When it comes to hip hop, Tupac Shakur is just about as iconic as they get. The legendary rapper had a public feud with Biggie Smalls, which ultimately fueled the East Coast-West Coast rivalry. Their record labels got involved, and it didn’t end well. Sadly, both Tupac and Biggie were shot and killed, but their murders were never solved. It has been speculated that the rivalry and gang life led to both of their deaths.
However, before this deathly conflict, the two rappers had a close relationship. How did they go from good friends, to arch enemies? Here is the full story of Tupac and Biggie, from their friendship to their notorious feud. A lot happened, so get ready! If you are a hip hop fan, this is definitely for you. Plus, we added some interesting facts you probably didn’t know about Tupac. You’ll never guess what they did with his cremated body.
Tupac and Biggie first came across each other in Los Angeles, back in 1993. Biggie, the Brooklyn-bred rapper asked his drug dealer to introduce him to Tupac, who then invited Biggie to a party at his house. That’s where they shared a “big freezer bag of the greenest vegetables I’d ever seen,” according to Dan Smalls, an intern at Biggie’s label at the time, also part of the group.
Tupac got them high then pulled out an army bag filled with machine guns and handguns. “So now, we are in this backyard running around with guns just playing,” Smalls says. He went on to explain that none of them were loaded. While they were playing around, Tupac went into the kitchen and starting cooking for them. They had steaks, French fries, bread, and Kool-Aid. According to Smalls, this was the beginning of the friendship of these two legendary rappers.
During their first encounter, Tupac was already a huge star, selling platinum albums and starring in movies. Biggie, on the other hand, was at the start of his career, waiting for his big break. Tupac wanted to help his new friend with his career, and he let him into his circle.
Tupac’s longtime friend, E.D.I Mean, admitted, “We all thought he [Biggie] was a dope rapper.” Tupac gifted a bottle of Hennessy to Biggie, and they had a seemingly strong friendship. Biggie crashed on Tupac’s couch when he came to California, and whenever Tupac was in New York, he picked Biggie up in a white limousine. In 1993, the two of them freestyled back-to-back at a concert at Madison Square Garden.
Even though he got to make a cameo at the concert, Biggie was still relatively unknown outside of Brooklyn. Tupac, on the other hand, was extremely popular at the time. Yet, he would always give devoted attention to Biggie, grooming him and allowing him to perform at his concerts. Tupac said, “I trained that n****; he used to be under me like my lieutenant.”
Tupac also claimed to be brains behind Biggie’s style. “I used to tell the n****, ‘If you want to make your money, you have to rap for the b******. Do not rap for the n****s,’” Tupac went on to say, “the b****es will buy your records, and the n****s want what the b****es want.”
Biggie took Tupac’s advice. After his early aggressive track, Party and Bullshit, songs like Big Poppa from his debut album Ready to Die, appealed more to the women. “Soon as he buy that wine, I just creep up from behind, and ask what your interests are, who you be with?”
But before Ready to Die came out, Biggie was worried that he missed his break. Bad Boy, the record label Biggie signed with, was owned by Sean “Puffy” Combs, and it didn’t take off yet. He asked Tupac to take over as his manager, but Shakur’s response was, “Nah, stay with Puff. He will make you a star.” Little did they know, their friendship will soon come to an end.
In 1994, Tupac starting hanging out with Jaques ‘Haitian Jack’ Agnant and Jimmy Henchman, when he was in New York shooting the film, Above the Rim. When Tupac noticed Haitian Jack surrounded by champagne and women at a Manhattan club, the rapper asked for an introduction.
Biggie warned Pac to stay away from these two tough guys, but he didn’t listen. Tupac and Jack also hung out at Queens Bar with celebrities, including Madonna, Shabba Ranks, and Buju Banton- a Jamaican musician. He “loved the respect and recognition I got in New York, and I think he wanted the same respect.”
Fun Fact: Tupac and Madonna briefly dated after they met in LA at the 1993 Soul Train Awards.
In November 1993, Tupac and Jack were hanging out at a club called Nell’s in Manhattan. There, Tupac met a 19-year-old girl named Ayanna Jackson. The two got close on the dance floor before heading to Tupac’s suit. Four days later, Ayanna was invited back, but Tupac wasn’t alone. Tupac’s manager, Charles “my man” fuller and Haitian Jack, were both presents.
The girl alleged that the three men forced her to perform oral sex and gang-raped her. When she called the police, the three men were arrested. The police also found guns (Pac later said they belonged to Biggie). Tupac claimed that he was sleeping in a different room when the alleged assault happened, and he wasn’t involved, but he supposedly offered Ayanna Jackson “as a reward for his boys.”
Tupac denied this allegation but did admit that he did nothing to protect the young girl. Before the trial started, Tupac and Fuller’s cases were separated from Haitian Jack’s. Pac was charged with sexual abuse, sodomy, and possession of illegal weapons. To avoid jail time, Jack pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors. Tupac told a reporter from the New York Daily News that Jack is a snitch and set him up. But Haitian Jack and Ayanna Jackson both denied this.
Calling out a notorious gangster to the press was not a good idea. Ironically, the more he hung out with Jack, the more Tupac felt invincible. He would walk around wearing thousands of dollars’ worth of jewelry and secured his street credentials. The rapped was convinced that nobody wanted to mess with him.
Although he was a big star, Tupac’s bank account withered. He was supporting his extended family and paying lawyers for his endless court cases. He needed money, and in 1994, the rapper was asked to record a verse for a rapper named Little Shawn, who was close friends with Biggie and Puffy. Shawn’s manager, Jimmy “Henchman” Rosemond, met Tupac through Haitian Jack, and he came up with the idea.
Although Tupac was no longer friends with Haitian Jack, he ultimately agreed. He was supposed to be paid $7,000, and he needed the money. Plus, they knew his pal, Biggie. Pac thought everything was fine, and he was ready to record. What he didn’t know was things were about to take a turn for the worst. Their infamous rivalry was about to begin.
On November 30th, 1994, Tupac showed up to Quad Recording Studios in Times Square, completely stoned. He came with his bodyguard and two other associates when they came across three men that they didn’t know, wearing army fatigues. This army theme was the Brooklyn fashion- where Biggie is from, so naturally, he thought they were with him.
His assumptions were confirmed when Lil’ Cease, Biggie’s affiliated rapper, told him that Biggie was recording upstairs. Puffy was also there. However, before Tupac and his squad made it to the elevator, the three other men pulled out 9mm guns and ordered them to the floor. Tupac reached for his own gun when he was shot, beaten, and robbed of his jewelry.
He pretended to be dead, and as soon as they left, Pac raced to the elevator. When the doors opened, he saw Biggie, Puffy, and Henchman. Tupac claimed they looked guilty and surprised, but according to Puffy, they showed him “nothing but love and concern.” Tupac believed that this was not a random attack. He said, “It was like they were mad at me.”
Retired NYPD cop, Bill Courtney worked a lot of hip-hop cases. He believes that the shooting was a direct response to Tupac’s Daily News comments bashing Haitian Jack. “A message was being sent to him not to name-drop,” he explained. In 2005, Henchman told Vibe, “Nobody came to rob you; they came to discipline you.”
Puffy and Biggie, of course, denied any involvement or knowledge of the incident. Haitian Jack also said he had nothing to do with it, but after a different conviction, he was deported to Haiti in 2007. Tupac arrived at a New York City courtroom on December 1st, 1994, in a wheelchair and covered in bandages. He was found guilty of sexual abuse of 19-year-old, Ayanna Jackson.
In the end, Tupac was acquitted on the sodomy and weapon charges. He was sentenced to at least a year and a half in prison pending appeal with a $3 million bail. Since he didn’t have enough money to pay his bail, he was sent to a maximum-security prison in upstate New York, Clinton Correctional Facility.
Tupac’s third album, Me Against the World, was released shortly after he began his sentence. Tupac was thinking of making it his swan song; he was sick of all the drama in the music industry. He then heard a rumor from friends he trusted, that Biggie did, in fact, know about the Quad studios shooting. That’s when Tupac’s passion returned.
“He owed me more than to turn his head and act like he didn’t know n****s was about to blow my fucking head off. You don’t know who shot me in your hometown, these n****s from your neighborhood.” The way Pac looked at it, his friend betrayed him; A friend who he helped gain the fame and fortune that he has.
While Pac was in Jail, Biggie released ‘Who Shot Ya,’ an assumed dis track. But Biggie and Puff both claimed the song wasn’t about Tupac. Biggie even added that the song was written before Tupac’s shooting. “I’m still thinking this N****’s my man,” he said, referring to Tupac. He went on to say, “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.”
As Biggie downplayed the situation, Tupac did the opposite. He continued to trash his fellow-rapper. Not only did Tupac accuse Biggie of the shooting but, he claimed that Biggie also ripped-off his style. If things couldn’t get worse, Pac bragged about sleeping with Biggie’s wife, Faith Evans.
While he was incarcerated, he married Keisha Morris. He asked her to deliver a message to Suge Knight, the head of the record label Death Row Records- he desperately needed money, and he thought maybe he could help. In addition to lawyer fees, Tupac’s mother was losing her house. The head of security at Death Row, Reggie Wright, reported, “Suge sent $15,000 and put it on the books.”
Tupac was grateful and sent Suge another message asking him if he would like to meet. Tupac was incarcerated in Dannemora, New York. He couldn’t be farther away from Los Angeles, but Suge began coming out to visit. Death Row’s lawyer, David Kenner, promised to help Tupac with his case, and he started working on an appeal bond.
Suge did more than just try to recruit Tupac. He offered him a place in his family- the most powerful family in hip-hop. In August 1995, Tupac was still in prison when Suge came to visit him again. Right after, Suge made his way to Madison Square Garden’s Paramount Theater for the annual awards show put on by The Source, a hip-hop magazine.
Death Row ended up spending about $100,000 in total just on their opening act stage show, which featured jail cell replicas. Suge proudly accepted the award for the best soundtrack for Above the Rim. During his acceptance speech, he threw a little shade at Sean “Puffy” Combs, the head of Biggie Small’s label, Bad Boy.
Suge alluded to Puffy inserting himself into his performer’s songs saying, “Any artist out there wanna be an artist, and wanna stay a star, and don’t have to worry about the executive producer trying to be all in the videos, all on the records, dancing – come to Death Row.”
Nate Dogg, another Death Row rapper, wondered why he would do this. Especially in a venue filled with alcohol. Puffy and Suge were seemingly cool until recently. In 1995, Suge even invited Biggie to perform in Vegas at his Club 662. The show never ended up happening, but it didn’t damage their relationship; the two even discussed ways to keep the feds from tracking them. So what was it that inspired this strange attack?
The inspiration was Tupac. I mean, Suge did arrive at the Source Awards right after visiting the rapper in prison. That’s when Tupac agreed to join Death Row records and expressed his anger at Biggie, telling Suge, “I need you to ride with me because I’m going to destroy Bad Boy Records. I believe they had something to do with me getting shot.” Suge pledged his loyalty, and from that moment, Tupac’s enemies would be his enemies.
The Source Awards were the first shots fired and what would later be known as the East Coast-West Coast hip hop rivalry. It should be noted that there is no proof that Biggie or Puffy had anything to do with the shooting, Tupac believed they did. However, when he Suge took his side, it spurred a war that ultimately ended with the deaths of Tupac and Biggie. Both of their murders remain unsolved.
Tupac was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting on September 7th, 1996. Sadly, he and Biggie never settled their notorious feud before his death. There is no evidence that Puffy of Biggie had anything to do with Tupac’s fatal shooting, and his murder remains and mystery surrounded by rumors and controversy.
According to Faith Evans, Biggie’s wife, her husband, was completely distraught by Pac’s death. She explained, “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 that he was probably afraid, given everything that was going on at that time all the hype that was put in this so-called beef that he didn’t really have in his heart against anyone.” She stated.
On March 9th, 1997, less than a year after Tupac was killed, Biggie was also murdered in a drive-by shooting in LA. Just like Pac, Biggie’s death has been a mystery clouded by conspiracy theories. Many people believed this was the end of Hip-Hop.
Tupac and Biggie were good friends before they started hanging around dangerous gangsters. Tupac was helping Biggie with his career, and the music really brought these two together. However, it also tore them apart and possibly led to their untimely deaths. Their East Coast vs. West Coast rivalry and their music lives on through their legacy.
Tupac is obviously a West Coast legend, but he wasn’t even born there. Considering Tupac helped fuel the notorious and deadly feud between the East Coast and West Coast, this may be surprising. He moved to California in 1988, but he was actually born in East Harlem, New York City.
If you didn’t know, East Coast-based rapper, Biggie, and his New York-based label, Bad Boy Records had a rivalry with West Coast-based rapper, Tupac, and his Los Angeles based label, Death Row Records. Many people still believe that this East Coast-West Coast beef was the reason for both Biggie and Tupac’s untimely deaths. That’s why it’s strange to think that Pac was an East Coast native.
I know it doesn’t sound like a controversial start for a rapper, but Shakespeare was one of Tupac’s biggest influences and helped define his entire career. He attended the Baltimore School for the Arts, where he studied the writer, and he said, “I love Shakespeare. He wrote some of the rawest stories, man. I mean, look at Romeo and Juliet. That’s some serious ghetto s**t.”
In fact, he used some of Shakespeare’s lines in his lyrics. “I’ll teach you how to flow” may seem like a line the rapper just spat out. However, it’s from William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest (Act 2 Scene 1). Another example is the lyrics, “look when I serve him, so he takes it.” This line can be found in Comedy of Errors by Shakespeare (Act 2 Scene 1).
Even the most well-known rappers didn’t always have fame and recognition. Tupac was no exception. Although he was one of the most famous rappers in the world, like everyone else, Pac had to work hard to make it to the top. He kicked off his career in a hip hop group called Digital Underground. Pac was a backup dancer and MC.
The road to stardom had to start somewhere. Digital Underground helped Tupac on his ride to success. They gave him his first tour (with Big Daddy Kane), released his very first verse (Same Song), and gave him his first movie role (in 1991’s Nothing but Trouble). Additionally, they produced and rapped on “I Get Around,” his first top 10 single.
One of Tupac’s most extraordinary interviews was the one he gave with MTV in 1994. He delivered a statement that went on to be one of the most quoted and repeated Tupac lines. The rapper said, “I’m not saying I’m going to rule the world, or I’m going to change the world. But I guarantee I will spark the brain that will change the world. That’s our job- to spark somebody else watching us.”
The reason why this quote became so popular is because Tupac made a really good point. Maybe we won’t be the ones to change the world, but we should always try to influence and spark somebody else to take action. I guess this is an indirect way to change the world.
As we mentioned, Tupac initiated a friendship with Suge Knight while he was incarcerated. Suge welcomed him with open arms and would fly to New York to visit him in jail. Suge helped the rapper with his financial troubles giving him $15,000 when he had nowhere else to turn. Suge pledged his loyalty to Tupac and initiated a conflict with his rival, Puffy.
Thanks to his money problems, Tupac couldn’t afford his bail and was stuck in prison. In 1995, Suge Knight and Jimmy Lovine ended up paying a $1.4 million bail to get him released. To pay them back, Tupac agreed to make three albums with Death Row Records. He was loyal to Death Row, and in an interview, he said, “Me and Suge will always do business together, forever.”
Tupac’s lyrics often included issues, such as police brutality, racism, poverty, and politics. He showed off his most political work in his album 2Pacalypse Now, and it was the most defining moment in his career. Unfortunately, it was reported that the album influenced a minor to shoot a state trooper in Texas.
Dan Quayle, the US Vice President at the time, also criticized Tupac and his music, stating, “There is no reason for a record like this to be released. It has no place in our society.” Of course, it’s not uncommon for artists to incorporate their political beliefs into their music, especially today. However, at the time, this was extremely controversial, especially because of the messages he was sending.
After he released his first album, 2Pacalypse Now, in 1991, it didn’t generate any top hits. Unfortunately, it didn’t receive the success that Pac was hoping for. However, it was still a defining moment of the rapper’s career. He was a strong influence on the next generation of rappers, including Nas, Game, and the legendary Eminem.
They all said that he helped inspire their music. Plus, he later became a famous superstar and iconic rapper, so he got the best of both worlds. Tupac was also landing movie roles and accomplished more than most people in his short-lived career. Sadly, he was murdered before he was able to show the world what else he’s capable of.
Even though Tupac didn’t find the success he wanted in his first album, it didn’t take long for everything to change. In 1993, Tupac finally broke into the mainstream with the release of his second album titled, “Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.” The album included hit singles, including Keep Ya Head Up, and I Get Around.
The album was released with Interscope Records way before the rapper signed with Death Row. Similarly to Tupac’s first album, his second album also highlighted his political and social views. The album was supposed to be released in 1992 under the name Troublesome 21, but it was scrapped after being rejected by Time Warner. Many of the original tracks remain unreleased.
The hip hop group, Thug Life, was formed by Tupac in 1994. Members of the group included Syke Stretch, Mopreme Shakur, The Rated R, Macadoshis, and Kato. The group released one album called Thug Life: Volume 1, and it sold gold. Tupac got his infamous ‘Thug Life’ tattoo on his stomach to mark the formation of the band.
The name Thug Life did have a hidden meaning. During an interview, Tupac admitted that THUG LIFE was an acronym that stands for ‘The Hate U Give Little Infants F***s Everyone.’ Tupac’s tattoo artist said that when he was choosing what he wanted, “It had to have meaning and be something nobody had. Every tattoo meant something to him.”
Tupac was really close to Jada Pinkett (now Jada Pinkett Smith) before she married actor Will Smith. Many have speculated that Jada had a relationship with Tupac, but there is no evidence to support that. “Jada is my heart. She will be my friend for my whole life,” the rapper said in the Documentary, Tupac: Resurrection.
Jada also had some nice things to say about the rapper. She refers to him as “one of my best friends. He was like a brother. It was beyond friendship for us. The type of relationship we had, you only get that once in a lifetime.” Although they were extremely close friends, Jada has denied any romance between the two of them.
Although he will always be known as a legendary rapper, Tupac was a man of many talents. He was acting since he was a young kid, but he landed his breakout acting role in the 1992 American Crime Drama, Juice. He portrayed Roland Bishop, a troubled teenager who evolves into a sociopathic killer. He did a good job with the role.
Although Tupac’s passion was rapping, he loved acting as well. Two years after his breakout role, Tupac starred in the film, Above the Rim. He contributed to the soundtrack of the movie with Pour Out a Little Liquor. He was able to make a name for himself in Hollywood, but he passed away when his movie career was just starting.
Snoop Dogg and Tupac were famously friends. They were often seen out together, and they seemed to be close. However, Snoop recently admitted that his last encounter with Pac wasn’t exactly a good one. During an interview, Snoop Dogg was asked what he thought about Biggie and Puff, and he responded, calling them his homeboys.
With all the beef and well-known feud, Tupac felt betrayed by his statement. He felt like Snoop Dogg wasn’t as loyal as he thought. The next time they ran into each other, Tupac completely ignored Snoop Dogg. Sadly, that was their last encounter before Tupac’s murder. Obviously, Snoop Dogg didn’t mean to insult Tupac, but he was already on edge and didn’t know who he can trust.
After Tupac joined Death Row Records, the first single he released was California Love. The track featured Roger Troutman and the one and only Dr. Dre. The song featured the lyrics “Out of bail, fresh out of jail, and California dreaming,” and fans loved it. The song ultimately became Tupac’s most successful and loved the song.
The hit track made it to number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks and was number one for five weeks in New Zealand. In 1997, the song was nominated for two Grammy Awards: Best Rap Solo Performance and Best Rap Performance by a Duo or a Group. In his 1996 double album, All Eyez on Me, Pac included a remix version of the song.
With all the technology around today, we still can’t bring people back from the dead… but in Coachella 2012, we got pretty close. Fans didn’t even know how to react when Tupac appeared on stage with Snoop Dogg! Of course, Tupac appeared in the form of a hologram, but seeing him on stage was unbelievable.
Tupac was taken from this world way too soon, and although he did a lot in his short life, there are generations of fans who weren’t around when he was. When he performed alongside Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, the rapper managed to make history long after his death. Tupac is a controversial artist, but his talent can’t be denied. He remains an icon in the hip hop world.
Tupac made more than just his own dream come true. In 1993, the rapper got a letter from the parents of a young boy, who was dying, named Joshua. The explained how the boy’s dying wish was to meet him. The rap star didn’t hesitate before flying to Maryland to meet Joshua, and he took him to a basketball game.
Tupac was obviously an inspiration for Joshua, but the boy had an impact on Tupac as well. After Joshua’s death, Tupac changed the name of his publishing company from Ghetto Gospel Music to Joshua’s Dream. Tupac projected a ‘tough-guy’ gangster persona, but it was times like this when he was able to show off his loving and compassionate side.
Throughout his 25 years on this earth, Tupac wanted to make a difference, especially in his community. He wanted to particularly focus on creating more opportunities for black youth. He supported an organization called A Place Called Home, which offered tutoring, counseling, dance lessons, and health services to at-risk youth in LA.
The rapper was also active in political activism. Less than one month before he died, on August 15th, Tupac was seen at a rally with a black activist group, Brotherhood Crusade. They were against the three-strike law and an anti-affirmative-action measure in California. This isn’t too shocking, though; if you know anything about Tupac or listen to his music, he is obviously extremely political and passionate about his beliefs.
Although Tupac was very serious about his career, it wasn’t the only aspect of his life that he focused on. He started getting serious with Kidada Jones (Quincy Jones’ daughter) in the summer of 1996. A 1997 Vanity Fair article reported that while Tupac was in New York for the MTV awards, the couple were talking about taking a trip to Hawaii and having a baby together.
On September 7th, Pac and Kidada went to Las Vegas. Tupac was meeting Suge Knight and Mike Tyson for a boxing match that night at MGM Grand, and he brought Kidada along. Kidada even asked Tupac if she should pack his bulletproof vest (which he wore often), but he said it would be too hot to wear it. Sadly, that night Tupac was shot and killed.
After Tupac’s fatal shooting, emergency personnel was quickly at the scene. In 2014, a Las Vegas cop claimed that Tupac said “F**k you” to him when he asked him who shot him. Other reports say that his last words were “I can’t breathe” or “I’m dyin’ man.” Tupac was sent to the hospital immediately, where he went through several surgeries.
He was placed on a ventilator and respirator, and his right lung was removed. Family, friends, and Jones all rushed to the hospital. Tupac was resuscitated, but his mother told the hospital not to do that again. On September 13th, six days after he was shot, Tupac died. Many rumors and theories are surrounding his death, but it’s all speculation. The truth has never been uncovered.
Contrary to popular belief, Tupac and Dr. Dre never really knew each other. Dr. Dre is obviously a huge name in the hip hop world, and he was a major incentive for Tupac to join Death Row Records. Unfortunately, it was really bad timing. As soon as Tupac came to the label, Dr. Dre was on his way out.
Tupac and Dre got to collaborate on the hit single, California Love, but that was about it. Tupac later joined Suge, taunting Dre and calling him gay. Dr. Dre told journalist Harris Rosen, “Tupac never knew me. Tupac had never been to my house before. He doesn’t even know where I live. We never even been in the same car together.”
There are obviously endless conspiracy theories surrounding Tupac’s death, but I’m not going to get into those now, except one. After Tupac died, the Outlaws took a lyric from his song, Black Jesus, to fulfill Tupac’s final wish- ‘N****’s smoke my ashes.’ That’s right. The rapper wanted to be cremated and smoked in a joint.
Young Noble told XXL, “We twist up some of that great granddaddy, Cali Kush, sprinkle some of the big homie in there, and guess what? He’s in our system for eternity.” E.D.I. Mean later revealed that what they smoked wasn’t Tupac’s ashes. But that’s not where the story ends. “I don’t know what they smoked, but I smoked his ashes,” Mopreme reported. “Several people from our clique smoked his ashes at different points.”