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Biggie & Puffy Break Their Silence — ’96 VIBE Cover Story [PG.5]

They can’t make money, they can’t go anywhere. They can’t look at themselves, ‘cause they know the prodigal son has returned.”

In the face of all this, one might wonder why Biggie hasn’t retaliated physically to Tupac’s threats. After all, he’s the same Bedstuy soldier who rapped, “C-4 to your door, no beef no more.” Says Big, “The whole reason I was being cool from Day One was because of that nigga Puff. ‘Cause Puff don’t get down like that.”

So what about a response on record? “He got the streets riled up because he got a little song dissing me,” Big replies, “but how would I look dissing him back? My niggas is, like, ‘Fuck dat nigga, that nigga’s so much on your dick, it don’t even make no sense to say anything.”

Given Death Row’s intimidating reputation, does Puffy believe that he’s in physical danger? “I never knew of my life being in danger,” he says calmly. “I’m not saying that I’m ignorant to the rumors. But if you got a problem and somebody wants to get your ass, they don’t talk about it. What it’s been right now is a lot of moviemaking and a lot of entertainment drama. Bad boys move in silence. If somebody wants to get your ass, you’re gonna wake up in heaven. There ain’t no record gonna be made about it. It ain’t gonna be no interviews; it’s gonna be straight-up ‘Oh shit, where am I? What are these wings on my back? Your name is Jesus Christ?’ When you’re involved in some real shit, it’s gonna be some real shit.

But ain’t no man gonna make me act a way that I don’t want to act. Or make me be something I’m not. I ain’t a gangster, so why y’all gonna tell me to start acting like a gangster? I’m trying to be an intelligent black man. I don’t give a fuck if you niggas think that’s corny or not. If anybody comes and touches me, I’m going to defend myself. But I’ma be me—a young nigga who came up making music, trying to put niggas on, handle his business, and make some history.”

The history of hip hop is built on battles. But it used to be that when heads had a problem, they could pull a mike and settle it, using hollow-point rhymes to run their competitors off the map. Well, things done changed. The era of the gun clapper is upon us, with rappers and record execs alike taking their cue from Scarface. Meanwhile, those on the sidelines seem less concerned with the truth than with fanning the flames—gossiping about death threats and retribution, lying in wait for the first sign of bloodshed.

When the bloodshed came, it wasn’t quite what people expected. On June 30, Puffy was rushed to the emergency room of St. Luke’s—Roosevelt Hospital in Upper Manhattan, where he was treated for a deep cut to his lower right arm. New York’s Daily News called it a “slit wrist,” implying that it was more than an accident. Puffy calls the story nonsense. “I was playing with my girl and I reached for a champagne glass and it broke on my bracelet, cutting my arm,” he says. “I ain’t tryin’ to kill myself. I got problems but it ain’t that bad.”

More than anything, Puffy seems exhausted by the whole ordeal. But after all he’s seen in the past two years, nothing can surprise him—except, maybe, the squashing of this beef. “I’m ready for it to come to a head, however it gotta go down,” he says. “I’m ready for it to be out my life and be over with. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I just hope it can end quick and in a positive way, because it’s gotten out of hand.”

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