June 4th 1996 was the day that Hip Hop had changed forever. Tensions between Death Row and Bad Boy were brewing and Tupac Shakur had aligned himself with the Death Row superpower to “ride on his enemies”. He was released from prison in late 1995 and immediately got down to business. Tupac had recorded his double album titled “All Eyez on Me” within two weeks and released it on Feburary 13th 1996. The album was a smash hit and helped Death Row regain their spot in rap supremacy.
Speculation of Tupac’s shooting in New York ran for years. Tupac speculated that Puffy, Biggie, and the whole Bad Boy staff knew more than what their telling, thus feeling that they tried to insult his intelligence about what happened. So he instead wanted to release a diss record as a b-side titled Hit em Up on his single How Do U Want it.
“That’s why I fucked your bitch you fat muthafucka”
And just with that opener, battle lines became officially drawn. Tupac’s opening verse was him waging war on the whole Bad Boy staff. He used Junior Mafia’s Get Money remix beat and flipped it into a disrespectful declaration of war. He called Biggie, Puffy, Lil Kim and the whole Junior Mafia staff out by name. He flipped the Junior Mafia Get Money hook mocking Bad Boy in a clever way.
He then introduced his click Tha Outlawz into the frey and showed that Pac has a click that represented for him out in the East Coast as well. Tha Outlawz proved as youngster that they could hold their own weight on here(Mainly the late Fatal and Khadafi). Then Pac went on a 3 minute rant afterwards which was basically him blowing up in a rage in a studio. Shouting threats, mocking Prodigy’s sickle cell disease, warning kids may be violated, and letting Bad Boy know that they were running this rap shit.
The feeling in hip hop and especially in NYC at the time was quizzical . Then Pac shot a video for the song further crossing lines that were never meant to be crossed. There were diss records in that time period was vicious. No Vasaline, Real Compton City Gz, Dollas N Sense to name a few. But Hit Em Up brought more than cleverness, He waged legit war and wasn’t trying to be comical.
It wasn’t the most lyrical diss record of all time. But Pac made up through his aggression, the venom, and breaking the 4th wall of what was considered “respectful battle rules” within the culture. It may have been what many would consider to be a dark time for hip hop, but nevertheless a historic one.