Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Hip-Hop Homicide

"Hit 'Em Up"

In "Who Killed Tupac Shakur?" a controversial two-part article published in the Los Angeles Times, journalist Chuck Philips presented evidence that Notorious B.I.G. was behind the murder of Shakur. According to Philips, after Orlando Anderson's beating at the hands of the Death Row Bloods, Anderson went back to his hotel room and called his brother Crips who hastily put together a retaliation plan. The Crips, figuring that they could make some profit off a hit on Shakur, sent an emissary to Notorious B.I.G. who Philips contends was in Las Vegas for the Tyson fight, staying at a hotel under another name. The emissary negotiated a $1 million fee for the murder of Shakur whom B.I.G. had allegedly come to despise not only for being a staunch member of the West Coast rappers who disparaged him regularly in public but also for releasing a song called "Hit 'Em Up," in which he boasted of having had sex with B.I.G.'s estranged wife. But according to Philips, B.I.G. agreed to pay the fee on one condition: the hit had to be done with his own gun. In Philips's scenario Notorious B.I.G. gave the Crips' emissary his ".40-caliber Glock pistol."

In the meantime the Crips had organized a team to hunt down Shakur. Philips writes that they had two cars, a late-model white Cadillac and an older yellow Cadillac driven by a lone Crip armed with an AK-47 assault rifle. Their plan was to take out Shakur at Club 662, but when they happened upon the Death Row caravan on Flamingo Road, they seized the opportunity and struck.

Vibe magazine, however, cast doubt on this scenario when it presented a time line of the events as Philips describes them. On fight nights, the streets of Las Vegas are always jammed with vehicle and pedestrian traffic. The shooting occurred two hours and thirty-two minutes after the beating of Orlando Anderson. According to Vibe, the Crips couldn't possibly have gotten a hit team on the street in that time. They would have needed at least another 22 minutes and probably much more.

Search Warrant affidavit regarding Orlando Anderson

Furthermore, Notorious B.I.G. claimed he was not in Las Vegas on the night of Shakur's shooting, and he had an alibi. Witnesses swore that B.I.G. was in a studio in New York recording new songs that night. His best friend, rapper Lil' Cease, claimed that they both went back to B.I.G.'s home in New Jersey after the recording session to watch the Tyson fight on television. As Sam Anson points out in his Vibe article, it should have been relatively easy to confirm that "a six-foot, three-inch 315-pound black celebrity with an entourage" was present in Las Vegas on the night of the shooting, but the Las Vegas police have been unable to confirm B.I.G.'s whereabouts that night.

The murder of Tupac Shakur remains an unsolved homicide.

So is Notorious B.I.G.'s.

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