Shawn Corey Carter (born December 4, 1969), known professionally as Jay-Z, is an American rapper, record producer, and entrepreneur. He is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential hip-hop artists of all time. He was the CEO of Def Jam Recordings and he has been central to the creative and commercial success of artists including Kanye West, Rihanna, and J. Cole.
Born and raised in New York City, Jay-Z first began his musical career in the late 1980s; he co-founded the record label Roc-A-Fella Records in 1995 and released his debut studio album Reasonable Doubt in 1996. The album was released to widespread critical success, and solidified his standing in the music industry. He went on to release twelve additional albums, including the acclaimed albums The Blueprint (2001), The Black Album (2003), American Gangster (2007), and 4:44 (2017). He also released the full-length collaborative albums Watch the Throne (2011) with Kanye West and Everything Is Love (2018) with his wife Beyoncé, respectively.
Jay-Z was one of the first to diss Tupac when he released the track titled “Brooklyn’s finest” (alongside The Notorious B.I.G.). Jay-Z had a close relationship with Bad-Boy and with Mobb Deep. As a retaliation, 2Pac released “Bomb First (My Second Reply)” on his ‘Makaveli: The 7 Day Theory‘ album, dissing Jay-Z among others. Tupac also took shots at Jay-Z on one of the last songs 2Pac recorded All Out.
Andre Romelle Young (born February 18, 1965), known professionally as Dr. Dre, is an American rapper, record producer, and entrepreneur. He is the co-founder of Beats Electronics, which had been acquired in 2014 for $3.4 billion by technology giant Apple Inc. He is also the founder and CEO of Aftermath Entertainment after previously co-forming and owning Death Row Records. His career began as a member of the World Class Wreckin' Cru in 1985 and later transitioned to the gangsta rap group N.W.A a year following. Dre was also credited as a key figure in the crafting and popularization of West Coast G-funk, a subgenre of hip hop characterized by a synthesizer foundation and slow, heavy beats.
After departing from the disbanded N.W.A and Ruthless Records in 1991, Dre's solo debut studio album, The Chronic (1992), made him one of the best-selling American music artists of 1993. It was supported by singles, "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang" and "Let Me Ride"; the latter earned him a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance. After a seven-year hiatus and issues with Death Row, he released a sophomore solo album, 2001, in late 1999.
When Snoop Dogg was on trial for murder a witnesses in the trial said Dr. Dre was in the car, if he had appeared at court he could have testified, but instead he said that he was too busy. This pissed ‘pac off because he thought that Dre wasn’t showing his homeboy Snoop, and the Death Row camp, loyalty. Tupac also didnt like the way Dre because he was earning stacks from Death Row for doing nothing, since ‘The Chronic’. He disses Dre in many songs after Dre left Death Row, even questioning his sexuality, in the song “To Live & Die In L.A.” 2Pac claims that Dr Dre is homosexual and he does the same in “Toss It Up“.
Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones (born September 14, 1973), better known by his stage name Nas, is an American rapper. Rooted in East Coast hip hop, he is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential rappers of all time.
The son of jazz musician Olu Dara, Jones's musical career began in 1989 as he adopted the moniker of "Nasty Nas" and recorded demos for Large Professor. He was a featured artist on Main Source's "Live at the Barbeque" (1991), also produced by Large Professor. Nas's debut album Illmatic (1994) received universal acclaim upon release, and is considered to be one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time; in 2021, the album was inducted into the Library of Congress's National Recording Registry. His second album It Was Written (1996) debuted atop the Billboard 200 and charted for four consecutive weeks; the album, along with its single "If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)" (featuring Lauryn Hill), catapulted Nas into international success. Both released in 1999, Nas's albums I Am and Nastradamus were criticized as inconsistent and too commercially oriented, and critics and fans feared that his output was declining in quality.
On the opening track for Nas’ sophomore album, “The Message,” the Queensbridge rapper claimed the King of New York crown and fired shots at Big and Jay-Z. But word made its way back to Pac and he thought Nas was dissing him on the song, especially with the opening line, “Fake thug, no love, you get the slug, CB4 Gusto.”
Suddenly, it wasn’t just Big, Puff and Bad Boy that 2Pac had a problem with, Nas got dragged into it as well. It didn’t help that Nas was running with Mobb Deep, who had their separate beef with Pac. After the awards ceremony, Pac with his Death Row entourage and New Jersey-based Outlawz crew faced off with Nas and his Queensbridge goons at Bryant Park. There have been numerous versions of this story circling for a while, so we need to take them each with a grain of salt. But according to Nas the two cleared some things up and squashed their beef.
Kimberly Denise Jones (born July 11, 1974), better known by her stage name Lil' Kim, is an American rapper and reality television personality. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York City, she lived much of her adolescent life on the streets after being expelled from home. In her teens, Jones would freestyle rap, influenced by fellow female hip hop artists like MC Lyte and the Lady of Rage. In 1994, she was discovered by fellow rapper The Notorious B.I.G., who invited her to join his group Junior M.A.F.I.A.; their debut album, Conspiracy.
Lil' Kim's debut studio album, Hard Core (1996) was certified double platinum, has since sold more than six million copies worldwide and spawned three successful singles: "No Time", "Not Tonight (Ladies Night)", and "Crush on You". It had the highest debut in the US for a female rap album at the time. Her following albums, The Notorious K.I.M. (2000) and La Bella Mafia (2003) were also certified platinum. In 2001, Lil' Kim reached number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 with the single "Lady Marmalade" (a remake of LaBelle' 1974 single), alongside Mýa, Pink, and Christina Aguilera. Other notable singles from this period include "The Jump Off" and "Magic Stick"
James Lloyd (born August 20, 1977), better known by his stage name Lil' Cease, is an American rapper and former member of hip hop group Junior M.A.F.I.A. As part of Junior M.A.F.I.A., Cease's first album Conspiracy was released in 1995. He gained mainstream attention with a memorable verse on "Player's Anthem", the album's highest charting single. Frequent name dropping from mentor The Notorious B.I.G. throughout Cease's career helped keep the young rapper in the spotlight.
Cease featured on Def Jam's soundtrack for the 1997 comedy film How to Be a Player alongside LeVert, Cam'ron and Mase. He is also known for being a featured artist on Lil' Kim's record Crush on You from her debut album Hard Core, which was a number 1 hit on the Hot Rap Songs chart. Rapper Cam'ron revealed that he wrote the original rendition of the song Crush on You.
Randy Walker (August 21, 1968 – November 30, 1995), of the stage name Stretch, was an American rapper and record producer, working in Live Squad. In the early 1990s, he joined 2Pac's rap group Thug Life. In 1990, Stretch met Shock G of Digital Underground, the Bay Area rap group's 1991 album featured Stretch on its track "Family of the Underground." That year, Live Squad remixed the group's single "No Nose Job."
While Tupac filmed his breakthrough role in Juice, Stretch and Treach, of rap group Naughty By Nature, were extras. Once Tupac's trailer was robbed of jewelry, they delivered a beatdown on set. In late 1991, after studio recordings, live shows, and TV appearances with Stretch, 2Pac put out his debut album, 2Pacalypse Now, with two tracks, including "Crooked Ass Nigga," where Stretch produces and raps.
The two became fast friends. Rapping his 1992 single "If My Homie Calls" on Yo! MTV Raps, 2Pac was backed by Stretch. However, The November 30, 1994, shooting of Shakur led to their split. The situation was more of a fall out between Stretch and Pac. On November 30, 1995, exactly one year after the shooting of Shakur, Stretch was shot and killed at the age of 27.
LL COOL J
James Todd Smith (born January 14, 1968), known professionally as LL Cool J (short for Ladies Love Cool James), is an American rapper, songwriter, record producer, and actor. His breakthrough success came with his single "I Need a Beat" and his debut album, Radio, in 1985. His sophomore album, Bigger and Deffer, supported by singles "I'm Bad" and "I Need Love," were released to commercial success and acclaim in the summer of 1987. LL Cool J became an early hip hop act to achieve mainstream success alongside Def Jam Recordings groups Beastie Boys and Run-DMC.
LL Cool J has released 13 studio albums and two greatest hits compilations. His twelfth album Exit 13 (2008), was his last for his long-tenured deal with Def Jam Recordings. LL Cool J has appeared in numerous films, including Halloween H20, In Too Deep, Any Given Sunday, Deep Blue Sea, S.W.A.T., Mindhunters, and Edison. He currently plays NCIS Special Agent Sam Hanna in the CBS crime drama television series NCIS: Los Angeles. LL Cool J also is the host of Lip Sync Battle on Paramount Network.
Tupac admired LL and even gave him a shout out on his song “Old School” in which ‘pac praises all the rappers that influenced him, and who helped rap. But LL didn’t seem to be pleased with the whole Tupac situation and recorded a remix of his song “I Shot Ya”, which brings to mind a song by Notorious BIG called “Who Shot Ya“. Tupac thought this song was about him being shot in New York. Tupac retaliated in tracks like “My Little Homies“, saying “Say what nigga, I rock your motherfucking bells”
Mobb Deep was an American hip hop duo from New York City. The duo consisted of rappers Prodigy and Havoc. They are considered to be among the principal progenitors of hardcore East Coast hip hop and hip hop in the mid-1990s. Mobb Deep became one of the most successful rap duos of all time, having sold over three million records. Their best-known albums are The Infamous (1995), Hell on Earth (1996) and Murda Muzik (1999), and their most successful singles were "Shook Ones (Part II)" and "Survival of the Fittest." They were known for their dark and hardcore delivery. The duo disbanded in 2012, but reunited the following year. Prodigy died in June 2017.
Whilst in jail Tupac did an interview with Vibe where he claimed that Thug Life was dead and that he was giving it up. Mobb Deep felt as if they were tough enough to represent it, and in a song called “Survival of the Fittest”, Thug Life we still livin it…”Puff Daddy and Nas also makes a cameo appearance in the music video.
One of the songs off the Hell on Earth album, “Drop a Gem on ‘Em” was a diss against 2Pac, who had sent shots against Mobb Deep, amongst many other New York rappers, on “Hit ‘Em Up,” dropped in June of that year. The duo dropped “Drop a Gem on ‘Em” as a promotional single, a few months before the album officially came out, but 2Pac was shot and killed in Las Vegas shortly afterwards.
THE NOTORIOUS B.I.G.
Christopher George Latore Wallace (May 21, 1972 – March 9, 1997), better known by his stage names the Notorious B.I.G., Biggie Smalls, or simply Biggie, was an American rapper and songwriter. Rooted in East Coast hip hop and particularly gangsta rap, he is widely considered one of the greatest rappers of all time. Wallace became known for his distinctive laid-back lyrical delivery, offsetting the lyrics' often grim content. His music was often semi-autobiographical, telling of hardship and criminality, but also of debauchery and celebration.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York City, Wallace signed to Sean "Puffy" Combs' label Bad Boy Records as it launched in 1993, and gained exposure through features on several other artists' singles that year. His debut album Ready to Die (1994) was met with widespread critical acclaim, and included his signature songs "Juicy" and "Big Poppa". The album made him the central figure in East Coast hip hop, and restored New York's visibility at a time when the West Coast hip hop scene was dominating hip hop music. Wallace was awarded the 1995 Billboard Music Awards' Rapper of the Year.
The following year, he led his protégé group Junior M.A.F.I.A., a team of himself and longtime friends, including Lil' Kim, to chart success. During 1996, while recording his second album, Wallace became ensnarled in the escalating East Coast–West Coast hip hop feud. Following Tupac Shakur's death in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas in September 1996, speculations of involvement in Shakur's murder by criminal elements orbiting the Bad Boy circle circulated as a result of Wallace's public feud with Shakur. On March 9, 1997, six months after Shakur's death, Wallace was murdered in a drive-by shooting while visiting Los Angeles. The assailant remains unidentified. Wallace's second album Life After Death, a double album, was released two weeks later. It reached number one on the Billboard 200, and eventually achieved a diamond certification in the United States.
BEEF & FALL OUT
Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr. (born October 20, 1971), known professionally as Snoop Dogg (previously Snoop Doggy Dogg and briefly Snoop Lion), is an American rapper, media personality, and actor. His fame dates to 1992 when he featured on Dr. Dre's debut solo single, "Deep Cover", and then on Dre's debut solo album, The Chronic. Broadus has since sold over 23 million albums in the United States and 35 million albums worldwide.
Broadus's debut solo album, Doggystyle, produced by Dr. Dre, was released by Death Row Records in November 1993, and debuted at number one. Selling 800,000 copies in its first week, Doggystyle was certified quadruple-platinum in 1994 and featured the singles "What's My Name?" and "Gin and Juice". In 1994, Death Row Records released a soundtrack, by Broadus, for the short film Murder Was the Case, starring Snoop. In 1996, his second album, Tha Doggfather, also debuted at number one on both charts, with "Snoop's Upside Ya Head" as the lead single. The next year, the album was certified double-platinum.
In the midst of the heated rivalry at the time, Snoop told Martinez that he never had any problems with Bad Boy, Biggie or New York. This remark sparked a feud between Snoop and Tupac.
Sean Combs (born Sean John Combs; November 4, 1969), also known as Puff Daddy, P. Diddy, Diddy, or Puffy, is an American rapper, record executive, and entrepreneur. Born in New York City, he worked as a talent director at Uptown Records before founding his own record label, Bad Boy Records in 1993. Combs has produced and cultivated artists such as The Notorious B.I.G., Mary J. Blige, and Usher. Tupac Shakur maintained that Combs, also known as P-Diddy, was connected to a 1994 ambush of Shakur outside a studio in New York City. Reporter Chuck Phillips says Combs knows more about the violence than he's stated.
In September 2011, Greg Kading self-published the book Murder Rap: The Untold Story of the Biggie Smalls & Tupac Shakur Murder Investigations. In it, he included new evidence in the rappers' murders that he said implicated entertainment mogul Sean Combs and CEO of Death Row Records, Suge Knight. The release prompted what MediaBistro.com called "a new round of explosive media coverage about the unsolved killings". Combs responded to the allegation by telling Los Angeles local reporters in emails that "this story is pure fiction and completely ridiculous". Knight has not addressed the claim. Lil' Cease, a rapper and childhood friend of Smalls, told radio host Sway Calloway on the "Sway in the Morning"-show that he didn't believe Combs had ordered Shakur's shooting as Kading alleged in his book.