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A Timeline Of How Biggie And Tupac's Friendship Turned Into An Infamous Feud

One of the most famous feuds in hip-hop history is the Tupac and Biggie beef - a bitter rivalry between West Coast rapper Tupac Shakur and East Coast rapper Christopher “Biggie Smalls” Wallace. But were Tupac and Biggie friends? At the start, Tupac took Biggie under his wing and helped the budding rapper’s career, but after only a year, their friendship fell apart. Ultimately, the Tupac Biggie feud ended in tragedy, their lives claimed less than a year apart.

There are many theories about the reasons behind their passings and the people responsible, but both cases remain unsolved to this day. Some argue that the feud was larger than Tupac and Biggie, and that the tension between the coasts exacerbated the events that led to their ends. “There was always tension - there was always resentment, rather - among some folks on the West Coast for the resistivity from New York DJs and artists to West Coast hip-hop,” says Dan Charnas, a music history associate professor at New York University’s Clive Davis Institute. 

Even though Tupac and Biggie were friends, what ultimately tore them apart was a combination of media coverage, diss tracks, gang culture, and competition between their record labels.

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  • October 12, 1995: Tupac Signs With Death Row Records And Lays Out His Beef With Biggie

    While Tupac awaited an appeal for his conviction, Suge Knight and Interscope Records put up $1.4 million for Shakur’s bail and he was released. He immediately signed with Death Row Records, and released his hit single, “California Love,” shortly thereafter.

    In a radio interview with Billboard reporter Angie Martinez, Shakur laid out his issues with Wallace and Bad Boy Records. “[Wallace] acted like he didn’t know what happened when I [was attacked],” Shakur explained. "Puffy’s the one that really snapped me back to my senses. When this punk mutha f*cka said, thug life, you going to be a thug, you gotta be a thug forever, you can’t go in and out of it... okay, now when a cream puff n**** like that tell me that, it’s time to ride."

  • February 20, 1995: Biggie Releases The Single ‘Who Shot Ya?’

    A few months after the attack on Shakur at Quad Recording Studios, Wallace dropped the song "Who Shot Ya?" as a B-side to his hit single "Big Poppa." The song was recorded in 1994, before Shakur was attacked, but fans have theorized that its lyrics are about the impending attack. The song states:

    Separate the weak from the obsolete 

    Hard to creep them Brooklyn streets

    It’s on n****, f*ck all that bickering beef

    While there’s no proof this song was written about Shakur, its graphic lyrics no doubt added gas to the beef between the two rappers.

  • August 3, 1995: At The Source Awards, Suge Knight Calls Out Bad Boy Records

    Photo: American Dream/American Knightmare / Showtime

    After visiting Shakur in jail, Suge Knight went to the 1995 Source Awards in New York City. He opened the show with a $100,000 Death Row Records production that featured replicas of jail cells on stage. Then, while accepting the award for best soundtrack for Above the Rim, he called out Combs and Bad Boy Records. "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," he said during his speech. Knight was alluding to Combs's penchant for appearing in his artists' works, and it was seen as an incendiary diss to his label.

    Shakur was reportedly the reason for Knight’s animosity toward Combs. “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," Shakur told Knight, according to Reggie Wright Jr.

  • October 1995: Tupac Propositions Biggie’s Wife, Faith Evans

    Video: YouTube

    In her memoir, Keep the Faith, Biggie's wife Faith Evans recounted a time when she was asked to record a chorus on a song for Shakur’s 1996 album, All Eyez on Me. She was not told what the song would be, and at the time, she wasn't aware of the extent of the rappers' beef. When she got to the studio, she recorded anyway, despite being concerned about the issues between her own label, Bad Boy Records, and Death Row Records' owner, Suge Knight.

    Afterward, Evans went to Shakur for her $25,000 paycheck. Then, she claims Shakur propositioned her and she turned him down.