S1: This podcast has language that some people might find offensive.
S2: It was November 29 1994 and Tupac Shakur was in trouble.
S3: He was on trial for sexual abuse sodomy and weapons possession. A woman had accused him of setting her up to be raped. In his New York hotel room the jury started deliberating that morning. Tupac was facing the possibility of a long prison sentence. His career was already suffering. He’d lost a movie role and a guest spot on a TV series and his legal bills were piling up. Tupac needed cash during the trial.
S4: He would spend his evenings going from one recording studio to another. He was trying to wrap his way out of financial ruin. Easy Moby was a producer from Brooklyn. He was in the studio with Tupac a lot of those nights.
S5: It was 6 p.m. 6 o’clock every day. So what he would do is he would go to court by day and 6:00 p. m. sharp boom he bust through the door a bundle of energy. Yo yo we don’t do this. He’s talking real fast. He was a bundle of energy whose juice. You had to really really keep up with him.
S3: On the night of November 20 ninth two parks first session was with Ron gee a local mixtape deejay. This was for free. Tupac was hoping a hot verse would keep his music coming out of boom boxes even if he got locked up. The next session was for money. Tupac was cutting a track with little Sean a rapper whose biggest hit to that point was HICKEYS ON YOUR CHEST. This collaboration wasn’t going to get Tupac back on top of the charts but it would earn him seven thousand dollars. The session was a quad recording studios in Times Square.
S1: Quad was a busy spot S.W. v mob deep and Deborah Cox was also recording that night and so was Junior mafia the rap group started by Christopher Wallace better known as the notorious Biaggi. Biggie was in the studio along with Sean Puffy Combs the head of his record label as Tupac approached the building with three friends.
S6: They heard a voice from eight stories above seasons like yo yo like Tupac walking up the street.
S1: That’s Chico Delphic a member of Junior mafia and Biggie childhood friend. He and little sees who was also in the group. We’re taking a break on the balcony smoking blunts and dumping cups of water on passers by. A few years before Chico had been the one to convince biggie to get off the stoop and onto their block in Bedford Stuyvesant. Basically Chico turned big into a small town crack dealer. He gave Biggie confidence pocket money and street credibility with Biggie became a rich and famous rapper. He returned the favor by making Chico a member of Junior Mafia. That’s how Chico found himself at the quiet that night recording songs for the group’s first album.
S7: He would like to you me so we all granted a bulky look over to him. But I was yo yo you look like by yo who dat. Who dat. And we like yo back. So why didn’t you bring me up to. Like you. And seems like you Lucy Dingley up in the studio while I do things that was not my nigga. We talked to him from the balcony Chico considered Tupac a friend.
S1: You can hear it in his voice. The same thing was true of the rest of Biggie circle. They looked up to Tupac.
S8: They welcomed him when he visited Brooklyn told me feel like Yo La La Quinta sees gold come downstairs and get you like you were was not my nigga he was all happy.
S9: Tupac headed into the lobby quad studios to see his friends and record a verse. A few hours later he’d leave the court on a gurney his body full of bullet holes. When I started reporting on Tupac and Christopher Biggie Wallace a few months ago there was a lot I didn’t know about their relationship where went wrong and how their murders changed the course of hip hop.
S10: But this moment on the gurney. This is one part of the story that I thought I had locked down.
S9: There’s this iconic photo. Maybe you’ve seen it.
S11: It was taken that night outside Quan studios. Tupac is on a stretcher with a big brace on his head and neck and he’s sticking up his middle finger. He looked angry at everyone and everything.
S12: I always assumed he was flipping the bird at the photographer that he was pissed off at the media for invading his privacy in this incredibly vulnerable moment. But Chico Del Vecchio told me I had it wrong. Tupac was given the finger to Biggie and his crew to pop this off the elevator on the hospital bed and he within a mile he looked at us with his middle finger like Fuck you niggas.
S13: To Ya right. He was. GEORGE NEGUS. On.
S14: Camera. Why do you vote him off the elevator. He looking at us against the wall and like he said Fuck you niggers. The finger think you’d see the picture. I’ve seen the petitions to go. I thought that was to the media to no doubt to us.
S13: Chico was telling me that this was it. This was the moment when allies became enemies. I’d seen the photo but I hadn’t seen that. What else had I missed. What else did I need to know to understand who began to park where and how they both end up dead.
S15: This is slow burn season 3 begin to pack. I’m your host Joel Anderson. Over the next eight episodes. You’re here about the creative lives and tragic deaths of two of hip hop’s foundational talents from voices and angles you’ve never heard before. You’ll hear about how a friendship gone bad turned into a nationwide turf war. How lyrics about violence blurred into the real thing. And how investigators have failed to solve the murders of two of the 20th century’s most important artists. This is Episode 1. Against the world.
S1: In 1994. Tupac seemed bound to become the brightest star hip hop had ever produced. He was 23 years old charming and profane and really handsome. He could switch in an instant from poet to revolutionary to want to be thug. He’d starred in a movie with Janet Jackson and had dated Madonna at the same time. Those close to Tupac thought that he seemed doomed easy Moby wondered if Tupac was fated to find trouble wherever he went.
S16: I don’t know for whatever reason it seemed like home like my parents did from the south. I’m about to speak somewhat lingo but it seemed like the devil was on his trail Tupac was born into conflict.
S17: In 1969 his mother Fanny and her husband Lumumba Abdou Shekau which two of the 21 Black Panthers charged with planning bombings all over New York City pregnant and facing a 300 year prison sentence. A famous record shows to represent herself in court. Although she had never finished high school a phony and 12 other Black Panthers were acquitted on May 13th 1971. A month later she gave birth to Tupac Tupac. Early years were hard after a famous divorce Lumumba Shakur she and Tupac and his sister said she would bounce from New York to Baltimore to Marin City in northern California. Feeney became addicted to crack cocaine.
S1: The family was homeless for a while no matter where they went. Tupac struggled to fit in. Skinny broke in an athletic. Tupac was never one of the cool kids he said even failed at selling weed. But he was a reader and a thinker and he saw himself as a survivor. Here he is in 1988 when he was a 17 year old high schooler.
S18: My mother had a really bad childhood and my father had a bad childhood and I had about ended but I love my child too. Even though it was bad. I love it. I feel like it’s taught me so much and I feel like nothing can faze me.
S1: Tupac is artistic talent was obvious in Baltimore he’d started acting and dancing in Marin City. He wrote poetry and said he wanted to perform Shakespeare. He got his first big break as a backup dancer with the Oakland rap group Digital Underground things move fast after that.
S17: In November 1991 he released his first album Tupac lips. Now a couple months later he started his first movie juice.
S1: He was 20 years old and all of a sudden he was famous both the album and the movie focused on the ills of the ghetto broken institutions poverty police brutality his character and Jews. Bishop was the kind of kid that sociologists and politicians were calling a super predator. Bishop was a black teenager who loses himself in anger to circumstances and becomes a remorseless killer. I. Am. Crazy but you know what else.
S19: I don’t give a fuck. I don’t give a fuck about you. I don’t give a fuck about steel and I’ll give a fuck about Rahim either I’ll give a fuck about myself.
S1: The movie was just ok but critics said Tupac was magnetic and convincingly psychotic in August 1992 while he was working on a second album. Tupac went back to Marin City for a music festival.
S20: After the show. He posed for photos and signed autographs. Then he got into an argument with a bunch of people he’d grown up with reports said these old friends were angry that to pocket insulted Marin City on Yo MTV Raps. Although that might have just been a rumor a gun came out. Shots were fired and a 6 year old boy was killed by a stray bullet. Witnesses said the shooter had come to the festival with Tupac but nobody was ever charged with the killing. A. Fainting Shekau later said that the boy’s death hurt to pack deep inside. On his next album using an oddly distorted voice. Tupac paid respects to the slain 6 year old and blamed the shooting on people who were envious of his success.
S21: That album was called strictly for my niggers.
S1: Most of it was an indignant response to two Puck’s enemies and critics. Tupac lashed out at the police the media and Vice President Dan Quayle. You’ll hear more about their feud on our next episode but the truck that got the most attention sounded totally different from everything else on the album. Keep your head up. Was an inspirational ode to black women the kind of song that got played at church youth dances and cookouts a appeared in the video. It reached number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 critics of hip hop accused rappers of glamorizing the mistreatment of women.
S22: Keep your head up took a hard look at that kind of misogyny. I would say white power.
S17: The song was released as a single on October 8th 1993.
S23: A month later Tupac made national news and it had nothing to do with his music.
S24: Tupac Shakur rap star and movie star was arrested in New York and charged with sodomy and sexual assault.
S25: Tupac and two other men were arrested at the Parker Meridian Hotel in Manhattan.
S26: Rap singer Tupac Shakur was released on fifty thousand dollars bail today accused of a sexual attack in a New York hotel. The singer.
S25: Tupac met Janet Jackson at a nightclub in New York where he was preparing to shoot a movie that first night they kissed on the dance floor. Tupac would later say that Jackson performed oral sex on him right there. Jackson claims she just kissed his crotch. Later they went back to his hotel suite where they had consensual sex four days after that she came over again. When Jackson arrived for that second visit she started giving Tupac a massage and then some other men entered the room one of them was to parks road manager Charles Fuller. Another was Jackson not better known as Patient Jack you’ll be hearing more about him later in court. I honor Jackson testified that Tupac wanted to share her with these other men. She said Tupac told her quote They’re not going to hurt you. Would you do for me you do for them.
S27: She described the events again in an interview in 2018. She remembers saying to Tupac.
S28: No no no no.
S29: I don’t want this. This is not what I want. She remembered her black pantyhose in her black spandex dress being ripped off of her body. I’m not going to say that I had sex with him. She said about Tupac. I was raped by him that night because it wasn’t consensual.
S1: For as long as he’d been a public figure. Tupac had been in trouble with the law in the year and a half before his arrest. He was accused of slapping a fan who’d ask for his autograph assaulting a limo driver trying to hit a rapper with a baseball bat and attacking Allen Hughes the co-director of the movie Minister society most seriously Tupac had been arrested in Atlanta after he shot two off duty police officers but there was evidence he’d fired in self-defense and the charges were dropped. These earlier run ins with the law had really hurt Tupac standing in the music or movie business. If anything they burnished his tough guy image.
S17: The sexual abuse case was different. The possibility of prison time and his loss of paying gigs made Tupac feel threatened. He didn’t take the stand in New York but on the first day of jury deliberations he defended himself in an impromptu press conference outside the courthouse.
S30: Why would you make something like that. Because hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. You don’t say I’m guilty of a lot of things. I’m guilty partly of being a male chauvinist pig. I’m guilty of filing not caring as much as I said I’m guilty and I’ve spent enough time with people like I.
S31: But I’m not getting raped because I don’t want a video from that day November twenty ninth. You can see a crowd circling Tupac in the scrum of reporters. Tupac remained poised but you can feel as exasperated in building he hinted at a conspiracy to silence him for his political beliefs. It was a kind of argument his black panther mother might have made 25 years earlier. Tupac seemed resigned to the fact that the jurors would see him as nothing more than a thug rapper.
S30: It’s hard for me to believe that a jury full of older more middle class women are going to understand where I’m coming from. This job barely understand where I’m coming from.
S32: A young couple motors and she every day got cheat me like I’m new York’s most notorious criminal. You know people don’t baby thought a window putting them in an incinerator. All I do is make do with what it’s not loud. My biggest crime is talking loud. You know I’m still young and have nothing else.
S1: Besides if Tupac was convicted of all the charges he was facing in New York. He was looking at years of prison time. To make matters worse he’d also made a dangerous enemy his codefendant Haitian Jack Ike not Jack and Tupac had become friends while he was doing research for above the rim. A movie in which you played a violent drug dealer. Jack had been born in Haiti but came of age in Brooklyn as a baby face heavy set stickup kid. He’d made his reputation by robbing drug dealers but he wanted to get into the music business Derek Parker was a New York police detective in the 1990s. Back then he heard a lot about Haitian Jack.
S33: People said that when he went to clubs and went to places people respected him. You know like you got out of his way. He had that kind of rap y Why.
S14: I mean he wasn’t a big dude right.
S33: But he was one of them crazy guys. Like you know people get raps so he ran the streets and he ran around. You know he was one of those dudes that was quick to Camacho who came at him the wrong way.
S1: When Jack and Tupac hung out Jack got the women in the weed and Tupac paid the bill. Jack claim he gave Tupac his first Rolex. He also got Tupac to spruce up his look with jewels but as a case headed to trial a riff formed between the two of them. Jack secured his own lawyer one who often work with the New York police union. Tupac came to believe Jack had set him up.
S30: They were all in the same hotel as me. They were all right in the same room with me. Why am I the only one to quit right now. Why is the cameras all on me and in the report and all these charges.
S32: I didn’t do nothing. I’m charged with being in concert with God.
S1: What Tupac tried to disassociate from patient Jack in one interview he called Jack a hanger on when they ran into each other one to puff his parties. Tupac ignored Jack and instead stuck close to Biggie. This was blatant disrespect even enemies acknowledge each other’s presence. If only with a head nod and disrespect if someone like Haitian Jack was dangerous so that’s what Tupac was on the night of November twenty ninth. Nineteen ninety four facing prison time beefing with the gangster burning through money on Criminal Defense Lawyers and heading into quiet studios to make what he hoped would be an easy seven G’s from little Shawn one possible obstacle with little Shawn’s manager James Rosemond who went by the name Jimmy henchman Jimmy was from Brooklyn where he’d earned a rep for robbing and drug dealing.
S17: Jimmy had faced charges ranging from weapons possession to second degree murder.
S1: He tried to get into the music industry by representing rappers on the same day the Tupac made that big speech outside the courthouse. He called Jimmy henchman to ask for directions to quiet studios. On that call Jimmy said he didn’t have the seven thousand dollars he’d been promising when Tupac threatened not to show up for the session. Jimmy hung up the phone. Minutes later Jimmy called back and said he’d make sure Tupac got a seven thousand dollars arguing about money with Jimmy henchman was not a good idea.
S34: But Tupac was fearless to the point of recklessness.
S21: Maybe it was the character of Bishop rubbing off on him.
S35: Maybe he was acting out of desperation but he wasn’t about to let himself get ripped off.
S21: Tupac and his friends entered the lobby of quiet studios just after midnight. That’s when Chico delphic and Little Caesar salad from the balcony. While Chico stayed upstairs sees headed down in an elevator with Nino Brown another member Junior mafia. Down in the lobby. Two men wearing boots and army fatigues sprang into action. The men had guns and they ordered everybody in the lobby to get on the floor. Everyone obeyed except for Tupac acting recklessly again.
S35: Tupac was shot five times.
S34: He fell to the floor.
S21: The Army kicked him in snatches thirty thousand dollar diamond ring and ten thousand dollars in gold chains. They didn’t take to Bucks diamond studded Rolex watch that had been a gift from Haitian Jack. Up in the penthouse studio Biggie and Chico Del Vic had no idea any of this was happening and then their friend season Nino Brown rushed back into the penthouse and told them what they’d seen in the lobby. Biggie told his crew to stay where they were. He and Chico were going to see what was happening downstairs the gunman had already fled the scene but the lobby of quad Studios was still bloody chaos. But till we get done it polices did.
S36: So we all went downstairs getting searched by the cops like oh shit we smell gunpowder like Dan Caesar in Naples not mine.
S6: Somebody was actually really you know what. And we see Tupac being dead on the ground and blood down here like Oh shit.
S27: But no Tupac sometime before the cops arrive and before Biggie and Chico got down to the lobby Tupac made it onto an elevator that was going up. He rode up to the eighth floor then dragged himself to the studio where he was supposed to meet with little shy bullets grazed his head and punctured his hand thigh and scrotum. He made it into a chair and used paper towels to try to stop the bleeding. The room was filled with new York hip hop luminaries. They’d heard what was happening to Tupac and were there to check on him. Puffy was there so as puffy as mentor Andre Harrell and various members of Junior Mafia Biggie and Chico were still downstairs held there by the cops. Tupac was confused upset. And.
S37: Suspicious. He later said that no one in the room would even look him in the eye.
S38: Maybe Jimmy henchman had ordered a hit on him. Maybe it had been Haitian Jack. Maybe the men in the studio knew who’d done it and weren’t saying.
S27: Chico denies it big in Junior Mafia had any connection to the shooting.
S6: Chico says the biggie came downstairs with a gun because he was ready to defend Tupac and if you see that footage you see us coming out quiet studio and the police out here and it’s so funny. Big had a gun on him walking out past the police.
S39: So how we tried to set you up and gig. We came to hold you down.
S27: Detective Mordechai you can’t ski was one of the homicide cops who responded to the shooting when he got up to the eighth floor studio. He started questioning everyone including Tupac who was still there tending to his own wounds.
S40: So who’s who of J. RL and all the other people. I had no idea I had zero you know. To me it was all about to pack being shot. He was the victim and getting the bad guy. But on the flip side he was going to cooperate with us and I understand that now. I mean in retrospect okay. You’ll take care of it you’re gonna do what you gonna do. There was nothing I could have done to cause him to speak.
S27: The paramedics arrived and carried Tupac out of quiet studios on a stretcher. He was nearly naked and very disoriented.
S6: This was the moment when he extended his middle finger towards Chico and Biggie and he caught him light and we looked at him put the middle finger like Fuck you niggas and big was like a know why just too mad at us about something about what do me to night. You know Sam.
S27: Chico and Biggie figured Tupac was confused after all he’d just been bum rush in nearly killed. They couldn’t believe he’d blame them for the shooting. And in fairness to Chico and Biggie there’s very little evidence that they were involved.
S1: After he got carried out a quiet studios. Tupac was taken to Bellevue Hospital a team of 13 doctors work to repair a damaged blood vessel and his right leg. When he got out of surgery Tupac said he felt vulnerable around all of the unfamiliar doctors. He also didn’t like that his enemies would know where to find him. Tupac understood that men location Jack and Jimmy henchmen had the power to finish the job even at a hospital. He also thought the men who attacked him looked like the kind of dudes Biggie hung out with in Brooklyn and Tupac found it fishy that he was the only one among all the stars of the quartet night who got robbed and shot if you were Tupac.
S41: It might have seemed like a setup to you to so Tupac checked himself out of the hospital less than three hours after the surgery on his leg his surgeon said he’d never seen anybody leave like that Tupac didn’t want to go somewhere he could be found.
S1: So he holed up at the apartment of a friend the actress Jasmine Guy they’d bet when Tupac just start on her sitcom a different world.
S42: First of all he was shot five times somebody wanted him dead and walking around knowing that really affected Tupac spirit. Yeah and there was a lot of what I call spiritual fortification going around him. I mean we were really just trying to give that life back to him.
S1: Tupac returned to court the next day to hear the jury’s verdict in the Aiyana Jackson case. He looked as frail as he was. He arrived in a wheelchair surrounded by the security force of the Nation of Islam. His head was topped with a woolly Yankee skull cap that covered his bandages. He had to leave before the verdict was read because his leg had gone numb Tupac was found guilty of sexual abuse that made prison time. Though he’d have to wait to hear the length of his sentence Tupac codefendant Charles Fuller got four months behind bars. Patient Jack pled guilty to sexual misconduct and got probation. That made Tupac even more suspicious that jacket cooperated with the police. The judge allowed Tupac to remain free on twenty five thousand dollars bond while he recovered from his injuries. He spent the next few weeks and Jasmine guy’s apartment being cared for by his mother a phony and a private doctor. The fruit of Islam and former members of the Black Panther Party stood guard he had lots of time to think about who’d shot him and wonder whether his friends were really his friends.
S34: Tupac thought about how big he hadn’t given him a mention in the liner notes of his debut album ready to die. He’d been a mentor to Biggie. That was disrespect he thought about how Biggie and Puffy allowed Haitians Jack and their entourage. He told one reporter I was hurt. I’m going to trial I’m probably going to get convicted and this nigga showing up at a party with champagne hanging with big. Most of all. Tupac thought about the ambush acquired studios how big his friend little sees it seen him on the street how no one else had put up a fight. How when it was all over. No one could even look him in the face. Felt betrayed and he thought. Maybe Biggie and them were in on it the whole time.
S1: Nobody was ever arrested for the shooting at Quad studios. There are various theories about who did it. Most of them center on a couple of well-known New York stickup guys. They’re both in prison today serving life sentences for unrelated crimes. One of them says he pulled the trigger and the Jimmy henchman was behind Operation Jimmy henchman is in prison to Haitian Jack was deported to Haiti in 2007. Back in 1994 the people who knew what happened weren’t talking definitely not to the police detective more to catch a cancer he says he knew the case would be nearly impossible to solve. From the get go.
S43: There was zero let me use the word zero cooperation meaning that nobody was talking to us which was understandable. I’m not complaining about it. It was part of the part of the.
S44: Cycle because this was a situation where nobody wants to be a rat.
S13: For one thing cooperating with the cops would have been dangerous. Whoever it was that set up to Park would be just as quick to punish anyone who snitch. For another hip hop and law enforcement were locked in a very public war. Next week on slow burn. Hip hop. Vs. the cops.
S15: Slow Burn is the production of Slate Plus Slate’s membership program. You can sign up for Slate Plus to hear a bonus episode of the show this week and every week for the next two months. In our first bonus episode we’ve got an interview with one of two parks attorneys Shawn Holley a public defender and lawyer to the stars. You’ll also hear about the making of the season for me and slow burn producer Christopher Johnson. To hear it. Sign up for Slate Plus at Slate dot com slash slow burn. Slow Burn is produced by me and Christopher Johnson with editorial direction by Josh Levine and Gabriel Roth. Sophie Sommer grad is our researcher our mix engineers Jared Paul Don will composed our theme song.
S37: The artwork for slow burn is by Lisa Larson Walker special thanks to Slate’s child to lo and Lou Allison Benedikt and Jared Holt. Some of the audio you heard in this episode came from the historic film’s archives LLC and the Connie Martinson talks books collection from the Drucker Institute at Claremont Graduate University.
S15: Thanks to them all you can find a full list of books articles and documentaries used to research this episode on our show page. Thanks for listening. Piece.