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Hit ‘Em Up” is a diss song by rap artist Tupac Shakur (2Pac), featuring his group the Outlawz. It is the B-side to the single “How Do U Want It“, released on June 4, 1996, from the album All Eyez on Me. The song’s lyrics contain vicious insults to several East Coast rappers, chief among them, Shakur’s former friend turned rival, The Notorious B.I.G., also known as Biggie Smalls. The song was recorded in Los Angeles, California at Can Am Studios in May 1996. Reporter Chuck Philips, who interviewed Shakur at Can Am, described the song as “a caustic anti-East Coast crusade in which the rapper threatens to eliminate Biggie, Sean Combs (Puffy), and a slew of Bad Boy artists and other New York acts.”[1] The song was produced by long-time collaborator Johnny “J” and samples the bassline from “Don’t Look Any Further” by Dennis Edwards and interpolates “Get Money” by Biggie Smalls group Junior M.A.F.I.A., which used the Dennis Edwards sample as well. The song’s chorus contains an interpolation of Yellowman‘s 1982 hit reggae single ‘Zungguzungguguzungguzeng’. The video, itself described as infamous, includes impersonations of Biggie, Puffy and Lil’ Kim.

“Hit ‘Em Up” had a large role in exacerbating the East Coast–West Coast hip hop rivalry. Following its release, the East Coast rappers insulted in the song responded through tracks of their own. The controversy surrounding the song is due in part to Shakur’s murder only three months after its release.

The song is widely considered by the American hip hop community as one of the greatest diss tracks ever recorded due to its explicit lyrical content and the seriousness of violent intent by Shakur and his colleagues towards their competitors.[2]

 

 

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