East Coast-West Coast hip hop rivalry

East Coast-West Coast hip hop rivalry

The East Coast–West Coast hip hop rivalry was a feud in the early-mid 1990s between artists and fans of the East Coast and West Coast hip-hop scenes. Seeming focal points of the feud were West Coast-based rapper 2Pac (and his label, Death Row Records), and East Coast-based rapper The Notorious B.I.G. (and his label, Bad Boy Records).


During the late 1970s, Hip-hop emerged in the streets of New York City, which would remain the forefront of the genre throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. As the 1980s drew to a close, however, several west coast based acts such as Ice-T, MC Hammer, N.W.A and The D.O.C. began garnering attention. The origins of the conflict were arguably initiated in 1991 when East Coast based rapper Tim Dog released “Fuck Compton,” a scathing diss track aimed at N.W.A. and other Compton artists including Compton's Most Wanted and DJ Quik. N.W.A. never officially responded due to their pending break up, but upcoming West Coast artist Snoop Doggy Dogg would respond on the Dr. Dre track “Fuck wit Dre Day.”

In late 1992, rapper/producer Dr. Dre’s solo debut album, "The Chronic", was released on the fledgling Death Row Records. Into the new year, the album went triple platinum. In late 1993, Death Row Records released "Doggystyle", the debut album by Dr. Dre protégé and Long Beach-based Snoop Dogg, which also became a multi-platinum opus.

By early 1994, the quick success of Death Row Records (headed by Suge Knight and Dr. Dre) had effectively put a large media spotlight on Los Angeles and the west-coast hip-hop scene.

The Rivalry

uge Knight vs. Puff Daddy

” single was released. Although Combs and Wallace emphatically denied having anything to do with the shooting and insisted that “Who Shot Ya?” had been recorded before his shooting, 2Pac interpreted it as BIG’s way of taunting him, and claimed it proved that Bad Boy had set him up.

In August 1995, Death Row CEO Suge Knight took a dig at Bad Boy and Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs at that year's Source Awards; announcing to the assembly of artists and industry figures: “Any artist out there that want to be an artist and stay a star, and don’t have to worry about the executive producer trying to be all in the videos…all on the records…dancing, come to Death Row”—a direct reference to Combs’ tendency of ad-libbing on his artists’ songs and dancing in their videos. With the ceremony being held in New York, to the audience, Knight’s comments seemed a slight to the entire East Coast hip-hop scene, and resulted in many boos from the crowd. Combs attempted to defuse the growing hostility in the air with a speech denouncing the rivalry, to little avail. Later that evening, a performance by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg was jeered by New Yorkers in attendance, to which Snoop famously responded, “The East Coast ain’t got no love for Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg and Death Row?!”

Tensions were escalated when Knight later attended a party for producer Jermaine Dupri in Atlanta. During the bash, a close friend of Suge’s was fatally shot outside. Knight accused Combs (also in attendance) of having something to do with the shooting. The same year, Knight posted the $1.4 million bail of the then-incarcerated 2Pac, in exchange for his signing with Death Row Records. Shortly after the rapper’s release in October 1995, he proceeded to join Knight in furthering Death Row’s feud with Bad Boy Records.

In 1996, the Death Row act Tha Dogg Pound released a music video for their single “New York, New York” in which they are seen knocking over New York skyscrapers and landmarks, a gesture to which many East Coast artists and music fans took offense. This led to suspicion that the song itself was targeted at Bad Boy Records and New York in general. Queens, New York-based artists Tragedy Khadafi, Capone-N-Noreaga and Mobb Deep responded with the release of “L.A., L.A.” aimed at Tha Dogg Pound. In the music video, members of Tha Dogg Pound are kidnapped and thrown off the Queensboro Bridge.

2Pac vs. The Notorious B.I.G.

From late 1995 into early 1996, 2Pac would appear on numerous tracks aiming threatening and/or antagonistic slants at the Notorious B.I.G., Bad Boy as a label, and anyone affiliated with them. During this time, although B.I.G. never directly responded, the media became heavily involved and dubbed the rivalry a coastal rap war, reporting on it continuously. This caused fans from both scenes to take sides with one set of artists or another.

In spring 1996, the music video for 2Pac’s song, “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted” began with a lampooning of Biggie and Combs, in which 2Pac pulled out a cigarette from his pocket, portraying Biggie as a weakling afraid to die when he thought it was gun as the song intro begins. That summer, 2Pac continued his antagonism toward Biggie with the infamous track “Hit 'Em Up,” in which he claimed to have had sex with B.I.G.’s wife, singer Faith Evans, and proceeded to threaten the lives of both he and Combs. The song’s harsh content was viewed by detractors as Shakur having gone too far and taking the feud to another level.

2Pac vs. others

In addition to Biggie, “Hit ‘Em Up” Pac also insulted Mobb Deep and New Jersey-based rapper Chino XL, who joked that 2Pac had been raped in jail on his song “Riiiot!” 2Pac only responded with the line “Chino XL, fuck you too,” saying it would be his only diss, because he felt Chino XL was trying to gain fame by insulting him.

During his incarceration, members of 2Pac’s group Outlawz allegedly attended a Mobb Deep concert. They then visited 2Pac, maintaining that the duo had snubbed them at the concert. Through his associates, 2Pac sent out a message to Mobb Deep, threatening violence.Fact|date=March 2007 In “Hit ‘Em Up,” 2Pac made reference to Mobb Deep member Prodigy’s struggle with sickle cell anemia. Mobb Deep responded with the track, “Drop A Gem On ‘Em.”

2Pac would later go on to insult various others, including Chicago-based rapper, Da Brat, her label So So Def Recordings, and New Jersey-based group The Fugees. During this time, 2Pac met Nas and purportedly told him he didn’t have to be involved in the situation—however, a Nas radio freestyle seemingly slighting 2Pac and several direct Nas slights from Shakur to Nas would both eventually turn up. On the introduction to Shakur’s final studio album, "", he would bill Nas as the leader of a conspiracy against him, which included several of the artists he was having contentions with.

Though 2Pac, his group The Outlawz, Snoop Dogg, and Tha Dogg Pound had all been involved in the discord, several Death Row artists refused to follow suit. Lady of Rage stated in an AllHipHop.com interview that 2Pac had once called her “the weak link on Death Row” [http://www.allhiphop.com/features/?ID=1160] for not insulting Bad Boy. Death Row co-founder Dr. Dre also snubbed the strife, and collaborated with Nas shortly thereafter. Snoop Dogg purports that he and 2Pac weren’t speaking during his final days, because Snoop stated in an interview that he liked listening to Biggie’s music.

Rapper Jay-Z would also become embroiled in the rivalry when, in an appearance on Jay’s debut album "Reasonable Doubt", Biggie recited the line: “If Faith have twins she’d probably have two Pacs, get it, 2… pacs…” in reference to the allegations that she had cheated on him with the rapper, though it’s unclear if he was insulting her or 2Pac himself. Shakur took it as an affront and, since it was on Jay-Z’s song, went on to insult him as well. 2Pac originally called out Jay-Z during the outro of “Hit Em Up,” but later was convinced by Outlaw member, Hussein Fatal, that Jay was not part of the rivalry, and ultimately edited that part out. However, later in 1996, Pac would persist in slandering Jay-Z on the songs “Friends” and “Bomb First.” Posthumous material released underground following 2Pac’s death revealed that he had also slighted LL Cool J.

Interestingly, East Coast rapper Tim Dog (whose 1991 single “Fuck Compton” is often regarded as the beginning of this coastal feud) would later acknowledge 2Pac on his second album "Do Or Die" for assisting him in a potentially violent situation while touring Los Angeles. He would go on to mention in interviews that he hadn’t anticipated that “Fuck Compton” would ‘blow up the way it did,’ citing that it was only recorded for the purpose of venting out his anger towards record companies only wanting to sign West Coast rappers.

End of the Feud

In March 1996, during the Soul Train Awards ceremony in Los Angeles, there was a confrontation in the parking lot between the respective entourages of Bad Boy and Death Row in which guns were drawn. Although an armed standoff was all it amounted to, it was becoming readily apparent to hip hop fans and artists that the situation was escalating into a serious issue. Local papers referred to the situation as, “the "hip hop" version of the Cuban Missile Crisis.”

Not long after, at the MTV Video Music Awards in New York, Nas and 2Pac also confronted each other outside the venue. Though accounts from Suge, The Outlawz, Snoop Dogg and Nas himself somewhat vary…most agreed that 2Pac said he would remove the insults to Nas from his next album, if Nas would in return refrain from insulting him. Their previous verbal abuse was, as found in the meeting, based on publicity. The media’s sensationalizing of the "East vs. West Coast" rivalry, meanwhile, fueled record sales. Although Nas kept his end of the bargain, 2Pac was killed before he was able to do the same.

On September 7, 1996, Tupac Shakur was shot five times in Las Vegas, dying six days later from respiratory failure and cardiac arrest on Friday, September 13. Six months later, on March 9, 1997, Notorious B.I.G. was shot and killed in Los Angeles, mirroring Tupac’s murder. Both murders remain unsolved today, while numerous theories (some of them conspiracy theories) about their deaths have been pondered.

Following the Rivalry

The outcome of the feud (significantly due to the deaths of Shakur and Wallace) would shake the culture of hip hop, changing the way rap rivalries were both handled by artists, viewed by fans, and reported on by the media. In 1997, several rappers, including: Bizzy Bone, Doug E. Fresh and Snoop Dogg met at the request of Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, and pledged to forgive any slights that may be related to the rivalry and/or deaths of Shakur and Wallace.

Following the death of 2Pac, most of Death Row Records prominent artists departed the label. Afeni Shakur, Tupac’s mother, sued the label for allegedly cheating her son out of millions. Suge Knight, meanwhile, was incarcerated for unrelated probation violations. This bad turn for Death Row Records led, in turn, to a long lull in the mainstream popularity of West Coast rap, leading some fans to believe that West Coast hip hop was being blacklisted. Since his 2001 release from prison, attempts by Suge Knight to revitalize his label have been largely futile.

Though Bad Boy Records hasn’t suffered a collapse as steep as that of Death Row’s, it too has seen its fortunes decline. Rapper Mase achieved a good deal of success on the label before his early retirement in 1999. In the late 1990s, Bad Boy label head, Sean Combs (who now calls himself “Diddy”) began recording solo albums and earned considerable commercial success as a recording artist, but saw his sales dwindle with each subsequent effort. More recently, however, Bad Boy has struggled to remain commercially competitive, due to a lack of marketable talent and allegations that Combs is now more concerned with his other ventures (e.g., his Sean John clothing line.)

At the MTV Music Video Awards, in September 1999, Afeni Shakur and Voletta Wallace (mothers of Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G.) publicly met on stage in a show of solidarity. Ms. Wallace also offered to help Ms. Shakur investigate Tupac’s death. Even so, Afeni and her attorney noted that they wouldn’t accept federal investigations.

While rivalries in hip-hop continue to exist, since the murders of Shakur and Wallace, there has not been a rivalry of such magnitude. This may be due largely to the fact that, seeing the outcome of this episode (though no physically sustainable connection has been made linking the actual homicides of these two slain rappers to their rivalry), artists and prominent industry figures have been mindful of tempering battles and commercializing contention, in a seemingly direct attempt to prevent them from reaching this level.


East Coast

West Coast

Opposing artists

* Sean "Diddy" Combs; CEO of New York-based Bad Boy Records, and rapper. Primary target of 2Pac and Suge Knight during the middle 1990s; never publicly responded to the allegations, criticism and insults levied his way, and refused to allow any of his Bad Boy artists to lash back on record. However, Combs lashed out against many of his nemeses by calling them playa haters and accusing them of being jealous of him and his labels success.

* Dr. Dre; former president of, and artist on, Death Row Records. Despite his participation with 2Pac on the west coast-centric “California Love,” he actively attempted to denounce the conflict between opposing coasts, music fans, and artists. In 1996, he appeared on Nas' "It Was Written" on the song "Nas Is Coming" where the two discussed the rivalry saying it wasn't necessary; in the same year, he assembled a collaboration of multi-coastal rappers (consisting of KRS-One, Nas, RBX, B-Real) tagged ‘Group Therapy’ to record the anti-coastal battle anthem, “East Coast West Coast Killas.”

See also

* G-Unit vs. The Game feud

External links

* [http://www.dropmagazine.com/i-got-beef/ I Got 'Beef' @ dropmagazine.com]
* [http://hiphop.sh/suge Suge Knight & Death Row Records] The 411 on Death Row's beef with Bad Boy [authored by Balance: 411@hiphop.sh]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • East Coast hip hop — Stylistic origins A form of hip hop music that combines the elements of Jamaican dancehall toasting with the rhythms of R B, disco and funk along with soul and jazz Cultural origins Late 1970s New York City …   Wikipedia

  • West Coast hip hop — Stylistic origins Dancehall (Toasting) •  • Funk • Jazz • Rhythm and blues • Soul music C …   Wikipedia

  • Hip hop music — This article is about the music genre. For the culture in general, see Hip hop. For other uses, see Hip hop (disambiguation). Hip hop Stylistic origins Funk, disco, dub …   Wikipedia

  • East Coast West Coast Killas — Infobox Single Name = East Coast/West Coast Killas Caption = East Coast West Coast Killas vinyl case Artist = Dr. Dre featuring Group Therapy from Album = Dr. Dre Presents the Aftermath Released = 1996 Format = Recorded = 1996 Genre = Hip hop… …   Wikipedia

  • American hip hop — The United States is the nation of origin of hip hop, a cultural movement that began in the 1970s in New York City, among primarily African American and Hispanic audiences.cite news|title=The Birth of R… …   Wikipedia

  • The Commission (hip hop) — The Commission was an East Coast hip hop supergroup that existed in the mid 1990s. MembersThe original members were The Notorious B.I.G., Jay Z, and Charli Baltimore. It was extended to include Puff Daddy, Lil Cease and Lance Un Rivera.HistoryIn… …   Wikipedia

  • World hip hop — Hip hop music was primarily limited to its country of origin, the United States, until the mid 1980s, at which point it reached into other countries and continents until its presence was worldwide. Along with the music spread the culture. World… …   Wikipedia

  • Tupac Shakur — Tupac Amaru Shakur Background information …   Wikipedia

  • The Notorious B.I.G. — The Notorious B.I.G. Background information …   Wikipedia

  • Life After Death — For other uses, see Life After Death (disambiguation). Life After Death Studio album by The Notorious B.I.G …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”