Was there an actual winner in the 2Pac verses Biggie East Coast-West Coast Gangsta Rap rivalry of the 1990s?

“Only God can Judge me now” -2Pac, from the multi-platimum selling double disc set “All Eyez On Me”, 1996 Death Row Records.
“NO human being, Korean or European be seeing what we be seeing” Notorious B.I.G, from the song “Da B Side” with Da Brat on the soundtrack to the film Bad Boys, 1995.
I do not deny the significance of the feud between Christopher Wallace and Tupac Shakur had on the history of Hip Hop music. Doing so would be absurd. I do, however, disagree vehemently with the narrative they were the two greatest rappers or most important rappers of all time. I was alive in the 90s. I followed Hip-Hop. They were both big names to be sure but there were tons of others being considered for greatest of the time.
Looking at their body of work during that time period. 2Pac grew as an artist, Biggie stagnated and became more pop under the direction of Sean Combs. The leadership of Bad Boy Records was not as tough or outspoken as the leadership at Death Row Records, this was obvious.
What is true, however, since the two men were murdered the shape of their respective coastal tribal mentality shifted. The West Coast gangsta rappers split. Death Row crumbled into an unrecognizable, unfamiliar shell of its former self. Today the works being released by the remnants of Suge Knight and Andrew Young’s legacy bear no resemblance either to the works from their height nor do they resemble the contemporary works of modern artists. Bad Boy Records has works that not only transcend the time period of Biggie Smalls but has made every effort to remain current and relevant throughout. As such it is with deep regret upon looking at the objective facts I declare Bad Boy Records the victors in what is left of the East Coast vs. West Coast Gangsta Rap wars.
Rappers today hardly reference the tumultuous period outside vain attempts at claiming themselves as successors to either 2Pac or Notorious BIG’s thrones. The actual reality is Snoop Doggy Dogg rose to become the king of the West Coast. The East Coast kingdom is evenly split between Hova and his Rockafella Records and P.Diddy and his Bad Boy Records. There is no true successor to Notorious BIG on the East. The closest to claim the dominance and superiority Biggie claimed, at least in the Gangsta Rap scene would be Nas. His music sounds the most similar to the works Biggie Smalls was producing at the time. However, in terms of notoriety, it is with even deeper regret I now recognize, although not on any grounds of respect, Kanye West as the true king of Hip-Hop based on his presence in the game.
 
That being said some would argue there were no winners only losers in the East vs. West narrative. I disagree, death is a natural part of life. Biggie and Pac were always going to die on the dates God ordained. Therefore it is easier for me to determine the basis of the implications of their work on the impact it had on the greater hip-hop community. The death of Biggie and 2Pac and the rise of Bad Boy Records did convert staunch West Coast only followers, such as myself, to explore the greater body of works out there.
 
As a continuing student of the school of rap, I have come to the conclusion that Notorious BIG was inferior to 2Pac but Bad Boy was superior to Death Row. Its an unfair trade off, because looking at just Life After Death, Biggie’s music was clearly being channeled in Nas. However nobody on the West Coast has come close to stirring the angst, fear, anxiety and frustrations 2Pac and his Outlawz were able to instill upon the world.
The violence was shared, real and lyrical, on both sides. The actual reality now is, the violence hasn’t gone away. It is, after all, at the center of gangsta life. The gangsta who becomes a rapper is the true gangsta rapper where as the artist who observes and contemplates, while equally valid, has less impact on the world with his hollowed out words. The real impact is knowing human beings DIED for their respective thug families. Blood was shed. Bloodshed itself does not inherently validate a cause, but a martyr nonetheless has a more powerful impact than a reigning monarch. That is why, even in death, 2Pac Shakur and Christopher Biggie Smalls Wallace will live on in the hearts and minds of the Hip-Hop faithful, regardless of actual skills.
The expression is to the victor goes the spoils. Puff Daddy aptly named the first track on his tribute to Biggie Smalls “Victory” to kick off No Way Out, the 1997 record that laid Notorious BIG to rest while helping begin the healing process of mourning the two legends that not only define and entire generation but inspired them as well.

Favorite Strong Female Comics Characters

I was about 12 years old when I really began getting into comic books and comic book culture. It was around this time I started reading Wizard magazine and other comic related publications. I can’t remember the name of all of the different magazines, back in the 90s there was more than one magazine floating around on any given topic.

During the transition phase of going from a child to adolescent I began to notice my interests were changing. It’s only natural at this stage in life. One area I became more interested in is discovering the artistic expressions, in comic books and other media, of the female form. I struggled as a Christian with the balance between being able to appreciate a woman for her beauty without over sexualizing her in the process. I will say it was a battle I sometimes lost due to the nature of being bound to a fleshly body. That being said I often did let my eyes decide which female characters in the comic medium to investigate whether it be based on a costume, the way she presented her self or something else. I also grew up the only male child in a house full of females. It was a unique experience to say the least.

This is a list of some of my favorite strong female comics characters.

Early on my favorite female comic book characters began to take on a certain theme. They were the types of women, like myself in many respects, that didn’t fit into the typical roles. Often they were a super hero with a power that set them apart or they were a character with some sort of personality disorder. It never failed, despite the physical attractiveness one might find as drawing to a character, the traits of independence and being powerful figures in their respective story lines were most often what determine which characters I was drawn to. This was not always the case with male characters, so I can now take a look back and analyze this more.

My first love when it comes to comic book characters is the goddess Dawn from the Cry for Dawn comics and later other mini series. It original attraction was her depiction the artist drew her in the comics as well as the magazines. She was always looking at the reader in a way that suggested she was self aware of her comic book existence. Truth be told the character herself was rarely used in the stories of the books I managed to read. In fact, she was hardly even a narrator for all intents and purposes. Still, the image of a seductive but powerful female demon type was a character I found myself drawn to.

If I were to go so far as to admit to having had a crush on any single comic book character as depicted it would be Marvel Girl, aka Jean Grey. More specifically her Original Team interpretation and her later post-Phoenix Saga rebirth. I was always drawn to Jean for a number of reasons. Primarily she was by far the most powerful of the X-Men. She was romantically attached to my favorite of the X-Men male characters, that being her lover Cyclops aka Scott Summers. I even picked up the Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix mini series due to my appreciation for those characters. Not to mention the wedding issue I cherished for a many number of years. I was also kind of a trading card collector so I made the mistake of cutting out the 3 cards inserted into the middle of the issue, a regret I maintain to this day especially after I purchased for mere dollars a complete set of the series those cards were from. Jean became even more of a character I admired once her movie adaptation breathed a new life into the character. I didn’t care for every story line they put her in, but I was more than happy just seeing my favorite of the female X-Men sticking around.

Then there was Rogue. She was definitely the character I was not letting my eyes trick me into discovering. Her character was, shall I saw, not depicted in a manner I found even slightly attractive. I felt she was too muscular and her stripped hair, frizzy hair was a turn off. I don’t mean to completely let the characters physical appearance determine my interest, I was a pre-teen boy raised in a sex-obsessed culture after all cut me some slack. However I became intrigued with the Rogue character more and more over time. I began to realize the complexity of her character was a major draw to the stories she was involved in. I didn’t care for every aspect of her personality, or her falling for that slick Cajun card hustler, but I was still able to really find myself strongly interested in the fact she was raised a super villain who turned hero and had such a tragic story tying her to everything. She was a lot more interesting as a person than Jean.

Next up is Kitty Pride also known as Shadow Cat. She was a character I was originally adverse to. She was young and annoying. Not unlike Rogue herself but I was introduced to the 90s adult Rogue and an early 80s annoying teenager Shadow Cat. Still what drew me to the character more than anything was her struggle with fitting in. The whole purpose of the X-Men is finding a place for misfits to find their place in society. Being a mistfit among freaks is even more difficult to deal with. Shadow Cat never really grew into a main stream character but I eventually developed a fondness for her and began looking into her other books. My favorite was the Wolverine and Kitty Pride mini series.

For reasons I don’t have time to dig into, I eventually branched out and began discovering other female characters in comic books I found appealing for some reason or another. As someone raised in the male world of men are strong women are not but the changing perceptions of the 90s to today, I had to cope with a lot of breaking the rules and allowing myself to like characters I wasn’t supposed to. Of course in the Batman universe it was Harley Quinn that caught my eye. This time it wasn’t her appearance so much as her costume but even more so, her obsession with Joker. Like most Batman fans the Joker is naturally one of my favorite characters. It is no surprise I would begin to develop an interest in a character who struggled with her desire to love the crazy clown, while also exploring other possibilities of self fulfillment. In the end her character became larger than life in many respects but I still enjoy reading a good HQ centered story from time to time.

Everyone has their guilty pleasure character. That one character you know you shouldn’t admire but you can’t help but worship in some way for reasons beyond critical thinking. In terms of comic characters for me it was Wendy from the Casper series. I didn’t read many Casper comics and truth be told he was pretty far down my list.When I did however I preferred the ones with his little witch friend.

I always had a sort of fondness for Wendy despite knowing better. I can’t quite explain it but something about her always made me drawn to the stories she was in. I suppose there is a part of me, as an over protective big brother, who saw a resemblance to her in some respects to my baby sister. Still, I shrug that off as only a surface level explanation for why I would be drawn to that character.

Although it was far from sexual, I did have a strong affinity for Batgirl as my other DC female I admired fondly. Why? Because much like the awesome Batman himself, Batgirl kicked ass and was a fantastic detective. Unlike the annoyingly cheesy Boy Wonder, I always wished Batman and Batgirl would become a permanent team replacing the sparrow-inspired lame duck with a superior character that made a whole lot more sense.

If there was a character I was drawn to for, shall we say carnal reasons, it would most certainly be White Queen from the X-Men. Of course, well for very obvious reasons she was drawn in such a way to make her seductive. She also was the anti-Jean having largely the same powers but was far more flexible in her morals, if you could argue she even hard morals. It didn’t help any when they cast a woman actress who portrayed one of my favorite characters in the highly sexualized drama Mad Men to portray her in the X-Men film franchise. Needless to say they were spot on in that regards. As far as her character as a person, this is probably the one I can say I know the least about as a person, going back to that maleness in me that didn’t even bother taking the time to get to know her more. Oh well, everyone has their fling. She was not my true love however.

In terms of comic characters the one I would give my heart to, if she were real, is none other than the beloved story book character Alice from the Alice in Wonderland series. I have been drawn to so many comic book interpretations of Alice I can honestly say as a sales gimmick the best way to get my hard earned dollars is to make some variation of the character in comic book form I have yet to experience and chances are I will be there.

The last character I want to briefly discuss is going to be controversial to some. She is the heart and soul of the Scooby Doo franchise and the one female character I think really pulls the entire show together. Of course I am referring to the great Daphne. I know there are weirdo’s out there who like the glasses wearing geeky Velma. Not me, she was just annoying. I don’t pick Daphne based purely on looks however. I always felt she was a far more important character than she is often remembered. Sure she is usually the damsel in distress but what’s wrong with that? So is Princess Toadstool and she has been quite the success in the video game arena. Okay sure there is the whole stereotype argument but what can I saw, I don’t let that ruin a perfectly good character for me. I love Scooby Doo as a franchise. I certainly believe the entire team brings their own skills to the table, Daphne is still the one who ties the group together. She is, to use the cliche, the glue. It also didn’t hurt any she was the one carried over into the 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo when that annoying nerd got booted off the show. To top it all off the highly admirable Sarah Michelle Geller, who portray the very popular Buffy, was selected to bring Daphne to life for the live action film, of which I am one of the rare fans.

This is far from a comprehensive list of the female comic book characters I have been interested in, this is largely the ones I consider the most intriguing for some reason or another. Stay Cool.