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  • Writer's pictureMichaela Aaliyah

An East Coast vs. West Coast Tell All

Updated: Oct 16, 2022

Hip Hop emerged in the 1970s in the streets of the South Bronx located in the “City That Never Sleeps” (NYC). During the early 1990s Hip Hop became more than just a genre, it had started to become what many consider “the voice this generation” and would continue to be beyond that. Hip Hop began to spread from the city of New York to the rest of the East Coast and worldwide. The two distinct sub-genres that began to dominate mainstream Hip Hop for several years were West Coast and East Coast style rap.

Hip Hop’s East Coast vs. West Coast feud of the 90s is potentially the most important moment in its history. The feud drew attention & highlighted the stylistic and lyrical differences of each coast and made Hip Hop a competition of the sorts. At the time the attention of record labels had fled from the East to the West, naturally creating jealousy amongst hopeful East-Coast rappers. Bronx rapper, Tim Dog, fed up with this shift in the game dropped a diss track in 1991 titled “Fuck Compton”. The song was acted as response to record companies rejecting East Coast artists at the time and threw shots at a West Coast artists such as Eazy-E and Dr. Dre. Many West Coast rappers, especially the artists of the most popularized label of the west at the time, Death Row Records responded back to this track. Their conflict grew bigger when Diddy created Bad Boy Records in 1993. Overtime jabs continued to be thrown by both CEOs of the record companies and artists on their labels were drawn into the feud. It became a competition for each side, which coast had better artists?, better music?, which label was the best?, it was a fight to prove who was better and a defense for them. Tupac and Biggie are obvious examples of this feud.

Tupac and Biggie had their differences prior to getting involved with their respective labels, following the attack on Tupac in his studio and the allegations being thrown around that Biggie and Puff had something to do with it. The release of Biggie’s song “Who Shot Ya?” hinted to his involvement, though it was said that he recorded it before Pac’s incident. Tupac then appeared on numerous tracks aiming threats and hostile threats at Biggie, Bad Boy Records & anyone affiliated due to the fact that him interpreting “Who Shot Ya?” as Biggie’s way of mocking the incident. Many of their lyrics at the time were interpreted as subliminal shots aimed towards each other by each other and listeners. Soon after, Tupac sign to Dr. Dre’s Death Row Records further adding fuel to the fiery rivalry between the label heads and their artists.

Unfortunately, we all know this story tragic story ends. Former friends turned enemies fell short to their violence environments and both rappers died in fatal shootings one after another. Many have speculated that Biggie had some type of involvement in Pac’s death, though that has yet to be proven. Shortly after Tupac’s death in 1996 and Biggie’s death just six months after in 1997, a series of peace summits were held on both sides of the country to bring an end to the violence and conflict between each coast and its artists. California and New York remain the greatest influences to hip-hop’s past, present, and future. From their popularized rivalry and overall contrasting styles of art and music, each coast has something to offer the Hip Hop industry and will continue to recognized as the birthplace of Hip Hop (NYC) and where Hip Hop grew its “wings” (Cali).

Biggie (Left) & Tupac (Right)

Below we've featured the songs we mentioned above as well as some videos that further explain and discuss the infamous East Coast vs. West Coast Rivalry and the untimely deaths of Tupac & Biggie:

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