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From trusted friends to mortal enemies, the story of Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G.'s friendship goes way beyond East Coast vs. West Coast beef. Here's what went down between the two Hip-Hop icons...
Some say the pair met on the set of 'Poetic Justice’. Tupac was playing Biggie’s ‘Party & Bulls**t’ on repeat, which was a big deal for a then up-and-coming Biggie. It was his first single and Pac was already a huge artist.
Apparently, Biggie asked a local drug dealer to introduce him to Tupac. At the party, the rappers shared a "big freezer bag of the greenest vegetables I'd ever seen," said an intern for Biggie's label, named Dan Smalls, who was also in attendance.
Biggie would crash at Pac's LA house when he visited from New York, whilst Pac reportedly sent Biggie bottles of Hennessey and gave the young rapper advice. The duo performed together on stage, freestyling back and forth at venues including Madison Square Garden. Picture: PA
By this point, Pac was a platinum-selling musician and movie star, while Biggie was still struggling to get his career advancing at the same rapid pace that Pac's did. Biggie asked Pac to take over from Puff as his manager. "Nah, stay with Puff," Shakur told Biggie. "He will make you a star."
While in New York to shoot the 1994 film 'Above the Rim', Tupac began hanging around with Jaques 'Haitian Jack' Agnant and Jimmy Henchman. Biggie warned Pac not to befriend these notoriously tough guys, but to no avail.
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.
Unable to pay the $3 million bail, Pac served most of his sentence in a maximum security prison. It was there that Tupac, along with head of Death Row Records Suge Knight, vowed to destroy Puff and Biggie's rival label Bad Boy Records.
Both Biggie and Puff would claim that the song was not aimed at Tupac. Biggie argued that the song was written before the Pac's shooting outside Quad. “I’m still thinking this ni**a’s my man,” he said of Pac. “This sh*t’s just got to be talk, that’s all I kept saying to myself. I can’t believe he would think that I would sh*t on him like that.”
Pac did everything he could to trash the Bay Boy rapper. Not only did he claim Biggie was behind the shooting, but he argued that Biggie’s style was a rip-off of his own. Pac also bragged about sleeping with Faith Evans, Biggie's wife, and how superior he was in Hip-Hop.
The pair never settled their notorious beef before Tupac's death. While there's no evidence that Biggie or Puffy knew about Tupac's shooting in advance, the murder has been shrouded in mystery, rumours and controversy since that fateful day.
“I remember Big calling me and crying. I know for a fact he was in Jersey. He called me crying because he was in shock. I think it’s fair to say he was probably afraid, given everything that was going on at that time and all the hype that was put on this so-called beef that he didn’t really have in his heart against anyone.” she explained.
Like Pac's murder, Biggie's has been clouded with conspiracy theories, and ultimately lead many to believe that this was the end of Hip-Hop at the time. Hip-Hop brought Pac and Big together, but it also tore them apart. Their East Coast vs. West Coast rivalry lives on through their legacy, arguably as much as their music.