Producer: Sean "Puffy" Combs, Nashiem Myrick Album: Ready To Die Label: Bad Boy
The shot heard 'round the world. What began as an interlude for Mary J. Blige—but deemed too violent for an R&B album (Keith Murray was tapped instead)—ended up inflaming the biggest feud in hip-hop history.
Released just two months after Pac was beaten, shot, and robbed of his jewels in a Times Square recording studio (where B.I.G., Puff & Junior Mafia happened to be recording upstairs), the track sent shockwaves throughout the industry—most importantly to Tupac Shakur, who was holed up in a cell at Clinton Correctional Facility, unable to retaliate with plenty of time to sit, listen, and dissect the lyrics.
While Big and Puff vehemently denied that the track was aimed at Pac, asserting that “Who Shot Ya” was recorded months before the shooting, some of the lines were a little too suspect to be written off as pure coincidence (“Brave nigga, turned front page nigga.”) If anything the record was poorly timed, and the fact that it was a mainstay in Biggie's live sets further fueled controversy.
Once Suge Knight sprang Pac from jail in '95, Pac went on the warpath, famously turning “Who Shot Ya” back on B.I.G. with “Hit Em Up”: “Who shot me, but you punks didn't finish...”