Sunday, 31 March 2013

2Pac Vs. The Notorious B.I.G.: Which Legend Takes the Top Spot?

Hello everyone. Big topic today! I remember when I wrote about Frank Ocean and The Weeknd, I had a tough time figuring out who was better because of the close competition. I stated it was almost as hard as trying to make a decision on who is the better rapper between the revolutionary Tupac "2Pac" Shakur and the masterful storyteller Christopher "The Notorious B.I.G." Wallace. With the latest blog post by the lovely The Enigmas Asian (excellent blog filled with diverse topics, check it out here) about which rapper is better, I started formulating my own opinions and perspectives about the two rappers. First of all, there's no denying that both 2Pac and Biggie have both revolutionized Hip-Hop and the way its perceived globally. Throughout their careers, they have produced classic after classic and with their conscious lyrics have produced vivid images of topics that face the world. Both have collaborated with legends such as Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and P. Diddy (or whatever name he goes by) and were also successful with taking Hip-Hop and crossing it over to the commercial side. Hypnotize and California Love dominated the radio and still gain replay value to this day. Both have inspired basically every rapper to have ever emerged in the game after them such as Eminem, 50 Cent, Kanye West, and more recently Kendrick Lamar, Logic, Joey Basa$$ and J. Cole. Overtime, comparisons have been made and a spot for the best of all time between the two has been debated for years after their unfortunate deaths (R.I.P.). So which rapper is better? Who, to me personally, has more appeal and diversity to be known as the best? I will go on record to say that I consider these two rappers as the best, and the better rapper to me beats the other by a hair. I do have to confess that this wasn't hard for me because I always favored one over the other, and the rapper I favor is Tupac Shakur. 

First of all, I don't believe that this is a fair comparison between the two. Tupac recorded five albums throughout his lifetime while Biggie only recorded two. The significance of this is that Tupac released a good amount of work in his lifetime to see his progression as an artist. Tupac dropped the incredible 2Pacalypse Now in 1991 and has continued to improve until The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theoryin 1996. You can see how Tupac changed over the years, how his sound was renewed from Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. to Me Against the World and how his lyrics have changed as well. With Biggie on the other hand, we - unfortunately - never had the opportunity to see how his career would've played out after his first two albums. I mean look at what happened to Eminem after The Eminem Show. We don't know if Biggie would've fell off or dumbed down and we never saw much change (remember this is all my opinion - this is subject to debate whether he progressed). But I'm gonna forget about that and look at what I have and not what I could've had. 

I will go on record and say Biggie had the better debut album with Ready to Die. Ready to Die was raw and innovative. It placed such a big impact on Hip-Hop and quickly gained popularity. Tupac's 2Pacalypse Now had to wait a while to receive the recognition it deserves. But just because Biggie's debut was better doesn't mean anything. To me, Life After Death is a bit overrated (here comes the hate). Maybe overrated isn't the right word. I believe Life After Death took away much of what made Ready to Die so special, which was Biggie's raw lyrics. I also didn't hear Biggie rapping with the same energy. If you listen to Ready to Die, Biggie's monstrous flow and volume on songs like Juicy and Me & My Bitch was spectacular. On Life After Death, Biggie's flow was more laid back like on Big Poppa, which was hot but not as impressive to me. I wasn't too into Hypnotize and Mo Money Mo Problems. I was more into Notorious Thugz (Biggie's flow on that was one of the best flows I heard), Sky's The Limit, and I Got a Story to Tell. With Tupac on the other hand, he improved more and more on each album. 

Tupac Shakur's Me Against the World is to me the best rap album ever made (tied with Nas's Illmatic). He really showed his passion for supporting conscious topics in the world and therefore dropped some of Hip-Hop's best songs: Me Against the World, Fuck the World, Old School and the heart warming universally acclaimed Dear Mama (even though I prefer Old School by far but that's not the point). This albums showcased the realness in Tupac's lyrics and desperation to get the message out.When Tupac crossed over to All Eyez on Me, he didn't have to sacrifice his skills as an emcee. His flow actually improved, he lyrics remained as complex and incredible as always and he was able to put songs that can appeal to anyone such as California Love, I Ain't Mad at Cha and Heaven Ain't Hard to Find. For these factors, Tupac always came more compassionate to me. Not everyone loves a compassionate rapper as some people love aggressive lyrics, but that's not me. When I want to listen to something, I want to take away something from it. I want to feel the power and the impact of the lyrics presented and vibe to the production. This is were Tupac surpasses Biggie in my opinion; to me Tupac was always the more compassionate guy I can relate to.

Let's talk about the two rappers' technical aspects for a minute. Biggie has hands down the better flow, no denying that. Biggie probably has the best flow ever produced by a rapper which was so easy for him to execute he made it look easy with his signature "uh" (Better than Rick Ross' by far :P) Storytelling wise, I think they are at an equal position. Both of them can tell a story with their lyrics so perfectly you find yourself visualizing the events as they are spoken by the rappers. I Got A Story to Tell and Me & My Bitch come to mind from Biggie and Brenda's Got A Baby and Me and My Girlfriend from Tupac. (Although I gotta say Nas has huge respect from me for telling some of the best stories - Rewind, One Love, Memory Lane, I Gave You Power etc.) Sure Biggie told more stories, but Tupac was the more conscious rapper and that for me beats everything. Also, for me, Tupac had the better produced tracks and more memorable songs. Dear Mama is respected by not only every Hip-Hop head but by all music critics. He is the only rapper, besides Grandmaster Flash and Public Enemy, to be inducted into the National Recording Registry. While Biggie is universally known for his voice, I think Tupac's voice fits perfectly with the content of his songs and it matches his energy incredibly. Tupac's flow is usually overshadowed by Biggie's, but I say Tupac gives Biggie a run for his money on songs like Thugz Mansion and Old School. Yeah Biggie was probably better at freestyling, but that doesn't matter much to me. I'm not gonna go into the whole beef and each rapper's legendary diss tracks Who Shot Ya and Hit Em Up because one wasn't even eligibly a diss track (coughs-bullshit Biggie-coughs) and one was just a sign of anger and frustration (not cool Pac, not cool) while both were hot and furious! To me, Me Against the World was better then Ready to Die and All Eyez on Me was better than Life After Death.

Now just because I favor Tupac over Biggie does not mean that Biggie isn't a great rapper at all. Biggie to me is second best right after Tupac, and for the reasons I stated in this blog entry. I have eternal respect for both of them for not only putting out classics that have made my love for Hip-Hop greater but both have inspired hundreds of other rappers that put the game where it is right now. If it weren't for them, we wouldn't have the many talented rappers we have now. Even if a rapper doesn't place one of them as an influence, they owe them something for shaping Hip-Hop into a respectable art form. They have produced some of my favorite songs and albums and I can listen to them any time, any place! Rest in Peace to both rappers (yes, I don't believe Tupac is still alive somewhere in Cuba or whatever conspiracy theories are out there) and again, thanks for reading!

10 of Tupac's Best Tracks: Old School, Dear Mama, Thugz Mansion, I Ain't Mad At Cha, Trapped, Fuck The World, Keep Your Head Up, 2 Of Amerikaz Most Wanted, California Love and Brenda's Got A Baby.

10 of Biggie's Best Tracks: Juicy, Big Poppa, Me & My Bitch, Machine Gun Funk, Ready to Die, Ten Crack Commandments, Notorious Thugs, I Got A Story to Tell, My Downfall and You're Nobody (Til Someone Kills You).

What do you guys think? Is Tupac or Biggie the better rapper and why? Leave a comment below and tell me what you think!

1 comment:

  1. Biggie. Never a bad song, and he rose to the heights of Pac based on only two albums. Also, LAD and RTD> anything Pac has done. Pac is great and the most insightful rapper of all time, but Biggie is the the most enjoyable, and this is music.