Tupac Shakur & The Notorious B.I.G.
The Greatest Classic HIP-HOP MC’s of All-Time.
The only argument that can be appropriately made regarding these two Artistic Giants, lives among the rarified air of the Pantheon of Hip Hop Legends. The only question among this argument is simply whom to rank #1 and/or #2 in Hip Hop’s Golden Ledger of Greatest MC’s.
TUPAC / 2 PAC / LESANE
“Tupac (2Pac) Shakur” (Original Name: Lesane Parish Crooks) entered this earth on June 16th of 1971, via New York City’s Uptown Harlem. In the brief but profoundly explosive 25 years that followed, 2 Pac’s music inspired, transformed, illustrated, and occasionally shocked…the world. History will show that 2 Pac would go on to produce album sales that would tally in excess of 80 Million. Among his impressive catalog of studio album releases, 1996’s “All Eyez on Me” is largely considered to be 2 Pac’s crowning commercial achievement.
The “Death Row Records” released album became Certified 5X Platinum in the world record speed of two (2) months! Then, not to be outdone by it’s initial impact, by 1998 the album had gone on to be Certified 9X Platinum! (4.5 Million albums)
To say that 2 Pac was a transformative artist would be a gross understatement. To say that he delivered his prose with profound earnest, sincerity, and mission critical force, would be sufficient, only at a minimum, and transcendent in largess. 2 Pac’s music had the timing and relevance to have impacted my life, at a critical stage of my intellectual and social development. As a young black male, I drew inspiration, strength, and fortified intellectual resilience from it. Frankly, It’s likely that it still has that affect on my soul until this very day. That’s Real Talk, from a Real Fan. He was a supremely talented human being. His greatness is reinforced by his affect on Hip Hop fans the world over, especially across racial and ethnic lines. The fact that September 13th of 1996 was his last day on earth, meant that he would never get to celebrate turning 26 years of age. A fact that has long since passed through the road named ‘truly unfortunate’, and effortlessly merged onto the highway of ‘inconsolably tragic’. I feel blessed to have been a beneficiary.
The Notorious B.I.G. / Biggie Smalls entered this earth on May 21st of 1972, via New York City’s Borough of Brooklyn. under God’s name “Christopher George Latore Wallace”. Like his Hip Hop peer in rarified air 2 Pac, Biggie Smalls was the 1st and only son of a single mother. His compelling story-telling ability combined with transcendent lyrical prose, and mind-boggling exposition, was transformative. So much so that even though his music library essentially consists of just 3 studio albums, his legend was instantly cemented. They are that great. The Notorious B.I.G. was that great. His records set impressive sales records. However, Biggie, like 2 Pac, was so much more than mere record sales, His impact, inspiration, and bravado instilled renewed pride, in his beloved borough of Brooklyn, New York City. He was it’s real, eternally beloved Dark Prince.
His debut album 1994’s “Ready to Die”, went on to become 4X Platinum! Biggie’s follow up (and final album) was the release of 1997’s Double Album “Life After Death”, which debuted just 16 days after his tragic, and tragically unsolved March 9th, 1997 murder. It quickly took over #1 on the Billboard 200, and in just three years later (2000) it became the 1st solo Hip Hop album in music history to become Certified Diamond! A feat never accomplished before, or since, by anyone…in Hip Hop…Ever. Those familiar with Biggie’s Bad Boy flavored music, combined with delightfully clever lyrics with unbelievable range, can clearly understand the mythical talent contained throughout, and on full display within all of his music.
A largely unheralded aspect(s) of the pre-mature deaths of these two “Supermen” of Classic Hip Hop, is more than the fact that their murders were senseless. It’s more than the fact that both murders remain unsolved to this day. It’s the fact that Hip Hop and it’s once burgeoning, other-worldly talented community of artists, lost two of the greatest this world would ever be fortunate to witness…within just six (6) months of each other. If you’ll allow for a sports analogy, it would be like Shaquille O’Neal AND Kobe Bryant of the Lakers being murdered after just the 1st World Championship, never having the opportunity to win what would eventually be three (3) Championships in a row. In terms of Hip Hop, it can be easily argued that the art form itself has never fully recovered.
It can be argued that as wonderfully gifted and talented as your Jay-Z’s (and others) of the world are, and have been, in the decades since the sudden deaths of artists the talent level of “Biggie”, “Tupac”, and even Harlem’s “Big L” (Neither of whom lived to see 26 years of age), that perhaps they are more beneficiaries and/or ‘survivors of attrition’ (they avoided being murdered), than seriously considered the greatest of all time. No, Chief Idiot is going to make this call unilaterally. The reality is what the reality is.
The two greatest Classic Hip Hop artists of All-Time are Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace.