The passing away of Biggie Smalls was worldwide news, and for a good reason. His death led to a host of conspiracy theories, additional killings, and the loss of an inspirational rapper. However, the recriminations would continue long after his death in 1997.
So, Who Killed Him?
Even though it was never proven in court, it’s believed an individual by the name of Wardell Fouse. However, he too was murdered in 2003, so the family of Biggie had no opportunity to see his alleged murderer stand up and face trial.
But it does appear that it was not only Fouse who was involved in the murder. Instead, a big shot in the music industry was also implicated.
Yet, it doesn’t even end there. Various theories exist, such as gangs, a mortgage broker, and even a record label. However, it was a criminal investigation in 2005 that eventually pointed the finger at Fouse as the killer.
But it’s all ideas and theories. At this moment, the case of who killed the rapper remains open, and the case is unsolved. However, the evidence does point toward different people as potential suspects, yet the problem is nobody has been a hundred percent convicted as the shooter.
So, while evidence is out there, nothing is conclusive about who shot and killed the rap artist. For that, we need to look at some of the different theories to allow you to conclude who was perhaps responsible. Well, at least for orchestrating the killing.
The Role of Suge Knight
When it comes to the music industry, Suge Knight was a huge player. As the former CEO of Death Row Records, he essentially controlled the careers of so many rappers across the United States. In the early 90s, this record label had the likes of Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, but they would leave, and the label would then fall into decline.
But the record label also had another rapper on there by the name of Tupac Shakur. No evidence has ever been given, so it’s merely speculation, but many in the music industry believe Knight was heavily involved in the killing of both Tupac and Biggie.
Allegedly, he was angry at the idea of Tupac leaving his record label for someone else, and he didn’t want that to happen. Ultimately, he had him killed in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas to stop him.
But what about Biggie?
Well, the same theory alleges that Knight then orchestrated the killing of Biggie in an attempt to move attention away from him for the Tupac killing.
But it’s worth noting that other theories dispute the part about Knight and Tupac. However, more evidence points to Knight’s role in the death of Biggie.
His Murder – The Timeline
The fateful date was March 9, 1997, and the place was Los Angeles. Biggie was not even supposed to be in the city at that time but had changed his plans. His focus was on the upcoming release of his latest album, Life After Death, with the irony of the title not being lost on people after what would then transpire.
Also, the murder did not come as a surprise. Even the rapper stated that he had hired security only a few days before his death. The reason? He had genuine fears for his safety.
Instead of leaving Los Angeles, he would turn up at the Soul Train Music Awards on March 7, where he presented an award to Toni Braxton.
On March 8, he would attend a party for Bad Boy Records at the Petersen Automotive Museum.
His actual whereabouts were essentially a secret. Even a celebrity photographer named Eric Johnson stated how it was difficult to locate where the rap artist was when in Los Angeles. He was supposed to photograph Biggie on March 7 but couldn’t find him. The reason? The rapper was receiving repeated death threats, meaning only those close to him would have the ability to pinpoint his location.
There has always been a question mark over who pulled the trigger. Biggie was in Los Angeles and sitting at a stop light at 12:45 am on the night of March 9, 1997. While sitting there, a Chevrolet Impala SS pulled up alongside the SUV containing the rapper. Four shots were fired and hit him while in the vehicle. He was reported dead at Cedars-Sinai hospital at 1:15 am.
According to the autopsy, which was eventually released some 15 years later, only the final shot was fatal. The report states how that bullet entered his right hip before passing through his liver, colon, left lung, and heart.
The car the rap artist was traveling in was full. He was sitting in the front passenger seat and apparently felt safe and relaxed after leaving a party. This was not simply a random shooting into a vehicle. Instead, each shot was aimed directly at him rather than anyone else, and the shooter knew he would be in the passenger seat and nowhere else.
The Link to Tupac
But there could also be an additional backstory to the murder of Biggie, and it involved the death of another rapper, Tupac. He passed away only six months earlier, on September 7, 1996, with a drive-by shooting.
It was strongly suspected that the killing of Biggie was an act of revenge for the murder of Tupac. The fact both involved a drive-by shooting is one piece of evidence that people often point toward.
It would help if you remembered there was a real battle between East Coast and West Coast hip hop at the time. It was also quite personal between Tupac and Biggie. Also, Biggie was viewed as the biggest East Coast rapper at the time, while Tupac was the most prominent West Coast rapper.
In 1994, Tupac was shot in a robbery, and he would blame Biggie for orchestrating it. He would go on to effectively taunt the east coast rap artist in a song where he would attack his weight and also claim to have slept with his wife.
That would enrage Biggie, leading to some serious bad blood between the two. This only added fuel to the whole East Coast, West Coast battle.
Some believe that Biggie sought to seek revenge on Tupac by arranging a hit on him. However, others believe that the east coast rapper had nothing to do with it. Instead, a crips gang in Los Angeles sought revenge after the west coast rapper assaulted one of their members.
Another Theory – Mistaken Identity?
But there is another theory as to the reasons behind the death of Biggie, and it involves a case of mistaken identity. Instead of him, many believe, and an FBI report also states that Sean “Diddy” Combs was the intended victim.
This in itself is not a strange idea. Combs had received various death threats around the same time. It’s even known that the rapper, who was with Biggie the night before he died, had been involved in an altercation where his security had stopped a man who was threatening him.
Both Biggie and Combs had been at the same after-party, and both climbed into their own respective green SUV before taking off. They even drove along part of the same road, but the driver in Combs’s SUV went through the stop light while the driver for Biggie stopped.
That would be a fateful decision. Minutes later, Biggie would be dead.
What Does the Evidence Point to?
The problem surrounding the death of Biggie is that it’s mired in theories and often circumstantial evidence. Even the mention of Fouse as the shooter is still simply a theory.
For others, it’s Knight behind it who paid off two cops in the LAPD to kill the rap artist. Others believe it was an individual by the name of Amir Muhammad who was responsible for the killing. However, he cleared his name since he only appeared after a botched private investigation.
This is the real issue here. Different people apparently had something to gain from the death of Biggie. Even record labels have been implicated because some believe they would have made more money from both Tupac and Biggie being dead than what they would earn with them being alive.
That part is insane, but it does show the length some people will go to in order to put their theories across. What we do know is that someone with a grudge or anger toward Biggie decided to finish it forever. The chances of ever finding that person remain small decades later.
The death of the rapper was shocking, but when you look at the story behind it all, then perhaps it becomes less of a surprise. It was a sign of what was going on in the world of rap at that time, and a number of questions remain about not only his death but that of Tupac as well.
It was a violent time that led to the death of two of the biggest stars around.
Barry has worked as a freelance writer for over a decade and has developed an eye for detail when it comes to unearthing cool and interesting facts.
His love of music stems from his student days checking out up and coming bands playing in the darkest corners of bars and clubs in Edinburgh.
The love of uncovering something new also remains with him. With an appreciation for music that’s best described as eclectic, his musical tastes range from Eric Clapton to Eminem through to Snow Patrol and Incubus. The memories that music can bring back to the fore is something he tries to portray in his writing.
For him, the voyage of discovery and unearthing something new is what makes this task of writing for MusicGrotto.com so interesting.