Throughout the nineties there was an movement in hip hop, the infamous East coast rap vs West coast between rap musicians. It was a separational movement that caused both sides to end the lives of two most influential rappers in the music industry, Notorious B.I.G and Tupac Shakur. Both rappers with similar backgrounds have changed the music scene completely with one sudden movement. Known mainly for their rivalry against one another and compared because of the backgrounds, these two artist had quite a distinctiveness to one another. Notorious B.I.G and Tupac Shakur are great influential artist in the music industry and had similar backgrounds but distinctive enough to cause a separation that influenced the music industry then and now. I had watched a documentary, based off of the infamous rappers and their start up in the music industry, titled Tupac and Biggie where I got information on both sides. To begin with both rappers had similar upbringing for instance, were born in the state of New York, Tupac in Harlem and Biggie in Brooklyn. However, Tupac did move around growing up to Baltimore, Maryland in 1984 and finally to Oakland, California in 1988 by the age of 17.
Biggie had more of an interesting beginning, unlike his soon to be rival, he had been raised by a single mother who was a teacher and had lived in a 3 bedroom apartment, not how he claimed on his song ‘Juice’ as a “one-room shack”. Meanwhile, Tupac was also raised by a single mother, however had been a part of the anti-government group the Black Panther Party, which would later be a foundation to his rap verses on political stans. Like most rappers they both would have a rough upbringing, and Biggie would start drug dealing at the age of 14 to help support his family, till discovered musically. Interestingly enough, Tupac had an interest in acting and attended performing art schools and create his passion for poetry, turned later to rap rhymes. Tupac was the fortunate one, and was able to join a music group to help his career while Biggie had to perform out in the streets, as the footage shows. Also, in the film, they discuss how both rappers dropped out of high school around the same age, 17,and both to pursue their music passions and help support the family they had. The upcoming of both rappers would influence each on their music that would have an impact on the top charts. Musically, both rappers had distinctive sounds, Biggie was known to have a better flow and well produced beat that was more Top 40, while Tupac had a greater influence on lyricism because of his deep passion for poetry and political stans.
Tupac was well known to speak his mind explicitly and rhymed about topics such as, women rights, african american discrimination, and police injustice. Something most seem to forget is that Biggie used to have open shows for Tupac before the notorious rapper would have his own high fame, this also showed that both rappers had a great friendship before a great dispute The documentary shows rare footage of the two hugging after Biggie’s first album release and great success. The two were loved by audiences and fans but had showed within the top charts throughout the nineties. On ratings Biggie was in the lead with fewer singles that reached higher spots on the charts. Meanwhile, Tupac delivered over 15 singles, and not as many reaching high spots as Biggie had with only 10 singles. Although, both lyrically did have similar writing, rapping about poor upbringings, whether it was an alter ego for Biggie or reality for Tupac, fans wanted more of this profound explicit music. Undoubtedly the two are compared to see which was better, personally cannot judge which was better because of the differences they had on their music, biggie flowed, but tupac spoke. Another great influence these both rappers had for their music and personal lives, was the cliques they surrounded themselves with throughout their high points in fame and fortune.
The film talks about how Tupac joined a musical rap group when he had moved to California, Digital Underground, but later had gone solo and joined the record company, Death Row Records. Meanwhile Biggie was signed onto Bad Boy Records, and he had been signed onto the record company by another famous rapper Diddy. Tupac was around many people however, one of his many allegiances was Suge Knight. Suge Knight is an founder of the record company Tupac had been signed onto and was often seen with Tupac by the media in photographs and video footage. Throughout the film the audience is drawn towards the conclusion that Suge Knight was involved in both deaths of Tupac and Biggie. Aswell as Suge Knight, Diddy was also involved in the murders of both musicians, as the film goes on. The death of both rappers were similar but different from one another. The dispute between the rappers had started because of Suge Knight and Diddy, creating the West Coast vs East Coast dispute in the Hip Hop community. This great dispute would have each Coast of rappers defensive over the side they were representing, and cause a huge rivalry between everyone. From rap group NWA to rappers such as, Snoop Dogg and Nas, everyone in the Hip Hop world took a side.
After releasing a record titled “Who Shot Ya?” Tupac was under the impression Biggie had been set out to kill him after a robbery at his home that nearly ended his life with the theifs holding him at gunpoint one night. This would add fuel to the burning flame that they were trying to burn out caused by the record company executives, Suge and Diddy. After one diss record after another the two rappers, Biggie and Tupac seemed to enjoy the drama but were on high alert for one another. However in the end, Tupac was shot and killed in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 13, 1996, he had been kicked out and forced to leave a casino one night after a brawl. Less than a year later, Biggie was shot and killed on March 9, 1997 in Los Angeles, California. Biggie had left a recording studio in Los Angeles, and when outside was shot in his vehicle. Both rappers had a big influence on the music industry, however the fans were left with legends gone too soon. More importantly the deaths of the rappers were a huge impact on the community they each had represented.
In Brooklyn, during the funeral of the Notorious B.I.G. many fans of the community were outside in the streets showing their respect that the rapper had deserved. In the film you see footage of the funeral with hundreds of fans onlooking the hearse carrying his body throughout the streets of Brooklyn that he had onced hussled to make a living. At one point of the funeral footage, you can see fans playing one of his hit singles and dancing to the rap song, showing that no matter if dead or alive, the rapper would live on and have respect in the community and be played. However on the other Coast, only close friends of Tupac attended his funeral even though there were many candle lighting ceremonies for the rapper from fans. Tupac was cremated and his ashes were spreaded into the ocean in the West Coast, as well as a few of his favorite things such as, Hennessy liquor, cigarettes, cd’s and gold chains. The legacy of each rapper was different from one another, Tupac spoke for African American men that had been mistreated by the corrupted justice system, and also towards women, and the respect they should deserve from men. The Notorious B.I.G. left his community with aspiration on being able to succeed no matter where you came from and gave hope to many.
Both of the rappers left an impact on the music industry and had different legacies for their community and fans. Without a doubt, both rappers have had influenced many modern day rappers that are or aren’t in the industry today. The documentary shows different musicians, some that are not even in the rap genre, talking about how each rapper left an impact on their lives, A famous rapper by the name of 50 cent says in the film, that there was not going to be another rapper like Tupac and that there was not going to be another rapper like Biggie. Many artist now pay homage to both rappers to show respect on the struggle Hip Hop has had in being accepted. Now a days rappers have showed respect in many ways such as giving shout outs on songs to the rappers or sample beats from past hits of the late rappers, to even having holograms of the artist at live shows. Another sign of respect to the artist is that their music goes on, even after being gone, unreleased music of both rappers rises to the public every now and then to remember the days the rappers held the crown.
Biggie has released three albums since his death and Tupac five, music that was intended to be released at a point but after the misfortunate deaths was never completely finished. With posthumous albums being released it gives inspiration for musicians to get more of a better understanding of the rappers and pass techniques used by the rappers. The distinctiveness in each rappers work of music, left an influential aspiration for other musicians in the industry, Biggie had a better rhythm with his rhymes and Tupac was open to talk about social issues going on. In the end, both rappers were raised differently and had different backgrounds that influenced their work. Yet throughout their careers the similarities of the rappers was visible and the distinctiveness caused a barrier in their friendship. Leading to a grand movement in music history, but also the the deaths of both rappers. Tupac and Biggie are some of the greatest influentials of rap music and have caused similar aspirations for other artist.
Biggie and Tupac. Dir. Nick Broomfeild. Perf. The Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur, Nick Broomfeild. FilmFour, 2002. DVD.