October Book Review: An Illustrated History of Rap’s Greatest Battle 2Pac vs Biggie

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By: Jeff Weiss and Evan McGarvey

Written by Jeff Weiss and Evan McGarvey this book is a little suspect to me. Books that are not supported by the artist or personality nor their family are a little suspect in general especially when they are written after the subject dies or written by people who weren’t closely involved with the subject(s). With that said the leaf page with the publishing information gives the disclaimer that all the information in the book was compiled and put together by the authors the information is true “to the best of their knowledge”. That alone leaves room for error however we know with the murders of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls there were tons of unanswered questions and holes in the investigation so some information may have not been available at the time the authors were writing the book. This book got my attention in the local library because of the artistry and illustrations that were included in the book. This book is for high school aged readers and middle school students who are mature enough to handle the subject matter.

The illustrations in this book are brilliant with pictures from legendary Hip Hop photographer Chi Modu and original artwork from various artists. The book is a timeline of the lives of two Hip Hop juggernauts leading up to their work and time in the industry to their untimely deaths followed by the legacy each emcee left behind. The book talks about how they came together and what may have led to the rift between two former friends/acquaintances. The first publication of this book was in 2013 so I think they could have done better with the title as 2Pac vs Biggie kind of reinforces the negative East Coast vs West Coast image that we’ve moved away from. On the back cover there’s a list that hones in on each aspect of their careers; Mackaveli vs Big Poppa, Death Row vs Bad Boy, and so on with quotes from President Obama. There are quotes from Biggie and Pac throughout the book with graffiti type fonts to bring home the Hip Hop theme.

I came across no derogatory language while reviewing this work. I really enjoyed the actual timelines inside the book as well as the Billboard chart listing. Not being biased the book focuses on the good and bad aspects of both artists. Overall, this is a good book but I would read everything with a grain of salt. These two writers have written Hip Hop literature in the past and although they may be trustworthy writers you have to think critically at all times.