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No Country for Old (Rap) Men: Stuff that Tupac Was Better at Than Joey Bada$$

Joey had Twitter lit with his braggadocio this week so here's a thoroughly scientific comparison of the two rappers

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Disrespecting your elders is a rite of passage for many a hot-headed youngster. The thing is, it tends to be more effective when the target of scorn is still around to respond – such as the Soulja Boy vs. Ice-T thing, or KRS-One vs. Melle Mel. Not so for Joey Bada$$, who caused a mild ripple on my Twitter timeline yesterday after claiming that he would decimate Tupac Shakur in a rap battle, which is about as disingenuous as some fat bloke declaring that he could best Biggie Smalls in a pie-eating contest. For starters, there’s no way to disprove the idea, being that Tupac left this mortal coil 21 years ago. But even beyond that major hurdle, the Thug Life founder never claimed to be the king of freestyle battling – it was his versatility, charisma, and general give zero fux attitude that endeared him to millions, not his ability to bag other rappers’ mums ‘off the top of the dome’. But since the Pro Era head honcho has decided to open this can of worms, I may as well conduct a thoroughly scientific comparison of these two artists.

01. Random acts of violence

The Hughes Brothers are happy to talk smack about Pac these days, claiming that he never jumped them and “wasn’t a thug”, so he had set a dozen Crips onto them. But according to Snoop Dogg, who was friends with both parties, Pac did put a shoe in either Allan or Albert when he was dropped from Menace II Society. Considering they sued him over the assault, it must have bruised more than their egos. There was also the time that he shot two drunk police officers after they allegedly opened fire on him after Pac’s car almost ran them over. Joey’s most notorious incident was breaking the nose of a security guard at a music festival in Australia.

02. Rap beef

At the height of his powers, Tupac took on the entire Bad Boy Records roster, Nas, Mobb Deep, Chino XL, Jay Z, Dr. Dre, and even had some weird problem with LL Cool J. ‘Hit ‘Em Up’ is regarded as an essential chapter in the history of diss records. Joey has had run-ins with Lil B The Based God and Troy Ave. *stares blankly*

03. Recording

2Pac recorded enough songs when he got out of jail to fill up two retail albums and at least nine posthumous bootlegs. Joey has dropped three solo mixtapes, an album and a few group projects over the past five years, indicating a certain lack of urgency in comparison to Mr. Shakur.

04. Acting

Mr. Shakur was a convincing actor, although he wasn’t exactly pushed to the limits of his abilities with the roles that he was offered. Could he have played a pirate, a Star Wars stormtrooper, or a mathematically gifted construction worker who was best buddies with Ben Affleck? I’d like to think so. Meanwhile, all Bada has to his credit is seven episodes of Mr. Robot. Not exactly Bishop from Juice level, is it mate?

05. Fashion

Pac popularised bandanas amongst non-gang members and no doubt is the rapper who’s the subject of more crappy tattoos than the rest of the music world put together. Joey likes Stussy clothes and was named Creative Director at Ecko Clothing.

06. Holograms

Tupac has a hologram making live appearances at Coachella (turns out it wasn’t actually a real hologram but just regular old CGI and some trick mirrors).  Joey currently has no plans for any kind of augmented reality, virtual reality, or holographic projection of himself in order to perform more than one show at one time, which seems like a missed opportunity for his brand.

07. Hit Records

Tupac released a number of iconic records that still get played today, and All Eyez On Me, his most successful album, has been certified Diamond (10 million units sold). Oh, and ‘Dear Mama’ has been added to the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry. Joey was nominated for B.E.T.’s Rookie of the Year award in 2013, but didn’t win. His B4.Da.$$ album has sold over 120,000 copies.


To Joey’s credit, he can fit more syllables into a bar than Pac, hasn’t served time for sexual assault or been shot and robbed for thousands of dollars in jewellery and has 870,000 Instagram followers. Could he beat Tupac in a live freestyle battle at S.O.B.’s if he had a time machine? Only if Lupe Fiasco and J. Cole were the judges.