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The Notorious B.I.G. Wanted Tupac Shakur to Be His Manager

Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur have one of the most complicated relationships in hip-hop history. The two were once close friends from different coasts, and Biggie at one point even wanted Tupac to be his manager. But their relationship quickly soured in the mid-1990s before they could work together

When asking anyone about who the greatest rapper of all time is, many people will answer either The Notorious B.I.G. or Tupac Shakur. The two icons of ’90s hip-hop both maintain their status as legends long after their deaths. But even when they were alive, they acknowledged each other’s talents — and eventually, became good friends.

The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur at Club Amazon
(L-R) The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur | Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

How Biggie and Tupac met

Biggie first met Tupac in Los Angeles in 1993 on the set of Poetic Justice, which Tupac starred in. According to a 1996 interview Biggie did with Vibe magazine, Tupac kept playing Biggie’s debut single “Party and Bulls—” on the set of the movie. Biggie was flattered, and Tupac invited him to a party later at his house.

According to a Vice excerpt from the book Original Gangstas: The Untold Story of Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Tupac Shakur, and the Birth of West Coast Rap by Ben Westhoff, the two quickly became friends once they hung out.

“Pac walks into the kitchen and starts cooking for us. He’s in the kitchen cooking some steaks,” an intern named Dan Smalls who worked with Biggie recalled. “We were drinking and smoking and all of a sudden Pac was like, ‘Yo, come get it.’ And we go into the kitchen and he had steaks, and French fries, and bread, and Kool‑Aid, and we [were] just sittin’ there eating and drinking and laughing… that’s truly where Big and Pac’s friendship started.”

For Biggie, their friendship was natural from the start. “I always thought it to be like a Gemini thing,” he told Vibe of his first time chilling with Tupac. “We just clicked off the top and were cool ever since.”

The Notorious B.I.G. performing in a leather vest
The Notorious B.I.G. | Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Inside The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur’s relationship

Music producer D-Dot knew Biggie and Tupac when they were still friends and witnessed their bond firsthand. He spoke about their friendship in a 2013 interview with VladTV, revealing that Tupac was a sort of mentor to Biggie.

“They were really close,” he remembered. “It was an industry relationship that was growing into a more outside-the-industry relationship. It was probably more like a teacher-student [relationship] because Pac was very experienced. He was already considered legendary at that time. Big was just coming up.”

“I wouldn’t say that Pac sat there and gave him lessons. That’s not what I’m saying,” he added. “But when you got a guy that’s been in it, you kind of learn vicariously through that guy without actually being told. You just take little things, apply it to what you’re doing, and if he asked questions, Pac would answer.”

Biggie wanted Tupac to be his manager

Biggie and Tupac’s friendship quickly blossomed into a working relationship. They even performed together, freestyling at the 1993 Budweiser Superfest at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

By the time Biggie released his debut single “Party and Bulls—,” Tupac was a Platinum-selling artist: he released his debut album 2Pacalypse Now in 1991. When they started to get closer, Biggie was worried that his career would never take off under the management of his friend Puff Daddy, a.k.a. P. Diddy.

According to Original Gangstas, Biggie even asked Tupac to be his manager instead. But Tupac declined, insisting that they remain friends and not mix business with friendship. “Nah, stay with Puff,” he said. “He will make you a star.”

Tupac Shakur backstage at a show against a black wall
Tupac Shakur | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

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Biggie and Tupac eventually had an infamous beef

Biggie released his debut album Ready to Die in 1994 and quickly became the hottest new rapper in the game. He revitalized New York’s hip-hop scene, leading to the infamous East Coast vs. West Coast hip-hop feud of the 1990s.

Biggie and Tupac were the faces of that feud, and their relationship soured soon after Ready to Die‘s release. In November 1994, Tupac was shot five times in the lobby of the recording studio where he was set to meet Biggie and P. Diddy.

Tupac survived the attack and even made it upstairs to see Biggie right after the incident. But Tupac believed that Biggie might have had something to do with it. According to Original Gangsters, “Tupac said the crew looked surprised and guilty, but Puffy claimed they showed him ‘nothing but love and concern.'”