Jay-Z and Biggie Smalls’ cooperation on the rap track “Brooklyn’s Finest”, seen by Tupac as a direct diss towards himself. Gotti sat down with Fat Joe on “The Art of Dialogue” Instagram podcast and spoke in detail about how the song was recorded and why it was the cause of the deterioration of the relationship between Jay-Z and Tupac.
Being the two major rap artists of the 1990s, The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac were seen as the go-to musicians to work with, if you were on the hunt to get your name in lights. Despite being regarded as the two greatest rappers of their time, both were quite good friends going into the 1990s. Naturally, things soon changed since both artists were part of the much larger feud between the West and the East Coast. Things got particularly messy after Tupac accused Biggie of playing a role in Shakur getting shot in New York in 1994. B.I.G denied, but things only got worse from then on, as the rivalry became more intense than ever.
At some stage, Jay-Z also became a part of the feud, teaming up with Biggie to record the song “Brooklyn’s Finest”. All of that could’ve been avoided, had Jay listened to the advice of Gotti, who claims he warned the rapper on multiple occasions to stay away from Biggie’s project.
The record executive noted that he thought a collaboration with a name as big as that of the B.I.G would have more of a detrimental effect on Jay-Z’s career than the other way around. Gotti explains that he was worried Jay would be regarded as Biggie’s sideman if a project like that ever materialized. Quoted on the podcast Gotti had talked to Jay about the need to become the top dog in Brooklyn before he could dream of world glory. And there was only one way of achieving stardom in Brooklyn – getting the better of non-other than Biggie Smalls.
Even though Jay-Z had never previously had any bad feelings with Pac, things would turn sour after him and Biggie eventually decided on recording the track in 1996. One line would particularly go on to feel like a low blow in Pac’s eyes:
“Gotta go, Coolio mean it’s gettin’ ‘Too Hot ‘/If Fay’ had twins, she’d probably have two Pacs / Get it? Tu… Pac’s?”
Biggie’s line was a double diss as it was a reference towards the rumors of a love affair between Pac and Faith Evans – Biggie’s wife, as well directly implying that Shakur was B.I.G‘s son – the biggest insult that a rapper can throw at a colleague.
Strangely enough for some, Tupac decided to direct his anger towards Jay-Z, feeling that it was him who made Biggie fire shots at Shakur. Gotti never really believed it, however, and went to speak out on his guess, that The Notorious had teamed up with Jay on purpose, to start a fight between the two rap artists.
A man of Tupac’s stature didn’t let the how thing slip and in 1996, about a month before his death, he went on to diss Jay-Z on two tracks he recorded – “Bomb First (My Second Reply)” and “F*ck Friendz”. Both men never had the chance to make amends after Pac was murdered in September 1996. Jay-Z, on the other hand, continued to flirt with Biggie, recording another two tracks with the Brooklyn-born start, right before B.I.G was shot dead in March 1997. One could say Jay was treading on dangerous waters in that period.