We’ve seen some amazing hip-hop moments at the VMAs through the years. Still, when we think back on VMA history, we can’t help but think about what could’ve been if Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. had lived to realize their full potential. For starters, neither ever performed at the VMAs — hard to believe right?
The death of these two rap greats, who were both gunned down in 1996 and 1997 respectively, still affects the hip-hop community, but above all else, we’re grateful for the time that we did get with them. Let’s look back at ’Pac and Biggie’s key VMA moments.
Biggie And Michael Jackson
In 1995, when Michael Jackson and sister Janet’s “Scream” won the VMA in the Best Dance Video category, it was the King of New York who presented the King of Pop with his Moonman.
’Pac And Snoop Present Best Hard Rock Award
Tupac and Snopp Dogg were the ultimate hard rocks when they were signed to Death Row Records, so who better to present the Best Hard Rock award at the 1996 VMAs than “2 of Americaz Most Wanted.”
Ms. Wallace Reps For Brooklyn
Big won his very first Moonman at the 1997 MTV VMAs, sadly he wasn’t around to give one of his spirited award speeches. Still, it was quite moving when his mother Voletta Wallace accepted the honor and shouted: “Big up to Brooklyn” just like her son would’ve.
That same year, Diddy gave Biggie an unforgettable send-off performing “I’ll Be Missing You” with Sting, Faith Evans, 112 and a full church choir. It’s easily the most moving rap performance the VMAs has ever seen.
The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac were sadly pitted against each other in their last days, though they started out as friends. That’s why it was so symbolic that their mothers, Ms. Wallace and Afeni Shakur, came together to present the Best Rap Video award at the 1999 VMAs. Jay Z won for “Can I Get A…” and famously shouted out: “B.I.G., Tupac forever.”
Life After Death
At the 2005 VMAs, Diddy put on another tribute to B.I.G. in the same year he put out Biggie’s posthumous Duets LP. Puff conducted a full orchestra which gave new life to classics “Juicy” and “Warning.” Snoop Dogg came out and added some bars too.