Tupac vs. Biggie: Who's the greatest rapper of all time?
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Tupac vs. Biggie: Who's the greatest rapper of all time?

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If you think any of the hip-hop feuds today are legit, then you missed the '90s. Tupac Shakur versus the Notorious B.I.G. was the rap beef to end all rap beefs. Unfortunately, the East Coast versus West Coast war ended with the tragic deaths of both artists. TupTupac and Biggie's legacies endure, but the debate over who is the greatest of all time still rages on. Tupac is regarded as not only a legendary lyricist but a great poet. Yet, Biggie's flow and storytelling are iconic. Who's the GOAT? 🐐

8 Mos Until Voting Ends

Tupac's music is regarded as poetry—encompassing lyrics about his personal struggles, racism, growing up in poverty, social ills, imprisonment and his childhood.

His music has inspired this generation of rappers, including Kendrick Lamar. And several Tupac albums were released posthumously, leading to years of speculation that he's not actually dead. The aggressive flow and lyrical skills that make Tupac a poet is why many argue he is the greatest of all time.

Complex's Justin Charity spells out why Tupac is better than Biggie.

The Notorious B.I.G., 2Pac’s most obvious rival in the East/West Coast wars of the mid-’90s, was the more proficient rapper on various rhythmic and lingual counts; though critical retrospect tends to exaggerate the simplicity of 2Pac’s rhyme schemes and vocab. In any case, B.I.G. was never quite the font of rage and grandiose action that’s inspired three (so far) generations of rappers—from Eminem and 50 Cent, to Lil Boosie, to Meek Mill and J. Cole—to follow 2Pac’s blueprint after the rapper’s violent demise.

But not everyone agrees Tupac is the GOAT.

Biggie was Pac's biggest rival in the game. Biggie came on the scene and took East Coast rap to the next level. His sick flow, storytelling and freestyle skills made him a legend overnight. Tupac might have the edge in regards to lyrical ability, but Biggie dropped tracks with the kind of polished technical skills no one had ever heard before. Just listen to "Juicy."

Complex's Angel Diaz argues why Biggie is better than Tupac.

No 2Pac album is better than Ready to Die. Big's first album is right up there with Illmatic and Paid in Full for the "greatest rap album ever created" title. It had storytelling, top-notch production, it was street and commercial at the same time, and offered otherworldly wordplay. He set the tone for what was to come: commercial viability for hip-hop. Tracks like "Gimme the Loot," "Juicy," and "One More Chance" stood side-by-side without feeling disjointed. "Big Poppa" and "One More Chance (Remix)" shot Big into super stardom, and they laid the foundation for his sophomore effort.

Many critics consider "Me Against the World" to be Tupac's most personal album. He included elements of his childhood, trouble with the police and imprisonment on the album. He was imprisoned when the LP became his first to debut atop the Billboard 200. The album included hits like the personal "Dear Mama." On the track, he talks about growing up in poverty but also shows his great appreciation for everything his mother, Afeni Shakur, had done for him.

Check out these significant lyrics to "Dear Mama," per Genius.

🎶When I was young, me and my mama had beef. Seventeen years old, kicked out on the streets. Though back at the time I never thought I'd see her face. Ain't a woman alive that could take my mama's place. Suspended from school, and scared to go home, I was a fool. With the big boys breakin' all the rules. I shed tears with my baby sister, over the years. We was poorer than the other little kids. And even though we had different daddies, the same drama. When things went wrong we'd blame Mama.🎶

Watch the music video to Tupac's "Dear Mama" below. 

"Ready to Die" was Biggie's iconic debut, a celebrated album that ultimately cemented his legacy. Biggie got his start on Craig Mack's "Flava in Ya Ear" and also scored a promotional hit with "Party and Bulls***." But the album's lead single, "Juicy," is what made him a rap god, and is the reason why many regard him as the greatest. On the track, he talked about the struggles of everyday life in New York City.

Here are some notable lyrics to mega-hit single, per Genius.

🎶It was all a dream, I used to read Word Up! magazine. Salt-n-Pepa and Heavy D up in the limousine. Hangin' pictures on my wall. Every Saturday Rap Attack, Mr. Magic, Marley Marl. I let my tape rock 'til my tape popped. Smokin' weed on Bambu, sippin' on Private Stock. Way back, when I had the red and black lumberjack. With the hat to match.🎶

Watch the full music video to Biggie's "Juicy" below. 

"All Eyez On Me" was released more than six months before Tupac's tragic death on Feb. 13, 1996. But the album's success continued well after he was murdered in September 1996. It's no surprise that the album and now share the same name with the upcoming Tupac biopic being released on Friday, June 16. The album was certified Diamond upon selling more 10 million copies. Lead singles "California Love" and "How Do U Want It" both topped the Billboard Hot 100.

Here are some significant lyrics to "California Love," also thanks to Genius.

🎶Out on bail, fresh out of jail, California dreaming. Soon as I step on the scene, I'm hearing hoochies screaming. Fiending for money and alcohol. The life of a Westside player where cowards die and the strong ball. Only in Cali where we riot not rally to live and die.🎶

Watch the music video for "California Love" below. 

"Life After Death" was technically released posthumously, but Biggie completed the album before his death. He scored mega #1 hits with "Hypnotize" and "Mo Money Mo Problems" on the Billboard Hot 100. Like "All Eyez On Me," Biggie's final album is certified Diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Check out these significant lyrics to "Hypnotize" below, thanks to Genius.

🎶Hah, sicker than your average. Poppa twist cabbage off instinct. Niggas don't think shit stink. Pink gators, my Detroit players. Timbs for my hooligans in Brooklyn.🎶

Watch the music video for "Hypnotize" below.

#TeamTupac because he's not only the great lyricist but also the most respected poet in rap history.

#TeamBiggie as GOAT because his flow and storytelling (over smooth hip-hop beats) took East Coast rap to even greater heights.

Listen to Tupac's iconic "Me Against the World" below.

Listen to Biggie's legendary "Ready to Die" below.

Listen to the groundbreaking "All Eyez On Me" below.

Listen to the super popular "Life After Death" below.


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