Hip HopLegends

Is Rap Beef Worth Your Life? Lessons From 2Pac & Biggie

It’s #OldSchoolSaturday and yours truly Venom looks at the history of beef in rap as fans of this era know of Drake vs Pusha T or Drake vs Meek Mill. Eminem vs Machine Gun Kelly was also well documented recently. Tekashi 6ix9ine before his recent legal problems had issues with YG from the west coast that involved a ban and more for the New York rapper.

In today’s rap world everyone knows about beef as it is apart of rap culture, but when we look at the origins we look no further than New York. We look no further than the Mother of it all Roxanne Shante who is credited by many for starting the first ever rap beef. They were rap battles before her, but actual beef came from her going straight at UTFO. 

Roxanne’s Revenge

He ain’t really cute, and he ain’t great/He don’t even know how to operate

Roxanne Shante

Born Lolita Shante Gooden, the teenager would rock the foundations of hip hop in 1984 after dropping rhymes with the iconic Marley Marl on the way to doing laundry. 

I knew they were not ready for me. I felt like, ‘OK, now they’ve been lured in. That’s what you have to do to have a great battle. You have to get them so angry. Some MCs would battle me and they would mess up their rhymes because they weren’t composed

Roxanne Shante

In later years we would see females such as Nicki Minaj battling the likes of Lil’ Kim or Remy Ma straight out of prison going at the neck of the leader of the Barbz. The beef between Lil’ Kim and Nicki Minaj was over who was biting whom and a respect issue between new school and old school.



There has even been rap beefs within camps to the point where one hip hop artist took on his former crew. Who could forget Ice Cube going up against N.W.A. with the single “No Vaseline”?


Speaking of crews I would be remised for not mentioning “The Bridge Wars” between Boogie Down Production vs The Juice Crew. It was one of the earliest rap beefs that raised the bar in terms of beef leading to territorial wars. A few weeks ago it seemed as if Tory Lanez may have started a country war between Canada and USA, but that thankfully didn’t go anywhere. The father of territorial wars thankfully didn’t have any casualties of war either.

This battle within New York was revisited sort of when Queensbridge rapper Nas went into a rap beef with Marcy projects hip hop artist Jay Z. The two would throw insults so deep that it led to a pop culture vernacular term Ether. It got “Super Ugly” when “baby seats” and “condoms” got brought up.

Ain’t no other kings in this rap thing/ They siblings, nothing but my children/ One shot they disappearin

Notorious BIG

Kendrick Lamar ruffled a few feathers when he proclaimed himself the “King Of New York”. He exalted himself with the icons of hip hop such as Andre 3000, Jay Z, and Nas. He also threw down the gauntlet against the new school artists as well such as Drake and J. Cole.

As Roxanne Shante did years prior on the tail end of her career, a young rapper by the name of Biggie Smalls took shots at the whole industry similar to how Eminem went Kamikaze months ago. Although this track makes specific references to Wu-Tang Clan and Nas, the song is aimed at everyone, including the audience listening at home. What happens when a New York born MC has enough and rides for the west coast? You end up with the most deadly rap beef in history. The rap beef which is still talked about today and lessons are learned from its mistakes. You can’t get any bigger than Biggie Smalls vs Tupac aka East Coast vs. West Coast.


2pac-notorious-big
Title: BIGGIE AND TUPAC ¥ Pers: NOTORIOUS BIG / SHAKUR, TUPAC ¥ Year: 2002 ¥ Dir: BROOMFIELD, NICK ¥ Ref: BIG129AA ¥ Credit: [ FILM FOUR/LAFAYETTE FILMS / THE KOBAL COLLECTION ]

BET Network took a look at the impact of this classic 90’s hip hop beef. It showed the power of hip hop hitting the world scene for the first time. 
Is hip-hop beef worth your life? In episode 104 BET covers the story of Tupac and Biggie with legends and the new breed of artists which include N.O.R.E. Too $hort, Tokyo Jetz, LV, Domani Harris, Nipsey Hussle, Drumma Boy, Dreezy and more discuss beef in the hip-hop community.

BET also takes a look at the most notorious rap beefs that transcended the industry and shaped the hip hop generations. 

There are both positives and negatives just as in life with rap beef, but that is what makes it so surreal and unlike any other genre in the music industry. What will future generations learn and take away from these monumental events in the culture’s rich history? Time will tell!

This has been Venom with another article.