Of all the many rap beefs in the history of hip-hop, none has been as brutally dissected — and deadly — as Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac’s East Coast/West Coast spat. Things reached a head when Tupac dropped the supremely insulting “Hit ‘Em Up” in June of 1996, which besides being lyrically pointed at Big, Puff and Mobb Deep, rode samples of two Junior Mafia tracks in “Get Money” and “Player’s Anthem.”
While Biggie got his shots own shots in over the years (“Who Shot Ya?” came out months after Tupac was shot at Quad Studios in November of 1994, although Biggie never admitted it being pointed at Tupac), there was more in store from Biggie that never fully materialized the way he ended it to. In an interview with The Art Of Dialogue, Junior Mafia member and Biggie’s cousin, Lil Cease, shed more light on the epic beef and what might have happened if things went as planned:
“Big wasn’t gonna put forth a full effort into a whole full song dissing Tupac… Big was kinda more like just sprinkling on it,” Cease said of “The Ugliest,” a J-Dilla produced track that featured Busta Rhymes. Biggie delivered the verse, “And the winner is, not that thinner kid / Bandanas, tattoos, my fist never bruise / Land still cruise, Frank White paid his dues.” While Tupac wasn’t name-checked, it was clear who the lyrics was pointed at, and the diss was strong enough for Busta to not put the song on the album it was earmarked for, The Coming, but this was hardly the epic shot that Biggie thought he could take with a little help.
Cease says the original plan was for Nas and Busta to do the heavy lifting on the diss which could have really lit a fire under the beef. But that’s not how it went down.
“It’s not a diss if you don’t say their name. Ya gotta say somebody’s name if you wanna call it a ‘diss record'” Cease says. “If you’re just throwing subliminals, that’s only for that man to hear and figure out ’cause you’re gonna say something that only he would understand like, ‘Alright, he’s talking about me.’ Big didn’t say his name… It was for Busta Rhymes’ song at that. The song never came out — supposed to been Busta Rhymes, Nas and Big. It was produced by Q-Tip. But everybody never did their verse after Big did his. Nobody laid the verse on it, so the song kinda just pushed away. ”
Nevermind that Cease confuses Dilla with Q-Tip as the song’s producer (Tip was famously J Dilla’s manager), but had Nas and Busta joined Biggie in the spat, “The Ugliest” could very well have topped “Hit ‘Em Up” as the piece de resistance of the Tupac/Biggie beef.
Watch a clip of Lil Cease’s interview below.