Rap Tension

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate April 2001

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Our first assignment was to bring something in to class that we felt had an impact on the past millennium. The item we selected could be visual or aural. I decided to bring in and play a song by Tupac called "Hit Em Up" because it clearly depicts the tension that existed not only between Tupac and Biggie, but also between the east and west coast rappers. In the following paper I will explain how this issue arose and analyze some of the lyrics.

It is believed that the cause of the tension between Tupac and Biggie is a shooting that occurred in a Manhatten Studio on November 30, 1992. An associate of Tupac's by the name of Little Caeser knew that he was in the area, so he called him up from Quad Recording studio and asked if he would be willing to make an appearance on his newest album.

Even though Tupac was only going to be paid about $8,000.00, he accepted. He knew that their would be other rappers present at the studio but figured that everything would be ok because at this point and time there had not been any personal insults exchanged between opposing rappers. Most of the current lyrics had strictly been about one coast being better than the other. When Tupac and his three body guards showed up they passed by three other gentlemen in the lobby that they thought were body guards of Biggie because Little Caeser had told him via an intercom that Biggie was up stairs. The three other men follow Tupac and his crew until they get to the elevators but before they get inside Tupac and his crew have guns pulled on them. They demand everyone's jewelry and tell them to get on the ground. Tupac's guards did as they were told, but he resisted which inturn got him shot 5 times. After the assailants took his jewelry Tupac made his way up to the recording booth. When he got there he was surprised by the reaction of the others. Tupac claimed that instead of being surprised that he was shot they reacted in away that seemed they were surprised that he was still alive, as if they were the ones that set up the shooting. None of them got up to help him or even call for help. No one knows for sure if it is true or not but Tupac even went as far as to claim that Biggie begged for his life as he blaimed Sean "Puffy" Combs for the set up. Nobody will know for sure besides the people that were actually there.

Over the Next four years it only got worse. As the lyrics got more violent, the rappers did too. A year to the day after the incident at Quad recording studio, Randy "STRECH" Williams, one of Tupac's closest friends was murdered execution style while he was in Queens. If you were to listen to any of the albums by a Death Row Record (West Coast) artist or a Bad Boy artist (East Coast) during this time I can guarentee that you would hear a song / songs that contain threats or insults. An example of this is Tupac's claim of sleeping with Faith Evans (Biggie's Wife) that was first published in the February 1996 issue. Tupac refers to this in the first few lines of the song that I played for class ("Hit Em Up"). On March 29th, 1996 at the Soul Train Music Awards Death Row and Bad Boy employes exchange words and a gun is pulled. It was quickly broken up but certainly not foregotten. It would be used as motivation for more songs and more violent acts.

On September 13,1996 Tupac is killed while visiting Las Vegas. Immediately it is assumed that the culpret is somebody from the "East Side". The most obvious suspect at the time was Biggie or somebody from his crew. Not too many people were aware of the fact that a week earlier there was a confrontation in a hotel lobby between members of Death Row Records and a gang member who allegedly stole a Death Row Medalion. The hotel's survailence cameras recorded several Death Row Record members beating up this gang member before security could break it up. This is why it is now believed that the killer was actually a local gang member seeking revenge. In addition, the same kind of car that pulled up next to Tupac's and fired the shots that killed him was seen being driven by this particular gang member just days after the killing. For the next 6 months Biggie lived in fear, making many requests for peace between the coasts. The requests fell apon def ears as Biggie was killed on March 9, 1997 while on a visit to California to present an award at a hip hop award show.

Since then things have become better. Other artist realized that the trash talk / threats needed to stop before anyone else was killed. Snoop Dogg and Puffy became "activists" in stopping the violence and creating peace between coasts. It was unfortunate that things had to get as bad as they did before something was done to stop it the hostility.