On March 9th, 1997, at 1 in the morning, a 24-year old Christopher Wallace was driving to a Soul Train awards after party when he was fatally shot in the passenger’s seat of his car on Fairfax ave.
20 years later, we’re still trying to answer the question posed by Wallace aka Notorious B.I.G. in his 1995 single.
While the case has no shortage of suspects (including a pre-Broadway Sean “P. Diddy” Combs) it’s been close to impossible for the LAPD to nail down a clear motive, timeline, and basic game plan for any of the many, many folks who wanted to see Biggie dead in 1997.
The best capsule-sized retreading of B.I.G. case belongs to Buzzfeed’s Unsolved series, which goes into the case in detail, linking it to the closely-connected shooting of Biggie’s rap rival Tupac 6 months earlier.
What it boils down to is that the rap game in the ’90s was an incredibly rough scene, and folks could get taken out with little to no repercussions whatsoever. Beefs could be created by the industry in order to explain away suspicious deaths and grab the lion’s share of royalties on posthumous album sales. Even the most probable suspect in the case, producer Suge Knight, has somehow been able to escape getting pinned for the murders of both Tupac and Biggie pinned on him despite having a clear motive for each (he is, however, currently serving time on suspicion of another, completely separate murder.)
It’s a tragic story without a clear ending, and one that will confuse and tantalize fans of B.I.G.’s work for years to come. For today, we’re busy thinking about where Biggie might be today if his life hadn’t been tragically cut short.
Some call him the greatest rapper that ever lived, the one who changed the game for all who would come after. Some might say that any who did come after could only be a pale echo of the King. We’re not getting into that controversy today. Suffice it to say, we’ll be pouring one out tonight for the B.I.G.