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The rivalry between the East and West Coasts of hip-hop has become an all out war, with Death Row and Bad Boy on the front lines of the conflict. Within six months, the war claims the lives of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls, sending shockwaves through the hip-hop community.

For Death Row and Bad Boy, labels built on the backs of these stars, the future looks uncertain. Now the fate of each business rests in the hands of its owner. What these moguls decide to do next will determine whether they’ll rise above the tragedy, or get swept up in it.

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By the time Biggie Smalls meets Tupac Shakur, Tupac is already a big star. He hasn’t yet signed with Death Row, but he’s already sold millions of records and starred in two feature films. Biggie, on the other hand, is still waiting for his first album to drop.

Biggie and Tupac become fast friends, but their relationship doesn’t last long. The two rap stars are pulled in different directions. One struggles to escape violence, while the other will be consumed by it—pushing tensions between Death Row and Bad Boy to a very public breaking point.

You can find new episodes of Business Wars, completely ad-free, only on Stitcher Premium. For a free month of Stitcher Premium, go to stitcherpremium.com/wondery and use promo code WONDERY.


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Biggie Smalls has a recording deal on the horizon, but he doubts it’ll ever go through. Now that Puffy is out of a job, the future of Bad Boy looks dubious at best. If Puffy can’t find a new distributor fast, the songs Biggie’s been recording might never hit the airwaves.

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, Dr. Dre has been working day and night, crafting the beats for his debut solo album, but there’s only so much he can do on his own. If there’s any hope for the album, Dre will need to find a rapper whose voice and flow are as unique as his beats.  

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In the 70 and 80s, the founders of Death Row and Bad Boy are just coming of age. In the Los Angeles neighborhood of Compton, a young Dre is spinning records before he even learns to read. Dre desperately wants to be a hip-hop DJ, but Los Angeles barely has a hip-hop scene. In New York, on the other, rap is popping off. And an 18 year old called Sean “Puffy” Combs has B.I.G. plans for the for Big Apple.

They don’t know it yet, but their struggles and successes have already begun to shape the egos and sounds of their multi-million dollar tug of war.

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In the 1990s, the landscape of American music was changed forever by two titans of hip hop: Death Row and Bad Boy. The rivalry between these iconic rap labels would go on to become as legendary as it was notorious. But in these early days? It’s all good.

Death Row Records, the West Coast company, is already the hottest label in gangsta rap. But now that they’ve signed mega-star Tupac Shakur, they’re poised to dominate the industry.

New York-based Bad Boy Records finds an answer to Death Row in The Notorious B.I.G, also known as Biggie Smalls. But first, founder Sean “Puffy” Combs has to convince the young rapper to evolve his sound to reach the masses.

You can find new episodes of Business Wars, completely ad-free, only on Stitcher Premium. For a free month of Stitcher Premium, go to stitcherpremium.com/wondery and use promo code WONDERY.


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Mike Pesca, Slate, joins to talk about the biggest risks facing the NFL, whether the Patriots are good or bad for the league, and what our culture would look like if football never took off as a professional sport in the first place. Plus, he talks about his latest book, Upon Further Review: The Greatest What Ifs in Sports History. Hear more from Mike on his daily podcast, The Gist.

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The battle between the NFL and the USFL finally comes to a head. Donald Trump has bullied his way to the top of the USFL and pressured his league into suing the NFL for violating the Sherman Antitrust Act.

But the NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle is not about to back down. If the NFL settles now, they’ll be opening the floodgates to a slew of new competitors, and costly trials the league can’t afford. The only course of action? Dismantle the USFL so completely that no one even thinks to challenge the NFL again.  


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Every great collaboration is a love story. It’s intense. Passionate. Along the way, there are flashes of love, hate, pride, ego, ambition, and brilliance. This is One Plus One, the show about the spark that drives two original thinkers to ultimate success. We’ll unearth the stories of Paul McCartney & John Lennon, Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera, Beyonce & Jay-Z, Shaq & Kobe, and many more, and learn what it is about their chemistry that led them to greatness. Subscribe to One Plus One today at wondery.fm/OnePlusOne

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For nearly two full years, the mighty NFL sat idly by as the upstart USFL tried to chip away at its status, talent, and reputation as the most powerful sports league on the planet. Now, the NFL is ready to settle the score, once and for all.

The league commissions a Harvard professor to prepare meticulous, 46-page step-by-step plan intended to squash the USFL in its tracks. Commissioner Pete Rozelle prepares himself for battle—but the battle comes sooner than expected. The USFL files an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL, claiming that it has monopolized fall television. At stake? One point three two billion dollars, enough money to kill the NFL.

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Description: It’s 1984, and at USFL franchise offices across the country, multi-million dollar contracts are flowing like Gatorade. As the United States Football League prepares for kickoff on its second season, owners race to recruit the best college players, and steal the stars from NFL rosters.

Initially, the NFL dismissed the new league as a sideshow stunt. But the USFL’s spending spree has caught the full attention of the veteran league--which is exactly what New Jersey Generals owner Donald Trump wants.

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