Hip-Hop is a battle zone, well it use to be. Nowadays it’s about money and marketing and less about the skills on the mic. If you have a tight beat and a nice hook you are guaranteed airplay. But back in the days, it wasn’t about rotation spins or plaques. Hip-Hop artist did it for the love and enjoyed what they did. But, every once in a while an artist would take it back to the street corner or lunchroom and battle it out. Tupac was the master at this.
In some eyes, Pac is the greatest, while some will look at his lyrical skills and suggest he shouldn’t be mentioned in the top 5. I’m not here to debate his place in Hip-Hop but to suggest that Pac may be the best battle rapper of all-time and one song, in particular, will prove my point.
Hit ‘Em Up.
Some lyrical beefs are for record sales and some are just straight personal. Nas and Jay Z was personal as was Ice Cube and Common, then you had 50 Cent and Ja Rule on the personal side but not one of those could match the intensity of the Tupac and Biggie beef. They were friends at one point and could have ruled the game if they ever decided to drop at least one album together. But, one night it all went wrong in New York City and that was the end of a friendship and the beginning of the greatest Hip-Hop battle ever.
As I stated earlier, there were many beefs in Hip-Hop but Hit ‘Em Up just took it to anther level. Normally, you would get subliminal messages and maybe a few artist would drop a name here and there but what Tupac did was so disrespectful that you had no other choice but to marvel in its greatness. The first few bars set the tone and from there it got ugly for Biggie:
First off, fuck your bitch and the clique you claim
Westside when we ride, come equipped with game
You claim to be a player, but I fucked your wife
We bust on Bad Boys, niggas fucked for life
Plus Puffy trying to see me, weak hearts I rip
Biggie Smalls and Junior M.A.F.I.A. some mark-ass bitches
Whoa. This is over 20 years old and those bars are still the hardest way to open a diss track. Six lines and he dissed Biggie, his wife, his manager and his crew. And that was just the beginning.
Lil’ Caesar go ask your homie how I’ll leave you
Cut your young ass up, leave you in pieces, now be deceased
Little Kim, don’t fuck around with real G’s
Quick to snatch your ugly ass off the streets
So fuck peace!
That was just savage there. Lil Cease and Kim had no clue what they were getting into. Pac was on a war path and there would be no prisoners.
And if that wasn’t enough, Pac went on a tirade at the end of the song that officially started the whole East vs West beef that still carries on:
Any of you niggas from New York that want to bring it:
But we ain’t singing, we bringing drama
Fuck you and your motherfucking mama
Now when I came out, I told you it was just about Biggie
Then everybody had to open their mouth with a motherfucking opinion
Well, this is how we gonna do this:
Fuck Mobb Deep, fuck Biggie, fuck Bad Boy as a staff, record label and as a motherfucking crew!
And if you want to be down with Bad Boy, then fuck you too!
Name another song that went this deep and this hard. Tupac didn’t have to be the greatest lyricist or battle rapper, he spoke his heart from the moment the beat dropped. Biggie dropped songs afterward but never mentioned Pac’s name. Most of the rappers after this song dropped really never mentioned Pac’s name. Pac was large before Hit ‘Em Up but afterward, he was a Hip-Hop legend. He took on the King and dethroned him with one song.