Nearly two decades after a coastal feud left Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. dead, the Beastie Boys' Mike D is still trying to make sense of it. "It still boggles my mind," he told Vanity Fair in the interview below. "It escalated so fast."
Looking back on the scenario, Mike D praised Biggie Smalls' talent, calling him a "seminal rapper," and referred to Tupac Shakur as somewhat of a mystery man, referencing how he had a performing arts school background and had come up through lighthearted party rappers Digital Underground. "Yeah, he was 'Thug Life' and everything, but he was more of an artistic kid," the Beastie Boy said. "But basically he was so determined to be authentic, it ultimately killed him, which is a sad and tragic thing."
The MC also recalled how strange he felt when he heard that Biggie Smalls had been shot. "It was super surreal," he said. "It was like, 'What? Biggie got shot?' It just seemed like it couldn't be true."
At the time, Mike D was enjoying frequenting Hollywood hip-hop clubs and seeing groups like Cypress Hill and the Pharcyde cut their teeth. But soon he saw a changing in the tide as security eventually introduced metal detectors – a thing he was grateful for since "at least people's guns were in their cars, not inside the club." But despite the changing times, the East Coast–bred rapper never felt uncomfortable there. "It wasn't like I was nervous to be a New York MC in this mix," Mike D said. "It was very specific. It still was Puffy, Suge [Knight], Tupac, Biggie."
Tupac's murder was also recently explored in the National Geographic documentary, The '90s: The Last Great Decade?, in which the rapper's Outlawz bandmate Malcolm Greenridge expressed dismay with the FBI's handling of his death, which is still shrouded in mystery. "Law enforcement around the country weren't big Tupac fans," he said. "I'm absolutely positive they know what happened. This is America. We found Bin Laden."