Its the age old question found in hip-hop. Who is better, Tupac Shakur or Christopher Wallace, also known as The Notorious B.I.G.? It’s the East Coast-West Coast rivalry that seems to reach all audiences under the hip-hop umbrella. There’s almost no one in the industry today that doesn’t have some influence from one or both of the legendary emcees, and for good reason. These two have made some of the biggest impacts on the rap game ever and still are considered the best even today with hip-hop in a completely other place. But who is actually the best? Or even better, whose music actually made the biggest impact in the hearts of hip-hop heads?
As a full package deal, 2pac most definitely seems to have the biggest reach in popular culture. He was already at the height of his career when Biggie first started to pop and he already had further reach in the mainstream limelight due to his appearance in movies like “Juice” and “Poetic Justice”, as well as his relationships with artists like Madonna and Janet Jackson. He was able to tap into audiences not available for Biggie and as a result, had a larger fan base as a whole.
Biggie on the other hand, only released one full album during his time alive and still was able to be put into the same group as Tupac as one of the greatest. He did this solely on his craft as a musician and didn’t have a much further reach outside of the music he made. This is why it seems that Biggie was able to fully encompass his artform and when it comes to just musical talent, we have to give it to B.I.G. as the greatest of all time. His lyrical flow was on another level, using wordplay, metaphors, hyperboles, and pure style as the building blocks to his musical empire. He was ahead of his time and has set the standard for bars in the rap game, even surpassing some of the greats in today’s current rap climate. He died well before he peaked musically and it remains one of the great tragedies in the hip-hop community.
This being said, Tupac’s music is nothing to raise your nose at. Yes, he had a wider audience reach than Biggie due to his other endeavors in the entertainment industry, but even without this he still would go down as one the greatest based only on his music. Tupac told stories and was just as much as an activist for regular day people as he was a rapper. He merged these two passions of his and changed many lives in more than one way. Its humbling to see Pac as inspiration for people like J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Wale, and countless others, because it has been so long since his passing and still no one else has been able to surpass the reach he had on people. Even today, someone is hearing Tupac for the first time and deciding to start up rapping themselves.
All in all, its hard to decide who was the greatest ever, but in my opinion, they’re both winners. Tupac is the greatest of all time as a whole package, but Biggie is the greatest of all time in just pure lyricism as a rapper. West Coast will always say Pac, and East Coast will always say Biggie, but finding a middle ground and just being able to appreciate both artists for what they are is really the right direction to take.
What do you guys think, Tupac or Biggie?