East Coast Vs West Coast Rap Culture Essay

Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace (The Notorious B.I.G.) became two of hip-hop's most notable icons amid an infamous rivalry that continues to hold the attention of fans nearly two decades after their deaths. 

The East Coast-West Coast beef "still resonates today," "History of Rap and Hip Hop" author Soren Baker says, referencing the new Tupac film, "All Eyez On Me" and USA Network's true-crime drama "Unsolved." The 10-episode series focuses on the murders of both greats and is slated to premiere Feb. 27. 

There were many factors behind the complex New York vs. Los Angeles turf rivalry that heightened between 1994 and 1997 and ultimatley lead to their deaths. The beef had everything to do with competition among record labels, media coverage, gang culture and two artists with a talent for rhythmic comebacks.

The start 

Tupac and Biggie may be synonymous with the rivalry, but it existed, in a sense, before they hit the scene.

“There was always tension -- there was always resentment, rather -- among some folks on the West Coast for the resistivity from New York DJs and artists to West Coast hip-hop,” says Dan Charnas, a music history associate professor at New York University’s Clive Davis Institute. 

With New York City being the birthplace of hip-hop, artists from L.A. felt they weren’t given the same media coverage and public attention as those on the East Coast, says Baker, a former hip-hop journalist. 

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"The [West Coast] artists felt that when they came to New York, they didn't receive the same acceptance and admiration as when New York artists came to L.A., because the West Coast's [artists] were more popular, simply from a sales perspective, than anyone at the time on the East Coast," Baker adds. 

The labels

Pac and Biggie were pitted against each other as their fame, and the genre's popularity, grew across the country.

The producers behind West Coast’s Death Row Records (Dr. Dre, Suge Knight) and East Coast’s Bad Boy Entertainment (Sean “Diddy” Combs) helped fuel the competition as years passed.

The L.A. scene got a boost when Dr. Dre joined forces with Suge to launch Death Row in 1991, the same time Power 106 (KPWR-FM) branded itself as a hip-hop-focused radio station with its "Where hip-hop lives” slogan. It wasn’t until two years later that Combs branched out into the business with Bad Boy Entertainment in NYC.

Rhythmic shade 

So, what exactly does this have to do with Tupac and Biggie? Not much, yet.

The drama took off when Tupac, who was on trial on allegations of sex abuse, was shot five times by a group of robbers in the lobby of Quad Recording Studios in Times Square on Nov. 30, 1994. Tupac believed it to be an inside job, and placed blame on his friends who were also invited to the studio — Biggie, Jimmy Henchman and Combs. It’s unclear why Pac was the target of the robbery, but other artists, including Funkmaster Flex most recently, have insisted the artist may have shot himself. The incident — whether a message from a rival group, the work of a former friend or a random attack — was enough to create a rift between Pac and Biggie that they were never able to repair.

It didn’t exactly help that Biggie released a track, “Who Shot Ya,” shortly afterward, in which he clearly expressed loyalty to the East Coast and the Bad Boy crew. But responding to accusations via lyrics was already a key part of hip-hop. 

“It was how hip-hop grew, these call and response answers. No questions about it,” Charnas says. It’s mirrored today in rap battles and artist feuds, like that between Drake and Meek Mill.

Damaged egos 

Pac, feeling betrayed by his former friend, served nine months in Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York on a sexual assault charge when Knight paid him a visit in 1995 and fueled the fire.

The producer went onstage at the Source Awards at Madison Square Garden’s Paramount Theater on Aug. 3, 1995, and threw shade at record label rival Combs. “Any artist out there wanna be an artist, and wanna stay a star, and don’t have to worry about the executive producer trying to be all in the videos, all on the records, dancing — come to Death Row,” he said.

"Thug Life"

While the label never addressed what exactly sparked Suge to make the speech on Combs’ turf, timeliness was a factor: Tupac had just signed with Death Row. The move wasn’t just about music. It marked Pac’s acceptance into Suge’s powerful group, known to have gang affiliations.

Pac’s decision ultimately reflected his desire to be viewed as an authoritative figure, Charnas says, referring to the late artist as “royalty.” “He didn’t need credibility. He had credibility, but it wasn’t the kind of credibility he craved. What he wanted, for whatever reason, was to be seen with street credibility … that became his motto: Thug life.”

Rappers' demise  

After short-lived yet successful careers surrounded by controversy, both Tupac and Biggie were shot and killed not long thereafter. Tupac was critically injured in a drive-by shooting on the Las Vegas strip and died on Sept. 13, 1996. Biggie was shot and killed on L.A.'s Miracle Mile six months later on March 9, 1997. While both cases remain unsolved, loyal fans and industry influencers still believe the East Coast-West Coast beef is to blame.

"It's one thing for a record label to promote an artist who promotes violence. It's another thing when that violence becomes real and affects people," Baker said. "It's not just entertainment anymore. ... It became real life and the line between reality and entertainment blurred."

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Throughout the past years, rap and all other types of music artist use their music to express their views, opinions and feelings in their songs. From their lyrics, you will have a little understanding towards what they see and feel about the society. The artists should be happy because this is a freedom of speech country and they can compose any types of music to express themselves. Although there are voices saying rap music should be censored and it has been influencing youth’s mind, but is rap music negatively influencing the youths’? There is a survey from the United States saying 48% Americans think popular music should be heavily regulated and 59% Americans wanted to restrict violence in music. However, there were no studies providing evidence towards a cause and effect relationship between violence, sex and behavioral effect. Even if there are studies, artist and composer will not be concerned about the regulations and/or rules. From this ignorance, this is how violence in rap music begins.

          Rap is defined as a form of popular music developed especially in African-American urban communities and characterized by spoken or chanted rhyming lyrics with a syncopated, repetitive rhythmic accompaniment. In the early '90's, rap music was beginning to be popular, and there were two different rapper groups: the East and West Coast. The wars between these two groups were not quite obvious until East Coast rappers began to get more publicity. West Coast rappers were upset and jealous so that they started to make fun of East Coast rappers through their music. East Coast rappers made revenge at West Coast rappers and the war has continue until one day, there was voices saying the other coast had gone too far. Nonetheless, West Coast rapper Tupac Shakur had a personal feud with the East Coast rapper The Notorious B.I.G.. In one of Tupac’s song, he proclaimed he had slept with the Biggie’s wife and Notorious B.I.G. revenged by saying “stupid niggaz mess with Big Poppa, motherf**kers get roasted if you f**k wit B.

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I.G.” (essaysample.com). On September 7, 1996 West rapper Tupac Amaru Shakur was shot to death in Las Vegas. Members of Tupac's entourage thought the only way to make things better was to kill an East rapper. And in my opinion, that's exactly what they did. On March 3, 1997 East rapper Christopher Wallace aka Notorious B.I.G. was shot to death. Both murders are unsolved so no one except the killers know why these senseless deaths happened.

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