I SHOULD feel like a dick for this
I am growing increasingly weary with the "... if Pac and Big were still alive..." argument presented WHENEVER hip hop history is the topic of discussion.
I will address Biggie first, since that answer is most easily arrived to...
Big was young and naive, coming DIRECTLY from the PJ's to rap stardom. No business acumen (no, no one who NEVER had a drivers license - even after getting rich - sells as much crack as he claimed to), and no point of reference other than "get money now," Biggie would have been nickel and dimed into the poor house if he DREAMED of NOT being on Bad Boy Records. The FACT that he had recently before death signed a chunk of his masters to Puffy against a loan of only $200k suggests this to me.
Why, in a world where Michael Jackson took himself from "rich" to "wealthy" by owning the master tapes and all the rights that comes with that ownership anyone would do such a thing suggests a juvenile understanding of the long term.
Tupac, on the other hand?
Lemme lead with a couple of videos...
I shouldn't even have to stop to discuss how a dude whose life is a parody of itself has EVER not been killed, let alone how it happens all at his own hand.
Biggie and Tupac could each give an approximate assfuck about hip hop as a culture.
Biggie had kids, ZERO business background and was sold hip hop for mutual profit... The 200k "loan" Puff gave him soon before his death, with his publishing as collateral lets me know that he knew nothing of his own worth. If not killed while 17-year-old Phlip partied it up at Damian Ray's party in 1997, Biggie would have been a "broken by the industry" artists, ONLY paying his bills, like most anyone else cursed to actually getting their album released on Bad Boy.
... it could be worse, he could have had to walk for cheesecake and NEVER see a release (google "walk for cheesecake").
'Pac, on the other hand? Apart from having lips loose enough to not be told NOT to snitch on himself, seemed to "get it."
Music money is shit...
counting the 10-15 (or fewer) points you get on an album, compared to the giving back of your show money to recoup quicker is SHIT life.
[Phlip note - I know a little about the industry, AND can write raps, but I know my position better than to TRY to gamble my mortgage trying to do that shit professionally]
With that in mind, MOVIE money is "up front" and not conditional, like music money is.
The Fresh Prince got smart
Ludacris got smart
Common got smart
LL got smart
See that last one, "LL got smart"
In the dearth that a Tupac death created, an LL film career was born... in the in-between, two BAD LL albums have appeared... is there any question?
Pac died, then his BEST album dropped, but conditional rap money was SHIT next to guaranteed music dough. Comparing a "fresh-off-a-classic" 'Pac to a "pink cookies" LL is like comparing the juvenile 1986 Thundercats to the superior 2011 version.
[Phlip note - the new shit is head and shoulders better]
In my crazy little mind, the writing was on the wall. 2pac the rapper was about to become Tupac Shakur, and show off his SAG card.
'Pac was a douche canoe.
I am FULLY CONVINCED that if not shot up after that Tyson fight, he would have only lived to be killed later. Getting yourself killed due to your own bullshit does not a martyr one make. Sad but true, that last sentence is.
Perhaps this is a matter of opinion, and 'Pac stans (the major reason I was never a huge fan of him) the world over are waiting in the wings to call me a "hater" for it.
Oh well, I have been called worse, I'm a big boy and can handle it.
Sticks and Stones and such, I guess...