RZA Explains Why Tupac Was More Dangerous Than The Notorious B.I.G.

Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA was a contemporary of both Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. The Abbott produced “Long Kiss Goodnight” from Biggie’s diamond-certified double-album Life After Death, a song that many Hip-Hop Heads interpreted to be one of the Brooklyn, New York MC’s responses to Pac—even after Shakur was fatally shot several months before the Bad Boy Records release.

In an interview with Lex Fridman, RZA is asked to compare Pac and Biggie. At 21:45 (embedded below), Fridman asks his guest what made Tupac and Biggie special within the lens of music history. “Mmm. That’s a good question. So I don’t know if I’m the authority to answer it, but I’ll just speak my piece on it, and maybe I can just add on—’cause I’m sure there’s a lot of people who spent a lot of time with them that could speak on it. But just as a fellow artist, I think not only was [The Notorious] B.I.G. a dope lyricist, I think he had a voice that was really immaculate—in a sense that some rappers get on top of music, and you’ve got to get used to them or you got to vibe with them, but he made a record that sounds like a record immediately. If you go back and listen to his music, you can take his voice and put it on anything, and for some reason, it sounds like a record.” He praises Christopher Wallace’s lyrical ability. “You gotta think, once again, he’s doing all this [and] he’s not even 25 years old.”

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RZA moves to Shakur. “[Then] you go to Pac. Once again—immaculate voice, but what Pac had, I think, was a way of touching us in all of our emotions,” RZA explains. “Like, Pac had the power to infuse your emotional thought, like ‘[Brenda’s Got] A Baby,’ ‘Dear Mama,’ but then he had the power to arouse the rebel in you. You know?” He continues, “Those two things…actually, [Tupac] was probably more dangerous than Big. Notorious B.I.G.—we could party with him, to this day we’re still…but Pac, we’re probably, going to point, he was more going into the Malcolm X [side] of things, and society fears that.”

Fridman seemingly agrees with RZA’s point, summarizing that Tupac “was good at communicating love and starting revolutions.” In response, The Abbott says, “Big was communicating love, but he wasn’t starting revolutions.”

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RZA is said to be at work on an upcoming solo album. His first LP in more than a decade is based on lyrics. “I even dug up some old books of lyrics. I always promised my fans an album called The Cure,” he told MSNBC’s Ari Melber during 2020. “And it kind of was like in the closet in this old big Tommy Hilfiger duffle bag.”

Last month, it was revealed that for Ghostface Killah’s upcoming Supreme Clientele 2, Kanye West and Mike Dean will fill the executive producer role that was held by RZA in the 2000 original.

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#BonusBeat: Ambrosia For HeadsWhat’s The Headline podcast interviews photographer T. Eric Monroe, who documented the lives of Tupac and Biggie: