Meeting Biggie

Date: 1993

Trajectory: To the east, my brother

Choice or Circumstance: Choice

The Choice: Connection over isolation

Complex says: Tupac Shakur was already a hip-hop star when he first heard “Party & Bullshit,” the debut single from an obscure Brooklyn rapper named Biggie Smalls (soon to be rechristened “The Notorious B.I.G.”) Shakur obsessed over the song. He and Big eventually met, and the two became fast friends, hanging while on the road and whenever Shakur’s travels took him to New York.

 
Tupac and Biggie freestyled together in two legendary performances at New York’s Palladium and Madison Square Garden.
 

Tupac and Biggie freestyled together in two legendary performances at New York’s Palladium and Madison Square Garden. They were a classic case of opposites attracting — beautiful Tupac, the West Coast rapper who emerged from neglect and poverty to become a poet and actor; and homely Big, the East Coast MC who came from a comfortable, loving home to become a drug dealer and street scientist. Tupac had the fame and lifestyle that Big coveted; Big had the street smarts and experience that Tupac lacked.

A year later, Tupac would turn on his friend in the most public fashion, and the rift in their casual friendship — exploited in a rivalry between their business benefactors — would soon take on historic, tragic significance.