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2Pac vs. The Notorious B.I.G.: Music Showdown

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Rakesh Goolab. In the 1990s, the East Coast-West Coast hip hop rivalry arose between the artists and fans of the two hip hop scenes in the United States. Tupac Shakur was associated with the West Coast scene while The Notorious B.I.G. was based in the East Coast scene. Though both were extremely talented rappers, they were both killed in drive-by shootings in murders believed to be linked to the hip hop feud. Join as we pit Biggie Smalls against 2Pac to find out who was the greatest M.C.

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Script written by Rakesh Goolab.

They were the poster boys of the East-Coast-West-Coast hip hop rivalry. Welcome to, and in this installment of versus, we pit The Notorious B.I.G. against Tupac Shakur to find out who was the greatest M.C.

Round 1: Journey to Stardom

Born in East Harlem, Tupac was no stranger to struggle: many members of his family were wanted members of the Black Panthers. But despite his rough childhood, Tupac had a softer side, which inspired him to enroll in acting classes and study ballet, poetry and jazz.

The Brooklyn-born Christopher Wallace was raised by his mother after his father abandoned the family. He started selling drugs at 12 and eventually dropped out of school to lead a short-lived life of crime. During this time, The Notorious B.I.G. was arrested numerous times and spent nine months in jail for dealing crack cocaine.

Winner: Biggie Smalls takes this category for always keeping it street.

Round 2: Lyrical Prowess

Tupac’s bold and powerful music expressed the anger and frustrations many black people felt at the time. Because he grew up in an Afro-centric home and studied the arts, he had a well-rounded view of the world. As one of the first socially conscious rappers of the ‘90s, Tupac also showed that he could become lethally aggressive in the blink of an eye.

Not unlike Tupac, Biggie was influenced by his surroundings and upbringing; he painted vivid pictures of his struggles and accomplishments through his lyrics. His words could be playful and meaningful at the same time, which made for incredibly thought-provoking music.

Winner: Peppered with a bit of Thug Life, Tupac’s socially-charged lyrics make him “Untouchable” in round 2.

Round 3: Delivery

Front and center and right-in-your-face are where Tupac lived. There was nothing subtle about him and he did not try to hide from that fact. With a raw and emotional flow, there’s no denying Tupac’s energy. Meanwhile, his smooth voice made it hard not to want to throw your hands in the air and scream “West Side!”

With his deep voice and heavy breathing, it was hard not to recognize Biggie on a track. He was a master at putting together witty rhymes, and he set himself apart from other rappers with his knack for storytelling. With a slick style that he could vary according to the song or collaborating partner, Big Poppa was notoriously good at keeping things fresh.

Winner: The Notorious B.I.G. wins here because he “hypnotized” us with his unmistakable voice and lyrics.

Round 4: Career Choices

Tupac was more than just a rapper. With a background in theater, he branched out into acting early in his career and appeared in numerous films and television shows. The influence of great poets also inspired him to write his own poems.

The Notorious B.I.G. never made television appearances or wrote any poetry that was released to the public. He stuck to what he knew and did best and that was making music.

Winner: For being a multifaceted entertainer and poet, Tupac gets all the “California Love” in this round.

Round 5: Pound for Pound

Releasing five solo albums while he was alive and leaving behind enough recorded material for more than half a dozen posthumous efforts, Tupac was a true workhorse in the studio. With over 75 million records moved, he is one of the highest-selling artists in history and is considered by many as one of the greatest MCs ever.

Biggie, on the other hand, didn’t have such a long career. By the time of his death in 1997, B.I.G. only had one solo album to his name, though there have been numerous posthumous releases. While his sales were less than a third of Tupac’s, he managed to carve out a large enough following in his short-lived career to earn him the title as “King of New York.”

Winner: By reaching the same notoriety as his West Coast counterpart with fewer records and fewer sales, the Notorious B.I.G. stays “Juicy” in round 5.

The Winner

The battle will rage on as to who is the greatest of all time. However, for putting quality over quantity and with a score of 3-2, it’s The Notorious B.I.G. who has a “Life After Death” and deserves to be crowned champion. And if you don’t’s all good baby, baby!

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