Who Killed Biggie & Tupac? The Question Remains Over 25 Years Later
Over a quarter-century after the greatest rappers from the East and West Coast were murdered, rumors and theories about their deaths continue to run rampant.
The mystery of who is responsible for fatally shooting hip-hop icons Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur remains unsolved over a quarter-century after the rappers’ deaths.
On Sept. 7, 1996, Tupac, 25, was shot in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas and died at an area hospital.
Around six months later, on March 9, 1997, Christopher Wallace, known as Biggie Smalls or the Notorious B.I.G., was gunned down in his vehicle shortly after he left an industry party in Los Angeles. He was 24.
Rumors and theories about who committed the slayings continue to run rampant to this day.
Some investigators believe the two rappers’ slayings were somehow connected, and if they solved one, they might be able to solve the other.
“The shooter is most likely dead,” former LAPD captain Kevin McClure once told the Los Angeles Times, speculating whoever killed Biggie was likely a hired gang hitman.
In addition to the gang theory, in Biggie’s case, there are those who have suggested corrupt cops with the Los Angeles Police Department were somehow involved.
In 2002, Biggie’s mother, Voletta Wallace, filed a wrongful death suit against the LAPD. In 2005, a judge found that the department had withheld evidence and forced the city to pay Biggie’s estate more than $1 million in legal fees. In 2007, the family filed an amended suit alleging a police conspiracy in the killing. In 2010, a judge dismissed the suit.
Among widespread theories, the idea that 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 and the two became friends who mutually respected one another. 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 Nov. 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.
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?” Shakur and his fans interpreted the song as a diss track but what he didn’t know was that the song was made before the shooting even happened.
The pair’s feud only grew worse 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).
After Shakur was killed, 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. Six months later, Biggie would meet a similar fate.
Over the years, multiple names have been thrown around as potential suspects for the murders of the rappers. Among them are Suge Knight; the LAPD; Orlando Anderson; and Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs, the founder of Bad Boy Records — but nobody has ever been formally charged in either of the murders.
To see exclusive interviews and unique insight into both shootings, tune into Who Killed Biggie and Tupac? premiering on ID and discovery+ on Aug. 14 at 9/8c.