Slow Burn: Biggie and Tupac

Season 3: Bonus Episode 2
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Using Rap Lyrics as Criminal Evidence

How law enforcement and prosecutors have used Tupac’s music and other hip-hop songs to convict and incarcerate men of color.

About the Show

In its first two seasons, Slow Burn looked back at two of the biggest stories of the late 20th century—the Watergate scandal and the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Season three tackles another: the murders of Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. The story takes place at a moment when hip-hop was taking over pop culture, and a former theater kid from the Bay Area and a one-time crack dealer from Brooklyn were changing the music forever. They went from friends to enemies. And they ended up victims of a deadly rivalry between two rap scenes.  

How is it that two of the most famous performers in the world were murdered within a year of each other—and their killings were never solved?

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Hosts

  • Joel Anderson is a staff writer at Slate and the host of Season 3 of Slow Burn. Previously, he worked as a reporter on sports, culture, and politics for ESPN and BuzzFeed News.

  • Christopher Johnson is the producer of Slow Burn.

  • Chau Tu is an associate editor at Slate Plus.

Episode Notes

In this bonus episode of Slow Burn Season 3, host Joel Anderson and producer Christopher Johnson discuss the making of the second episode. Then we hear an interview with Andrea Dennis, a professor at the University of Georgia School of Law and co-author of Rap on Trial: Race, Lyrics, and Guilt in America, about how law enforcement and courts use rap lyrics to convict and incarcerate men of color.

Production by Chau Tu, with production assistance by Merritt Jacob.