Tupac Shakur came for Biggie’s throat on the 1996 diss track “Hit Em Up,” arguably one of the most disrespectful Hip Hop records ever recorded. With every lyric he uttered in the song, the fired up ‘Pac made it crystal clear he had a problem with The Notorious B.I.G.
“First off, fuck your bitch and the click you claim,” he rapped at the time. “Westside when we ride come equipped with game/You claim to be a player but I fucked your wife/We bust on Bad Boy niggaz fucked for life/Plus Puffy tryin’ ta see me weak hearts I rip/Biggie Smalls and Junior M.A.F.I.A. Some mark-ass bitches.”
While members of Biggie’s camp such as Diddy, Lil Kim, Junior M.A.F.I.A. were understandably heated, their boss apparently forbade them from responding to the diss. During a recent Instagram Live conversation with Fatman Scoop, Biggie’s DJ Lil Cease recounted Big’s reaction to the track and explained why they all stayed silent.
“That’s why Big didn’t make a record,” he says in the clips. “At the very beginning, Big didn’t rush in and make a diss track. He was like, ‘Nah.’ He told everybody, ‘If you make a record, I’m not fuckin’ with you. Don’t call me, don’t fuck with me. If you respond to anything, you will be cut off.’
“So none of us could do it — Junior M.A.F.I.A. was ready to respond, Kim was ready to respond. But Big was like, ‘Nah, we not doing that.’ I just think Big was tryin’ to leave it open, so he could really just, ‘Yo, what’s up dawg? Like come on nigga, you talkin’ to me. What’s up?’”
But ‘Pac and Biggie never got the chance — both Hip Hop legends were shot and killed before they were able to make amends. ‘Pac was ambushed at a Las Vegas intersection in September 1996 and Biggie was gunned down in Los Angeles six months later. But Cease is confident Biggie wanted to squash their beef prior to his murder.
“They never got in touch with each other, he never ran into him,” Cease continued. “They never had those type of situations where that opportunity could present itself. I think that’s why Big never really spoke on it, never really made records about it because I always felt like he knew there was room to fix it — and he wanted to fix it.
“I know that was his sign he wanted to fix it by not escalating it. At the end of the day, your pride’s your pride. Niggas was mad that he wasn’t responding, our street niggas that was around us that really get busy in the streets, they was like, ‘Yo, come on, dawg’ and Big was like, ‘Nah, chill. I’m not doing it.’ But if shit come our way, we gonna make sure we on point and we gonna handle our business.’”
“Hit Em Up” was written as a response to Biggie’s “Who Shot Ya?” record, which was released a few months after ‘Pac was shot on November 30, 1994. ‘Pac assumed the song was directed at him and used his anger to fuel “Hit Em Up.”