in experience between the pair was huge.
Biggie wanted a mentor
Not only did Biggie look up to Shakur in many ways, but during that period he would also seek professional help from Pac. Biggie’s career, realistically, was going nowhere fast at the time and he only had one hit single to his name. Far too little to even be mentioned in the same sentence as 2Pac.
Biggie was managed by his life-long friend Puff Daddy and was keen to switch things around. The best thing he could think of was mixing friendship with professional life – he came to Pac with the desire to be managed precisely by Pac. Sounds wild when we look back at things just 2 years later. Shakur, however, told him straight up that he should stick with Daddy and he’ll make B.I.G a star. Not only a legend of the rap game, but clearly had quite a sharp 6th sense in his locker. Soon afterward, however, things turned sour not only from a business perspective.
The big riff – Pac gets shot and blames Biggie for it
As everything seemed quiet and peaceful between the pair, outside factors turned things sour. In 1994 the Notorious B.I.G released the “Ready to Die” album, which soon turned into one of the hottest selling pieces of music on the market. It was a turning point in Biggie’s career, who became a real star. It was in those months when the infamous East Coast vs West Coast battle really came to life and in the center of everything were precisely Pac and Biggie – the ring-leaders. Naturally, their relationship began to falter.
Stories and police reports state, that on the 30th of November 1994 Pac was set to record a tape with East Coast rappers, named Booker and Little Shawn, who had supposedly pledged to pay the all-time great a sum of 7000 dollars for being part of the record. The interesting part is, that Biggie was also at the venue of the recording – the infamous Quad Studios.
Pac and his entourage were ambushed by a group of masked men, who shot the rapper 5 times in different parts of the body, including his head. It was definitely a miracle that Pac was able to survive the attack. He was taken inside an elevator and escorted to the upper floor, where Biggie and Puffy were having a party. Some witnesses say that both men looked like they were more shocked about the fact that Shakur was alive, rather than the attack itself. It was at that moment that all love between both men was collapsed.
As it turns out – this was beef, which brought fantastic tracks to the music industry, but also the death of two of hip-hop’s greatest legends within two years of the incident. Once again – fame and fortune were a massive part of the reason why a great bond turned into a cynical blood bath. Both men are still cherished by millions around the world even today, but the question of thought of “what it might’ve been”, had the two lived on, will forever torment the minds of supporters, journalists, friends, and probably song producers.