East Coast vs. West Coast. That’s a good place to start when it comes to the late Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur’s tumultuous relationship. The rappers are back in the mind of the public due to USA’s Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G.. The new true crime anthology is focusing on the mysterious murders of Tupac and Biggie (born Christopher Wallace) in the late 1990s. The 10-episode season will give viewers a peek into the friendship turned rivalry between the successful stars.
To understand the complicated history, we have to look at where these two icons started. Pac and Biggie first met in LA during the year of 1993. The Brooklyn-based Biggie first met to the LA-based artist at a party. The two immediately jived together over laughs, food, and a little weed according to Ben Westhoff’s Original Gangstas: The Untold Story of Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Tupac Shakur, and the Birth of West Coast Rap. Seemingly everything was fine — the two had hit it off.
Tupac and Biggie Smalls performing in 1993. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Ben wrote, “‘We all thought he was a dope rapper,’ Tupac’s longtime friend EDI Mean, a member of Tupac’s affiliated group the Outlawz, told me. Tupac gifted Biggie a bottle of Hennessy. Biggie slept on Tupac’s couch whenever he came back to California, and when Tupac was in New York, he came by Biggie’s neighborhood, picking him up in a white limousine and throwing dice with the locals.”
At that time, Biggie was still an up-and-coming artist while Tupac had platinum-selling records under his belt, so Tupac became his mentor. “I trained the ni–a, he used to be under me like my lieutenant,” he said about their relationship. “I used to tell the ni–a, ‘If you want to make your money, you have to rap for the b—hes. Do not rap for the ni–as. The b—hes will buy your records, and the ni–as want what the b—hes want.” Even though the “Big Poppa” singer took his mentor’s advice, his career didn’t take off as quickly as he’d hoped. So, he asked Pac to manage him, but was turned down. Pac told him to “stay with Puff [Sean “Diddy” Combs]” because he’d make him a star.
Marcc Rose as Tupac and Wavyy Jonez as Biggie in Unsolved. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Later, their lives took a dark turn. A woman said Tupac and his friends gang-raped her in a hotel in November 1993. He denied he was involved, but was found guilty and served nine months in prison before getting out due to his case being an appeal. On Nov. 30, 1994, Tupac was shot, beaten, and robbed by three men who he believed to have been associated with Biggie.
“It was like they were mad at me,” he said about his assailants. But, the NYPD believed the crime was a response to Pac speaking badly about music producer Jacques “Haitian Jack” Agnan in the press (who was also involved in the gang rape trial). But, Tupac believed Biggie should have known who was behind the shooting because the men who shot him were dressed in army fatigues (fashion from Brooklyn).
Either Biggie honestly didn’t know or he did have something to do with the shooting, but never told Pac. The truth is still a mystery to fans, but one thing is not a mystery: The incident forever changed the rappers’ relationship.