Slow Burn, Slate’s critically acclaimed narrative podcast, will return for a third season this year. Once again Slow Burn will retell the story of one of the biggest crimes of the 20th century. But this time we’re turning our attention away from political scandal and toward lethal violence in the entertainment industry, via the story of the murders of Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G.
Our host will be Joel Anderson, a brilliant reporter who’s made a name for himself writing features on sports, culture, and politics for ESPN and BuzzFeed News. Hosting Slow Burn requires a writer who can find unexpected angles in familiar events, make surprising connections between the past and present, and turn dense procedural narratives into engrossing and suspenseful stories—and in Joel we’ve found a host who can do all that and more.
When we launched Slow Burn, our hunch was that one of the most infamous stories in American political history—the Watergate scandal—would, when held up to the light, reveal new facets and wrinkles. We set out to shake off the received narrative and capture what it might have felt like to live through the drama as it happened, and we discovered that the past felt a lot closer to the present than we might have expected.
When we moved on to Season 2, about the impeachment of Bill Clinton, we took the same approach and found the same drama, and suspense, and surprise. But we found something else, too, in the story of an affair between the most powerful man in the world and a young subordinate: that the 1990s felt a lot further away from the present than we might have expected.
Now we apply that same kind of scrutiny to the story of two of the most important and successful entertainers in America, who were murdered, six months apart, at the height of their fame. Those killings emerged from a business rivalry, implicated gang members and police officers, became part of a pernicious cultural narrative of black predation, and have never been solved. We expect to find more startling connections to the past and more clues to the present. We hope you’ll join us.