Will Biggie Smalls' Murder Ever Be Solved?
“We kept pounding the doors on the same cold leads,” one former LAPD investigator has said of the more than two-decade-old case.
Christopher George Latore Wallace, also known as Biggie, Biggie Smalls and The Notorious B.I.G., became famous as a pioneer of East Coast gangsta rap, but his life was cut short in 1997 when he was gunned down at age 24.
Despite decades and multiple investigations passing since the shooting, the answer to who is responsible for the talented Brooklyn rap star’s murder remains shrouded in mystery.
“The shooter is most likely dead. You cannot ask him who paid him,” former LAPD captain Kevin McClure, who oversaw the investigation and speculated the culprits were likely gang hitmen for hire, once told the Los Angeles Times. “We don’t know who gave the money.”
“We kept pounding the doors on the same cold leads,” he added.
Among widespread theories, which include conjecture corrupt LAPD cops had something to do with the killing, the idea Biggie’s slaying was directly connected to his bitter feud with Tupac Shakur continues to be the most common.
Biggie reportedly met Shakur for the first time at a party in 1993. Shakur, perhaps the most influential player on the West Coast rap scene at the time, became a mentor to Biggie — until the two had a falling out that some believe ultimately may have led to both their deaths.
On November 30, 1994, Shakur survived getting shot five times during a robbery at a New York recording studio. The rapper thought Biggie and his musical cohorts had something to do with the attack.
According to Biography, Shakur’s suspicions seemed to be confirmed two months later when Biggie released his single “Big Poppa” with the B-side track “Who Shot Ya?”
The pair’s feud only ratcheted up when Shakur responded with the song “Hit ‘Em Up,” which includes lyrics alleging he had an affair with Biggie’s then-wife, Faith Evans (she denied the claim years later).
On September 7, 1996 — six months before Biggie’s murder — Shakur, 25, was shot dead in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas. Police have never charged anyone for the murder, and Biggie denied his troubles with Shakur and the ongoing East Coast-West Coast rap feud had anything to do with his former friend-turned-rival’s death.
In an interview at the time, Biggie said he began to realize how powerful he and Tupac were.
“We two individual people, we waged a coastal beef…. One man against one man made a whole West Coast hate a whole East Coast. And vice versa….”
“It let me know how much strength I have,” Biggie continued. “So, what I'm trying to do now, I've got to be the one to try to flip it. And take my power and flip it, like, yo, because Pac can't be the one to try to squash it because he's gone. So, I gotta take the weight on both sides."
The Notorious B.I.G. never got the chance.
On March 9, 1997, Biggie was riding in the front passenger seat of a Chevrolet Suburban in Los Angeles after attending a music industry party when, according to Biography, a Black man, dressed in a blue suit and bowtie, pulled his Chevy Impala up alongside the “Mo Money Mo Problems” rapper’s SUV idling at a red light and opened fire.
Biggie was rushed into emergency surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and pronounced dead at 1:15 a.m.
As with other legendary unsolved crimes, LAPD’s elite Robbery-Homicide Division continues to try to crack the case — so far without any luck.
“It is an open case. We are still actively investigating, and we constantly discuss the disposition of the case with the district attorney’s office,” the division’s Capt. William Hayes has said.