The 2Pac and Biggie death mystery is as strong today as it was back in the ‘90s when the two rap legends’ slayings were the subject on everybody’s lips.
The rappers were murdered within six months of each other, following a very bitter and very public feud. The conflict between the two escalated into a full-scale rap war—pitting East and West coast against each other, in addition to sparking yet more violence and rivalry between the Bloods and Crips.
Duane Keith Davis, AKA Keffe D. boasted about being part of Tupac’s killing, in a tell-all book he wrote, claiming his nephew Orlando Anderson was the triggerman, and that the murder was “just another day in the office”. Anderson was shot dead himself, just shortly after Shakur’s homicide.
However, the self-confessed murder participant hasn’t been arrested or charged—so both cases remain unsolved, and the 2Pac and Biggie death mystery rages on.
Bros before beef
The musicians weren’t always at each other’s throats, in fact, they started out as close friends, and even lived together in Tupac’s LA home at one time.
They first met at a party in 1993 in Los Angeles, after Biggie, who was visiting from New York, asked a drug-dealer pal to introduce him to 2Pac, whom the fledgling rapper looked up to as an established star. They immediately hit it off, and whenever Biggie was in town for business meetings he would stay with Tupac, and when Shakur was in New York they would hang together.
Biggie wasn’t really known at that time, outside of his Brooklyn home-base, but 2Pac was a platinum‑selling rapper and movie star. Shakur mentored his friend, let him perform on stage during his concerts, and even collaborated with him on some tracks. The Notorious B.I.G. had arrived, with a little help from his West Coast friend.
Biggie wanted more than just a “little” help though, he’d lost faith in the ability of his manager, Sean “Puffy” Combs, and feared he’d never breakthrough with him at the helm, so he asked 2Pac to take over.
“Nah, stay with Puff,” Tupac told Biggie when he turned down the offer to become his manager. “He will make you a star.”
It turned-out that Tupac was right. Biggie’s big break came in September 1994, with the release of his debut album “Ready to Die” which climbed to number 15 on the Billboard 200, in addition to being a critical success.
More importantly, the album finally put East Coast rap firmly on the map and made it a West Coast rival to be reckoned with—undoubtedly putting more than a few Cali-based rappers’ noses out of joint. It also turned out to be the catalyst for what would become the 2Pac and Biggie death mystery.
End of a bromance
The Notorious B.I.G.’s star began to rapidly rise, and tensions soon began springing up between him and 2Pac.
It started in November 1993, after Tupac was arrested in New York, along with his road manager, Charles “Man Man” Fuller, a Queens’ gangster named Haitian Jack, and another unidentified man. The four were accused of gang-raping 19-year-old Ayanna Jackson, whom Shakur had previously had consensual sex with on numerous occasions.
Shakur was ultimately convicted of first-degree sexual abuse, but acquitted of the other charges he was facing—associated sodomy and firearms possession. Tupac’s sentence was 18 months to 4-and-a-half years, and he was dragged off to prison in February 1995, still vehemently maintaining his innocence.
It transpired that Tupac had managed to dodge the gun charges by pointing the finger of blame at Biggie, claiming they were actually his weapons.
Oh dear! Didn’t he know that snitches get stitches?
West Coast red
Tupac, whose real name was Lesane Parish Crooks, was born in 1971, in Brooklyn, New York, just like Biggie. His parents were both active members of the Black Panther party, but his dad, Billy Garland skipped out when Shakur was just 5-years old and didn’t reappear again until his son was 23—and mega-rich.
Garland’s disappearance led to a lot of instability as Tupac’s newly-single mom struggled to support her kids, and they moved a lot before finally settling in Maryland in 1986.
Tupac enrolled in Baltimore School of the Arts where he excelled, but before he could graduate, the family upped sticks and moved yet again—this time to Marin City, California. That was when Tupac started hanging with the local Bloods set and slinging dope.
Tupac’s chance to escape the streets came in the form of music after he joined the Oakland rap group Digital Underground in 1990. Shakur appeared on two of their albums before making his solo debut in 1991 with “2Pacalypse Now”.
2Pac’s lyrics carried a strong political and social justice message and focused heavily on his gangsta lifestyle. Despite (or perhaps because of) Vice President Dan Quayle demonizing one of the songs, “Soulja’s Story” during his 1992 political campaign, and demanding the album be pulled from stores, it was a huge hit.
2Pac was a gangsta rap star, and quickly became an acting one too, appearing in a number of movies, including “Juice” and ‘poetic Justice”. Shakur’s career went from strength to strength after another hit album, “Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.” which was released in 1993 and shot 2Pac to superstardom.
East Coast B.I.G. deal
Biggie Smalls, whose birth name was Christopher George Latore Wallace, was born in May 1972, at St. Mary’s Hospital in Brooklyn. Smalls’ parents were Selwyn George Latore, a welder, and preschool teacher Voletta Wallace.
Just like Tupac, Biggie’s dad had also left when he was young, just 2-years old, and his mom had struggled, resulting in Smalls having a difficult and tumultuous childhood.
Biggie attended the Queen of All Saints Middle School, and was an exemplary student, despite him having started dealing drugs at the age of 12. Smalls had yet another thing in common with Shakur, as music would also prove to be his ticket out of the hood and a life of crime.
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However, it would take Biggie a while before he broke the poverty cycle. He began rapping as a teen, spitting rhymes on the street, and although he was a good student, his mom remarked that he developed a “smart-ass” attitude once he began attending the George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School.
Biggie dropped out of school at 17, choosing crime over curriculum, and he had his first brush with the law in 1989 when he was arrested on weapons charges. Smalls was arrested again a year later, and then, in 1991 he landed himself in jail for nine months after being busted for dealing crack.
The aspiring rapper’s stint behind bars made him determined not to return ever again, and as soon as he was released he began focusing hard on his music career, albeit while still dealing dope on the side—well, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.
Biggie got his first big break in 1992 after Puffy signed him to Uptown, the label he was working for at the time. When Combs was fired a year later, he took Biggie with him, signing the rapper to his newly launched Bad Boy Records. Combs had come good in the end, despite Biggie’s concerns, and by 1994 The Notorious B.I.G. was a bonafide star.
2Pac and Biggie death mystery first shot
Biggie had two motivations for feuding with 2Pac—the snitching and the manager refusal—he was determined to get his revenge, and after he engaged in some crafty riling, so was Puffy.
Tupac blamed the pair for orchestrating his first shooting, which resulted in five bullet wounds back in November 1994, a year after he’d snitched to the cops. Both denied any involvement, however, and cops wrote the attack off as an attempted robbery. Shakur wasn’t buying it though, and as soon as he was released from jail, he fired straight back at them.
The 2Pac and Biggie Death mystery was the result of a bitter feud, but that kicked off with a good old fashioned lyrics battle.
Epic lyrics war
After being signed to Suge Knight’s Death Row Records label, 2Pac released “How Do U Want It” on June 4, 1996—but it was the single’s B-side “Hit ‘Em Up” that really ramped up the West Coast, East Coast rap war.
The song is a blatant attack on Biggie and Combs, whom he threatens to “eliminate” along with dissing pretty much every other NYC rapper and player, including the Junior M.A.F.I.A, Lil’ Kim, Mobb Deep, and Nas, amongst others. The words leave nobody in any doubt about 2Pac’s feelings.
* You can read the entire—very long but amazingly scathing–lyrics at the bottom of the post because a lot of people get offended by swear words for some reason, and 2Pac’s diatribe is profanity packed, to the brim.
Three months after the song’s release Tupac was shot dead—but not before Biggie returned the diss, in JayZ’s “Brooklyn’s Finest”, rapping:
Me and Gutter had two spots
The 2-for-5 dollar hits, the blue tops (uh-huh)
Gotta go, Coolio mean it’s gettin’ Too Hot
If Fay’ had twins, she’d probably have two Pacs (uh)
Get it? Tupac’s? (hh, uhh, uhh)
Biggie was saving his nuclear-level come back for his own album though, “Life After Death”. It was scheduled to be released in the fall of 1996, however, it ended up being delayed following Shakur’s murder, and B.I.G.’s 2Pac diss lyrics were altered to be less blatant of an attack before it finally hit the shelves in 1997.
Meanwhile, 2Pac had fired back at Biggie in his last album, “The Don Killuminati:7 Day Theory” which was released in November 1996, two months after his death, and included a slew of lyrical attacks. But, Shakur saved his most scathing shots for the album’s liner notes, which were subsequently removed and never seen by anybody until they were leaked in 2018.
It’s safe to say Tupac didn’t hold back, kicking off with, “I dedicate this 2 Jack ‘the snitch’ Agnant for ordering the hit, 2 Tut for shootin’ me, 2 Puffy, Big, Stretch, Lil Shawn, Jimmy Henchman & whoever else remained silent while conspiring my downfall.”
He went on to attack Hov, Dr. Dre, Biggie’s wife, Faith Evans, and just for good measure, De la Soul, who he calls, “fat washed up bums.”
2Pac and Biggie death mystery double drive-by
Tupac died first, in hospital, on September 13, 1996, seven days after he was shot four times during a drive-by shooting at a set of traffic lights in Las Vegas. He was 25-years old.
Biggie went next, in the early hours of March 9, 1997, also during a drive-by shooting, and also shot four times, as he was driving back to his hotel following a party in LA. He was 24-years old.
In a radio interview four days prior to his death, Biggie admitted he’d hired a security detail because he feared for his life, blaming the ongoing East Coast West Coast war, and Shakur’s murder for his worries. Sadly, the bodyguards that Smalls’ had employed were traveling in the car behind him, along with Puffy—not that they could have really done anything to help save him anyway.
Within just six months the world had lost the two biggest names in Hip Hop, and their deaths were mourned the world over. Nas later claimed the loss of Shakur and Smalls was “nearly the end of rap.”
However, despite their feud finally being over, the 2Pac and Biggie death mystery was just beginning.
The usual suspects
Over the years there’s been an assortment of suspected perps, but at the time of posting the 2Pac and Biggie death mystery has yet to be solved.
Not surprisingly, Biggie and Combs were strongly believed to have orchestrated Tupac’s murder, with many claiming they hired a couple of Crips to gun down the Bloods affiliated rapper and his manager, Suge Knight, who was driving the car on that fatal night. Knight just suffered wounds to the head, from shrapnel, but Shakur died a week later in the hospital.
The theory appears to be backed-up by Keffe D’s claim that he was in the car when his nephew, Orlando Anderson, a Crips member, pulled-up next to 2Pac’s car at the lights and let loose a hail of bullets. In addition, a member of Shakur’s posse had been involved in an altercation with Anderson in the Vegas MGM Grand Hotel lobby, just hours before the shooting.
However, no evidence surfaced to seriously implicate either Combs or Smalls, neither was questioned by the cops, and both maintained their innocence. Meanwhile, Keffe D has refused to name who ordered the hit, out of some kind of “code of honor” apparently.
Then came Biggie’s murder, which occurred under startlingly similar circumstances. I’s safe to say that Smalls didn’t orchestrate his own murder, and it was initially believed to be a Bloods retaliation murder for 2Pac’s death.
The Puffy connection
However, the 2Pac and Biggie death mystery deepened yet further after now-retired LAPD Detective Greg Kading, who worked on the Smalls murder task force, claimed Puffy was behind BOTH of the murders.
Kading alleges that Combs paid Crips Keffe D and Anderson $1million to take-out Tupac and Knight and that Knight responded by paying Bloods banger, Wardell “Poochie” Fouse, $13,000 to kill Biggie.
“I don’t promote what we are saying as theory. Some people might use the word theory because it has never been challenged in court,” Kading told the Sun newspaper in 2017.
Well, if true, Surge Knight definitely knows how to strike a way better bargain than Sean “Puffy” Combs.
2Pac and Biggie death mystery cop connection
As the years passed and still nobody had been arrested for either of the murders, people started speculating there had been a cover-up and that crooked cops were involved somehow.
That theory was amplified after author Randall Sullivan collaborated with retired LAPD detective Russell Poole to write “LAbyrinth” in 2002—a book about the 2Pac and Biggie death mystery.
Sullivan claims Suge Knight conspired with bent LAPD officer, David Mack, to murder Biggie and make it look like it was part of the rap rivalry war that was raging at the time. The book also alleges Amir Muhammad was the hitman, and that he was a known associate of Mack’s.
So, how “bent” was Officer Mack? Well, in 1997 he robbed a South Central branch of the Bank of America, at gunpoint in broad daylight, while he was off-duty. Mack made off with $722,000 but was arrested following a ludicrously lavish spending spree and the discovery that he was dating the bank’s assistant manager, Errolyn Romero. So, well, you draw your own conclusions.
Biggie’s family jumped on the narrative, demanding a re-investigation and filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the LAPD. Their strong-arm tactics worked, as authorities agreed to reopen the case, claiming they had “nothing to hide” and if cops were involved then they would willingly expose and prosecute them.
“We’re going to go where the clues go. Whatever it is, it is. If there’s dirty cops, fuck it, so be it. Let’s get ‘em outta here,” Greg Kading recalls his task force manager vowing.
Yeah, sure LAPD, and my uncle is the King of Unicorn Dreamland.
It didn’t take long before the FBI waded into the fiasco after task force detectives learned that “LAPD officers provided security for members of Death Row during criminal activities … and drug deals.”
Attorneys argued that the FBI and LAPD were “interdependent,” and that it would be reckless to jeopardize their relationship “just to solve the murder of a four-hundred-pound black crack dealer turned rapper.”
Yep, really. Those were the actual words they used, according to Greg Carson, who heard them firsthand.