NOTORIOUS B.I.G./2PAC In Life Did They Part Other rappers can sell millions of records, but no other MCs can claim the prime emotional real estate in every hip-hopper's heart that 2Pac and Biggie have. Though enemies in their past lives, they will always be ironically intertwined in the collective hip-hop memory, destined to be forever invoked in the same sentence.
Besides dying violently at the peaks of their careers, 2Pac on the Las Vegas Strip and Biggie outside a party in Los Angeles, the way they approached their art forms was entirely different. Biggie's brand of genius was more cerebral; he crafted dense rhyme schemes and delivered them in a nasal lisp just dripping with character.
2Pac's loyal fans appreciated his direct approach to his recurring themes-ghetto love, ghetto victories, ghetto failures. Compared to Big, his genius was more emotive. He manipulated his California accent so that it bottomed out with a rich vibrato.
In "Keep Ya Head Up," he beseeched his listeners with heartfelt delivery: "Time to heal our women, be real to our women/ And if we don't we'll have a race of babies/ That will hate the ladies, that make the babies." Like early blues, 2Pac's simple rhyme structure was merely a means to an end rather than the end itself.
But the greatest difference between Biggie and 2Pac was not in their approaches to their craft but what they meant to their listeners. 2Pac's nationalistic lyrics thundered coast to coast, the product of his parents' involvement with the Black Panthers."It's time to fight back that's what Huey said," remembered 2Pac on "Changes." "Two shots in the dark now that Huey's dead." Later in his life, he miraculously survived multiple beatings and gunshot wounds, emerging with even more militant songs than before. Even after death, he...