On the 20th anniversary of the rapper’s death, New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries honored him on the House floor.
“It was all a dream, I used to read Word Up! magazine/Salt-n-Pepa and Heavy D up in the limousine/Hangin' pictures on my wall/Every Saturday Rap Attack, Mr. Magic, Marley Marl,” Jeffries said Thursday, reciting the lyrics from “Juicy.”
“Those were the words of the late great Notorious B.I.G., Biggie Smalls, Frank White, the King of New York. He died 20 years ago today in a tragedy that occurred in Los Angeles. But his words live on forever. I’ve got the privilege of representing the district where Biggie Smalls was raised. We know he went from negative to positive and emerged as one of the world’s most important hip hop stars. His rags-to-riches life story is the classic embodiment of the American dream. Biggie Smalls is gone but he will never be forgotten. Rest in peace, Notorious B.I.G. Where Brooklyn at?”
The Brooklyn-raised rapper was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting in L.A. on March 9, 1997. He was 24.
The murder remains unsolved, although widespread speculation pins the shooting on a feud between East and West Coast rappers.
He was survived by his wife, Faith Evans, and two children: daughter T’yanna Wallace and son Christopher Jr.
On Thursday, Evans released the cover art for “The King & I,” a duet album with her husband from the archives. The album will be released on May 19, two days before what would have been his 45th birthday.
She shared a childhood photo of the rapper on Instagram in his honor.
Diddy urged fans to share their favorite Biggie lyrics online and posted a minute-long video of his own.
“This year is more of a sobering year. It’s 20 years. For us, we lived 20 years of our lives without somebody that has been a big part of our lives. That has basically been responsible for the legend of our careers,” he said. “He’s fed a lot of families, made a lot of people dance, made a lot of people feel good. On this day we’re gonna reflect on him because we miss him. Twenty years later, time heals all wounds. This one ain’t healed yet.”
“Can't believe it's been 20 years ago, today, since we lost you,” tweeted R. Kelly. “Rest in Power, Biggie."
|Biggie Smalls was shot and killed in Los Angeles 20 years ago Thursday. (DAVIS, CLARENCE)|
20 years later, Notorious B.I.G.'s killing remains one of L.A.'s biggest unsolved homicides
Notorious B.I.G. was leaving a music industry party at the Petersen Automotive Museum, sitting in the front passenger seat of a Chevrolet Suburban, when his killer pulled up alongside in a dark Chevy Impala.
As the SUV idled at a stoplight, the gunman opened fire, hitting the 24-year-old rap star, who was also known as Biggie Smalls, four times. He was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead shortly after 1 a.m. on March 9, 1997.
The fatal round entered his right hip and ripped through his liver, lung and heart.
Despite numerous investigations by the Los Angeles Police Department, lawsuits, books and a plethora of allegations, the 20-year-old slaying of the performer whose real name was Christopher Wallace remains officially unsolved.
Wallace’s slaying came just six months after rap rival Tupac Shakur was gunned down in Las Vegas. The two killings would become forever intertwined as observers theorized that the violence was fueled by an East Coast-West Coast rivalry.
Shakur’s death also remains unsolved.
In Wallace’s case, many of those who investigated the killing say the likely culprits are long-gone gangsters. Exactly who they were and what motivated them remains a mystery.
“The shooter is most likely dead. You cannot ask him who paid him,” said Kevin McClure, a former LAPD captain who oversaw the investigation and is now the Montebello police chief. “We don’t know who gave the money.”
McClure shut down a task force on the killing in 2010 because it was spinning its wheels. “We kept pounding the doors on the same cold leads,” he said.
Like many cold cases, however, someone may come forward in the future with answers, McClure said.
As with many of L.A.’s legendary unsolved cases, it is assigned to a member of the LAPD’s elite Robbery-Homicide Division. Det. Daryn Dupree currently has the Wallace investigation. Dupree also worked on the Grim Sleeper serial killer case.
"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," said Capt. William Hayes, who heads the division.
The slaying has spawned a cottage industry of books, documentaries and magazine articles exploring possible conspiracy theories. A couple of movies are also in the works.
Among the theories pushed by one now-deceased LAPD detective was that dirty cops connected to the Rampart corruption scandal were involved in the slaying.
In 2006, then-LAPD Chief William J. Bratton, who was fed up with speculation over the killing, launched the task force of senior homicide detectives in an effort to hunt down the killer.
The probe followed a wrongful-death lawsuit filed against the city by the rapper's mother, Voletta Wallace, and other relatives.
In court documents, the family alleged that ex-LAPD Officer David A. Mack conspired with rap impresario Marion “Suge” Knight, then the owner of Death Row Records, to have Wallace ambushed. The family contended in the suit that Mack arranged for a college friend to carry out the attack. Mack, the college friend and Knight have all denied any involvement. The family dropped the lawsuit in 2010.
The theory that the three conspired to kill Wallace was first advanced in 1998 by then-LAPD Det. Russell Poole, an investigator in the Robbery-Homicide Division who worked about a year on the case. Poole will be played by Johnny Depp in an upcoming movie on the investigation.
Poole began scrutinizing Mack after he was arrested in December 1997 on suspicion of bank robbery. Mack was later convicted of robbery and is serving a 14-year prison term. Poole quit the police force in 1999 after a series of disputes with his superiors. He died in 2015.
The 2006 LAPD task force examined two different theories for the killing. The first hypothesis was that Wallace was killed by a member of Compton's vicious Southside Crips gang as part of a bicoastal rap feud linked to Shakur's death, law enforcement sources said.
The investigators developed a second theory that Wallace was killed in retaliation for Shakur’s death by a Blood gang member hired by Knight.
Knight, who is now facing a separate murder charge, has repeatedly denied any involvement in Wallace’s killing. The task force worked with a 72-volume “murder book,” the collection of evidence in the case, that was kept in its own office. Task force member Greg Kading, in his book “Murder Rap,” alleged that now-deceased Wardell “Poochie” Fouse — a Mob Piru Blood gang member from Compton — shot Wallace. He wrote that the killing was revenge for Shakur’s slaying and that powerful East Coast hip-hop figures were behind the Vegas slaying.
While no one has ever been arrested in Shakur’s death, Las Vegas police named Orlando Anderson, a reputed Crips member, as the suspect in the slaying. Anderson died a year later in a drug-related shootout at a Compton carwash.
20 Years Later, Biggie Smalls’ Mom Has a ‘Very Good Idea’ Who Killed Him
On September 7, 1996, West Coast hip-hop legend Tupac Shakur was gunned down in Las Vegas. Six months later, Brooklyn heavyweight Biggie Smalls—The Notorious B.I.G.—was fatally targeted in a L.A. drive-by shooting. Biggie’s death was also the final nail in the coffin of the West Coast-East Coast, Death Row Records-Bad Boy Records feud that came to define hip-hop’s 1990s glory days. On the anniversary of Biggie’s murder 20 years later, it’s difficult to remember a time when coastal allegiances amounted to more than a preference for Shake Shack or In-N-Out.
While Biggie and Tupac may have been enemies by the end—with Tupac rapping about sleeping with Biggie’s wife, and ‘Pac turning against Biggie in the wake of the 1994 Quad Studios shooting — death is the great equalizer: Now, the once-beefing rappers are equally likely to be found immortalized on the dorm room wall of a college freshman, or momentarily resurrected as a headlining hologram. But incredibly advanced lasers aren’t the only forces bringing these hip-hop legends back to life. Two decades later, the lives and deaths of Tupac and Biggie are getting the USA network treatment. The upcoming series Unsolved, which dives deep into the two cold case murder investigations, stars Wavy Jonez and Marcc Rose as Biggie and Tupac, respectively. For Rose, it will be his second time playing 2Pac, reprising his role from 2015’s Straight Outta Compton.
And while watching Jonez and Rose channeling the rappers on set is unsettling, life is even stranger than fiction. In a new Daily Mail interview Voletta Wallace, the 64-year-old mother of Biggie Smalls, insists that a “conspiracy” is standing in the way of justice being served. Wallace confidently points fingers at the LAPD, claiming, “I have a very good idea who murdered Christopher and I genuinely believe that the LAPD knows exactly who did too.” She adds, “They’ve done their investigation, but they just refuse to move forward. I don’t know why they haven’t arrested who was involved. It seems to me that it’s one giant conspiracy, and someone is definitely being protected somewhere down the line.” For Biggie’s mother, “There’s no closure for me until that murderer is behind bars and sentenced.”
Of course, Wallace isn’t the first to weigh in on Biggie’s killing, and she certainly won’t be the last. The still-unsolved murders of Biggie and Tupac have launched more conspiracy theories than Alex Jones could ever dream of. Among the more outlandish claims are theories that the FBI shot both of the rappers in an effort to curb hip hop-related violence, or that Biggie and Tupac are actually alive and kicking it in a small resort town in New Zealand. Hey, if it’s good enough for Peter Thiel, it’s good enough for Biggie and ‘Pac.
While we don’t have a name or a face to link to Wallace’s claims, there are a good number of details for would-be conspiracists to comb through, courtesy of a cache of FBI files on the case. In 2011 The Daily Beast went through the documents to get a more vivid picture of Notorious B.I.G’s murder. Twenty years ago, Biggie was leaving a Soul Train Awards afterparty in a three-car motorcade; Biggie was in the second car, and his friend and label founder Sean Combs was in the first. At around 12:45 a.m., “An African-American male dressed in a blue suit and bow tie” fired six shots at the vehicles, with four of them hitting Biggie Smalls in the chest. The rapper was pronounced dead at 1:15 a.m.
Death Row Records executive Suge Knight was a main suspect, in keeping with the theory that Biggie’s death was a direct response to Tupac’s murder. Knight denied any and all involvement in B.I.G’s death. The LAPD, which was accused of corruption in the case, made the decision in tandem with the FBI to close the investigation into Biggie’s murder, abandoning the 18-month case they had been trying to build against Knight. Four years later, the case was reopened after new information allegedly surfaced. Biggie’s mother brought a $400 million wrongful death suit against the LAPD in 2006, which was eventually dismissed.
The FBI files are full of juicy details, such as information about LAPD Officer David A. Mack, a suspect in the case who had a Tupac shrine in his garage, along with guns and ammo. Other interesting tidbits include one informant’s accusations that Notorious B.I.G. had secret ties to New York City’s Genovese crime family, and the revelation that the rapper was carrying marijuana, a pen, an asthma inhaler, and three magnum condoms on his person at the time of his death. But according to a new Daily Mail source, Biggie wasn’t even the intended victim. The source, who was allegedly with Biggie on the night of his death, “is convinced the bullets were meant for P. Diddy.” There’s a certain logic to that, seeing as many fans believe that the artist formerly known as Puff Daddy played a pivotal role in Tupac’s death. According to this theory Sean Combs, one of hip-hop’s biggest living moguls, was just one lucky Suburban away from meeting his maker.