While the records fly off the shelves and the streets get hotter, Puffy and Big have remained largely silent. Both say they’ve been reluctant to discuss the drama because the media and the public have blown it out of proportion. At press time, there were rumors festering that Puffy—who was briefly hospitalized June 30 for a cut arm—had tried to commit suicide, causing many to wonder if the pressure had become too much. Determined to put an end to all the gossip, Puffy and Big have decided to tell their side.
“Why would I set a nigga up to get shot?” says Puffy. “If I’ma set a nigga up, which I would never do, I ain’t gonna be in the country, I’ma be in Bolivia somewhere.” Once again, Puffy is answering accusations that he had something to do with Shakur’s shooting at New York’s Quad Recording Studio, the event that sowed the seeds of Tupac’s beef with the East.
In April 1995, Tupac told VIBE that moments after he was ambushed and shot in the building’s lobby, he took the elevator up to the studio, where he saw about 40 people, including Biggie and Puffy. “Nobody approached me. I noticed that nobody would look at me,” said Tupac, suggesting that the people in the room knew he was going to be shot. In “Hit ‘Em Up,” Tupac does more than suggest, rapping, “Who shot me? But ya punks didn’t finish/Now you’re about to feel the wrath of a menace.”
But Puffy says Tupac’s barking up the wrong tree: “He ain’t mad at the niggas that shot him; he knows where they’re at. He knows who shot him. If you ask him, he knows, and everybody in the street knows, and he’s not stepping to them, because knows that he’s not gonna et away with that shit. To me, that’s some real sucker shit. Be mad at everybody, man; don’t be using niggas as scapegoats. We know that he’s a nice guy from New York. All shit aside, Tupac is a nice, good-hearted guy.”
Taking a break from recording a new joint for his upcoming album, Life After Death, Big sinks into the studio’s sofa in a blue Sergio Tacchini running suit that swishes with his every movement. He is visibly bothered by the lingering accusations. “I’m still thinking this nigga’s my man,” says Big, who first met Tupac in 1993 during the shooting of John Singleton’s Poetic Justice. “This shit’s just got to be talk, that’s all I kept saying to myself. I can’t believe he would think that I would shit on him like that.”
He recalls that on the movie set, Tupac kept playing Big’s first single, “Party and Bullshit.” Flattered, he met Tupac at his home in L.A., where the two hung out, puffed lah, and chilled. “I always thought it to be like a Gemini thing,” he says. “We just clicked off the top and were cool ever since.” Despite all the talk, Big claims he remained loyal to his partner in rhyme through thick and thin. Honestly, I didn’t have no problem with the nigga,” Big says. “There’s shit that muthafuckas don’t know. I saw situations and how shit was going, and I tried to school the nigga. I was there when he bought his first Rolex, but I wasn’t in the position to be rolling like that. I think Tupac felt more comfortable with the dudes he was hanging with because they had just as much money as him.