One of the biggest what-ifs and greatest tragedies in hip hop history is what would have happened if there was never an East Coast-West Coast beef?
What if 2Pac never got shot in Las Vegas on September 7, 1996? what if Biggie didn’t get murdered on March 9, 1997 in L.A? What if they had remained friends and recorded music together? Big and Pac were two of the greatest talents to ever emerge in hip hop culture, and even though their time on Earth was short-lived, their legacy as the greatest rappers of all time continues on.
Let’s take it back to 1993. By this time, Tupac Shakur was already a bonafide rap star. He had dropped his debut album, 2Pacalypse Now, in 1991 and followed it up with Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z… in February of 1993. Pac’s sophomore album was a commercial success, spawning two of the rapper’s earliest hit singles – “Keep Ya Head Up” and “I Get Around.” Not to mention, Pac turned in a star-making performance in the 1992 film, Juice, where he played the troubled Roland Bishop.
Big, on the other hand, was still making his way through the rap game. The up-and-coming Brooklyn rapper was featured on The Source’s Unsigned Hype section and subsequently signed by Puffy to Uptown Records. Biggie quickly made his first feature appearance on Heavy D’s “A Buncha Niggas” and released his debut single “Party and Bullshit”, which was also included on the Who’s the Man? soundtrack.
During a trip to L.A. in 1993, Biggie would have a chance to meet Pac on the filming set of Poetic Justice. As the story goes, Pac had been bumping “Party and Bullshit” repeatedly, and was a fan of the Brooklyn MC. “I always thought it to be like a Gemini thing,” Big recalled during an interview with Vibe. “We just clicked off the top and were cool ever since.”
In an interview with Fader, former Uptown Records intern, Dan Smalls, who was with Big when he met Pac, recalled the two rappers, plus Greg Nice and Groovey Lew [Big’s stylist] going to Pac’s house to kick it.
“We went back to Pac’s house and they just rolled up: Big was rolling, Pac was rolling, Greg was rolling, Groovey Lew was rolling, it was just going back and forth,” Smalls said. “Next thing you know, they started a cypher. We sitting at the house, Big is flowing, Pac is flowing, Greg is flowing, and me and Lew is just sitting there like, Yo, the moment of hip-hop for us has reached its high.”
Dan Smalls: After the freestyle session, Pac went into his room and pulled out this green army bag, and dumped it onto the floor. And it was, like, 25 guns. Handguns, machine guns. So now, here we are, in this backyard running around with guns, just playing. Luckily they were all unloaded. While we were running around, Pac walks into the kitchen and starts cooking for us. He’s in the kitchen cooking some steaks. We were drinking and smoking, and all of a sudden Pac was like, “Yo, come get it.” And we go into the kitchen and he had steaks, and French fries, and bread, and Kool-Aid and we just sittin’ there eating and drinking and laughing. And you know, that’s truly where Big and Pac’s friendship started.How Ya Livin Biggie Smalls? | Fader