Slow Burn: Biggie and Tupac

Season 3: Episode 7

To Live and Die in L.A.

Revenge killings in Compton, a day of atonement in Harlem, and Biggie Smalls risks everything by going back to Cali.

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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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  • 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.

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Episode Notes

Tupac’s murder set off a wave of reprisals by California gangs, and a series of sweeps by police, while the Nation of Islam tried to bring the warring factions together.

Five months later, Biggie and Puffy decided the time was right to make peace with the West Coast by organizing a California promotional tour. That turned out to be a mistake.

Slate Plus Member Content Bonus Episode

The King of St. James

Biggie biographer Cheo Hodari Coker talks about interviewing the rap star right before his untimely death.