Producer: Johnny "J"
Label: Death Row/Interscope
This is that divide-your-peeps shit. In the first line alone—“First off fuck your bitch and the clique you claim”—Pac delivers lacerations of the apocalyptic kind. Still angry at what he saw as a betrayal by his good friend, he got on a mission to eat Big's food to devastating effect.
Even after Pac began leveling accusations of their complicity in his Quad Studio shooting, no one at Bad Boy was prepared for this. Big and Puff had been enjoying a relatively unmolested rise to the top of the rap heap. Cuts like Junior M.A.F.I.A.'s “Get Money” and “Who Shot Ya?” were flying up the rap charts. Bad Boy was a hit machine, but they were ill-prepared for what Pac would unleash soon after Suge Knight—an avowed enemy of Puffy—bailed Pac out of prison. A raving mad 2Pac reinterpreted “Get Money” and crafted a devastating, and we mean devastating, retort.
In one burst of acidic vitriol, Pac managed to level an attack on not only Biggie but his entire entourage, setting off the war and realigning hip-hop for the foreseeable future. For his part, Big waited till Life After Death to respond, while publicly denying any knowledge of why Pac got on some new shit.
But the damage was done, and Makavelli the Don was born. "Hit 'Em Up" opened the floodgates for a thousand diss tracks along the east-west fault line. Snoop would come crush the buildings, which would spawn CNN, who would let us all know that New York—especially Iraq—wasn't havin' it. Good times.