"We keep on coming while we running for your jewels,
Steady gunning, keep on busting at them fools. You know the rules."
The East Coast/West Coast feud is potentially the most important moment in the history of hip-hop. Essentially, a lyrical, and ultimately physical, battle arose between Death Row Records and Bad Boy Records, with Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G. serving as the labels' respective poster boys. Sadly, both were murdered.
The East Coast/ West Coast hip-hop rivalry was a feud between Bad Boy Records and Death Row Records, and the artists and fans of each record label.
New York was the birthplace of hip-hop, but in the early 1990s the West Coast started to become the epicenter of rap music, thanks in large part to Death Row Records' release of Dr. Dre's 1992 album The Chronic and Snoop Doggy Dogg's 1993 album Doggystyle. Los Angeles was beginning to usurp New York's throne for hip-hop supremacy.
In 1993, Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs founded Bad Boy Records, based in New York. The following year, Bad Boy released debut albums from New York rappers The Notorious B.I.G. and Craig Mack. The albums' successes rejuvenated East Coast hip-hop.
Oakland based rapper Tupac Shakur then created a rivalry with Biggie, alleging him and Puff Daddy to have created an incident in which Tupac was robbed and shot five times in the lobby of a New York recording studio. Biggie's track "Who Shot Ya?" was released soon after Tupac's attempted murder. Biggie and Puff Daddy denied involvement in the shooting and claimed that "Who Shot Ya?" was recorded prior to the incident, but Tupac and the majority of the hip-hop community viewed the track as a taunt at Tupac.
At the Source Awards in New York in August 1995, Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight aimed a shot at Puff Daddy, referencing his habit of ad-libbing on Bad Boy tracks and appearing in Bad Boy videos. This jibe was seen as a dig at the entire East Coast rap scene. Later that year, Knight caused tensions to rise further when his friend was shot in the arm at a party in Atlanta. Knight accused Puff Daddy of being involved with the shooting. He also posted $1.4 million bail for Tupac in exchange with him signing with Death Row Records. After his release, Tupac joined Knight in his campaign against Bad Boy.
Tupac then began appearing on tracks making derogatory remarks about and to Biggie, Bad Boy, and anyone affiliated with either. The most notable song was Tupac's "Hit 'Em Up", in which he made comments about sleeping with Biggie's wife.
During this time, the national media began reporting on the feud, causing fans to take sides and giving further legs to the rivalry. The feud did not end until both Tupac and Biggie were murdered on September 13, 1996 and March 9, 1997, respectively.