East Coast–West Coast hip hop rivalry
The East Coast–West Coast hip hop rivalry was a feud in the 1990s between artists and fans of the East Coast hip hop and West Coast hip hop scenes in the United States. Focal points of the feud were East Coast-based rapper The Notorious B.I.G. (and his label, Bad Boy Records), and West Coast-based rapper 2Pac (and his label, Death Row Records), both of whom were murdered.
Backgrounds of the Coasts 
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (March 2013)|
Hip hop was founded in the 1970's on the gritty streets of South Bronx. Powered by DJs such as Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, and Afrika Bambaataa, the new genre became popular throughout the city's hoods. The New York City area remained the forefront for rap music throughout the mid-80's, becoming home to numerous stars like KRS-One, Kool Moe Dee, and Run DMC.
Emergence of the West Coast 
In 1986, inspired by Philadelphia rapper, Schoolly D, a Crenshaw-based Ice-T released the song "6 in The Mornin'". It is considered by many critics as the very first gangsta rap song. The LA gangsta rap scene exploded afterward. A young drug dealer named Eric Wright saw the potential profits and fame of the hip hop lifestyle. He began recording songs in his parents' garage. Around the same time, Wright, now going by the name Eazy-E, befriended two local artists named Dr. Dre & Ice Cube. Along with locals DJ Yella & Arabian Prince, the group became N.W.A (Niggaz Wit Attitude).
With the help of friend Jerry Heller, Eazy-E founded Ruthless Records on March 3, 1987. Shortly afterwards the group released the Panic Zone EP. It contained the title track (Arabian Prince), "8 Ball"(Eazy-E), and the well-known "Dopeman" (Ice Cube). Despite its popularity, "Dope Man" was never released as a single proper. In a way, the song set the bar for later hits with its profanity-driven and vulgar lyrics.
The group's debut album was released later in the year. It featured the Fila Fresh Crew and a young The D.O.C. The most popular song on the release was the famous track "Boyz-n-the-Hood". Although it was written primarily by Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, Eazy-E was the one who appeared on the vocals.
Due to a money disagreement, Arabian Prince left N.W.A just before they released their ground-breaking Straight Outta Compton. Eazy-E's friend MC Ren filled his place. Backed by hit singles such as the title track, "Fuck the Police", and "Gangsta Gangsta", the album redefined hip hop genre and cemented the West Coast's presence in the nation's rap scene.
Economical issues led to dispersing of the group. Eazy-E remained the wealthy owner/manager of his Ruthless label. Ice Cube released a string of successful albums that included AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted and Death Certificate. Dr. Dre signed to the fast-rising Death Row Records, headed by Suge Knight??
At Death Row, Dre dropped one of the most influential hip hop albums of all time in The Chronic. It revolutionized the G-Funk movement. Other successful stars on the label included Snoop Doggy Dogg, Warren G, The Lady of Rage, Nate Dogg, Daz and Kurupt of Tha Dogg Pound. By the early 90's the West Coast had separated itself as the dominant region in hip hop.
Revival of the East 
In April 1994, a 20 year old, Queens-based emcee by the name of Nas released Illmatic. Five of the album's nine tracks reached single status. It featured simple, menacing beats and dark street narratives. The release was vital in flipping the spotlight back to the east coast.
A few months later, another New York rapper dropped a classic album. The 22 year old Notorious B.I.G. released Ready to Die. This album helped put Bad Boy Records on the map, following up on the success of Craig Mack's famous "Flava in Ya Ear". Ready to Die featured the infamous track "Who Shot Ya?" which would later play a key role in the East Coast-West Coast feud.
The Rivalry 
Tim Dog 
Disgruntled by the record companies' rejections of East Coast artists and the growing popularity of West Coast hip hop, Bronx rapper Tim Dog decided to voice his anger on the notorious diss track, Fuck Compton. It contained shots at the entire LA rap scene, particularly the members of NWA. The music video contained violent gestures towards Eazy-E and Dr. Dre look-a-likes.
There were several responses from numerous West Coast artists, but none reached the fame of Tim Dog's diss. The most notable was a song called "Fuck wit Dre Day (And Everybody's Celebratin')" which featured Snoop Doggy Dogg dissing Tim Dog & a skit called the "$20 Sack Pyramid" featured on Dre's landmark album, The Chronic.
Bad Boy vs. Death Row 
In 1992, fledgling A&R executive and record producer Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs founded the New York-centered hip-hop label, Bad Boy Records. The next year, the label’s debut releases by Brooklyn-based rapper Christopher “The Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace (also referred to as ‘Biggie Smalls’) and Long Island-based rapper Craig Mack became immediate critical and commercial successes, and seemed to revitalize the East Coast hip-hop scene by 1995. New York born and California-based rapper Tupac Shakur (a.k.a. 2Pac), meanwhile, forged a rivalry with Biggie, publicly accusing him and Combs of having facilitated him being robbed and shot five times in the lobby of a New York recording studio on November 30, 1994. Shortly after 2Pac’s shooting, “Who Shot Ya?,” a B-side track from BIG’s “Big Poppa” single was released. Although Combs and Wallace denied having anything to do with the shooting and stated that “Who Shot Ya?” had been recorded before the shooting, 2Pac and the majority of the rap community interpreted it as B.I.G.’s way of taunting him.
In August 1995, Death Row CEO Suge Knight took a dig at Bad Boy and 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!”
It was 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.
Tensions were escalated when Knight later attended a party for producer Jermaine Dupri in Atlanta. During the bash, a close friend of Knight's was shot in the arm. 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 for five counts of sex abuse in October 1995, he proceeded to join Knight in furthering Death Row’s feud with Bad Boy Records.
2Pac vs. The Notorious B.I.G. 
|“||C'mere c'mere...open your fucking mouth...Didn't I tell you not to fuck with me?...Can't talk with a gun in your mouth huh?...Bitch-ass nigga, what?||”|
—The Notorious B.I.G., “Who Shot Ya?”
|“||Who shot me? But ya punks didn't finish now you 'bout to feel the wrath of a menace nigga, I hit ‘em up!||”|
—2Pac, “Hit 'Em Up”
After the release of "Who Shot Ya?", which Shakur interpreted as a diss song mocking his robbery/shooting, 2Pac appeared on numerous tracks aiming threatening and/or antagonistic slants at Biggie, Bad Boy as a label, and anyone affiliated with them from late 1995 to 1996. For example, the songs "Against All Odds", "Bomb First (My Second Reply)" and "Hit em up". During this time the media became heavily involved and dubbed the rivalry a coastal rap war, reporting on it continually. This caused fans from both scenes to take sides.
Although an official retaliation record was never released by the Brooklyn MC in response to Shakur's slurs, certain lyrics from B.I.G.'s catalog of songs were seen by listeners as Biggie taking subliminal shots aimed at Shakur, most notably on the track "Long Kiss Goodnight", which Lil' Cease claimed was about 2Pac in an XXL magazine interview. Puffy, however, steadfastly denied this theory, affirming that if Biggie were to diss 2Pac, he would have called him out by name.
On September 13, 1996, Tupac Shakur died after being shot multiple times six days earlier by an unknown assailant in Las Vegas, Nevada. Six months later, on March 9, 1997, The Notorious B.I.G. was also shot to death by an unknown assailant in Los Angeles, California. To this day, both murders remain unsolved.
See also 
- G-Unit–Game feud
- G-Unit vs. Murder Inc. feud
- LL Cool J–Kool Moe Dee feud
- Jay-Z–Nas feud
- Hip hop rivalry
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