What’s Beef?

So it’s March 9th, most remembered in hip-hop as the date on which Bow Wow was born in 1987 The Notorious B.I.G. was murdered in 1997. As a fan of Big, and as a fan of hip-hop in general, it was just as major to me as Tupac‘s death was six months prior. You’ve prob’ly read a million times over how huge of a loss those deaths were, and you’ll prob’ly read it a million more, so I’ll spare y’all that. Matter fact, at the risk of bein’ a lil’ strange, I’d rather do my B.I.G. entry on his birthday than the death anniversary (make a note of May 21st). But if there is one good thing that came out of those events, it’s that the whole East Coast/West Coast shit started coming to a close.

I know people have since said that the “East Coast/West Coast War” was an isolated incident that was blown up by the media and hyped for the sake of controversy. There’s a good deal of truth in that statement, but let’s keep it one-hunnid: March 9, 1997 was the climax of some shit that had been quietly building up for years. Let’s talk about it…

Even as far back as the late ’80s, there was a lil’ bit of apprehension building, with non-New York artists feeling slighted by NY-based artists and fans. Some from the South and West, such as the Geto Boys and Too $hort voiced their opinions on their lack of East Coast airplay. Some of it even turned inward, with N.W.A. accusing Ice Cube of “suckin’ New York dick” after he moved there to work with the Bomb Squad on his early solo projects. With N.W.A.’s success came other acts from Compton, most notably DJ Quik and Compton’s Most Wanted, who were proudly from Cali in a game that until then was dominated by New York.

They used their own slang, referenced their own streets, spoke on the gang culture, and showed the rest of the world where they were from. For the most part, NY had done the same thing. By then, everyone knew about places like the South Bronx, Brooklyn, and Hollis, Queens. New Yorkers are generally known for their hometown pride, so naturally, rappers were glad to shout out their neighborhoods on records. For a while, everything was cool. Sure, there were some occasional outbursts like “Fuck Compton” and Fuck New York– but shit never got extreme.

But by the mid-’90s, shit got out of control. By that point, East Coast acts (despite making some great music) were bein’ a bit underrated in comparison to the West Coast acts of the time. NY artists threw shots, NY crowds were hostile, and Cali artists started reacting to the backlash they received. The ’95 Source Awards (which I have on a raggedy-ass VHS somewhere around here) was the big turning point, with the Bad Boy/Death Row rivalry being officially kicked off. Even with Puffy and Snoop calling it a truce at the end of the show (which nobody ever shows), the wheels got to rolling.

Later that year, ‘Pac was bailed out of jail by Suge Knight, and started going in on Biggie and New York artists in general. Tha Dogg Pound dropped “New York, New York” (which isn’t even a real dis song content-wise) and shot the now-famous video in NY, with Snoop kickin’ over buildings like he kicked lil’ JoJo’s pillow fort in Baby Boy. Around the same time, Ice Cube (who’d previously had no issue with NY, as mentioned above) started voicing his opinions on what he felt was bias on the part of NY radio stations, publications, and fans. He even went as far to say “hip-hop started in the West” on a Mack 10 track called “Westside Slaughterhouse”, which I’m positive that Cube himself knew was a damn lie.

The biggest beef from Snoop, ‘Pac, and Cube was that they’d always shown love to the East, but got shitted on in return. Now I don’t know about anyone else… but suppose I welcomed one of y’all into my house for years, always made sure you had enough ice in your soda, and even let you crash on the couch. If y’all give me a flat-ass soda and tell me that I gotta sleep on the floor, I’m prob’ly gonna get on “maaan… fuck you” mode. I never cared much where a muh’fukka was from, but I admit that my ears mostly leaned toward the East Coast sound back then. In saying that, I can’t say I fault the Cali folk for having the issue that they had. I followed the music and read the magazines, therefore, I saw the lil’ funny-style remarks that niggas made regarding the West.

It wasn’t like everyone from both sides hated each other, but there was an overall opinion by East Coast-biased critics and fans. Usually, it went as follows: West coast niggas can’t rap, they use the same funk beats over and over, that gangsta shit is killing hip-hop, etc. Understandably, the West Coasters decided to start saying “well fuck them workboots-in-the-summer-wearin’ ass niggas then!” I was more surprised that for all that was said before, the East Coast got quiet as shit once it jumped off. Unless it was Mobb Deep and their affiliates, muh’fukkas hardly had a word to say. I’d read those mags and see quotes from everybody tryin’ to diffuse the situation. Of course by then, it was too late, because “East Vs. West” was the big bold headline all over the place.

The feud was amplified by ‘Pac’s death, which cooled things down for a sec, although not enough for Cube to keep it going with his Westside Connection project (along with Mack and WC). Even with some artists making attempts to denounce the whole thing, people still wanted to see more beef and hear more disses. It also didn’t die out because after ‘Pac’s death, it didn’t take long for all fingers to point in the direction of Biggie and Puff. Before anyone knew anything specific about the shooting, the first thing everyone jumped to was “yo, it was Biggie n’nem!” I suppose some people in LA (or Suge, but who knows) felt the same… and for that reason, Twitter is packed with B.I.G. quotes as I type.

Surprisingly, things didn’t escalate from there, but I guess that it took that for people to decide it had gone overboard. Artists and magazines that took part in blowing it up began speaking out against it, and before ’97 was over, it wasn’t even an issue anymore. The East Coast/West Coast issue was entertaining in parts, and while I can’t say it led to those two deaths, it did get more than a lil’ outta control. If nothing else, it showed how much influence artists and media had, and that they were able to use it constructively once it went too far.

Tim Dog “Fuck Compton” (1991)

WC & The Maad Circle feat. Mack 10 & Ice Cube “West Up” (1995)

Tha Dogg Pound “New York, New York” (1995)

Capone-N-Noreaga feat. Mobb Deep & Tragedy “L.A., L.A. (Kuwait Mix)” (1996)

2Pac “When We Ride On Our Enemies” (1996)

Mobb Deep “Drop A Gem On ‘Em” (1996)

Westside Connection “Bow Down” (1996)

Dr. Dre feat. RBX, KRS-One, B-Real, & Nas “East Coast/West Coast Killa” (1996)


(R.I.P. B.I.G.)

17 Responses to What’s Beef?

  1. dinastyinc says:

    Of course the East Coast/West Coast beef always points back to Bad Boy vs. Death Row. And each label respectively played their parts in it, so it’s not like they were totally innocent in this ordeal. They made the fuel that the media took and ran with it.

    When Pac said: Now when I came out I told y’all it was just about Biggie. Then everybody wanted to open their mouth with a mu’fuckin opinion…..Fuck Biggie. Fuck Bad Boy as a staff, a record label, and as a mu’fuckin crew. And if you down with Bad boy, then fuck you too!

    It may have been just talkin shit on a record, but them sound like fighting words to me. And of course this was bigger than battling on tracks though. I mean when you think you friend had something to do with your getting shot (And mind you, Biggie made the track “Who Shot Ya”), what are you gonna do? Wouldn’t you come out swining hard?

    The most tragic thing of all though, is we will never know who shot either of them. Well, supposedly records can be unsealed after 50 years (I think, which is why I’m waiting on the Martin Luther King papers to come out). So we may not see it in our time, but the truth will come out eventually.

    And now I’ll go before I start with my conspiracy theories LOL.

    • Danj! says:

      As far as ‘Who Shot Ya’ goes… I don’t feel that was a dis at Pac. I kid you not, before Pac brought attention to it being called ‘Who Shot Ya’ (and this was a whole year afterward), I don’t remember anybody even thinking it was about him. I don’t even think Pac thought it was- he said in an interview that ‘he shouldn’t have put it out because I might THINK it’s about me’… like, seriously, that’s what he said, lol.

      But yeah, Pac was goin’ in on everything n everybody then, that shit was crazy. I think he had legit reasons to go at dudes no doubt, and he did still have some cool peoples out on the East too, but I also think a lot of that shit was a part of Suge’s agenda. I just felt it was weird that Pac, being the strong individual he was, suddenly became like a protege under Suge once he got up w/ Death Row.

      but that’s a story for another day… ‘preciate the comment!


    • MsYoung81 says:

      I would also like to add that Who Shot Ya? Was supposely recorded months before Pac even got shot. Mr. Sean Combs just thought that it would be a good idea to put the shit out after Pac got shot. I am gonna quote Paul Mooney here. When something is an inside job everything is hush hush. Records are sealed. Nobody knows nothing. Remember Niggers are never allowed to have power of any kind. Now Im going to stop after before I add to the conspiracy theories. LOL

  2. Kofi Jamal Simmons says:

    To this day, Tim Dawg’s “Fuck Compton” is THE funnest damn song I ever heard. Back in the day I had to rewind this song about five times the first time I heard it. I gotta find this song now. lol

  3. MASH The Ambassador says:

    It aint where you from its where you at…. DA ANAZ

    • Danj! says:

      Agreed… ultimately, that’s what it is. But at times, people def. got more focused on where some of these dudes were from.


  4. Justin Time says:

    Yo good read…where’s Common “Bitch In Yoo”? Definitely set the Westside Connection straight!

    • Danj! says:

      Oh, that… I didn’t forget it, but I’m savin’ that for somethin’ else… you’ll enjoy it. Stay tuned. Haaaa!


  5. Nice drop, but sometimes the intricacies are unseen and evade people, for two years after being shot in Midtown Pac and his ppl knew who shot him.

    He continued to be manipulated by Suge who navigated the boat into the choppy waters of formulated beef. Everyone in Brooklyn knew who shot Pac(The first time) yet he continued to churn out records mentioning Bigs name, why didnt the supposedly powerful Suge get @ the person/s who shot him in the first place? Banging on wax never goes down right I guess.

    Needless to say, Ice Cube is guilty of shamelessly exploiting the tense clime of the times for personal gains.

    • Danj! says:


      I wanted to hold off before I spoke on this, but you’re precisely right about the ‘Pac shooting… homie knew from day one what and who it was about. He came right out the gate with the Biggie thing and had people believing he set him up, but waited almost two years to call out Jimmy Henchmen and Haitian Jack… again, part of why I think a lot of that was about helping to hype up that Death Row/Bad Boy shit. Even if he did feel Biggie knew and didn’t say anything, his original angle was that Big was the one behind it… that’s the only thing about the whole shit that was sketchy to me. I still fux w/ ‘Hit ’em Up’, but I’m sayin’ though… I might actually like ‘Against All Odds’ a lil’ more. At least in that one, he called out the real culprits.


  6. todd whitney says:

    my bad…i just read this.

    pride and loyalty is what most of this is about to me. i admit that what i used to say about “west coast rappers”, was that their lyrical game was whack. part truth back then, but lyrics don’t necessarily make for a good song. i def played into it on some level, but it wasn’t that serious to me. listening to cats from the south or west just reminded me of my “contry ass cousins”, but that’s about it.

    it’s a shame that a black/urban art form fell into the silliness of territory issues.

    now look…NY is full of bloods and crips…

    nice post homie…

    • Danj! says:

      I felt like the hometown pride factor was the only part of it that really made sense. NYers, rightfully, were biggin’ up their own just as Cali, rightfully, was biggin’ up their own. The rest of it was just getting blown out of proportion after awhile.

      And yeah, it’s wild that NY now has the Blood/Crip shit happening, AND their radio is packed with non-NY music on top of that. By comparison, that was a much more NY-devoted era.


  7. MsYoung81 says:

    Sorry for being so tardy to party. No time for excuses. Let’s get to it.

    I am learning some shit here. I have told you before that after Pac got shot, I had begun to hate him. Even after he died, I blamed him for his own death. So, a lot of stuff just went over my head. First, I never knew that Snoop and Puffy called a truce at the infamous award show. Second, I never knew the real ppl who shot Pac. I guess the question would be with those two things, Why did the beef become so large? It just seems like to me that common sense when out the window. *shrugs* I dont think we will never know who killed either of them. Not only were Pac and Big killed, but others have died over this just to keep it hush hush. All we have are memories and countless questions that may never get answered.

    • Danj! says:

      Yeah, I’ve kinda closed the book on wondering what happened with those. We prob’ly never will know. There’s been a few close calls and things that make sense, but nothing made official. I do get the feeling that the ‘Pac shit was about that fight they had with the Crip in the lobby at the MGM… but then there’s other possibilities including Suge himself. It’s wild that any of that shit even happened- nobody ever expected some shit like that to happen to two of the top rappers in the game the way it did.


  8. […] Source: Dan J Loves The 90′s Other Sources: Dead Spin, Gig Wise – The Biggest Beefs In The History Of Hip Hop Share […]

  9. […] The Two Major Representatives Of The Feud […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: