The late rapper Tupac was one of the most well-known rappers in the world and, during the 1990s, was the go-to artist if you wanted hardcore and passionate gangsta rap. As the primary artist of Dr Dre and Suge Knight’s Death Row Records, Shakur undeniably made massive hits and, before his murder in 1996, was one of the most famous rappers in the world.
However, aside from his fantastic music, another thing that the rapper brought to hip hop was controversy, high tensions and perhaps unnecessary aggression. Along with his boss and friend, Suge Knight, Shakur stoked the flames of hip hop and stirred the pot, which is why the rapper nearly ended up in a beef with California rapper Xzibit.
Xzibit was almost the west coast version of 50 Cent. He was featured in the video for 50 Cent’s ‘In Da Club’, and akin to 50 Cent, Dr Dre executively produced Xzibit’s third studio album, Restless. However, for Xzibit, label issues stood in his way, as well as the fact that the gangsta rap torch had moved from Los Angeles to New York with the arrival of 50 Cent and G-unit.
Xzibit came onto the L.A. scene in the mid-1990s and (like Tupac) was young and full of aggression. In an in-depth interview on The Art of Dialogue podcast, the rapper explained how he once had an awkward run-in with Shakur following the release of his debut single ‘Paparazzi’.
In the single from Xzibit, there was a lot of speculation that the rapper was dissing Death Row Records in the lyric, “It’s a shame n*ggas in the rap game only for the money and the fame.” However, the lyric had nothing to do with Tupac or Death Row.
Explaining what he was trying to communicate, Xzibit stated during the podcast, “I was coming from a purist Hip Hop backpack at the time,” Xzibit said. “Hip Hop rappers didn’t wanna be commercial, and they didn’t wanna be associated with pop radio, and none of that shit, it was like underground Hip Hop … and it had nothing to do with 2pac.”
However, at the time, 2pac was wary of both Xzibit and the rumours that surrounded ‘Paparazzi’. Recalling the time when he met 2pac, Xzibit detailed, “2pac hopped out, it was all love, we shook hands, we walked to the club, he tore it down that night.”
He continued, “But we never had a chance to be like, ‘Hey man, this is what I meant.’ Even like recently, me and E.D.I. did a song together called ‘One Nation,’ and we spoke about that, and it was such a big misunderstanding.” Xzibit explained that it frustrated him that he never got to settle it with Shakur himself and explain. However, he is grateful that Outlawz rapper E.D.I has acknowledged it.
You can listen to the misinterpreted single ‘Paparazzi’ in the video below and see if you hear anything.