A recent article printed in the Los Angeles Times alleges that rapper Notorious B.I.G./Biggie Smalls (a.k.a. Christopher Wallace) is responsible for the death of Tupac Shakur. After both Tupac and Biggie were killed within a six-month period during 1996-97, the rap world was dumbfounded. Close to six years later, it seemed that time had healed the East-Coast/West-Coast battle of hate and vengeance. It appeared as though both camps had learned the hard lessons of what can happen when a beef is drummed up by the media, record labels, DJs and everyone in between-all in an effort to represent their respective coasts and, at the same time, sell records. A poignant moment arose at the MTV Video Music Awards a couple of years ago when the mothers of Tupac and Biggie came out on stage together to exude an energy of peace, respect for their son’s lives and a sense of closure. Now the recent allegations that Biggie ordered the hit on Pac are causing controversy.
Although the two had once been tight, at the time of Tupac’s murder his angst towards Biggie and the east coast was at its boiling point. Before all of the drama began, Biggie and Tupac were closer than childhood friends. Anytime Pac was in town (New York City) he would roll with Biggie and the two would get lost together having their kind of fun. This included smoking, drinking and kicking the dirty dozens (a lyrical contest in which one rapper tries to outwit the other with his words and flow). Tupac felt like he was teaching Biggie about the game, and the two shared a common background -coming from poor neighborhoods and broken homes -and a mutual love for hip-hop.
The animosity began when Biggie finally “made it,” and released his first major album debut, 1994′s Ready To Die off Bad Boy Entertainment. Because Tupac and Biggie had been so close growing up in the game of hip-hop and Biggie had now finally recorded a solo album without asking Tupac to contribute to the project, Tupac became offended. At the time, Pac was with the rap group Digital Underground, and took it as a slap in the face that Biggie had not called him and asked him to be on the record. It was during that same year that another incident would add salt to the wound.
While Biggie was producing and recording his entourage’s (Junior Mafia) debut album in New York City’s Quad Studios, Tupac decided to come over and pay a visit. During Pac’s attempt to take an elevator up to the top of the building to go visit Biggie in the studio, he was robbed and shot. Luckily, Tupac survived the incident, but became understandably furious about the incident. He felt that Biggie either knew about what had went down that night or was directly responsible for it. Biggie and his entourage denied any links to the shooting. That’s when things began to dwindle.
The feud continued when Biggie soon released “Who Shot Ya,?” a heated verbal assault. Although the track didn’t specifically call out Tupac, it contained suspicious lines; “Who shot ya?…It’s on n—-, f— all that bickering beef, I can hear sweat trickling down your cheek.” People from Biggie’s entourage like Lil’ Cease claim the track was recorded before the shooting took place, but nevertheless, the song added fuel to the already blazing fire as everyone in the hip-hop industry, including Tupac, assumed that the song and its timely release was a referenced hint as to who was responsible for the Tupac shooting that took place on that fateful night. Pac answered with a track called “Hit ‘Em Up,” in which he literally claims to have slept with Biggie’s wife. On that track, he also personally attacks Biggie, his record label, his crew and anyone having to do with Biggie.
Things only got worse when, at the time, Suge Knight (Death Row Record’s CEO) openly insulted Sean “P. Diddy” Combs (Bad Boy Record’s CEO) on stage at “The Source Awards.” Soon enough, the environment of hip-hop was becoming East Coast vs. West Coast. Whether it be magazine editors, radio DJs, or the hip-hop artists themselves, everyone having to do with hip-hop during that period (1994-1996) hyped up the East Coast vs. West Coast feud. These vain actions would set the stage for a horrific and tragic ending.
On the night of Sept. 7, 1996 Tupac along with Suge Knight and an entourage that included bloods (The Bloods and The Crips are two rivaled Los Angeles gangs) and gangsters, attended the Mike Tyson fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. While walking through one of the lobbies, Tupac spotted a rivaling Crip who had weeks prior robbed one of his bodyguards. As the casino’s hidden video security cameras show, Tupac, Suge, and their entourage jumped and beat up this Crip- a man named Orlando Anderson. Two hours later, while Suge and Tupac were driving down Flamingo Road in Las Vegas, a white Cadillac pulled aside them. Thirteen shots were fired, and Tupac was fatally wounded. He died from his wounds six days later.
Orlando Anderson, the man who was beaten down in MGM grand that night was questioned by authorities and later let go. He was mysteriously murdered two years later in what the authorities call an “unrelated crime.” Up until now, many theories have been floating around, none of which included Biggie as mastermind behind the murder. Some believed that it was actually Suge Knight who set up the shooting of Tupac that night. This is believed to be true because at the time, Suge had been stealing money from Tupac’s recordings and owed Pac lots of money. Furthermore, Pac was planning on leaving Death Row Entertainment (Suge’s Record Label) and word got back to Suge, which had presumably infuriated him.
However, a recent claim paints a very different picture. According to an article in the LA Times, a new theory has emerged. There are gangsters and underground people now surfacing who are claiming that Biggie Smalls was in Las Vegas that night. These same people claim that after Orlando Anderson was beaten down in MGM Grand, he went to the Treasure Island hotel where Biggie was staying and proposed a deal to him. For a one million dollar bounty, Orlando Anderson and other Crips would go out and kill Tupac. Further, they claim that Biggie even provided the murder weapon.
Friends and people from Biggie’s entourage deny the claims, saying that Biggie was on the East Coast that night recording a track in a studio in New Jersey. They say the allegation is bogus, and that if Biggie was in Vegas that night he would have been at the Tyson fight. Furthermore, they challenge the people making these allegations to provide evidence proving that Biggie was staying at the Treasure Island hotel in Las Vegas that night.
Where does that leave this case? The true facts of what really went down that night remain uncertain. So much time has passed since the crime took place and a number of key and important people have deceased. As did Orlando Anderson, the alleged shooter. And I’ll take my bets to Atlantic City that the odds of Suge Knight coughing up the truth are about as likely as us not going to war with Iraq. The whole thing, much like the death of J.F.K, is surrounded in a world of he-said/ she-said circles, theories, conspiracies, suspicions, and, most of all, an unbreakable mystery.
While it’s uncertain whether or not the cases of Big and Pac’s deaths will ever be solved, one thing is for sure; that what happened between two men, Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace is an absolute tragedy. The devil took hold of two lives and spun them out of control using greed, envy, fame and lies to destroy something that was so promising. What Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls meant to the youth of America, and perhaps even more so to young black America, was something unparalleled. They were luminaries that shined throughout the ghettos in which they were raised. They were living examples of ways out of the belly of the beast-ways of achieving a better life for oneself and one’s family. They gave hope to all aspiring youth who had a love for hip-hop and dreamed of being part of the game.
Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls are arguably the two greatest
rappers of all time. But they weren’t just rappers, they were lyrical prophets, living day examples of triumph over an oppressive socio-economic system. They both went from rags to riches by following their hearts and dreams and sharing them with the youth of America. Unfortunately, the same evils that keep down the ghettos and hoods of America in which both Biggie and Pac triumphed over and were able to escape, eventually came back to be the same evils that ended both of their promising lives. Let us not look to these recent allegations of he-said/ she-said garbage that disrespects the lives of both Tupac and Biggie. Let us not get caught up in that game in which ambitious people have motives as to making claims and allegations. But let us transcend to a higher place and honor the lives of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls. Let us remember the God given and awe-inspiring talents in which both innately possessed, and learn from what transpired between two of the greatest rappers of all time, and more importantly two of the greatest friends.
If we don’t learn from their lives, then they lived in vain. Whether it be Nas feuding with Jay-Z or two local cats from riva1ling neighborhoods, let’s squash the beef. Look beyond the earthly logic and what seems monumental but is really trivial, and put aside the hate. As for the people making the recent allegations, let it go, and let the two greatest rappers of all time finally rest in peace.