#6. The Notorious B.I.G. & Puff Daddy (VIBE, 1996)
Issue: September 1996
Art Direction: Lee Ellen Fanning
Photography: Dana Lixenberg
This issue is a double-edged sword. On one hand it's a perfect enactment of the Bad Boy dynamic, with Big in the forefront blowing out blunt smoke and Puff as his carefree corner, playing the back and hyping his every move.
But the ominous, incendiary coverline "East Vs. West" brought VIBE to the center of the controversy, and the magazine's journalistic ethics into question, since the feature itself finds the duo downplaying the Death Row beef.
Pac would be dead in a month. Biggie would suffer the same fate seven months later. And subsequently there was no shortage of critics pointing their finger at this cover and laying culpability at publication's feet.