The Beastie Boys' Mike D On The Tupac/Biggie Feud
Mike D of The Beastie Boys is one of these cats that's been a cultural figure in hip-hop long enough to see the regimes change and bear witness to some of the more tragic (and particularly deadly) feuds that ever were. In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, D described precisely that, delving into the climate of mid-90s hip-hop, where an entrenched Puffy and Suge Knight were just making it dangerous to be an MC, from either coast and how Tupac and Biggie's feud was a perfect microcosm of that mounting friction. Mike spoke to Tupac's nature and background, citing his art school education and performative early years (with Digital Underground) as indications that he may very well have been trying to compensate for the "softer" side.
D's account speaks to Pac and Biggie less as rappers and more as pawns in the rap-game tug-o-war Knight and Combs were playing. At one point, D even claims the iconic "Thug Life" belly tattoo acted as a self-fulfilling prophecy, as Pac's striving for authenticity and validation from his peers eventually led to his tragic and untimely demise. He goes on to describe how the climate of live shows and gun culture became entangled as East/West tensions escalated, claiming to fear for his life as a Beast Coast MC visiting the West. This is just the first installment of Mike D's In Conversation With segment for Vanity Fair, stay tuned for more origin tales from the living legend. Watch the candid storyteller below.