10 Music-Related Revelations From The FBI's File On Biggie's Murder
The 1997 murder of Christopher Wallace, b/k/a/ the rapper The Notorious B.I.G., remains unsolved. Last week, the case became both more transparent and more suspicious as the FBI opened up its files into an investigation about not just who shot Biggie Smalls, but also who helped orchestrate the killing. Popular accounts and common conspiracy theories about Biggie's death usually allege some combination of 2Pac and Suge Knight's Death Row records camp, LA's Crips gang, and corrupt L.A.P.D. officers being the masterminds behind the murder. The FBI's files, which span from 1997 to 2005, do little to prove or dispel these allegations--although they do make for sadly sinister reading.
While the first wave of reports has concentrated on the contents of Biggie's pockets on the night he died--marijuana, a pen, an asthma inhaler, three "larger size" condoms, and a driver's license issued in Georgia--the reports also contain insights into the often-nefarious side of the mid-'90s rap scene. So for those without the patience or printer ink to scour through the 350-plus pages--which include heavily redacted witness statements, a sketch of the crime scene, internal memos, and even a reference to a Village Voice article (on page 48 of Section 1)--here are ten insights into music-business-related matters.
Biggie Allegedly Had Real-Life Links To The Genovese Crime Family
One of hip-hop's most fabled supergroups that never came to fruition, The Commission was B.I.G.'s idea of a musical mafia movement that included Jay-Z, Lil Cease, Lance 'Un' Rivera and Puffy, and saw them all adopting crime family-style names. According to the FBI, this wasn't just mythical thinking; the report alleges that the rotund rapper had links to New York City's Genovese crime family. Founded by Lucky Luciano, the family was until recently headed up by Vincent Gigante, who was particularly known for feigning insanity as a legal defense mechanism. Although the report doesn't provide further details of the specific nature of the links, it does add that Biggie was being investigated for "for gun violations and possible murders" while also being surreptitiously photographed out in Los Angeles.
2Pac Might Have Signed To Puffy's Bad Boy Records
A "short chronology" of the circumstances leading up to Biggie's murder includes an entry dated November 7th, 2002 that states--either erroneously or intriguingly--"TUPAC was signed by BAD BOY records." Discographically speaking, this never happened. There are rumors that music manager Jimmy Henchman had early ties with Bad Boy Records and attempted to hook up a deal between Puffy's nascent label and the Black Mafia Family (B.M.F.) street organization, with the latter helping to fund the label in return for offering protection. This urban fable says that Henchman and colleague King Tut at one point made an attempt to force 2Pac to sign to Bad Boy, which he refused, possibly because he suspected that they were involved in an incident at Quad Studios in Times Square where 2Pac was robbed of $100,000 worth of jewelry and shot five times. (Never one to bite his tongue, 50 Cent addressed the incident around the 3:42 mark of "Many Men.") If Pac's Bad Boy status isn't a typo, it means the FBI could be sitting on a batch of unreleased 2Pac demos embellished with the sound of Puffy breathing heavily in the background.
Biggie Saw Who Shot Him
Listening to "My Downfall," from Biggie's last album Life After Death, is a discomforting experience, with the rapper appearing to predict his own death in grisly circumstances, not least with the song opening with a phone call featuring an anonymous caller vowing, "Kill you motherfucker." (In typically morbid humor, Big raps, "I was high when they hit me/Took a few cats with me/Shit, I need the company.") According to CI#3--one of 10 witnesses to Biggie's murder who were willing to speak on the investigation--the song was scarily prescient; the informant claims that "BIGGIE [redacted] saw shooter who killed him."