Target: Mobb Deep, Puffy, Junior M.A.F.I.A., Lil Kim, The Notorious B.I.G., Chino XL
Producer: Johnny J
Album: How Do U Want It [Single]
Label: Death Row/Interscope
Best Line: "That's why I fucked your bitch, you fat motherfucker"
Reworking the beat of the opponent's popular song? Check. Claiming relations with the opponent's baby-mama? Check. Poking fun at the opponent's physique and labeling him a biter? Check. Video parody? Check. Letting your little homies get in on the action? Check. On paper, 2Pac perfected and personified the diss song formula on "Hit Em Up," incorporating all of the elements those before him used to become victorious against their adversaries.
However, Pac kicked his up a few notches, taking this from a war of words to a war of coasts that eventually divided an entire hip-hop nation. What began as a beef between two rappers (Biggie and 2Pac) eventually turned into a battle between the West Coast-based Death Row Records and the East's Bad Boy Records, who were the top two labels in hip-hop at the time. This sent the media into a frenzy, who dubbed it the East Coast vs. West Coast war, which quickly became the most publicized and sensationalized hip-hop beef of all time.
In the wake of "Hit Em Up," two of hip-hop's greatest talents (B.I.G. and 2Pac) would be killed (both murders remain unsolved), changing the face of hip-hop—and beef—forever. This battle will forever be a reminder that, unless kept on wax, rap beef can quickly become real beef with dire consequences.