Who Shot Ya?
|"Who Shot Ya?"|
|Song by The Notorious B.I.G. featuring Puff Daddy|
|Released||February 20, 1995|
|Genre||East coast hip hop, hardcore hip hop, battle rap|
|Label||Bad Boy Records|
|Producer||Sean Combs (co.), Nashiem Myrick|
"Who Shot Ya?" is a controversial hip-hop song by The Notorious B.I.G., a B-side to his 1995 hit single, "Big Poppa". The track was later released on the posthumous album Born Again, the remastered edition of Ready to Die, and The Greatest Hits.
Originally the song was recorded for the Mary J. Blige album My Life and meant for what eventually became the K. Murray Interlude (as evidenced on the track by use of the same instrumental) however Biggie's version was considered too violent for an R&B album and Keith Murray was asked to record his version instead. The song samples David Porter's "I'm Afraid The Masquerade Is Over".
On the night of November 30, 1994, Tupac Shakur was shot and robbed after entering the lobby of Quad Recording Studios in Manhattan by three armed men in army fatigues. He later accused Sean Combs, Andre Harrell, and Biggie Smalls—whom he saw after the shooting— and Jimmy Rosemond aka Jimmy Henchman of setting him up, or at least knowing who the culprits were. He also blamed Jimmy Rosemond aka Jimmy Henchman, by name in a song released posthumously. In April 1995, Tupac told VIBE that moments after he was ambushed and shot in the building's lobby, he took the elevator up to the studio, where he saw about 40 people, including Biggie and Puffy. "Nobody approached me. I noticed that nobody would look at me," said Tupac, suggesting that the people in the room knew he was going to be shot. Though Wallace and his entourage were present in the same Manhattan-based recording studio at the time of the shooting, Biggie maintained his innocence.
Chuck Philips wrote a March 17, 2008 Los Angeles Times article stating that Jimmy Henchman, an associate of Sean Combs, ordered three people to rough up Shakur. (Court case exhibit: USA vs James Rosemond Case # 1:11-Cr-00424 5/14/2012 Document # 100, exhibit 1:) The article, which was later retracted by the LA Times because it partially relied on court-filed 302s which turned out to be forged, was thought to be vindicated in 2011 when Dexter Isaac admitted (to allhiphop.com) to attacking Tupac on orders from Henchman.  Following Isaac’s confession, Philips corroborated Isaac as one (among many) of his key unnamed sources, which supported his 2008 article. The police had naively classified the attack as a robbery. A taped 1995 interview of Shakur by Philips reveals that Shakur questioned why robbers would take jewelry but leave a Rolex watch. Isaac admitted keeping some of Tupac's jewelry to  reporter Chuck Philips.
In a 2012 article for the Village Voice, Philips reported that Jimmy Henchman admitted during a "Queen For A Day" proffer session with the government in 2011 to setting up Tupac's ambush, according to prosecutors, supporting the theory that the attack set off the East Coast-West Coast rap wars. In June 2012, Henchman, the admitted mastermind behind the Shakur Quad attack, was convicted of 13 counts of drug trafficking, obstruction of justice, firearms violations and other financial crimes associated with his being the head of a multi-million dollar transnational cocaine selling organization. This came after he was indicted in 2011 on federal charges of drug trafficking, money laundering, obstruction and weapons charges. The L.A. Times' 2008 article was placed into evidence by the prosecution (Court case exhibit: USA vs James Rosemond Case # 1:11-Cr-00424 5/14/2012 Document # 100, exhibit 1:) and Henchman was found guilty on all 13 charges on June 5, 2012.
Tupac Shakur and many of his fans interpreted the song to be a diss track mocking his robbery/shooting in Manhattan, New York due to the timing of its release, merely two months after the shooting incident. Although the track did not specifically call out Tupac, it contained suspicious lines in both the first and second verse.
The first verse opens with these lyrics:
Who shot ya?
Separate the weak from the ob-so
-lete, Hard to creep them Brooklyn streets
It's on nigga, fuck all that bickering beef
I can hear sweat trickling down your cheek
Your heartbeat soun' like Sasquatch feet
Thundering, shaking the concrete
Finish it, stop, when I foil the plot
Neighbors call the cops said they heard mad shots
Everything Around Me, 2 Glock 9's
Any motherfucker whispering about mines
And I'm Crooklyn's finest
You rewind this, Bad Boy's behind this.
The song's second verse contains lines such as:
You'll die slow but calm
Recognize my face, so there won't be no mistake
So you know where to tell Jake, lame nigga
Brave nigga, turned front page nigga
Abruptly, the second verse halts and the music is cut when the song breaks into spoken word in which Biggie speaks these words before gunshots sound off, after which the rest of the instrumental plays:
open your fucking mouth, open your... didn't I tell you
don't fuck with me? Huh?
Didn't I tell you not to fuck with me?
Look at you now Huh?
Can't talk with a gun in your mouth huh?
Bitch-ass nigga, what?
After Biggie's song was released, it was met with a high amount of controversy, adding fuel to the East Coast–West Coast hip hop rivalry. Wallace and Sean Combs have asserted that the song was recorded months earlier, with Biggie exclaiming in a Vibe Magazine interview: "I wrote that muthafuckin' song way before Tupac got shot," he said. "It was supposed to be the intro to that shit Keith Murray was doing on Mary J. Blige's joint. But Puff said it was too hard."
Despite the controversy, Biggie frequently performed the song live, perhaps to intimidate or challenge his rival during the widely publicized feud, as seen in the biopic film Notorious, further promoting the East Coast–West Coast hip hop rivalry.
Because of the song's controversial nature and ambiguous target, XXL Magazine.com included it in an article titled "8 Subliminal Diss Records That No One Claims", which was published November 5, 2010, approximately 15 years after the song was released. The article reads:
Though Biggie and his entire camp have continuously denied that “Who Shot Ya?” was directed towards 2Pac, the timing of its release and the perceived subliminal shots (no pun intended) lead us to believe that this was most likely a diss record.
Response from 2Pac
After the song was released, Shakur felt that the song was directed at him, raising suspicions that Biggie did in fact have prior knowledge about the shooting. This caused Shakur to become increasingly hostile towards Biggie, Puff Daddy, Bad Boy Records, and all of its associates. Shakur called the timing of the song's release "tasteless" in a Vibe Magazine interview. "Even if that song ain't about me," Shakur told VIBE, "You should be, like, `I'm not putting it out, 'cause he might think it's about him.' "
Shakur admittedly released his infamous diss track "Hit 'Em Up" as a response to "Who Shot Ya?", referring to the song in the chorus; "Who shot me? / But your punks didn't finish. / Now you 'bout to feel the wrath of a menace. / Nigga, I hit 'em up." Thereafter, tensions arose; and for the rest of his life, 2Pac remained on the offensive against Biggie and Bad Boy Records until his untimely death on September 13, 1996.
In a separate interview with Vibe, he defended his attacks against Bad Boy by stating: "Fear got stronger than love, and niggas did things they weren't supposed to do. They know in their hearts-that's why they're in hell now. They can't sleep. That's why they're telling all the reporters and all the people, `Why they doing this? They fucking up hip hop' and blah-blah-blah, 'cause they in hell. They can't make money, they can't go anywhere. They can't look at themselves, 'cause they know the prodigal son has returned." .
"Who Shot Ya?" has become one of the most well known yet hotly debated songs in hip hop. MTV.com has described the song as "using the art of music to make the art of war sound beautiful." The Daily Collegian of University of Massachusetts Amherst referred to the song as "a heated verbal assault". Jay-Z, an affiliate and former school mate of the Notorious B.I.G. had this to say about hearing the song for the first time:
You're just as good as your competition around you....You know when someone else pushes you to really step your game up? Like I said, I'm a fan of hip-hop. People know that about me. So my man [Kareem] "Biggs" [Burke] had bought me 'Who Shot Ya' [before it came out]. He brought it to me on 125th Street [in Harlem] like it was a drug deal: He jumps in my car, looks around, puts in 'Who Shot Ya' and then he gets out and says, 'You keep that.' Because he knew I'm a fan of the game. He knew that if I heard 'Who Shot Ya,' it's going to inspire me to make songs even hotter. But that song, it was so crazy. It just had an effect on everybody. The world stopped when he dropped 'Who Shot Ya.'
References by other artists
Because of the song's infamy and association with the East Coast-West Coast hip-hop rivalry, the song's title has been referred to many times by other artists.
It's terror-dome when you see my click you need to run behind shit
You got a gat you'd betta find it and use that shit
Think fast and get reminded of robberies in Manhattan
You know what happened: 60G's worth of gun clappin'
Who Shot Ya? You'd probably scream louder than a opera
New York gotcha, now you wanna use my mob as a crutch
Whut: you think you can't get bucked again?
LL Cool J has released a song titled "I Shot Ya" And a remix featuring Foxxy Brown, Keith Murray, Prodigy and Fat Joe
Lil' Kim, an affiliate and romantic partner of the Notorious B.I.G. mentioned "Who Shot Ya?" in her song Big Momma Thang, a song aimed at Biggie's wife Faith Evans and Tupac Shakur: "Oh yeah, Who Shot Ya?(uh-huh)/ Who knows but they gotcha (uh huh)..."
Nas uses a rhyming scheme in his song Ether with the lyrics: "Nah, I'm tryna' kick the shit you need to learn though/That ether, that shit that make your soul burn slow", which mirrors the following bars in Who Shot Ya?: "Old school new school need to learn though/I burn baby burn like Disco Inferno".
Kanye West uses a play on the lyrics: "And I'm (and I'm) Crooklyn's Finest/ You rewind this/ Bad Boy's behind this" in his song 'Where You At (The Whole City Behind Us)', featuring The Game and Ludacris, which West raps, "And I'm (and I'm) Chi-Town's finest/ Where you at? The whole city behind us."
Jay Electronica references "Who Shot Ya?" (and "Drop a Gem on 'em") in "Attack of the Clones". "Who shot ya? The black bach blasting over opera, phantom of the chakaras...."
Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park references both "Big Poppa" and "Who Shot Ya?" in their 2012 song "Until It Breaks". "It's something for your people on the block to/ Blackout and rock to/ Give you watch you need like Poppa, Who shot ya?/ Separate the weak from the obsolete/ You're meek/ I creep hard on imposters"
The song makes lyrical references to both the Wu-Tang Clan song "C.R.E.A.M." and Snoop Dogg's "Gz Up Hoes Down", as well as Disco Inferno by The Trammps. It was featured in the 2002 film 8 Mile.
Remixes and samples
The song's instrumental has since become a freestyle standard, being sampled by many different artists:
In 2008 Papoose used the beat and some of the lyrics from this song to make his version of "Who Shot Ya?", which was a diss record to Uncle Murda. It is featured on his 2008 mixtape "Build or Destroy" and lasts 8:03.
Game uses the instrumental to "Who Shot Ya?" on "300 Bars", which is a diss to 50 Cent and G-Unit.
Chino XL samples the beat from Who Shot Ya? on one of his diss tracks insulting Tupac. The song was never released.
DMX recorded two freestyles on the beat from Who Shot Ya?. He later reused lyrics in "Bring Your Whole Crew" and "Murdergram".
Honey Cocaine sampled the instrumental on her song "Who Shot Me?" from her "90's Gold" mixtape.
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