When we think back to the East Coast-West Coast rivalry, it’s typically images of 2Pac and his Death Row crews throwing non-stop shots at Biggie, while the Brooklyn rapper stayed low-key.
Save for a few slick lines here and there, like on that twins line on Jay-Z’s “Brooklyn’s Finest”, Big kept his feelings off the record. For the most part anyway. On Busta Rhymes’ debut album, The Coming, which was released at the height of the coastal rivalry in 1996, there was originally a track called “The Ugliest” which featured Big firing shots at his friend-turned-rival, over a J Dilla beat.
Diamonds on my neck, chrome drop-top Chillin' on the scene, smokin' pounds of green Ooh-wee, you see, the ugliest Money-hungriest, Brooklyn Loch-Ness Nine millimeter cock test, wan fi' test? And the winner is, not that thinner kid Bandanas, tattoos, my fist never bruise Land still cruise, Frank White paid his dues Ask who's the raw, bet they say "Poppa, very" Look forward to me like commissary All of a sudden, now everybody Big Willie Done did it, come with it, get your head splitted Or get your neck slitted, admit it, you overdid it Your shit it just ain't got that loud Gold tooth shine like "ta-dow" Biggie Smalls the illest and how, frays raise your eyebrow By now you figure, he talkin 'bout that nigga But your weak-ass assumptions, lead lead to dumpin' IV to pumpin', you're feeling something Catch my drift or catch my four-fifth lift At least six inches, above project fences Turn meat to minces, jumps turn to flinches When I rain I drenches, cleared your park benches Missed you by pinches, your talk is senseless Actor needs chiropractor, for cracked jaw Yes I rocked, your chatterbox Dangerous you're not, I gets down Twist your body round and round, upside down
In a recent interview with The Ringer, Busta Rhymes revealed that he planned to also have Nas and Method Man on the track as well, which would have been an interesting collaboration because the former was also going through his own thing with Big.
“Me, Method Man, and Nas was in the session, and nobody wanted to lay their verses until Biggie came in the session,” Busta told The Ringer. “When Biggie did eventually come—because Nas and Meth showed up for two sessions and Biggie didn’t—Nas and Meth didn’t come back.”
Busta ultimately decided to leave the track off the album because he felt there was already too much tension in the air and he didn’t want to add more fuel to the fire. Puffy would later put Big’s original from “The Ugliest” onto “Dangerous MC’s” featured on the posthumous album, Born Again.
Busta Rhymes: I didn’t feel like that was smart at the time. They were having such a serious back-and-forth. As a friend, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t doing nothing to add to that. I was friends with both of them, but I was closer to B.I.G.Enter the Dungeon Dragon: Busta Rhymes’s Classic Debut, 25 Years Later