When people think of scathing diss tracks, a few names come to mind. One such name will inevitably be 2Pac’s “Hit Em Up,” a blistering assault on his then-rival Notorious B.I.G. and the entire Junior Mafia clique. Released on June 4, 1996, Pac was said to have penned the track in retaliation for an attack he suffered on November 30, 1994 — one he felt that Bad Boy Records played a role in orchestrating. Between that and the ensuing “Who Shot Ya,” Pac’s rage toward his former friend was channeled into the booth, birthing one of hip-hop’s most blunt and savage takedowns in the process.

In a surprising turn, The Notorious B.I.G. opted not to respond — a decision that puzzled many, including several in his inner circle. Yet as Lil Cease explains during a recent conversation with Fatman Scoop, Biggie had a different idea of how to proceed. As Cease explains, Biggie was alone in his assessment that the beef needed to be squashed, as many of his closest associates and collaborators were eager to retaliate on wax.

“That’s why Big didn’t make a record,” explains Cease. “At the very beginning, Big didn’t rush in to make a diss track. Nah. Big told everybody ‘if you make a record, I’m not fuckin’ with you. Don’t call me, don’t fuck with me if you respond to anything. So none of us could do it, and Junior Mafia is ready to respond. Lil Kim is ready to respond. But Big was like ‘Nah, we not doing that.’ Cause I think Big was trying to leave it open, so he could really just — yo, what’s up dawg? Come on my n***a! You talking to me, what’s up?

Notorious B.I.G. Refused To Respond To 2pac's "Hit Em Up"
Biggie, Pac, & Redman in 1993, long before the drama kicked off. Photo by Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images 

“But they never got in touch with each other,” continues Cease. “Never ran into him. Never had those type of situations where the opportunity could present itself. I think that’s why Big never really spoke on it. Never really made records about it, cause he knew there was room to fix it. He wanted to fix it. That was his sign of wanting to fix it, by not escalating it. At the end of the day, your pride is your pride. N**gas was mad that he wasn’t responding. Street n***as was around us that really get busy in the streets. But Big was like, ‘nah, chill. I’m not doing that. But if shit come out way, we have to be on point to handle our business.”

From the sound of it, Cease seems to appreciate Big’s decision to remain diplomatic, even in the face of brutal disrespect on wax. It’s an admirable quality from the late emcee, and makes his unfinished business with 2Pac all the more tragic in retrospect. Especially given Snoop Dogg’s recent comments, in which he indicated that Pac’s death left Biggie in a painful place. “He looked me in my eyes and he say something to that—he’s sad that Tupac is dead,” explained Snoop. “But I can look in his eyes and I could see that he hurt.”

Much respect to Cease for sharing this anecdote in the first place, and long live The Notorious B.I.G.