- Roxy Releasing
There’s a good chance you’ve heard a “Tupac is alive” joke more than once in your life (or heard it posed as a serious theory). The 20th anniversary of Tupac’s death was in September of last year, and March marks the 20th anniversary of the death of The Notorious B.I.G., aka Biggie or Biggie Smalls. The untimely, tragic shootings of the rap stars still weigh heavily on the music world.
To this day, both murders remain unsolved. Over the past two decades, so many conspiracy theories have been spread surrounding their deaths. And the cases are eerily similar in many ways.
Here’s everything you need to know about the deaths of Biggie and Tupac and the theories about their cases:
Tupac and Bigge used to be friends.
- Roxy Releasing
The hip-hop icons met in 1993. Tupac (real name: Tupac Shakur), though only a year older than Biggie (real name: Christopher Wallace), was something of a mentor to him. Tupac often gave Biggie career advice since he had a couple years more experience, and was more well-known when they met.
But then a violent rivalry started.
- Tupac Shakur
By the mid-1990s, the West Coast had proved itself in the hip-hop world with Death Row Records, the label that included Tupac, Dr. Dre, and Snoop Dogg.
Meanwhile, Biggie’s 1993 album “Ready to Die” helped give the East Coast label Bad Boy Records – Puff Daddy’s label – some recognition, along with Jay-Z’s “Reasonable Doubt.”
Tupac and his fans interpreted Biggie’s 1994 song “Who Shot Ya?” as a diss track because he had been robbed and shot two months before the song’s release. The track’s lyrics described a situation very similar to what happened to Tupac.
In the 1996 song “Hit ‘Em Up,” Tupac struck back: He alluded to having an affair with Biggie’s wife, Faith Evans.
Source: LA Times
Tupac was murdered on September 7, 1996, in Las Vegas.
- Columbia Pictures
Tupac and Suge Knight – the founder of Death Row Records – were driving to a party around 11:15 p.m., after watching a Mike Tyson fight in Las Vegas. When they stopped their black BMW at a red light waiting for it to change, a white Cadillac pulled up next to them. Fourteen shots were fired, six of them hitting Tupac, who was in the passenger’s seat. One shot punctured his lung. Tupac died six days later, at only 25 years old.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department told Business Insider of Tupac’s murder in a statement, “The case is still open and under investigation. At this time, we have no additional updates to provide.”
After Tupac’s death, Biggie was paranoid that he would be murdered, too.
Biggie’s wife, Faith Evans, recalled that after Tupac’s death, he feared for his own life. Some people believed Biggie planned Tupac’s murder – and some still do.
“I think it would be some element of fear that would kind of run through his mind, given the fact that his name was involved in a lot of the situations involving Tupac before his murder,” Evans said.
On March 9, 1997, less than six months after Tupac’s murder, Biggie was shot and killed.
Biggie was leaving a party in Los Angeles after the Soul Train Awards. He was sitting in an SUV when another vehicle pulled up next to his and shot him. The shooter, who fired at Biggie at least five times (Biggie was hit four times), fled the scene. Biggie died later that night. He was 24 years old.
A spokesperson for the LAPD told Business Insider of Biggie’s murder, “The case is still open. As long as a case has not been solved, it remains open.”
Over the past two decades, many unverified theories have circulated about what happened.
Since no one has ever been prosecuted for either murder, there’s a lot of room for theories. Many documentaries on the subject have been made, including 2002’s “Biggie & Tupac,” currently streaming on Netflix. Some theroies make more sense than others.
The night of his murder, Tupac and Anderson allegedly got into a fight at the Mike Tyson match at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Tupac’s former bodygaurd told the Sabotage Times:
“On the night of the Tyson-Seldon fight, a friend of Suge Knight’s came up to Tupac and whispered that he had spotted Orlando Anderson in the arena. Tupac ran over and that’s when they got into it. I ran over and saw Tupac throw a couple of blows. Anderson tried to throw one back, but ended up going down, and that’s when a ton of Death Row [Records] guys jumped on him.”
Many consider Anderson a suspect in the murder. In 1998, he was killed in a gunfight in Compton, California.
- REUTERS/Jim Ruymen/Files
There are theories that Suge Knight, the CEO of Death Row Records – the man in the driver’s seat when Tupac got shot – could have had something to do with either death. People believe he wanted Tupac dead so he wouldn’t switch record labels, or that he had Biggie killed out of revenge for Tupac’s murder. Or that he had Biggie killed to distract investiagtors from pointing the blame for Tupac’s death in his direction.
In January 2015, Knight was arrested after a hit-and-run in Los Angeles. He was charged with one count of murder, one count of attempted murder, and two counts of hit-and-run. If he’s convicted, he potentially faces life in prison.
- Netflix/”Biggie and Tupac”
This theory ties in with Suge Knight. LAPD officer Russell Poole, who was a lead investigator on Biggie’s murder, accused other LAPD officers of having connections to Death Row Records and Suge Knight, who he thought planned Biggie’s murder.
Poole believed that Knight had Biggie murdered as revenge for Tupac’s death. He was ordered to stop his investigation on the case, and retired in 1999.
Poole died of a heart attck in August 2015, while he was discussing the case with LA County Sheriff homicide detectives. At the time, he was wokring on a book about the murders.
Other conspiracy theorists believe that the rapper formerly known as Puff Daddy (now it’s usually just Diddy) is actually the mastermind behind Biggie’s murder. The theory is that after seeing how well Tupac’s posthumous album did for Death Row Records, Puff Daddy wanted sales to skyrocket for Biggie’s upcoming album, ironically named “Life After Death.” So he hired gang members to shoot Biggie. Diddy’s former bodygaurd believes the allegations.
According to a retired LAPD detective, Biggie’s mother Voletta Wallce believes that Puff Daddy and Suge Knight are repsonsible for her son’s murder. Voletta Wallace told The Daily Mail that the murder of her son “hurts me every single day” and that she has “a very good idea” about who killed him.
“They’ve done their investigation, but they just refuse to move forward,” she said. “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.”
- New York Daily News
Another conspiracy theory is that the FBI had Tupac and Biggie killed in an attempt to end “violent rap culture” in the heat of the West Coast vs. East Coast hip-hop battle.
And probably the most popular theory floating on the internet: They’re not dead.
This 2012 photo of Rihanna sparked speculation that Tupac is still alive, because the man in the photograh resembles him.
Many think that Tupac fled to Cuba to hide out with his aunt.
And some people believe they spotted Biggie alive in 2016:
Again, these theories are all speculative and unverified.