Who Shot Ya?

"Who Shot Ya"[1] or often "Who Shot Ya?"[2] is a song by Brooklyn, New York, rapper the Notorious B.I.G., also called Biggie Smalls, backed by Sean Combs as the "hype man".[3][4] Puffy's emerging record label, Bad Boy Entertainment,[5] released it on February 21, 1995, on an alternate reissue of Biggie's single "Big Poppa/Warning," out since December 5, 1994.[6] While this 1994 release climbed the Billboard Hot 100,[7] its new B side "Who Shot Ya"—now Biggie's "most infamous classic,"[8] with an instrumental now iconic[9][10]—revised some vocals of a "Who Shot Ya" track, rapped by Biggie and Keith Murray, already issued on a mixtape from a Harlem DJ earlier in 1995.[11][12] Recalled as "menacing magic" that helps "define New York rap,"[4] "Who Shot Ya" was "controversial and hugely influential."[13] Widely interpreted as a taunt at 2Pac,[14][15][16] the single provoked a "rap battle" between the two rappers,[17][18] formerly friends.[19][20]

"Who Shot Ya?"
Biggie- Who Shot Ya.jpg
Song by the Notorious B.I.G.
ReleasedFebruary 21, 1995
GenreGangsta rap
Songwriter(s)Christopher Wallace

Biggie, when interviewed, explained his "Who Shot Ya" lyrics as portraying a rivalry between drug dealers.[14] Sharing the mixtape track's instrumental,[11] the single replaces the Murray verse with a second Biggie verse,[21] and expands Puffy's "hype man" vocals.[2] Beyond a synthesized kick drum added,[22] the instrumental is simply a sample that "chillingly"[11] loops a portion of soul singer David Porter's 1971 song "I'm Afraid the Masquerade is Over,"[22] album Victim of the Joke? An Opera.[23][24] A "snippet" of the mixtape track, but Murray's verse,[11] plays in "K. Murry Interlude,"[25] a brief skit on Uptown Records singer Mary J Blige's R&B album My Life,[26] coproduced by Puffy,[27] released on November 29, 1994.[28] That day, James "Jimmy Henchman" Rosemond, managing an Uptown Records rapper, booked Tupac to record a cameo.[29] Reaching the studio's Times Square building lobby, Tupac was shot resisting robbery by waiting gunmen.[30]

Tupac instantly blamed Rosemond,[31] and soon suspected privity by Puffy and Biggie.[32][33][34][35] Once a January jailhouse interview of Tupac, hinting the suspicions, was read in Vibe magazine's April issue,[36] "Who Shot Ya" intervening, "the industry rumor mill was churning."[14] The central persons all disputed Tupac's portrayal, and Biggie called "crazy" the rumors blaming him via "Who Shot Ya" lyrics.[33] Either way, the single's timing was suspect.[10][14][32] Out of prison, Tupac answered in June 1996 by the B side "Hit 'Em Up"[37]—accusing and menacing Biggie and Puffy by name[38]—which legendary "diss track"[17][39] inflamed the rap community's East/West rivalry to its peak.[10][15][18][40] In Vibe, then, Puffy denied any aggression at Tupac, and Biggie called "Who Shot Ya" initially "the intro to that shit Keith Murray was doing on Mary J Blige's joint."[40] Biggie's puzzling explanation indirectly spotlit Puffy's vocals, shouting East Coast, motherfucker!.[14]

Tupac's fatal shooting in September 1996 and Biggie's in March 1997,[41] both officially unresolved,[42][43] drew speculations partly blaming the "rap battle."[10][18][44][45][46] Biggie and studio associates who witnessed his "Who Shot Ya" recording have unanimously disputed that it, or Biggie's "saying that phrase,"[26] targeted Tupac.[26][47][48] Nashiem Myrick, the main producer, avowed "no reason, no motive, at all, to have set 'Pac up,"[47] a query tied to the song.[10][49][15][35][50] It was reissued in 1999 on the posthumous Biggie album Born Again,[13] in 2001 on a "Big Poppa/Warning" reissue with remixes,[6][51] in 2004 on a remaster of his 1994 or debut album Ready to Die,[1] and in 2007 on his compilation album Greatest Hits. In 2014, the mixtape version, key inspiration to rapper Jay-Z in 1995,[52][12] drew renewed notice.[8][11] Rock band Living Colour's music video to a 2016 cover version protests gun violence.[53] Who Shot Ya? is now a trope beyond music.[54]

Closing another B sideEdit

Track selectionEdit

In July 1993, Uptown Records' founder Andre Harrell fired his unbridled A&R man and record producer Sean "Puffy" Combs, age 23, whose new label, Bad Boy Entertainment, then found parenting by Clive Davis's Arista Records.[55] By late 1994, Bad Boy prevailed via rapper Craig Mack's hit single "Flava in Ya Ear," yet especially by Bad Boy's first album, Ready to Die,[5] released on September 13, 1994,[56] the debut album of gangsta rapper the Notorious B.I.G., or Biggie Smalls.[57][58] The album is mostly grim and hardcore,[59] but Puffy removed "Who Shot Ya" from it.[60]

Biggie wanted the first single to be "Machine Gun Funk."[60] Puffy made the first two A sides instead friendly songs—"Juicy" and then "Big Poppa," songs that Biggie resisted recording[47]—to increase radio appeal and sales, yet placed harder songs as their B sides.[60] The "Big Poppa" B side, "Warning," an album track, thus in practice a "double A side," relies on the instrumental of Isaac Hayes's cover version of "Walk on By," and casts Biggie suspecting that members of his own circle will set up him up for a robbery.[61] Each of the two songs received its own music video.[62][63]

Mixtape versionEdit

An underground "Who Shot Ya" differing—but same instrumental—was released in 1995 before the single.[11] Amid lore of this mixtape version, some speculated that it was a myth.[11] (In 2017, DJ EFN casually ventured that he may have had an underground issue on vinyl in a white sleeve, as used by DJs, before December 1994.)[21] In 2014, when the mixtape "Who Shot Ya" was traced to DJ S&S, a renowned issuer of New York mixtapes in the 1990s,[64] its original audio was publicized.[11] Like a mixtape track, it is only two minutes long—one Biggie verse, 24 bars, then one Keith Murray verse, 23 bars, amid "hype man" Puffy tersely yelling announcements[3]—but the verses are longer than the standard 16 bars.[65]

In 2004, Brooklyn rapper Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter recollected, about the mixtape,[12] "I've heard songs I like, but the last time I remember being truly, truly inspired was when I heard 'Who Shot Ya.' "[52] One night, Kareem "Biggs" Burke, cofounder of Jay-Z's label, Roc-A-Fella Records, drew him to Harlem's 125 Street,[52] entered his car, inserted the tape, and fled.[12] Jay-Z reflects, "He knew that if I heard 'Who Shot Ya?,' it's going to inspire me to make songs even hotter. But that song, it was so crazy. It just had an effect on everybody. The world stopped when he dropped 'Who Shot Ya?' "[12] On Jay-Z's debut June 1996 album's track "Brooklyn's Finest," guest Biggie includes the phrase who shot ya and the word warning.[66]

Single versionEdit

Closing the week of February 25, 1995, the "Big Poppa/Warning" single[67]—released December 5, 1994[6]—had spent six weeks, including five weeks at No. 1, on Billboard's Hot Rap Singles chart.[68] The single entered the main popular songs chart, the Billboard Hot 100, the week ending January 14 and, enduring 24 weeks, peaked at No. 6 on March 18.[7] Yet on February 21,[6] Bad Boy issued a new "Big Poppa/Warning" with an added B side, "Who Shot Ya,"[2] which grew Biggie's menacing persona.[47] The track also includes "hype man"[3] Puffy, previously friendly, yelling in uncharacterisic aggression.[11][14] The instrumental is basically a repeating portion of soul singer David Porter's 1971 song "I'm Afraid the Masquerade is Over,"[22][23] variously sampled in numerous rap songs.[69] "Who Shot Ya" is among the most influential and historic.[8][9][13][12] In 2020, Vulture.com, owned by New York magazine, ranked it #52 among "100 songs that define New York rap."[4]

Published lyrics may omit Puffy's vocals,[38] repeatedly yelling, in part, "As we proceed— / to give you what you need— / 9-5, motherfuckers— / Get live, motherfuckers— / As we proceed— / to give you what you need— / East Coast, motherfuckers— / Bad Boy, motherfuckers—."[2] Otherwise, one writer estimates, "The story Biggie tells in 'Who Shot Ya?' is simple and brutal. Someone's out to get him, but Biggie gets the drop on his foe."[47] MTV recognizes Biggie's verses for, nonetheless, "using the art of music to make the art of war sound beautiful."[12] "Biggie, menacing as ever," describes a writer in Billboard, "makes use of negative space in his verses that give his threats a biblical intensity."[10] Meanwhile, the instrumental, "deceptively candied," "lends the missive a psychedelic quality."[10] Yet this instrumental was heard briefly by R&B fans since the November 29, 1994,[28] release of Mary J Blige's second album, My Life,[26] first in track one, titled "Intro,"[70] and then in track six, "K. Murray Interlude."[11][25]

Production backstoryEdit

In 2014, a publicity piece for New York rap DJ and Hot 97 radio host Funkmaster Flex's new book announced, "The song 'Who Shot Ya' was originally an intro for Mary J Blige's album. Uptown/MCA said it was too hard. The song in its original form had a verse from Big, Keith Murray, and LL Cool J, though LL never did his verse. The song still exists!' "[8]

My Life recordingEdit

"Who Shot Ya" traces to the Uptown Records recording of R&B singer Mary J Blige's second or November 1994 album, My Life.[22][26][40] Its record producers were Carl "Chucky" Thompson,[27] Prince Charles Alexander, and Sean "Puffy" Combs,[26] while Nashiem Myrick, studio manager, "played a big role."[71] Prince Alexander was a Bad Boy regular,[72] whereas Chucky Thompson and Nashiem Myrick were among "the Hitmen," the inner circle of staff record producers at Bad Boy Entertainment.[73][74] Puffy began Bad Boy in 1992 while A&R director at, and initially in partnership with,[75] Andre Harrell's Uptown Records.[55][76]

Myrick had joined Bad Boy at its outset in 1993 as "studio intern," but in 1994 was its "production coordinator."[71][77] Myrick, as the main producer of "Who Shot Ya,"[78] recalls Puffy tasking him to make an instrumental for rapper Keith Murray as an interlude on Blige's album.[22] Myrick thus "came up with 'Who Shot Ya' "—or at least its basic instrumental—Myrick recalled in 2013.[22] Despite the "Who Shot Ya" impetus or evolution being retold with some discrepancies across the interviewed witnesses—Biggie himself, Nashiem Myrick, Chucky Thompson, and Biggie's protégé Lil' Cease[79]—agreed is that Puffy declared the result "too hard" for the R&B album.[21][22][26][40]

My Life opens with the track titled "Intro," 64 seconds long, which at 22 seconds begins and sustains the "Who Shot Ya" instrumental, without any of its vocals, at low volume under Puffy's speech, soon in dialog with Mary J Blige's.[70] Track six is "K. Murray Interlude," 22 seconds long, which opens with the same instrumental and nearly six bars of Murray's verse,[25] nearly a quarter of his full verse.[11] Midway into Murray's final full line included—My subliminals mix with criminal chemicals—Puffy speaks atop it, "Yo, Big Chuck, put on some of that smooth shit, man."[25] Midway into Murray's next line, all music aborts, whereupon a mechanical noise occurs twice, and the track ends.[25]

Instrumental mixEdit

Puffy, savvy on classic records, often told producers exactly what to sample, but sometimes left the task open.[80] In this case, Nashiem Myrick recalls an open task and the initial instrumental confusing Puffy, because the mixing console showed only one audio source, no isolated drum track.[22] The instrumental was simply one sample on loop, the drums native, explained Myrick.[22] Puffy then tasked Jean-Claude "Poke" Olivier, of the Trackmasters production duo, who both worked for Bad Boy,[81] to simply embellish the drums.[22]

Poke's programming of a synthesized kick drum, heavier and "fluffy," on a drum machine completed the instrumental.[22] Otherwise, it is simply a sample from "I'm Afraid the Masquerade is Over" by soul singer David Porter,[22][69] the Isaac Hayes coproducer who, alike Hayes, and sharing backing vocalists with Hayes, reinterpreted and extended popular hits.[82] Porter's cover version and extension of this 1939 classic[23] is on his "rock/soul opera" concept album, released in January 1971, that became a cult classic,[82] titled Victim of the Joke? An Opera.[24]

Chucky ThompsonEdit

Chucky Thompson, interviewed in 2014, recalled a customary occasion of record shopping with Nasheim Myrick,[71] and this time also entering the studio later while Myrick—inclined to scour records for samples—was playing one of these records in search of a portion to sample, then found one, and played it, looping, for hours.[83] Puffy meanwhile, having eventually entered the studio with Biggie, "got the idea to use it as an interlude for Mary's My Life album," recalls Thompson.[83]

Thompson adds, "Biggie originally rapped the verse on the interlude, and he was later replaced by Keith Murray."[83] "The reason why Keith Murray was brought in was due to B.I.G.'s verse on the interlude. If we kept his original verse, Puff would have been forced to place an Explicit Lyrics sticker on the album, and he didn't want to do that to Mary, so they brought Keith Murray in to replace Biggie."[83] "This sample," says Thomas, "ended up being used for the Notorious B.I.G.'s song 'Who Shot Ya.' "[83]

Nashiem MyrickEdit

Nashiem Myrick, interviewed in 2013, explained, "Actually, that joint was not meant for Big. We was working on the Mary, My Life, album. Puff came to me and said, 'Listen, I need an interlude beat for Keith Murray.' So one day, I got some time. I'm looking through the stuff in the studio, the CDs and records—boom, boom—I come across this record I always wanted to listen to. It's long, it's like 9 minutes long, 11 minutes long, however. Went through the whole record, came up with 'Who Shot Ya.' Keith Murray came through. LL actually came—do the rap on it—but he couldn't finish it. Puff said, 'Go get your man Big, and get him on that record: we have to have it done by Monday.' It was Friday. Found Big. Big came to the studio, blessed me. And that's history."[22] (LL Cool J, around this time managed by Puffy,[84] was a guest—along with Biggie, Busta Rhymes, and Rampage—on a remix of Bad Boy's first single, Craig Mack's "Flava in Ya Ear."[85])

Junior M.A.F.I.A.Edit

Biggie, when variously interviewed and asked about "Who Shot Ya," explained the lyrics as portraying a young drug dealer's turf war against an older drug dealer,[14] that "I wrote,"[40] and that it "was finished," too, "way before" late November 1994.[33] "It was supposed to be the intro to that shit Keith Murray was doing on Mary J. Blige's joint," Biggie asserted.[40] Mainstays at Biggie's recording sessions were members of his rap clique Junior M.A.F.I.A., especially Lil' Cease,[72] who recounts his alliance with Biggie from their Brooklyn neighborhood,[86] whom Biggie brought into the music industry,[21] and who seemingly was one of only two persons within the music industry whom Biggie thoroughly trusted.[87] In 2017, Cease indicated that "Who Shot Ya" recording, too, was "way before" late November 1994, but that "Keith Murray, LL Cool J, and Big" were the original artists on "Who Shot Ya," planned as "the intro to Mary J, My Life, album."[21] Cease added that once this original was rejected as "too hard" for her album, Biggie took it and, adding a verse to replace Keith Murray's verse, made it his own.[21]

Industry rumor millEdit

The November 1994 attack on Tupac was a turning point in American popular music.[88] Although Biggie never conceded the accusation,[17] "Tupac Shakur and a legion of his fans interpreted the Biggie B-side 'Who Shot Ya?' as a troll job,"[89] a barely veiled taunt.[32][40] In any case, a "rap battle" ensued.[17][38] Tupac's June 1996 answer song, "Hit 'Em Up," taking lyrical menace to unprecedented extreme,[90] was personal and overt,[91] "arguably the most passionate and unhinged diss record in history."[89] Tupac had been otherwise incarcerated across 1995 into October, but associating menace and homicide began before Tupac's release from prison.[15][92] The new trend in rap culture promptly figured into pop culture.[57]

Lost friendshipEdit

In maybe May 1993, on Bad Boy's first visit to Los Angeles, Biggie, upon his first single, "Party and Bullshit," sought and met Tupac.[76][86] In August and September, in New York to rap, Tupac visited Biggie in Brooklyn, and they rapped shows together in Manhattan.[93][86] Biggie joined Tupac and Randy "Stretch" Walker—of the Live Squad rap/production team from Queens, New York—yielding a new trio of running, rapping, and recording mates.[94][95] Yet in July, Puffy's firing from Uptown Records paused Biggie's album recording, an 18 months total while Biggie struggled financially.[72][96][97] Puffy placed Biggie as guest on two more singles, Mary J. Blige's "What's the 411?" remix and Super Cat's "Dolly My Baby."[98]

Tupac, star of Juice and July 1993 films, had his second or February 1993 album yield his first Top 20 popular hits, #11 in July and #12 in October.[97] In November, in New York shooting March 1994 film Above the Rim,[99] he socialized much with underworld boss Jacques "Haitian Jack" Agnant.[36][100][19] Brooklyn boxer Mike Tyson advised Tupac,[101] "I think you're out of your league."[102] Tupac's first Rolex purchase was to enter Agnant's circle.[36] Biggie recalled presence at the purchase, but Tupac's thereupon maybe favoring company wealthier than Biggie,[103] who warned Tupac to avoid Agnant.[101] Tupac, feeling Agnant a friend,[36] reportedly told him of the advice, causing Biggie backlash from Agnant's circle.[104]

In June 1996, Biggie reflected, "There's shit that motherfuckers don't know. I saw the situation and how shit was going, and I tried to school the nigga."[105] "He knows when all that shit was going down, I was schooling a nigga to certain things, me and Stretch—God bless the grave."[105] Stretch died in an unsolved shooting on November 30, 1995.[106] "But he," Biggie said of Tupac, "chose to do the things he wanted to do. There wasn't nothing I could do. But it wasn't like he wasn't my man."[105] By the November 30, 1994, nonfatal shooting of Tupac, he and Biggie, as write retrospective sources lacking details, either were simply still "friends,"[107] or had sustained "smaller kerfuffles,"[20] or, per street rumors, "had a war brewing."[108]

1994 shootingEdit

Tupac recalled Jacques "Haitian Jack" Agnant introducing him to James "Jimmy Henchman" Rosemond,[36] who recalled instead introducing Tupac to Agnant.[109][110] Both fearsome in New York City's criminal underworld, Agnant and Rosemond were managers and promoters reputed to extort and rob disfavored music artists.[111] On November 29, 1994,[29] Rosemond hired Tupac to record at Quad Recording Studios with his client Little Shawn,[112] rapper, Uptown Records, and record producer Bryce Wilson.[31][113] Tupac, amid "major beef" with Agnant,[36] and confronted by Rosemond for it on November 25,[109] was leery.[36] Present was Uptown's boss Andre Harrell, summoned by Rosemond.[114] Rosemond recalled "plenty of people."[31] Tupac recalled "about 40."[36] Little Shawn, as if "everybody must have known this cat was coming," recalled it "like a fucking party."[33] Puffy, hanging out,[114] recalled nearby filming for the "Warning" music video,[63] then going to visit Biggie on a higher of Quad's five floors, but getting sidetracked on this floor, Quad's required reception stop.[115]

Biggie, although sometimes reportedly with Puffy, Harrell, and Rosemond when Tupac arrived upstairs, was instead on a higher floor recording with his own rap group, Junior M.A.F.I.A.[115] Near 12:30 AM, Tupac, Stretch, and two other men entered the building lobby, where Tupac was shot resisting successful robbery of $40 000 of jewelry.[30] Stretch's manager, Freddie "Nickels" Moore, was nonfatally shot in the abdomen,[30] "but that," Tupac later said, "was the bullet that went through my leg."[36] Once upstairs, Tupac instantly blamed Rosemond,[33][113] and later grew convinced of his guilt.[116][117] Tupac would ultimately question lobby events as to Stretch,[57][117] others' reactions upstairs,[34][36] and "Who Shot Ya" release.[32][118] In response, Tupac would eventually record "Hit 'Em Up," assailing Biggie and Puffy, whereas "Against All Odds," released posthumously,[119] assails Agnant and Rosemond for setting him up.[38][116][120] By then or eventually, each complained about Tupac's airing names and gripes in the media and allegedly fostering cinematic drama in his own life.[33][116][50][121]

Key accusationsEdit

For a November 1993 incident in his Midtown Manhattan hotel suite,[122] Tupac Shakur's November 1994 trial led to December 1 conviction of sexual abuse, first degree, for groping.[123][124] On February 7, 1995, denied probation, he received prison—four years and six months—parole eligibility in 18 months.[123] A January 1995[125] jailhouse interview of Tupac—disavowing his own "Thug Life" ethos, vowing only directly positive acts, and leery at conduct by Stretch during and by others upstairs after the November 1994 shooting[34]—appeared in Vibe's April issue.[36] It, allegedly, "accused" Biggie and "blamed" Puffy,[126] or "implicates" them and Andre Harrell.[103] Puffy called it, instead, "open-ended, like me and Big and Andre had something to do with" the attack,[126] a main topic via "Who Shot Ya" when New York radio station Hot 97 interviewed Biggie.[14] Replying in Vibe's August issue, rather, each party but Stretch and Biggie recalled the injured Tupac acting like a movie role.[33]

James "Jimmy Henchman" Rosemond further called Tupac a "coward" who tried "street" ways but failed "the test" and was, "hysterically, talking about, 'Call the police.' "[33] Puffy spoke of empathy and hope his "Thug Life" ethos "is really over," but added, "if you gonna be a motherfuckin' thug, you gots to live and die a thug."[33][127] Tupac was, Biggie estimated, "the realest nigga in the game," but, recently assailed severely, "was just confused," maybe seeking cover or shelter by the interview, "just shitting on everybody."[33] "And then," Biggie added, "the story just completely got switched around: niggas saying I set him up and I'm the one that got him shot. They're saying that my record 'Who Shot Ya?' is about him."[33] "Niggas was taking little pieces of the song and trying to add it to the story, and that shit is crazy."[33] Stretch called Tupac "my man," but demanded he "recognize what the fuck he's doing"—"telling niggas' names and all that shit" in "the media"—breaking a "street" "rule that's never to be broken."[33]

On November 6, 1994, at a nightclub with a recent movie costar, Tupac met gossip columnist A J Benza, whereby New York's Daily News reported Tupac's viewing his own former codefendant Jacques "Haitian Jack" Agnant as a "hanger-on,"[101] maybe a government informant,[128] who caused the rape and gun case.[122][129][130] Street gossip then foresaw attack on Tupac.[101] Rosemond, angered,[109] would call the November 30 attack "discipline,"[19][131] but reassert innocence.[31][132][133] Agnant eventually recounted issuing order to not attack Tupac, but a then close ally, angered by the newspaper story, "especially in New York City," setting up this attack, anyway.[121] Widely viewed as its mastermind, Rosemond alleged that Tupac, being theatrical,[31] "makes a situation to sell records,"[116] and recalled ordering Tupac to stop blaming Biggie and Puffy, who "ain't got nothing to do with this."[131] Puffy, citing Tupac's deeming the gunmen's identifies open knowledge on the street,[32] called himself and Biggie "scapegoats."[34]

Reportedly, New York police had within the Bad Boy or Uptown label a confidential informant who named Biggie as the attack's contractor,[134] but government misinformation is possible.[135] Tupac heard street word that Biggie simply withheld warning of it.[19] Rosemond, disputing the storied five gunshot wounds, asserted Stretch's recount of only one gunshot, when a robber's grabbing Tupac's hand, trying to draw the gun, discharged it.[33][109][114] Lil' Cease recalls this a consensus[21]—whereby Bryce Wilson cites[113] gunpowder on Tupac's boxers[36]—a variant question of who shot him.[19][114][118] Biggie called him, in Vibe's August 1995 issue, "just confused more than anything. You get shot and then you go to jail for something you ain't even do. That could twist a nigga's mind up."[50] But as Vibe's excerpt omitted, Biggie also expressed appall at, he said, "what really went down": pistol-whipping and self-inflicted gunshot but, then, "just getting a little bit too happy with the situation, trying to make movies. Everything was a movie to him."[50]

Enduring debateEdit

Biggie consistently disputed that "Who Shot Ya" targeted Tupac.[14][33][40] Still, some call it a diss track,[136][137] if "subliminal."[138] Biggie recorded his lyrics "months" before Tupac was shot in November 1994,[139] but Puffy removed the song from Biggie's album, released in September 1994.[60] On both the mixtape track and the B side, however, Puffy shouts, "9-5."[2][11] Naima Cochrane, who "went on to work at Bad Boy" after working at a law firm that "represented the full roster of producers" at Bad Boy,[74] judges, " 'Who Shot Ya' sounds exactly like a track that accidentally launched rap's biggest feud between Biggie and Tupac."[4]

In 2009, the biographical film Notorious was released, and Rahman Dukes, who with coworkers had done research for it, announced, "Biggie himself clears up 'Who Shot Ya' misunderstanding."[48] Dukes prefaces that Lil' Cease, who was Biggie's main rap buddy,[72][87] as well as DJ Mister Cee, who had discovered Biggie,[58][96] denied it as a Tupac taunt.[48] Dukes adds, "Hell, even Diddy"—formerly Puffy—"shot down those claims."[48] Dukes asserts, "Only the late, great B.I.G. could clear matters up, but we all know that's not possible."[48] Dukes reports a "long-lost freestyle" with "a few bars," "a bit of hard-core evidence," but leaves it for listeners to judge.[48]

On the other hand, in 2010, rap magazine XXL assessed "8 subliminal diss records" and appraised, " 'Who Shot Ya?' remains highly contested, but the lyrics to 'Long Kiss Good Night' were even more direct."[138] "In the April 2003 issue of XXL, Lil' Cease confirms the record was aimed at 'Pac, while Puff contends that 'If Biggie was going to do a song about 2Pac, he would have just come out with it and said his name.' "[138] Released posthumously, "Long Kiss Goodnight" itself features Puffy's ad lib disclaimer—And we ain't talking about no other rap niggas[138]—but this song, nonetheless, "was definitely about 'Pac, no 2 ways about it,"[138] concludes XXL by citing other lyrics.[140]

XXL meanwhile estimated about "Who Shot Ya?" that "the timing of its release and the perceived subliminal shots"—including allegedly "telling lyrics" in Biggie's second verse, new in the single[141]—"lead us to believe that this was most likely a diss record."[138] In 2014, however, Bad Boy staff producer Chucky Thompson, key in Ready to Die production,[27][72] and witness to "Who Shot Ya" production, asserted, "I still have that recording with me today, and him saying that phrase had absolutely nothing to do with Tupac."[26] Nashiem Myrick, the song's main producer,[22][74] asserted, "We have no reason, no motive, at all, to have set 'Pac up. What's the motive? What's the issue? It's no issue. So, nah."[47]


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[142] Silver 200,000 

  Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.



  1. ^ a b Bad Boy Entertainment, advertisement, Vibe, 2004 Aug;12(8):75.
  2. ^ a b c d e Sound recording, "The Notorious B.I.G.—Who Shot Ya? (official audio)", The Notorious B.I.G. "Official Artist Channel" @ YouTube, 20 Sep 2019. (The written lyrics, including Puffy's lines, if slightly discrepant with the audio, are at "Notorious B.I.G.—'Who Shot Ya' lyrics", MetroLyrics.com, CBS Interactive Inc., 2020.) In the 5 minutes and 19 seconds of runtime, Biggie raps two verses, followed by Biggie speaking an interlude skit of threatening and shooting someone, followed at 03:45 by about a minute and half of Puffy's shouts overdubbed atop his own speech, What y'wanna do?, and some Mary J. Blige crooning.
  3. ^ a b c Jessica McKinny, "The lost art of the hype man", Vibe.com, Prometheus Global Media, LLC, 17 Jul 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d Naima Cochrane, "52. The Notorious B.I.G., 'Who Shot Ya' (1994)", in William E. Ketchum III, Craig Jenkins & Dee Lockett, eds., "The 100 Songs That Define New York Rap, Ranked", Vulture.com, Vox Media, LLC, 14 Sep 2020.
  5. ^ a b For a contemporary glimpse of the label's early success, see J. R. Reynolds, "Combs' Bad Boy label makes good", Billboard, 1995 May 20;107(20):18,23. For 15 years of hindsight, rather, see Bill Adler, In Ya Grill: The Faces of Hip Hop (New York: Billboard Books/Watson-Guptill, 2007), p 44.
  6. ^ a b c d "The Notorious B.I.G.: 'Big Poppa' ", AllMusic.com, Netaktion LLC, visited 6 Jun 2020.
  7. ^ a b Chart history, "The Notorious B.I.G.", Billboard.com, Billboard Media, LLC, visited 26 Nov 2021.
  8. ^ a b c d John Kennedy, "Biggie's 'Who Shot Ya' was made for Mary J. Blige, according to Funkmaster Flex", Vibe.com, Prometheus Global Media, LLC, 28 Oct 2014: "Funkmaster Flex plans to drop bombs on your bookshelf. The legendary rap jockey is partnering with journalist Karen Hunter and publisher Simon Schuster for a book of unbelievable stories about The Notorious B.I.G." "But the snippet that will make rap heads swivel concerns Big Poppa's most infamous classic: 'The song "Who Shot Ya" was originally an intro for Mary J. Blige's album. Uptown/MCA said it was too hard. The song in its original form had a verse from Big, Keith Murray and LL Cool J, though LL never did his verse. The song still exists!' "
  9. ^ a b Martin E. Connor, The Musical Artistry of Rap (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2018), pp 128129.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Brian Josephs, "The Notorious B.I.G.'s 25 best songs: Critic's picks", Billboard.com, Billboard Media, LLC, 9 Mar 2020.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Bandini, "DJ SNS liberates the original mixtape version of Biggie's 'Who Shot Ya' with a Keith Murray verse (audio)", AmbrosiaForHeads.com, 17 Mar 2014, embeds a YouTube video of a still image plus audio, and wholly addresses the topic: "One particular standout from Stan Ipcus's stellar feature is the bit on 'Who Shot Ya?.' The controversial song, produced by Nashiem Myrick & Diddy (who chillingly flipped a sample by Isaac Hayes' production partner David Porter), featured some uncharacteristic ad-lib shots from Puff Daddy at the time, and seemed to chide 2Pac into the beef that would transpire less than a year later. Like so many great myths surrounding The Notorious B.I.G. and mid-'90s Bad Boy, SNS maintains that his version, hitting the streets first in 1995, featured Keith Murray. While the Def Squad MC's lyrics would later be re-purposed to a Mary J. Blige interlude, with the interview, SNS digitized this moment in time. K.M., like Biggie, is an amazing lyricist who's never been too far from controversy. Here's what he said: 'I had 'Who Shot Ya' with Keith Murray's verse. To this day, no one still has that record. [Laughs.] You only heard Keith Murray's verse on the Mary [J. Blige My Life interlude]. But his whole verse wasn't on there, [it was just a snippet that faded in and out]. I had the full version.' " (The italics and brackets are native to this source.)
  12. ^ a b c d e f g "Notorious B.I.G.: Still the illest", MTV.com, MTV Networks, 9 Mar 2006, archived elsewhere on 24 May 2012, including page 2, Jay-Z: "The world stopped when he dropped 'Who Shot Ya'," simultaneously archived.
  13. ^ a b c Clive Davis with Anthony DeCurtis, The Soundtrack of My Life (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2012), p 409: "In 1999 Bad Boy released Born Again, a posthumous album of Biggie material that consisted of unfinished songs, previously unreleased material completed by collaborations with other rappers, and the controversial and hugely influential song 'Who Shot Ya?' "
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i Ronin Ro, Bad Boy: The Influence of Sean "Puffy" Combs On the Music Industry (New York: Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster, 2001). On pp 79–80, Ro skims the September 1995 shooting of Suge Knight's friend and bodyguard Jake "Big Jake" Robles, allegedly by Sean "Puffy" Combs's cousin and bodyguard Anthony "Wolf" Jones, after an altercation with Puffy's Bad Boy entourage at Atlanta nightclub Platinum House. And pp 80–81, discussing 'Who Shot Ya", explain, "The song went from mixtapes to record stores to being Biggie's main topic during an interview with New York radio station Hot 97. Biggie tried to explain that the song wasn't about Tupac, that it described a turf war between an older drug dealer and an ambitious young rival. But the industry rumor mill was churning, and according to wags, while performing the song during a party on a boat, he supposedly included Tupac's name a few times. Most disturbing, besides Bad Boy's timing, was Biggie saying, 'I wrote that motherfucking song way before Tupac got shot. It was supposed to be the intro to that shit Keith Murray was doing on Mary J. Blige's joint [My Life]. But Puff said it as too hard.' Now Puffy appeared on the song, growling, 'East Coast, motherfucker.' " [p 81].
  15. ^ a b c d Carrie Golus, "Tupac shot" & "East Coast vs. West Coast", pp 55 & 56, in USA Today Lifeline Biographies: Tupac Shakur: Hip-Hop Idol (Minneapolis, MN: Twenty-First Century Books/Learner Publishing Group, 2011).
  16. ^ Jeff Chang w/ Dave "Davey D" Cook, "Who Shot Ya?" & "Hit 'Em Up", Can't Stop Won't Stop: A Hip-Hop History (New York: Wednesday Books/St. Martin's Press, 2021).
  17. ^ a b c d Shea Serrano, "Timeline: Tupac and Biggie", The Rap Year Book: The Most Important Rap Song From Every Year Since 1979, Discussed, Debated, and Deconstructed (New York: Abrams Image, 2015). Also relevant is the entry "Seven questions: 1. Is this the best rap battle that's ever happened", a question about the 2001 battle between Nas's Ether" versus Jay-Z's "Takeover". To answer that question in the affirmative, the putative battle between Biggie's "Who Shot Ya" and Tupac's "Hit 'Em Up" is disqualified, since Biggie never openly acknowledged a battle.
  18. ^ a b c Cheryl Lynette Keyes, Rap Music and Street Consciousness (Urbana & Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2004), p 168.
  19. ^ a b c d e Ben Westoff, "How Tupac and Biggie went from friends to deadly rivals", Noisey, Vice.com, 12 Sep 2016.
  20. ^ a b Rachel Chang, "How Biggie and Tupac went from friends to music's biggest rivals", Biography.com, A&E Television Networks, LLC, 12 Sep 2019, updated 19 May 2020.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g N.O.R.E. & DJ EFN, interviewers, "Lil' Cease | Drink Champs (full episode)", Revolt @ YouTube, 23 Aug 2017: time mark 12:00 on the November 1994 shooting, 14:04 on the Tupac & Biggie rivalry, and 18:13 on the "Who Shot Ya" song. (For some written synopsis, see Shaheem Reid, " 'Drink Champs' | Lil Cease says Tupac was ready to squash beef with B.I.G. after his Vegas trip", Revolt.tv, 17 Aug 2017.)
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Admin, "Reclaiming the remix w/ Maschine, ep 3: Notorious B.I.G. 'Who Shot Ya?' w/ Nasheim Myrick", Blog.Dubspot.com, DS14, Inc., 6 Jun 2013, summarizes a corresponding video: Shareef Islam, interviewer, "Reclaiming the remix w/ Maschine Ep 3: Notorious B.I.G. 'Who Shot Ya?' w/ Nasheim Myrick", Dubspot "Verified" channel @ YouTube, 6 Jun 2013, whereby 01:11 opens discussion of "Who Shot Ya" production.
  23. ^ a b c Sound recording, "[I'm Afraid] The Masquerade Is Over", David Porter "Official Artist Channel" @ YouTube, 20 Jun 2019, indicates 9 minutes and 41 seconds, Stax Records, January 1, 1971. The song has two halves, first Porter's cover version of a 1939 classic, and then Porter's original extension. The cover's final four bars begin at 04:10, and the fifth bar thereafter, beginning at 04:20, opens the extension, whose early bars lend the "Who Shot Ya" instrumental. Herb Magidson wrote the words while Allie Wrubel wrote the music of the original "I'm Afraid the Masquerade is Over" [Rob DuBoff, ed, 200 of the Best Songs from the Swing Era (Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard Corporation, 1996)]. They copyrighted it in December 1938 [Library of Congress, Catalog of Copyright Entries: Part 3: Musical Compositions, Volume 33, No. 10 (Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1939), #34430, p 1447]. "The song was a minor hit in early 1939 as recorded by Larry Clinton with vocalist Bea Wain and was later done" "by both Dave Brubeck and Lou Donaldson", who all were artists either jazz or, as jazz's dancehall outgrowth, big band [Brian Priestley, "Charlie Parker and popular music", in Edward Berger, Henry Martin & Dan Morgenstern, eds, Annual Review of Jazz Studies, Vol. 14 (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2009), [https://books.google.com/books?id=Vd2-AAAAQBAJ&pg=PA87/ p 87] ]. In 1957, jazz singer Sarah Vaughan offered a rendition, too. In 1962, so did jazz singer Nancy Wilson, whose version crossed over as a popular hit [Steve Graybow, "Jazz notes", Billboard, 2002 Feb 23;114(8):36A]. In 1965, Johnny Hartman offered a version more pop but less successful [Gregg Akkerman, The Last Balladeer: The Johnny Hartman Story (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2013), p 141]. In December 1965, the original copyright was renewed [Library of Congress, Catalog of Copyright Entries: Third series: Music, July–December 1965 (Washington DC: Copyright Office, 1967), p 2175].
  24. ^ a b Some sources indicate 1971 release by Craft Recordings, apparently a newer label reissuing some records originally under Concord Music Group, which had sponsored Stax Records. Spotify, for instance, indicates Craft [David Porter, "Victim of the Joke? . . . An Opera" (Craft Recordings/Concord Music Group, 1971), Spotify.com, 2021], as does Apple Music [David Porter, "Victim of the Joe? . . . An Opera" (Craft Recordings/Concord Music Group, 1971), Music.Apple.com, 2021]. Napster, however, indicates Stax [David Porter, "Victim Of The Joke? An Opera" (Stax, 1971), US.Napster.com, Rhapsody International Inc., 2021]. Napster adds, "Stax stalwart and Isaac Hayes' songwriting partner David Porter released the rarest of all breeds in 1971: the Soul concept album. Let's face it; it just wasn't happening. That doesn't mean it was a bad thing. The spoken interludes ramble a bit, and none of the songs became classics, but the energy is great. It's an oddity worth having for collectors and some kitsch aficio" [Ibid.].
  25. ^ a b c d e Sound recording, "K. Murray Interlude", Mary J Blige "Official Artist Channel" @ YouTube, 31 Jul 2018. Apart from Puffy's closing words spoken, the entire vocals are Keith Murray rapping, approximately, "// — Catch this word; it's bubonic plague // in your head, back, chest, arms, and legs. // When I'm coming through, grab your cranium for ulti- // -matum, son. I faze subterranean. // My subliminals mix with criminal chemicals. // Got more milky syllables. . . ". (The above quote blends the apparent audio with the partially contradictory lyrics published at "K. Murray Interlude': Mary J. Blige", Lyrics.com, LyricFind, visited 27 May 2020, in lieu of CBS Interactive's MetroLyrics.com, which seemingly lacks an entry for this track.)
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h Chris Williams, interviewer, with Carl "Chucky" Thompson & Prince Charles Alexander, interviewees, "Key tracks: Mary J. Blige's My Life", Daily.RedBullMusicAcademy.com, Red Bull Music Academy, Red Bull, 25 Nov 2014.
  27. ^ a b c Danny Alexander, Real Love, No Drama: The Music of Mary J. Blige (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2016), pp 52 & 54.
  28. ^ a b "Mary J. Blige, My Life", AllMusic.com, Netaktion LLC, visited 25 Sep 2021.
  29. ^ a b Some sources, even a Vibe article on James "Jimmy Henchman" Rosemond, indicate that Rosemond contacted Tupac to book him on November 30, 1994 [E Brown, The score", Vibe, 2005 Dec;12(14):220]. Yet the robbery occurred on November 30 at about 12:25 AM ["Rap artist Tupac Shakur shot in robbery", New York Times, 30 Nov 1994, §B, p 2]. And Tupac recalled, "the night of the shooting", "I got a page from this guy Booker"—Vibe's 1995 alias for Rosemond—"telling me he wanted me to rap on Little Shawn's record" [K Powell, Vibe, 1995 Apr;3(4):52. Rosemond recalled the same, initially agreeing to meet at 8 PM, and ultimately being at the studio at least a couple of hours before Tupac arrived [Brown, Vibe 12(14):220].
  30. ^ a b c The robbery occurred on November 30, 1994, at about 12:25 AM, as Tupac Shakur entered the building lobby of Quad Recording Studios, 723 Seventh Ave, near West 48th Street ["Rap artist Tupac Shakur shot in robbery", New York Times, 30 Nov 1994, §B, p 2]. Further reporting includes Malcolm Gladwell, "Rapper Tupac Shakur robbed, shot in N.Y.", Washington Post, 1 Dec 1994, and especially James Barron, "After day as defendant, rapper becomes victim", New York Times, 1 Dec 1994, §B, p 3.
  31. ^ a b c d e Jayson Rodriquez, "Game manager Jimmy Rosemond recalls events the night Tupac was shot, says session was 'all business' ", MTV News, MTV.com, 31 Mar 2008.
  32. ^ a b c d e Kevin Powell, "Tupac Shakur", in Vibe Street Lit, The Vibe Q: Raw and Uncut (New York: Kensington Books, 2007), pp 99–121. On pp 99100, Powell reviews his Tupac interview history, particularly the January 1995 interview, jailhouse, published in April 1995. On pp 110–112, Tupac discusses plans to release "Hit 'Em Up" against "Who Shot Ya" and such, an interview portion excerpted elsewhere [K Powell, interviewer, "Tupac talks 'Hit Em Up' vs. 'Who Shot Ya?' (pg. 2)", Vibe.com, Vibe Media, LLC, 13 Sep 2020]. Yet p 112, exceeding the excerpt, explains Tupac's indifference to the robbers identities, purportedly already known, by indicating a focus on those who, he says, "Stabbed me through my heart—you know, set me up."
  33. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Fab Five Freddy, interviewer, "Mail: Tupac Shakur: The final chapter", Vibe, 1995 Aug;3(6):25–29, where Vibe publishes the most relevant responses to Tupac's January comments published in Vibe's April issue: Andre Harrell & Biggie Smalls on p 25, James "Jimmy Henchman" Rosemond, here called simply "Booker", on pp 25–26, rapper Little Shawn on p 26, Sean "Puffy" Combs on p 27, and Randy "Stretch" Walker on pp 27 & 29. (Andre Harrell meanwhile fell from Tupac's suspicions, and Tupac seemingly never quite accused Little Shawn. Incidentally, Fab Five Freddy was an early ambassador of hip hop.) Puffy and Biggie reportedly resumed print silence until interviewed in June 1996 [Joel Anderson, "The B-side that deepened Biggie and Tupac's rift", Slate.com, 13 Nov 2019], yielding a cover story in Vibe's September 1996 issue [The Blackspot, "Stakes is high", Vibe, 1996 Sep;4(7):100–104].
  34. ^ a b c d The Blackspot, "Stakes is high", Vibe, 1996 Sep;4(7):100–104, p 100.
  35. ^ a b Warner Jennifer, Feud: The Birth, Growth, and Fall of Gangsta Rap (Anaheim, CA: Golgotha Press, 2016): pp 48–49 on the November 1994 robbery and shooting at Quad Recording Studios and Tupac's suspicions mainly against James "Jimmy Henchman" Rosemond plus Puffy and Biggie; p 50 on Tupac's October 1995 release from prison, pending appeal, on bail posted via Deathrow Records' CEO Suge Knight for three albums to Death Row; p 51 on the "Who Shot Ya" controversy; p 52 on the production of Tupac's response, "Hit 'Em Up."
  36. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Kevin Powell, interviewer, "Vibe Q: Tupac Shakur: Ready to live", Vibe, 1995 Apr;3(3):50–55, republished as "Revisit Tupac's April 1995 cover story: 'Ready to live' ", Vibe.com, Vibe Media, LLC, 14 Feb 2021. In the print magazine's table of contents, leading the list of "features" is this entry, prefaced, "Tupac says Thug Life is dead and that his new album may be his last, but he's pulling no punches in this exclusive prison interview." In any case, the transcript uses the alias Nigel for Jacques "Haitian Jack" Agnant and the alias Booker for James "Jimmy Henchman" Rosemond.
  37. ^ Theda Sandiford-Waller, "Rhythm section", Billboard, 1996 Jun 15;108(24):28.
  38. ^ a b c d "Tupac and Biggie's battle songs", Los Angeles Times, 17 Mar 2008. Note that these republished lyrics omit several lines even by the main artists themselves.
  39. ^ Peter A Berry, "These 20 hip-hop diss tracks are better than the songs they respond to", XXL.com, XXL Mag, Townsquare Media, Inc., 19 Jan 2021, explains, "Tupac Shakur's 'Hit 'Em Up' won't be on this list. The song, which was released after The Notorious B.I.G. dropped 'Who Shot Ya'—the New York rapper recorded the track months before Tupac was shot—doesn't respond to a particular diss track since Biggie's effort wasn't a diss track in the first place."
  40. ^ a b c d e f g h The Blackspot, "Stakes is high", Vibe, 1996 Sep;4(7):100–104, p 104.
  41. ^ Excerpt of Biggie: The Life of Notorious B.I.G., documentary, "What happened the night Biggie Smalls died", A&E "Verified" channel @ YouTube, 9 Dec 2020.
  42. ^ Joe Otterson, "Soledad O'Brien, Ice-T to host Biggie–Tupac murder investigation special for Fox", Variety.com, Variety Media, LLC, 26 Aug 2017. For speculations about Biggie's murder, see Frank Williams, "Unsolved mystery", Spin, 1998 Jan;14(1):63. About Tupac's murder, see Mike Dorsey, "Deep Dive: Las Vegas PD knows who killed 2Pac, so why won't they close the case? (part 7)", VladTV / DJVlad "Verified" channel @ YouTube, 17 Sep 2021.
  43. ^ Robert A Roks, " 'Keeping it (hyper)real': A musical history of rap's quest beyond authenticity", in Dina Siegel & Frank Bovenkerk, eds, Crime and Music (Cham, Switzerland: Springer Nature, 2021), pp 279280.
  44. ^ David W Brown, "Who Shot Ya?", TheCrimson.com, The Harvard Crimson, Harvard University, 19 Mar 1997.
  45. ^ Dorian Lynskey, "Tupac and Biggie die as a result of East/West Coast beef", TheGuardian.com, Guardian News & Media Limited, 12 Jun 2011.
  46. ^ Fox Entertainment, "First look: Ice-T talks about conflict In hip-hop", Fox "Verified" channel @ YouTube, 15 Sep 2017.
  47. ^ a b c d e f Joel Anderson, "The B-side that deepened Biggie and Tupac's rift", Slate.com, Slate Group, 13 Nov 2019.
  48. ^ a b c d e f Rahman Dukes & MTV News staff, "Biggie himself clears up 'Who Shot Ya' misunderstanding in this long-lost freestyle", MTV.com, MTV News, 7 Jan 2009. (The article's embedded audio file may have been subsequently removed.)
  49. ^ Jake Brown, Jay-Z and the Roc-A-Fella Dynasty (Phoenix, AZ: Colossus Books/Amber Books, 2005), pp 57–58.
  50. ^ a b c d Vibe's August 1995 edition quotes Biggie saying, in part, "When I read the interview, I felt like he was just shitting on everybody. I always said that he was the realest nigga in the game. I don't know what he was trying to hide, or if he was scared. I figured that with the shit he was talking in Vibe, he was just confused more than anything. You get shot and then you go to jail for something you ain't even do—that could twist a nigga's mind up" [3(6):25]. Biggie continues, "And then the story just completely got switched around: niggas saying I set him up and I'm the one that got him shot. They're saying that my record 'Who Shot Ya?' is about him. That shit is crazy. That song was finished way before Tupac got shot. Niggas was taking little pieces of the song and trying to add it to the story, and that shit is crazy" [3(6):25]. The publication withholds other of Biggie's comments that the interviewer, Fab Five Freddy, shared about 22 years later in a third-party documentary, Who Shot Biggie & Tupac? (USA: Critical Content, 2017). This is excerpted as "Ice-T & Soledad listen to the Biggie interview about the Quad shooting", Fox "Verified" channel @ YouTube, Fox Entertainment, 22 Sep 2017, a video clip whose audio apparently itself stitches snippets of Biggie talking: "It went like this, you know what I'm saying. I was upstairs at Quad. We in the back, chilling. Next thing, we hearing, 'Yo, Tupac got shot.' He said that I set him up. Man, that is shit is crazy. I don't know what he was trying to hide, or if he was scared. I don't know what was going on in that nigga's head. But I want an apology, especially when I found out what really went down: that he shot himself, that he ain't really get shot in his head: he got pistol-whipped. You know what I'm saying? And I'm hearing all this, and I'm like, 'Damn.' I think the nigga was just getting a little bit too happy with this situation, trying to make movies. Everything was a movie to him."
  51. ^ Joel Whitburn, Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–2002 (Menomenee Falls, WI: Record Research, 2003), p 516.
  52. ^ a b c Shawn Carter, "Hova and out", Vibe, 2004 Jan;12(1):72–80, p 76.
  53. ^ Jon Blistein, "Hear Chuck D, Black Thought, more on Living Colour's Biggie cover", RollingStone.com, Rolling Stone, LLC, 18 Aug 2016. Christopher R Weingarten, "Watch Living Colour protest gun violence via Biggie cover in new video", RollingStone.com, 13 Sep 2016.
  54. ^ The phrase Who Shot Ya? has been employed, for example, in the title of a book collecting photographs of the rap community [Ernie Paniccioli, photographer, Kevin Powell, editor, Who Shot Ya?: Three Decades of Hip Hop Photography (New York: HarperCollins, 2013)], in the title of an article in a healthcare journal [J B Richardson Jr, C St Vil & C Cooper, "Who shot ya? How emergency departments can collect reliable police shooting data", Journal of Urban Health, 2016 Apr;93(Suppl 1):8–31], and to represent the riddles of who fatally shot Tupac and who fatally shot Biggie ["Who shot ya?", Code Switch, NPR blog, 18 Dec 2019].
  55. ^ a b For a Sean "Puffy" Combs" cover story begun before but finished after his firing from Uptown Records, see Scott Poulson-Bryant, "Puff Daddy", Vibe, 1993 Sep;1(1):89–96, esp pp 89 & 96. For a synopsis from two years of retrospect, see Kiki Mason, "Pop goes the ghetto", New York, 1995 Oct 23;28(42):37–43, p 42.
  56. ^ Mojo magazine staff and associates, The Mojo Collection: The Ultimate Music Companion, 4th edn (Edinburgh: Mojo Books/Canongate Books, 2007), p 614.
  57. ^ a b c Derrick Parker w/ Matt Diehl, Notorious C.O.P.: The Inside Story of the Tupac, Biggie, and Jam Master Jay Investigations from NYPD's first "Hip-Hop Cop" (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2006), p 113.
  58. ^ a b For swift summary of Biggie's entry into the music industry, see Robert C Schaller Jr, Kanye West: A Biography (Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood Press/ABC-CLIO, 2009), p 43.
  59. ^ Aimé J. Ellis, If We Must Die: From Bigger Thomas to Biggie Smalls (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2011), p 2.
  60. ^ a b c d Ronin Ro, Bad Boy: The Influence of Sean "Puffy" Combs On the Music Industry (New York: Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster, 2001), pp 5960 discuss the Ready to Die tracks and singles, including the conflict of visions, Puffy's popular versus Biggie's hardcore. "By the time he", Puffy, "felt the album was complete, he had removed Nashiem's track 'Who Shot Ya,' added 'Juicy' and 'Respect,' and set 'Dead Wrong' aside as unusable. Now it was time to choose the first single. Biggie wanted his violent number 'Machine Gun Funk' to introduce him, but Puffy explained that 'Juicy' would get on radio and sell more copies" [p 59]. "Despite any misgivings Biggie may have had regarding singles, Puffy had his marketing approach down pat: Each Biggie single featured a commercial song with radio appeal backed with a harder number for the 'street.' The approach worked. 'Juicy' sold over half a million copies. 'Big Poppa' sold twice that amount. 'One More Chance,' backed with a remix of Biggie's duet with Method Man, 'The What,' sold a million copies" [p 62].
  61. ^ " 'Warning', set to Isaac Hayes's cover of 'Walk on By,' found Biggie worrying that those closest to him would set him up for a robbery." [Ronin Ro, Bad Boy (New York: Pocket Books, 2001), p 62]
  62. ^ "The Notorious B.I.G.—Big Poppa (official music video)", The Notorious B.I.G. "Official Artist Channel" @ YouTube, 6 Sep 2011.
  63. ^ a b "The Notorious B.I.G.—'Warning' (official music video)", The Notorious B.I.G. "Official Artist Channel" @ YouTube, 6 Sep 2011.
  64. ^ DJ S&S, or DJ SNS, is from Harlem [Chuck Creekmur, "All mixed up: Caught on tape", Vibe, 2004 Aug;12(8):103–107]. In 1988, DJ Kid Capri had issued the first mixtape that was not a recording of live performances [Iamni Dawson, "Recorded history: Driving the wheels of steel down mixtape memory lane", Vibe, 2004 Aug;12(8):107]. But it was DJ S&S who, in 1993, "leaks Nas's seminal debut, Illmatic, to the streets, taking the concept of 'exclusives' to another level." [Ibid.]
  65. ^ A standard rap song is three verses, 16 bars each, although verses of lengths like 12 or 22 or even 24 bars are also common. For elaboration on bar and verse structures, see Paul Edwards, How to Rap: The Art and Science of the Hip-Hop MC (Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2009): pp 68–75 explain musical bars, basically always four beats per bar in a rap song, while pp 193–196 discuss the standard 16 bars.
  66. ^ Michael Eric Dyson, Jay-Z: Made in America (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2019), pp 101–103, discusses Biggie's feature on "Brooklyn's Finest", a track on fellow Brooklyn rapper Jay-Z's June 1996 album [Sound recording, "Brooklyn's Finest", Jay-Z "Official Artist Channel" @ YouTube, 21 Aug 2019]. Dyson writes, "Who Shot Ya?' and 'Warning' are both breakout tracks on Bigge's 1994 classic debut, Ready to Die. But the phrase and word, along with the acerbically ironic reference to Tupac, are also eerily intermingled with the intangible yet volatile exchanges that fueled the so-called bicoastal rap feud" [p 103]. Although mistakenly locating "Who Shot Ya" on the 1994 album instead of on the album's 2004 reissue, Dyson has already located the Tupac reference instead on Jay-Z's 1996 album. Dyson explains, " 'Brooklyn's Finest' isn't Jay and Big's only collaboration, but it is the most telling, because so much of what will happen to B.I.G., and how Jay-Z will eventually align himself as B.I.G.'s heir apparent, is built into these lyrics. Consider the following references in B.I.G.'s verses: 'Frank White,' the character in the 1990 cult flick King of New York; the phrase 'Cristal forever'; the line 'who shot ya?'; the word 'warning'; and the line 'If Fay had twins, she'd probably have two 'Pacs (uh!) / Get it? Tu—Pac's" [p 101]. Frank White is an alias for Biggie's rap persona, whereas Jay-Z, writes Dyson, "led the charge against Cristal for their racism in 2006" [p 101]. More factually, the champagne maker's managing director, Frédéric Rouzaud, when interviewed for the "Intelligent Life" column of The Economist magazine's May 2006 issue, had indicated greeting with "curiosity and serenity" how routinely rappers were brandishing "Cris" or "Crissi" [Alan Tardi, Champagne, Uncorked (New York: PublicAffairs, 2016), p 206 ]. "Asked whether the association might hurt the brand, Rouzaud replied, "That's a good question, but what can we do? We can't forbid people from buying it. I'm sure Dom Pérignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business.' When Jay Z learned of these statements, he promptly exorcised the name from all his song lyrics and videos, removed Cristal from his chain of clubs, and, happily taking Rouzaud up on his suggestion, replaced it with Krug and Dom Pérignon" [p 206]. Jay-Z, further, brought a new champagne brand, Armand de Brignac, also called "Ace of Spades" [Dyson, 2019, p 102], and placed it in his "Show Me What You Got" music video, set in Monaco, wherein he arrives with a briefcase that eventually, once he is offered Cristal, opens to reveal Ace of Spades instead [Tardi, 2016, p 206]. In "Kingdom Come", he raps, "I thought dude's remark was rude, okay? / So I moved on to Dom, Krug Rosé / And it's much bigger issues in the world, I know / But first I had to take care of the world I know" [Dyson, 2019, p 102]. As to Tupac, rather, Biggie's two "Brooklyn's Finest" verses include one instance of the phrase who shot ya and, later, one inclusion of the word warning, while Fay is apparently Biggie's moniker for his own wife, in real life, Faith Evans, whom he married within a few weeks of their first meeting in July 1994 and who is rumored to have slept with Tupac between Tupac's release from prison on 13 October 1995 and 2 December 1995 interview for the Death Row Records cover story in Vibe magazine's February 1996 issue.
  67. ^ Hit Singles: Top 20 Charts from 1954 to the Present Day, 5th edn (San Francisco: Backbeat Books, 2004), p 341.
  68. ^ Suzanne Baptiste's column "Rhythm section" & SoundScan's chart "Hot Rap Singles", Billboard, 1995 Feb 25;107(8):30.
  69. ^ a b Alvin Blanco, The Wu-Tang Clan and RZA: A Trip Through Hip Hop's 36 Chambers, in Juleyka Lantigua Williams, editor, series Hip Hop in America (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2011), p 52.
  70. ^ a b Sound recording, "Intro", Mary J Blige "Official Artist Channel" @ YouTube, 31 Jul 2018.
  71. ^ a b c Chucky Thompson elaborated, "Puff gave us money to go the record store and buy whatever we needed. Nashiem Myrick and I would go to the record store. Nashiem was the studio manager at the time, and he played a big role in the success of the album as well. Puff would give us a grand at a time and would tell us go to the Tower Records store in Times Square and grab what we needed." [Chris Williams, interviewer, "Key tracks: Mary J. Blige's My Life", Red Bull Music Academy website, 25 Nov 2014]. Chucky Thompson and Nashiem Myrick had been Puffy's fellow students at Howard University, located in Washington DC, where they worked together to organize and promote music performances on campus or in nearby clubs [Ronin Ro, Bad Boy (New York: Pocket Books, 2001), p 10]. Once Puffy was fired from Uptown Records and was still starting Bad Boy Entertainment, he began working out of his mother's house, while Thompson "produced music" and Myrick was "a studio intern" [p 47]. Bad Boy's deal with Arista granted granted Bad Boy new offices in Manhattan on 19th Street and 5th Avenue, and by then Myrick was "production coordinator" [p 53].
  72. ^ a b c d e XXL staff, "The making of the Notorious B.I.G.'s Ready to Die: Family business", XXLmag.com, 11 Sep 2014.
  73. ^ Chairman Mao, "Money power respect", Vibe, 1998 Aug;6(6):112–118, wherein p 114 notes Chucky Thompson's major role in both Mary J. Blige's My Life album and Biggie Small's Ready to Die album. Among "the Hitmen" record producers at Puffy's Bad Boy record label were Ron "Amen-Ra" Lawrence, one of Puffy's fellow alumni of Howard University, the historically black college in Washington DC, who "reflects on these school daze, a time in which some major components of Bad Boy's present personnel—him, Combs, Angelettie, Thompson, Myrick, and Bad Boy VP of A&R Harve Pierre—first bumped heads." [p 116]. While Ron Lawrence and Deric "D-Dot" Angelettie, as a duo, "left school to pursue their ill-fated career as rappers, Combs also left to intern at New York's Uptown Records, and went on to cultivate acts such as Jodeci and Mary J. Blige. After leaving Uptown, Combs remembered his own D.C. crew when the time came to embark on this new enterprise." [p 116]. Around then, Nashiem Myrick and longtime friend Harve Pierre, as the rap duo Stixx en Stonz, were dropped from Payday Records, and Myrick began "his stint as Bad Boy's original studio intern" [p 118]. By the time Thompson was shaping Blige's My Life album across six to nine months in 1994, Myrick, who had "come a long way" [p 118], was, as Thompson recalls, "the studio manager" [Chris Williams, interviewer, "Key tracks: Mary J. Blige's My Life", Red Bull Music Academy website, 25 Nov 2014], or officially Bad Boy's "production coordinator" [Ronin Ro, Bad Boy (New York: Pocket Books, 2001), p 53, J. R. Reynolds, "Combs' Bad Boy label makes good", Billboard, 1995 May 20;107(20):18,23, p 23]. Amid recording of Biggie's Ready to Die, released on September 13, 1994, and of Blige's My Life, released on November 29, 1994, the "Who Shot Ya" versions resulted by production credit mainly to Myrick [Mao, Vibe, 1998, p 118].
  74. ^ a b c Naima Cochrane, "Music sermon: We've been sleeping on Bad Boy's dream team", Vibe.com, 15 Sep 2019.
  75. ^ J. R. Reynolds, "Burrowes tapped as Bad Boy prez, to expand label's staff", Billboard, 1997 Feb 22;109(8):18,21.
  76. ^ a b Several interviewees, "How ya living, Biggie Smalls?", TheFader.com, The Fader, Inc., 25 May 2011. The interviewees are Source magazine columnist "Matty C", Uptown Records intern Dan Smalls, Uptown Records founder Andrew Harrell, Biggie's co-manager Mark Pitts, Biggie's first DJ 50 Grand, Biggie's first tour DJ Big Kap, rap journalist Dream Hampton, Brooklyn rapper Buckshot, Biggie's North Carolina acquaintance "Smoke", Biggie's co-manager Wayne Barrow, Bad Boy R&B group 112's manager Courtney "Brother Bear" Sills, Los Angeles rapper/producer DJ Quik, video director Paul Hunter, and Bad Boy VP Jeff Burroughs.
  77. ^ J. R. Reynolds, "Combs' Bad Boy label makes good", Billboard, 1995 May 20;107(20):18,23, p 23; Ronin Ro, Bad Boy (New York: Pocket Books, 2001), p 53.
  78. ^ Chairman Mao, "Money power respect", Vibe, 1998 Aug;6(6):112–118.
  79. ^ In the name Lil' Cease, the Cease is pronounced like C's.
  80. ^ Jake Paine, "Mary J. Blige, Faith Evans & more recall the making of Biggie's 'One More Chance' remix (video)", AmbrosiaForHeads.com, 11 Jan 2017.
  81. ^ Faith Evans w/ Aliya S King, Keep the Faith: A Memoir (New York: Grand Central Publishing/Hachette Book Group, 2008), p 143.
  82. ^ a b Robert Gordon, Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion (New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013), p 429.
  83. ^ a b c d e Chris Williams, "Key tracks: Mary J. Blige's My Life", Daily.RedBullMusicAcademy.com, Red Bull Music Academy, Red Bull, 25 Nov 2014, interviewing her album's two main producers, incidentally asked, "What about the 'K. Murray interlude'?", whereupon Chucky Thompson reportedly answered, "Nashiem and I went record shopping, and I came into the studio one day and Nashiem was listening to one of the records we bought. This particular record was a 14-minute-long song. Nashiem was one of those types of people who would sit down and listen to a 14-minute song and find one section to use as a sample for a new song. Nine minutes into this song, he found what he was looking for, and he kept it looping for hours in the studio. Biggie and Puff came into the studio and this one loop kept playing over and over again. Puff got the idea to use it as an interlude for Mary’s My Life album. Biggie originally rapped the verse on the interlude and he was later replaced by Keith Murray. This sample ended up being used for the Notorious B.I.G.'s song "Who Shot Ya." I still have that recording with me today and him saying that phrase had absolutely nothing to do with Tupac. The reason why Keith Murray was brought in was due to B.I.G.'s verse on the interlude. If we kept his original verse, Puff would have been forced to place an Explicit Lyrics sticker on the album, and he didn’t want to do that to Mary, so they brought Keith Murray in to replace Biggie."
  84. ^ "20 questions", Vibe, 1995 Nov;3(9):123.
  85. ^ Gail Mitchell, "The good news from Bad Boy", Billboard, 2000 May 13;112(20):90.
  86. ^ a b c Cheo Hodari Coker, "Big footprints", Vibe, 2004 Mar;12(3):148–153, pp 150–151.
  87. ^ a b Ronin Ro, Bad Boy: The Influence of Sean "Puffy" Combs On the Music Industry (New York: Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster, 2001), wherein pp 54–55 mention Biggie's recording sessions being routinely appraised by Puffy, by Puffy's regular record producers, who were mainly Puffy's Howard University peers, and by Biggie's rap clique Junior M.A.F.I.A., which included Lil' Cease, whereas p 56 indicates, about Biggie, "in the industry, he felt lonely and bored. He couldn't relate to the 'ghetto fabulous' executives. If anything, the people who kept him going were his buddy Lil' Cease and Bad Boy employee Mark Pitts, 'the only nigga who would probably go all out one hundred percent for me.' " Pitts, a carryover from Uptown Records, left his job with Puffy's Bad Boy record label and became a Biggie manager in 1993 [p 56].
  88. ^ Chuck Philips, "James 'Jimmy Henchman' Rosemond implicated himself in 1994 Tupac Shakur attack: Court testimony", Village Voice, 12 Jun 2012.
  89. ^ a b XXL staff, "20 of the most important hip-hop rivalries of all time", XXL.com, XXL Mag, Townsquare Media, Inc., 17 Apr 2019.
  90. ^ Derrick Parker with Matt Diehl, Notorious C.O.P.: The Inside Story of the Tupac, Biggie, and Jam Master Jay Investigations from NYPD's first "Hip-Hop Cop" (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2006), p 125.
  91. ^ Mike DeStefano, "Eminem on the significance of 2Pac's Biggie diss song 'Hit 'Em Up' ", Complex.com, 26 Dec 2018.
  92. ^ Cathy Scott, The Killing of Tupac Shakur, 3rd edn. (Las Vegas: Huntington Press, 2014), p 241.
  93. ^ Shaheem Reid, "Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac's famous freestyle remembered by Mister Cee", MTV.com, MTV News, 9 Mar 2010.
  94. ^ In April 1993, Uptown Records had released the film Who's the Man?'s soundtrack, bearing Biggie's debut single "Party and Bullshit." Tupac played the song repeatedly on set while filming with Janet Jackson the July 1993 film Poetic Justice. Biggie, visiting Los Angeles, asked a local drug dealer for introduction. Tupac welcomed Biggie and Biggie's friends to his own house. Soon, at Tupac's shows, Biggie was on stage with him and Randy "Stretch" Walker. Stretch, since 1988 a rapper and producer—in the Queens, New York, rap/production trio Live Squad—was Tupac's main music ally since 1991. Tupac, Stretch, and Biggie recorded the songs "Runnin' from tha Police," also featuring Dramacydal, and the song "House of Pain". (Dramacycdal would be reorganized and renamed the Outlawz.) On the above, see Ben Westhoff, "How Tupac and Biggie Went from Friends to Deadly Rivals", Noisey, Vice.com, Vice Media Group, 12 Sep 2016.
  95. ^ Tayannah Lee McQuillar & Fred L. Johnson III, Tupac Shakur: The Life and Times of an American Icon (Philadelphia: Da Capo Press, 2010), pp 150–151.
  96. ^ a b Shani Saxon, producer, "Back 2 the essence: Friends and family reminisce over hip hop's fallen sons", Vibe, 1999 Oct;7(8):100–116, wherein pp 110–116 cover Biggie and p 112 covers his entry to the music industry.
  97. ^ a b Biggie's debut album, Ready to Die, released in September 1994, took about 18 months to finish under Puffy's fledgling label [Ronin Ro, Bad Boy (New York: Pocket Books, 2001), p 56]. Reportedly, Biggie asked Tupac to manage his career, but Tupac assured him that Puffy would make him a star. "Biggie looked like he was wearing the same pair of Timberlands for a year," recalls Dramacydal's E.D.I. Mean, who contrasts, " 'Pac was staying at the Waldorf Astoria and buying Rolexes and dating Madonna" [Ben Westhoff, "How Tupac and Biggie went from friends to deadly rivals", Noisey, Vice.com, Vice Media Group, 12 Sep 2016].
  98. ^ Mimi Valdéz, "Next: Notorious B.I.G.", Vibe, 1994 Aug;2(6):42.
  99. ^ Justin Tinsley, "A look back at ‘Above the Rim’ on its 25th anniversary", TheUndefeated.com, ESPN, 22 Mar 2019.
  100. ^ Justin Tinsley, " 'Hip Hop Uncovered' tells the story of the feared 'Haitian Jack' ", TheUndefeated.com, ESPN Enterprises, Inc., 12 Feb 2021.
  101. ^ a b c d Tayannah Lee McQuillar & Fred L. Johnson III, Tupac Shakur: The Life and Times of an American Icon (Philadelphia: Da Capo Press, 2010), pp 148149.
  102. ^ Zab Judah, interviewer, "Mike Tyson warned 2Pac about Haitian Jack, said Jack was out of his league (part 12)", VladTV / DJVlad @ YouTube, 9 Dec 2020. Judah asks, "There's a rumor that you told 'Pac not to hang out with Haitian Jack, but he didn't listen." Tyson answers, "Well, I just told 'Pac, 'I think you're out of your league right now.' He had asked me about Jack. And I had known Jack through Scooter, and I just said, 'You're out of your league.' " (Tyson refers to Spencer "Scooter" Bowens.)
  103. ^ a b The Blackspot, "Stakes is high", Vibe, 1996 Sep;4(7):100–104, p 103.
  104. ^ Bandini, "Little Shawn describes the 1994 Tupac shooting & insists he was not involved (video)", AmbrosiaForHeads.com, 1 Mar 2020, provides a detailed synopsis of a 2020 interview of Shawn Pen, formerly Brooklyn rapper Little Shawn, in a podcast Drink Champs episode whereby Queens, New York, rapper N.O.R.E., famous via 1990s rap duo Capone-N-Noreaga, leads the lengthy interview along with DJ EFN, who is "the founder and CEO of Crazy Hood Productions" and the "co-creator and co-host of the Drink Champs podcast" [Bill Adler, "About", CrazyHood.com, visited 2 Oct 2021]. While the above webpage's first embedded video may be unrelated, the correct embedded video derives from a YouTube account of Crazy Hood Productions, based in Miami, Florida, which also posts the interview as "Drink Champs w/ Shawn Pen and Gabe the Jeweler (full video)", whoscrazy @ YouTube, 23 Feb 2020. At the 01:42:35 mark, Pen reports that months after November 1994, Biggie described the situation with Tupac, whereupon N.O.R.E. reports that he, too, has heard similar explanation, underpublicized.
  105. ^ a b c The Blackspot, "Stakes is high", Vibe, 1996 Sep;4(7):100–104, p 103, quoting Biggie, about Tupac, in a continuous block: "He can't front of me. As much as he may come off as a Biggie hater, he knows. He knows when all that shit was going down, I was schooling a nigga to certain things, me and Stretch—God bless the grave. But he chose to do the things he wanted to do. There wasn't nothing I could do, but it wasn't like he wasn't my man."
  106. ^ Charisse Jones, "Rapper slain after chase in Queens", New York Times, 1 Dec 1995. In 2006, Derrick Parker, reputedly the New York City Police Department's "first hip-hop cop", glibly suggested a role by Tupac in Stretch's murder [Derrick Parker w/ Matt Diehl, Notorious C.O.P. (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2006), p 113]. By contrast, John Potash, "Tupac's Panther shadow: The political targeting of Tupac Shakur", CovertAction Quarterly, 1999;67:11–15, proposes, "One less publicized aspect of Shakur's high-profile life was that his mother and extended family were leading Black Panther figures of the 1960s and 1970s. Research on FBI monitoring of Shakur from his early adolescence reflects patterns of police surveillance, evidence of government ties to some of his associates, suspicious deaths of people connected to him, and mainstream media's misinformation about Shakur's political activism" [p 11]. Parker confirmed that New York City police had been surveilling Tupac's family since the 1970s [Parker w/ Matt Diehl, Notorious C.O.P., 2006, pp 108109].
  107. ^ Candace Sandy & Dawn Marie Daniels, How Long Will They Mourn Me?: The Life and Legacy of Tupac Shakur (New York: One World Books/Random House, 2006), p 54 on Tupac's earlier music alliance with Biggie; pp 53–55 outlining the robbery/shooting once Tupac arrived with Stretch, Stretch's manager Freddie "Nickels" Moore, and Tupac's halfsister Sekyiwa Shakur's boyfriend Zayd.
  108. ^ Derrick Parker with Matt Diehl, Notorious C.O.P.: The Inside Story of the Tupac, Biggie, and Jam Master Jay Investigations from NYPD's first "Hip-Hop Cop" (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2006), pp 111–112.
  109. ^ a b c d Ethan Brown, Queens Reigns Supreme: Fat Cat, 50 Cent, and the Rise of the Hip Hop Hustler (New York: Anchor Books/Random House, 2005), pp 123–126.
  110. ^ Ethan Brown, "The score", Vibe, 2005 Dec;12(14):182–187,220–222, pp 187.
  111. ^ Born in Haiti, Jacques "Haitian Jack" Agnant had been a stickup kid in New York City, and, reputedly fearless, specialized in robbing drug dealers [Derrick Parker w/ Matt Diehl, Notorious C.O.P. (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2006), indexing "Haitian Jack", esp. pp 96–97 & 110–111]. Later a manager and promoter on New York's music scene, he was a magnetic persona [Lesley Goldberg, "Haitian Jack hip-hop miniseries in the works (exclusive)", The Hollywood Reporter, 23 Jan 2017]. Among his associates straddling the music business and the criminal underworld was James "Jimmy Henchman" Rosemond [Jason Rodriquez & XXL staff, "Pit of snakes: Tupac's Quad studios shooting", XXL.com, 16 Sep 2011]. "According to Bill Courtney, a retired NYPD officer who worked with the infamous 'hip-hop task force,' Agnant and Henchman were known in the music industry for robbery and extortion." [Ibid.] Agnant would later admit to it [Justin Tinsley, " 'Hip Hop Uncovered' tells the story of the feared 'Haitian Jack' ", TheUndefeated.com, ESPN, 12 Feb 2021]. Rosemond would suggest that despite his own appearance, unassuming, his own criminal background exceeded Agnant's [Ethan Brown, Queens Reigns Supreme (New York: Anchor Books, 2005), pp 123–126].
  112. ^ Brooklyn rapper Little Shawn had a March 1992 album ["Little Shawn: The Voice in the Mirror", AllMusic.com, visited 7 Oct 2021]. Its track "Hickeys on Your Chest" figured into Biggie Smalls's Uptown Records debut, the track "Party and Bullshit" on the soundtrack of the April 1993 film Who's the Man?, wherein Biggie's final verse, after an interlude mimicking a fight at a party, resumes to close, "|| Can't we just all get along, so I could put || hickeys on her chest like Little Shawn—get her pissy || drunk off the Dom Pérignon. And it's || on. And I'm gone—. ||" [Sound recording, "Party and Bullshit (2008 remaster)", The Notorious B.I.G. "Official Artist Channel" @ YouTube, 14 Mar 2017]. Little Shawn would have the July 1995 single, with Biggie cameoing in its music video, "Dom Pérignon", Uptown Records, collected on the October 1995 soundtrack of the TV crime drama New York Undercover [ AllMusic.com", visited 7 Oct 2021]. Its hook is simply a "Party and Bullshit" vocal sample reshuffled whereby Biggie raps, "|| Get her pissy drunk off the Dom Pérignon, so || I could put hickeys on her chest like Little Shawn ||". For the week ending August 19, 1995, "Dom Perignon" debuted on Billboard's Hot Rap Singles chart at No. 38, and on its Hot R&B Singles chart at No. 93 [Soundscan, Billboard, 1995 Aug 19];107(33):20–21].
  113. ^ a b c Jamil Lindsey, interviewer, "Bryce Wilson: The night Tupac was shot at Quad Studio & Groove Theory's smash hit 'Tell Me' ", The Real Gully TV @ YouTube, 14 Mar 2020, wherein 08:15 begins Wilson's discussion of working with James "Jimmy Henchman" Rosemond and 09:43 begins Wilson's account of events in the studio that night.
  114. ^ a b c d Ethan Brown, "The score", Vibe, 2005 Dec;12(14):182–187, 220–222, p 220.
  115. ^ a b Accounts of Biggie's whereabouts when Tupac arrived upstairs vary. For instance, a 2005 account writes, "The final humiliation, Shakur said, was taking the elevator upstairs only to find Rosemond, Sean 'Puffy' Combs, and Biggie waiting for him. 'All of them had jewels on,' Shakur explained to Vibe, 'more jewels than mine.' " [Ethan Brown, Queens Reigns Supreme (New York: Anchor Books/Random House, 2005), [https://books.google.com/books?id=-TqXFvQfKvwC&pg=PA126&dq=Vibe/ p 126] ]. In Vibe's transcript of the January 1995 interview, Tupac more exactly said, "When we got upstairs, I looked around, and it scared the shit out of me"; the interviewer then asked, "Why?"; Tupac replied, "Because Andre Harrell was there, Puffy was there, Biggie… there was about 40 niggas there" [Kevin Powell, interviewer, "Vibe Q: Tupac Shakur", Vibe, 1995 Apr;3(3):50–55, republished as "Revisit Tupac's April 1995 cover story: 'Ready to live' ", Vibe.com, 14 Feb 2021]. The ellipses, immediately after Biggie, are both in the 2021 republication online and in the original print article [Powell, Vibe 3(3):53. Discrepantly, a 2006 account writes, "Quad Studios occupies five floors of the Midtown office building, so at any given time there can be a number of artists working on different projects. That night was no different. Little Shawn was recording on one floor, Biggie Smalls's group Junior M.A.F.I.A. was recording on another floor, while Biggie and Sean 'Puffy' Combs were working on a video on a third" [Candace Sandy & Dawn Marie Daniels, How Long Will They Mourn Me? (New York: One World Books/Random House, 2006), p 53. By contrast, Puffy himself recalled shooting Biggie's "Warning" music video elsewhere, merely near Quad studios, and without Biggie, but learning of Biggie's proximity through "one of the Bad Boy staff members on his way to Biggie's session. I knew that Biggie had a session with Junior Mafia, but I didn't know it was right around the corner. So I'm going to check B.I.G., you know what I'm saying? When I get off the elevator at Quad, you have to stop in a reception area, and there's this Little Shawn session with Andre. So I stopped to say 'What's up?' to them. I'm about to go up to Biggie's session when Pac comes out the elevator and he's shot up" [Fab Five Freddy, interviewer, "Mail: Tupac Shakur", Vibe, 1995 Aug;3(6):25–29, [https://books.google.com/books?id=YCwEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA27/ p 27] ]. Biggie recalled, "I had a session with the Junior Mafia at Quad Studios." "Next thing you know, everybody was like, 'Yo, 'Pac just got shot.' So I'm on my way downstairs, no gat, to see what's up with my man." "I get downstairs and everything's on some lockdown shit." "Immediately, police thought everybody in the studio was on the same floor where everything was supposed to have happened at. I saw 'Pac get out on a stretcher, but when he actually came out from the elevator, I wasn't even there." [p 25
  116. ^ a b c d Ethan Brown, "The score", Vibe, 2005 Dec;12(14):182–187, 220–222, p 221.
  117. ^ a b Vladislav "DJ Vlad" Lyubovny, interviewer, Mutah "Napoleon" Beale, interviewee, "Flashback: Napoleon (Outlawz) on Jimmy Henchman threatening 2Pac", VladTV–DJVlad "Verified" channel @ YouTube, 12 Nov 2018.
  118. ^ a b Interview of Mutah "Napoleon" Beale, "Why would Biggie drop 'Who Shot Ya' after 2Pac got shot? Jimmy Henchman set up 2Pac not Haitian Jack", The Art of Dialogue "Verified" channel @ YouTube, 4 Jul 2021: time mark 01:15 raises the question of whether Tupac shot himself, and 09:25 raises the issue of "Who Shot Ya" release.
  119. ^ Carlos D. Morrison & Celnisha L. Dangerfield, "Tupac Shakur" & "East Coast versus West Coast", in Mickey Hess, editor, Icons of Hip Hop: An Encyclopedia of the Movement, Music, and Culture, Volume 1 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2007), pp 392 & 405.
  120. ^ Rob Marriot, interviewer, "Last testament: Tupac speaks", Vibe, 1996 Nov;4(9):78–79.
  121. ^ a b Interviewed for a 2017 documentary, Jacques "Haitian Jack" Agnant acknowledged that Tupac's comments reported in the New York Daily News led to the November 1994 setup of Tupac at Quad Recording Studios, but indicated that he himself had earlier issued word to not retaliate, whereas one of his own associates, allegedly rogue, called immediately after the attack to claim credit for it [Soledad O'Brien & Ice-T, interviewers, "Haitian Jack", interviewee, Who Shot Biggie & Tupac? (USA: Critical Content, 2017), originally aired 24 Sep 2017, Fox network, Fox Entertainment]. This alleged associate is rumored to be James "Jimmy Henchman" Rosemond [Rocko Rathon, "[https://thesource.com/2015/02/06/haitian-jack-speaks-on-1994-tupac-shakur-shooting-insinuates-jimmy-henchmans-involvement Haitian Jack speaks on 1994 Tupac Shakur shooting, insinuates Jimmy Henchman's involvement]", TheSource.com, Source Digital, Inc., 6 Feb 2015].
  122. ^ a b Candace Sandy & Dawn Marie Daniels, How Long Will They Mourn Me?: The Life and Legacy of Tupac Shakur (New York: One World Books/Random House, 2006), indexing "Haitian Jack", returning pp 40 & 60, also indexing his alias "Nigel".
  123. ^ a b For a November 18, 1993, incident in his hotel suite ["Rapper 2 pac charged with sex attack", UPI, 19 Nov 1993], Tupac Shakur was tried across the latter three weeks of November 1994, and convicted of first-degree sexual abuse, by groping the woman's buttocks, on December 1, 1994 [R. Perez-Pena, "Wounded rapper gets mixed verdict in sex-abuse case", New York Times, 2 Dec 1994, § A, p 1]. On February 7, 1995, Shakur's probation eligibility was discarded for a prison sentence: up to 4.5 years, at least 18 months before parole [George James, "Rapper faces prison term for sex abuse", New York Times, 8 Feb 1995, § B, p 1].
  124. ^ Penelope Petzold & Ron Formica, "Tupac Shakur trial: 1994–95", Great American Trials, Encyclopedia.com, Cengage, 22 Sep 2021.
  125. ^ Kevin Powell did three major interviews of Tupac. The first was for a Tupac cover story, "This thug's life", in Vibe's March 1994 issue [Powell, "Tupac Shakur", in Vibe Street Lit, The Vibe Q: Raw and Uncut (New York: Kensington Books, 2007), pp 99100]. "The second interview, conducted behind bars on Rikers Island, was published as a Q&A in April 1995", in Vibe, but occurred in January 1995 [Ibid.]. The third interview, by telephone with Tupac in Los Angeles at Death Row Records, yielded excerpts in a sidebar within a Death Row cover story, "Live from Death Row", in the February 1996 issue [Ibid.]. Having occurred on December 2, 1995, this third interview was first published as a "full transcript" by Vibe Media Group in 2007 [Ibid. & Powell, The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy's Journey Into Manhood (New York: Atria Paperback/Simon & Schuster, 2016), pp 224225].
  126. ^ a b Sue Bradford Edwards, ch 4 "Friends and enemies", pp 34–43, The Murders of Tupac and Biggie (Minneapolis, MN: Abdo Publishing, 2020), writes, in part, "Vibe editors would later admit that their April 1995 issue was the first inkling that Smalls had that Shakur blamed him and Combs for the Quad shooting. Shakur accused Smalls in the magazine, and reporters did not ask for a comment from Smalls to allow him to defend himself in the same issue. Some journalism experts blame Vibe for the split between the rappers" [ p 39 ]. (Edwards provides no source for Vibe's admission.) In any case, Vibe's August issue, addressing the topic without specifying Biggie per se, prefaced, "Several of the people mentioned in the interview were contacted before the story was published but declined to comment at the time. After the interview appeared, they contacted Vibe, wanting to respond to what they felt were misconceptions that arose from some of Tupac's statements and descriptions. Here are some excerpts from their replies, as told to Fab 5 Freddy." [ "Mail: Tupac Shakur", Vibe, 1995 Aug;3(6):25–29]. Biggie's reply, alleged, in part, "When I read the interview, I felt like he was just shitting on everybody", but "then the story just got completely switched around" via "niggas saying I set him up and I'm the one that got him shot. They're saying that my record 'Who Shot Ya?' is about him" [ p 25 ]. Puffy meanwhile replied, in part, "He got a lot of people in a lot of bullshit with that interview. The way it was written, it was open-ended, like me and B.I.G. and Andre had something to do with it" [ p 27 ].
  127. ^ Puffy was actually quoted saying "Thug Life shit" [Vibe 3(6):27. Tupac himself, however, had been quoted saying "Thug Life shit" [Vibe 3(3):55. Interviewed for Vibe's November 1996 issue, published after Tupac's September 1996 death, Tupac cited Puffy's proclamation as helping redirect him back to the "Thug Life" ethos [Vibe 4(9):79 ].
  128. ^ A J Benza & Michael Lewittes, "Two Smalls-minded women", Daily News (New York), 9 Jan 1997, recalls, "You remember Jack Agnant, don't you? Old Jack was once a member of Tupac Shakur's posse, and he was actually quite visible during the trying days when the rapper was tried for sexual assault and the first attempt was made on his life. Around that time, Tupac told us he was having his doubts about Jack's loyalty. He even went further, to say he believed Jack might have led a double life as a government informant."
  129. ^ Connie Bruck, "The takedown of Tupac", NewYorker.com, 30 Jun 1997 & The New Yorker, 1997 Jul 7;73(3759).
  130. ^ On April 11, 1992, a Texas youth, Ronald Ray Howard, shot dead a state trooper and would claim influence by Tupac's debut album, November 1991's 2Pacalypse Now. And on October 31, 1993, in Atlanta, Tupac Shakur himself shot two off-duty police officers, but the charges would be dropped. On November 18, 1993, Shakur, his road manager Charles Fuller, 23, of California, and one Ricardo Brown, 30, of Florida, were arrested at Tupac's suite in Le Parker Meridien hotel, in Midtown, Manhattan, whereas another alleged assailant escaped [C. Wolff, "Rap performer is charged in Midtown sex attack", New York Times, 20 Nov 1993, § 1, p 25]. The "Ricardo Brown", called "Nigel" amid the case, was Jacques "Haitian Jack" Agnant [R. Perez-Pena, "Wounded rapper gets mixed verdict in sex-abuse case", NYT, 2 Dec 1994, § A, p 1]. Just before the November 1994 trial, codefendant Agnant's motion for separate prosecution was granted via his attorney, known for alliance with the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York [Ethan Brown, "The score", Vibe, 2005 Dec;12(14):220]. "On November 6, 1994, the night before the trial was set to begin, Tupac went to Club Expo in the heart of Times Square. There, he met Rourke and a friend of his, a reporter for the Daily News, by the name of A. J. Benza. Over drinks, Tupac told Benza that he thought the rape case was a setup by Nigel, a.k.a. Jacques Agnant" [Candace Sandy & Dawn Marie Daniels, How Long Will They Mourn Me? (New York: Random House, 2006), p 52]. Also see John Potash, "Tupac's Panther shadow: The political targeting of Tupac Shakur", CovertAction Quarterly, 1999;67:11–15, p 13.
  131. ^ a b Ethan Brown, "The score", Vibe, 2005 Dec;12(14):182–187,220–222, p 221, interviews James "Jimmy Henchman" Rosemond, who recalls being in Los Angeles with "some Crip dudes" at the House of Blues, a restaurant featuring live music, in December 1995 and confronting Tupac. Henchman recalls uttering, "Dude, you gotta stop telling people that shit. For real, nigga, I don't give a fuck—it could go down right now. Why you blaming Puffy and Biggie? Them niggas ain't got nothing to do with this." Henchman recalls asserting, "Nobody came to rob you. They came to discipline you. That's what happened." Henchman recalls Marion "Suge" Knight, as CEO of Tupac's new record label, Death Row Records, looking over and asking, " 'Pac, everything all right?" But Henchman assesses, " 'Pac knew better than to tell him that something was wrong, because I was so angry." (The "discipline" is reputedly for talking to a reporter about Haitian Jack [Jason Rodriquez, "Pit of snakes", XXL.com, 16 Sep 2011/XXL issue Sep 2011].)
  132. ^ Sha Be Allah, "Jimmy Henchman addresses 2Pac & Dexter Isaac blaming him for shooting", The Source, 19 Jun 2017.
  133. ^ In June 2011, murder convict Dexter Isaac confessed, directly to the media, as one of the November 1994 robbery's gunmen and alleged that James "Jimmy Henchman" Rosemond had hired him for the job [Kevin Dolak & Sheila Marikar, "Inmate confesses to 1994 robbery of Tupac Shakur", ABCNews.Go.com, 16 Jun 2011]. In December 2018, promoting a new book, Isaac casually mentioned that Tupac's friend Randy "Stretch" Walker was in cahoots with Rosemond [Aaron Mendel, "2Pac shooter Dexter Issac claims Pac's friend 'Stretch' set up Quad Shooting", VladTV.com, 18 Dec 2018]. Tupac's brother-in-law Zayd, present during the robbery, then alleged that Isaac was lying and certainly not one of the gunmen [Staff writer, "2Pac's brother-in-law says Dexter Isaac lied about Quad studio shooting", VladTV.com, 1 Jan 2019]. Zayd alleged, in part, "Neither one of them could never be mistaken for light-skinned or fair-skinned at no time of the year. They was both dark-skinned" [Ibid., ~11:46 into embedded YouTube video]. (Zayd asserts other discrepancies, including height, build, and accent [Ibid.], but Tupac, in fact, had recalled, "The light-skinned dude, the one that was standing outside, was on me" [Kevin Powell, interviewer, "Revisit Tupac's April 1995 cover story: 'Ready to live' ", Vibe.com, Vibe Media, LLC, 14 Feb 2021].) Meanwhile, in June 2012, media reported that to barter for concessions in a current case, Rosemond admitted his own guilt behind the November 1994 attack [Chuck Philips, "James 'Jimmy Henchman' Rosemond implicated himself. . .", Village Voice, 12 Jun 2012; D Greenwald/Billboard, "James Rosemond admits. . .", The Hollywood Reporter, 25 June 2012]. But Rosemond soon reasserted innocence [Staff, "Jimmy Henchman's denies. . .", RollingStone.com, 29 Jun 2012]. Rosemond's alleged admission was a prosecutor's misstatement that, going uncontested at the time, had been entered into court record [Staff, "Drug kingpin did not admit assault on Tupac Shakur", TheSmokingGun.com, TSG Industries, Inc., 3 Jul 2012]. Rosemond would assert that he and Tupac had been "friends" and that he had "nothing against him" and "liked him" [Vlad Lyubovny, interviewer, "2Pac & Dexter Isaac blaming him for shooting", VladTV / DJVlad @ YouTube, 19 Jun 2017].
  134. ^ Derrick Parker, "author of Notorious C.O.P. about the NYPD's Enterprise Operations Unit", "helped establish the so-called 'Hip-Hop Cop' team following the unsolved '96 and '97 murders of rappers Tupac Shakur and Christopher 'Notorious B.I.G.' Wallace" [Keith Murphy, "How Jay-Z and Diddy's careers almost collapsed in 1999", NYPost.com, New York Post, 28 Dec 2019]. Parker reports, however, that around the November 1994 shooting, New York City police already had a confidential information in the Bad Boy or Uptown record label [Derrick Parker w/ Matt Diehl, Notorious C.O.P.: The Inside Story of the Tupac, Biggie, and Jam Master Jay Investigations from NYPD's first "Hip-Hop Cop" (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2006), pp 96 & 111112]. The NYPD's Enterprise Operations Unit is also called the Rap Unit, and certain "records tie the cops assigned to the Rap Unit to a program called the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, which uses federal money and resources—including Drug Enforcement Administration agents—to crack down on narcotics production and sales" [Ben Feuerherd, "Rhyme and punishment: Inside the NYPD's secret, sprawling 'Rap Unit' ", NYPost.com, 30 May 2019].
  135. ^ John Potash, "Tupac's Panther shadow: The political targeting of Tupac Shakur", CovertAction Quarterly, 1999;67:11–15.
  136. ^ L'Oréal, "Lil Cease shares the real reason on why Biggie Smalls didn't respond to 2Pac's 'Hit 'Em Up' ", Hot97.com, Hot97, 3 Dec 2020.
  137. ^ Siobhan Graham, "On This Day: Legendary rapper Tupac Shakur shot at a stoplight", Yahoo.com, Yahoo! News Australia, 6 Sep 2021.
  138. ^ a b c d e f XXL staff, "8 subliminal diss records that no one claims", XXLMag.com, XXL Mag, Townsquare Media, Inc. 5 Nov 2010.
  139. ^ Peter A Berry, "These 20 hip-hop diss tracks are better than the songs they respond to", XXL.com, XXL Mag, Townsquare Media, Inc., 19 Jan 2021, explains, "Tupac Shakur's 'Hit 'Em Up' won't be on this list. The song, which was released after the Notorious B.I.G. dropped 'Who Shot Ya'—the New York rapper recorded the track months before Tupac was shot—doesn't respond to a particular diss track since Biggie's effort wasn't a diss track in the first place."
  140. ^ XXL quotes from "Long Kiss Goodnight" the following lyrics: "When my men bust, you just move with such stamina / Slugs missed you, I ain't mad at cha (we ain't mad at cha)." "Slugs hit your chest, tapped the spine, flat-line / Heard through the grapevine you got fucked four times" [XXL staff, "8 subliminal diss records that no one claims", XXLMag.com, 5 Nov 2010]. On March 1, 1997, about six months after the fatal shooting of Tupac in September 1996, but eight days before his own murder, Biggie was a guest on a Los Angeles radio station and rapped lines from the song, including the above lyrics. For details, see Michael Blair, "One of Biggie's final radio appearances is a moment that can never be tuned out (video)", AmbrosiaForHeads.com, 26 Jul 2018. For discussion, see an interview of Mutah "Napoleon" Beale, "Biggie Smalls brought his death on himself! You don't wait for 2Pac to die, then start dissing him!", The Art of Dialogue "Verified" channel @ YouTube, 31 Oct 2021.
  141. ^ XXL notes Biggie's lyrics, ". . . . Recognize // my face, so there won't be no mistake, // so you'll know where to tell Jake, lame nigga, // brave nigga—turned frontpage ni- // gga. . . //" [XXL staff, "8 subliminal diss records that no one claims", XXLMag.com, 5 Nov 2010.]. (Jake is slang for police.) Recognize starts on the bar's fourth beat—any bar's final beat—whereas the bar's prior three beats go, "You'll die slow but calm" [Sound recording, "Who Shot Ya?", The Notorious B.I.G. "Official Artist Channel" @ YouTube, 20 Sep 2019, 03:02 mark].
  142. ^ "British single certifications – Notorious Big – Who Shot Ya?". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved March 8, 2022.