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The unlikely truth behind Biggie Smalls song 'Who Shot Ya?'

Biggie Smalls song ‘Who Shot Ya?’ is one of the Brooklyn legend’s most definitive moments. Famously, the bars on the track helped instigate the fatal East-West feud, and intriguingly, things almost turned out differently.

Jay-Z once perfectly epitomised the gargantuan effect the track had on the scene after Big dropped it in 1994. For ‘Hov’ and everybody else who was mastering their craft, ‘Who Shot Ya?’ made them realise they needed to up their game if they were ever to compete.

“You’re just as good as your competition around you,” Jay once told MTV. “You know when someone else pushes you to really step your game up? That song, it was so crazy. It just had an effect on everybody. The world stopped when he dropped ‘Who Shot Ya?'” he told MTV.

For a B-side, ‘Who Shot Ya?’ has left an unparalleled mark on hip hop, and initially, it wasn’t intended for Biggie. The infectious beat Nashiem cooked up for the New York rapper was planned for Mary J. Blige; however, her label would stop the plans.

The shocking news first surfaced in 2014 when Funkmaster Flex made the revelation. In a teaser for his book, the DJ said, “The song ‘Who Shot Ya’ was originally an intro for Mary J. Blige’s album. Uptown/MCA said it was too hard. The song in its original form had a verse from Big, Keith Murray and LL Cool J, though LL never did his verse. The song still exists!”

While that version has never come to light, it’s wild to imagine what could have been if Blige’s management had accepted the beat and Biggie didn’t cuss Pac on the track. Shortly after the release of the song, Shakur told Vibe, “Even if that song ain’t about me, you should be, like, `I’m not putting it out, ’cause he might think it’s about him.'”

Tupac felt disrespected by Biggie seemingly poking fun at him being shot in his bars and decided to amplify the beef when he responded fiercely on ‘Hit Em Up’. On the track, he aggressively rapped, “Biggie, remember when I used to let you sleep on the couch? Five shots couldn’t drop me, I took it and smiled, Now I’m back to set the record straight, With my AK, I’m still the thug that you love to hate, and we bust on Bad Boys.”

At one time, Biggie and Pac were confidantes who would regularly hang out together whenever they found themselves in each other’s town. However, their relationship changed following the release of ‘Who Shot Ya?’, and things were never the same again.

If it wasn’t for Mary J. Blige’s label intervening, potentially, hip hop’s most infamous tragedy could have been avoided.