Last Friday, CNN reported that a task force of various local and federal law enforcement are actively pursuing news leads in the 13-year-old homicide case of one of hip-hop’s most beloved and talented MCs, Christopher “The Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace, who was gunned down in 1997 after leaving an industry party in Las Angeles.
According to one law enforcement source, the investigation into the unsolved case was “reinvigorated” months ago as a result of new information. However, law enforcement agents are being tight-lipped as to what this new evidence is and if the information is enough to finally charge someone, or some ones, in the case.
Prior to his death, Wallace had been warned to stay away from the West Coast, in large part because of possible retaliation in the death of Tupac Shakur, famed West Coast rapper and Wallace’s hip-hop nemesis, who had been shot six months prior in Las Vegas.
While both murders have been the subject of intense debate, conspiracy theories and investigation, there has not been a single thread of evidence revealed, which might link them both. Furthermore, the ongoing lack of evidence in both cases continues to leave their families, as well as their fans, discouraged, if not disillusioned by the lack of progression in getting these murders solved.
Due to the lack of attention in both cases, some fans have turned into junior sleuths and constructed theories of their own, including one assumption that Shakur, who at the time was on Death Row Records, and Wallace, who was a member of Bad Boy Entertainment, were both the victims of rap’s West Coast vs. East Coast rivalries, which had dangerously spilled off wax.
Another theory suggests that Wallace’s murder was orchestrated by the L.A. Police Department, a theory which Biggie’s mother, Voletta Wallace, had argued in her 2002 lawsuit. That lawsuit, which also suggested that the LAPD involvement is the main reason why the investigation had been thwarted, was eventually dismissed.
The reality is that the mysteries behind the Biggie & Tupac murders will probably never be solved. Despite both shootings occurring in a public setting with the presence of many witnesses, no real evidence has been collected and folks refuse to come forward, while the case by the original investigators has been botched beyond repair.
And although there have been plenty of mistakes made in both cases, the reality is that Shakur and Wallace’s own reputations might play the most instrumental part in why either death might never get solved. With their street-life praising lyrics and overly-hype male bravado, both rappers’ public persona played quaintly into the narrative of “no snitching” and other loyalties to the codes of the street, which makes it easier for law enforcement to remain indifferent.
The mystery surrounding the deaths of Biggie and Tupac have all the elements of a typical inner city crime: a drive-by shooting, a dead body and uncooperative witnesses. Without any suspects, there will be no arrest. And without any arrest, there is only wide speculation and legend, which unfortunately, is always more profitable than the actual truth.
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.