Since their untimely and tragic deaths, the comparison between these two juggernauts has been around. Two artists at their pinnacle of their careers, tragically gunned down. Thus starting the conversation of who is the KING OF HIP HOP. While this seems like it shouldn’t, it tends to cause a lot of tension when discussed. Most people are very polarized when it comes to this subject. You are either an East Coast lover (voting Biggie, of course) or a die hard West Coast fan (going with 2Pac for the win). Very rarely will you find those that sit smack in the middle of this debate. This, uneasy area, is where you will find me. Both artists, were undoubtedly, amazing at their trade. Both rose to fame doing what they do best. Telling stories. While they both could tell a story, they were typically very different in their subject and delivery.
Verse for verse, I would have to give to 2Pac. Tupac Shakur’s range of storytelling is hard to dispute. His diversity in his lyrics is what makes 2Pac fans claim there is no real discussion. He could describe social and economical issues, like Brenda’s Got a Baby. If you didn’t feel the despair and how everyone is connected with our decisions in life, then you should probably go back and listen to it again. If he needed a banger to grab some fan base with a fun and lively song, he could do it. California Love, I Get Around, How Do You Want It, just to name a few. Now you want to get down and grimy? He could do that too. Songs like Hit ‘Em Up, Heartz of Men and Hail Mary (his Makaveli days) show that range. His range is what makes him, by far, one of the greatest MC’s ever.
When it came to bangers though, Biggie could bring it. Many songs that he was just a feature on, he seemed to make those songs as well. His ability to connect with his audience with his lyrics are what make his fans give the claim to “King of Hip Hop” to him. With serious hits like Hypnotize, Juicy and Ready to Die, who can deny his draw? His features were just as hard as his primary songs. B Side (Da Brat), Brooklyn’s Finest (Jay-Z) and Victory (Puff Daddy), just to name a few. He’s had some great collabs with some of the greatest in their areas and yet he still stands out. Can he get gritty? Of course. Who Shot Ya?, Ten Crack Commandments and Warning come to mind. His flow was more about style and you could feel that come through with his smooth lyrics. Another “greatest MC’s of all time” award.
Can you see why I sit, quietly, in the middle of this debate? Every time I get asked this question, I try and figure out how to get out of it. Usually, people asking this question have already made their choice. Three things you don’t talk about, religion, politics and 2Pac vs Biggie. You’ll never change anyone’s mind.