The Notorious B.I.G vs. 2Pac – Who Left The Greatest Legacy?
By Sumit Rehal
This month marked 20 years since 2Pac’s first posthumous album, The Don Killuminati, The 7 Day Theory.
This year is also 20 years since Pac passed away at the young age of 25. There’s no denying that the late rapper has had a massive impact on the rap industry over the years but he was also rivalled in his time and even this day against The Notorious B.I.G for the crown of the rap kingdom.
Biggie Smalls has had a tremendous fandom amongst both hip hop purists and the mainstream, a credit that is rare in the industry as it’s hard to achieve support from both for their mostly contrasting appeals. Despite this, Lil Yatchy, a breaking through mumble rapper had recently claimed in an interview with Pitchfork that the Brooklyn hero is overrated.
So us at Highlight Nation have decided to analyse the two rappers and help determine who has left the greater legacy after two decades since the two legends’ passing.
Next time you hear a Biggie track, you will notice that your head is not bopping to the beat but is actually bopping to Biggie’s machine gun voice. The New Yorker’s deep pitch combines with his flawless delivery to create its own instrument, leaving the listener to vibe out to a whole other layer on the track.
The instrumentals on the likes of Warning and Juicy are traditionally slow jams but Biggie managed to transform them into hip hop bangers through his one of a kind flow that has left countless rappers, including Jay-Z emulating since. You could argue that Big was one of the first rappers successfully to go so hard on a slow jam commercially.
2pac’s cadence is more popular for being constantly aggressive in order to deliver his powerful messages. Tracks such as Changes, Hit ‘Em Up and I Just Don’t Give A Fuck all show Pac adopting a Chuck D inspired tone and speed. This attribute shouldn’t come as a surprise as Pac had even written a letter to the Public Enemy frontman while he was in jail to cite his inspiration.
Big also masters the aggressive flow on both his albums. On Who Shot Ya, which was rumoured to be a shot at Pac, Big comfortably shows aggression while still sounding witty, the same can be said about Going Back To Cali, which was also rumoured to be a shot at West Coast rappers, where Big steals the show on a West Coast influenced beat.
Tupac is mostly remembered as one of the great conscious rappers. Keep Ya Head Up reminded females to keep strong during times of discrimination, Dear Mama spoke of the rapper’s unconditional love for his maker and Changes is the most famous social injustice song in history.
Despite this, Pac also left us with some absolute party bangers. During Highlight Nation’s tour of the West Coast last year, California Love could be heard in every single club on every night! This song is the absolute California anthem and can be heard rapped to word for word by the locals.
2 of Amerika’s Most Wanted and I Get Around are two other infamous tracks that display Pac’s range without compromising his high standards.
Biggie has a few conscious tracks in his name in the likes of Suicidal Thoughts and Sky’s The Limit. Yet it is the club anthems that are mostly remembered when it comes to the East Coast rapper. Hypnotize, Big Poppa and Mo Money, Mo Problems are still always played at house parties and bars around the world.
Biggie shows slightly less saturation when it comes to his rival in terms of content as Pac conceptualised classics that have gone on to be honoured as anthems in the street, the whip and the club.
The Notorious B.I.G is not named that just for the sake of it. Big notoriously produced some of the best bars in the history of the art form with his unmatched wordplay and multiple layered rhyming patterns. Take a look at this snippet of Notorious Thugs, where Big combined his flow with his poetry to dumbfound the listener.
“Armed and dangerous
Ain’t too many can bang with us
Straight up weed; no angel dust
Label us “Notorious thug ass niggas that love to bust“
It’s strange to us, y’all niggas be scramblin‘, gamblin‘
Up in restaurants with mandolins and violins
We just sitting here tryna win, try not to sin
High off weed and lots of gin
So much smoke, need oxygen
Steadily counting them Benjamins“
The lyricism of 2Pac differed to that of Biggie’s in the sense it wasn’t about wordplay as such but more about the passion within the verses. Pac’s The Rose That Grew From Concrete is a compilation of poetry from the artist that showed that he always was able to passionately put his thoughts down onto paper and transfer his feelings to the audience. He was also able to do that on a mass scale with I Ain’t Mad At Cha.
“I kiss my Mama goodbye, and wipe the tears from her lonely eyes
Said I’ll return but I gotta fight the fate’s arrived
Don’t shed a tear, cause Mama I ain’t happy here
I’m through trial, no more smiles, for a couple years
They got me goin mad, I’m knockin busters on they backs
in my cell, thinkin, ‘Hell, I know one day I’ll be back'”
Tupac’s Thug Life has gone on to become the most influential counterculture in hip hop. Inspiring the “Me against the world” attitude around the world and has been the inspiration for movements from fashion to politics.
Biggie’s hustler’s mentality has left its mark on the industry. The rags to riches storyline and former drug dealer persona has been a staple in mainstream hip hop ever since the 90s and it can be traced back to the emergence of Big.
Both of these moguls crossed attributes and styles but it is 2Pac that had the greater influence on a social scale and Biggie that had a larger impact on the art form.
The two were taken away from us before they could have even reached their full potential as they died before their prime. Who left the greater legacy overall? Vote in our poll below!
[wpdevart_poll id=”2″ theme=”1″]
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