To Live and Die in L.A.

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S1: On the night of September 13th, 1996, Christopher Wallace, the Notorious B.I.G. Was in a recording studio in New York. It was about a week since Tupac Shakur had been attacked in Las Vegas and began his crew still figured Tupac would pull through.

S2: We parked at Shab is I had to live.

S3: Say you always lived. It’s not the first time he ate that.

S4: That’s noshing Meyrick, one of the producers who was working with Biggie back then. Mark was in the studio with Biggie all the time and they weren’t doing anything all that special on September 13th. But everything changed when they heard the grim news out of Vegas.

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S2: When Affleck cabled Crooked at a TV on, everybody had a TV deal.

S5: And when Navy parties died today, it was.

S6: Biggie and his wife, Faith Evans, were living apart. He called her that night. She described his voices low and small. He was crying and seemed afraid. Something ain’t right thing. He told her shit got fucked up somewhere along the way.

S4: But that was my nigga. Biggie was clearly hurt by Tupac’s death. He was also scared to realize that Tupac’s money and security guards hadn’t protected him from the violence of the streets. But at the same time, Biggie wasn’t exactly mourning his former friend Tupac told the world that Biggie in Sean Puffy Combs were involved in the shooting at Quiet Studios. Tupac It also boasted about sleeping with big his wife and fantasized in his lyrics about killing Biggie and everyone around him, no matter the band they’d shared when times were good. Biggie wasn’t going to forget the bad stuff, this nigga. He made my life miserable, Biggie said to his friend, Dream Hampton. He told lies fucked with my marriage. Turn fans against me. For what? Biggie told Hampton he wasn’t going to Tupac service. It turned out he couldn’t have gone, even if he wanted to. Two days after Tupac’s death on September 15th, New York police arrested Biggie and his friend Little sieze for marijuana possession. The cops took their Lexus and when they got it back, the car wouldn’t drive. The dealership gave them a new ride, a Chevy Lumina. The next day, they took the Lumina on the New Jersey Turnpike, CS was driving and Big was in the passenger seat. Here’s big, his old friend, Chico Delvecchio, junior mafia.

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S7: It was raining, so you shouted spin off to the laying of the exit.

S1: And when it’s about Kate SEISS face hit the steering wheel, shattering a bunch of his t’s. Biggie fractured his leg in three places and had to be cut out of the van. Biggest spent much of the next two months at a rehab facility. He also started seeing a therapist and talking to God. Biggie decided that he needed to slow down and change his life.

S6: Even before the accident, Biggie had started thinking beyond his hometown. He’d left his beloved Brooklyn for a quiet gated community in Teaneck, New Jersey. Now 24 years old and a platinum selling artist, he already had a young daughter. And Faith was expecting his son. He wanted to buy his mother a home in the Poconos. He teamed up with an old friend to start a record company undie as entertainment. He’d learned from watching Puffy that the real money was behind the scenes.

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S4: If Biggie wanted to secure his future, there was still one huge thing he needed to accomplish. He had to make his peace with the West Coast. No one had been charged in two shooting. And rumors were rampant about who might be responsible. Some blamed the Southside Compton Crips. Others blame bad boy, specifically Biggie and Puffy.

S8: All the speculation had made big, somber and withdrawn. He told one music writer it’s not worth it anymore. That’s why just stay in the motherfuckin house. The only way he could squash the beef, Biggie thought, was to do what he did best. He ended up recording a California anthem, a tribute to the West Coast sound. Going back to Cali would be one of the best known tracks he ever made. He and Puffy also made another move, setting up a splashy promotional trip to Los Angeles that turned out to be a huge mistake.

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S9: How did the hip hop world change in the months after Tupac’s death? How did his killing reignite a gang war in L.A.? And why did Puffy and Biggie risk everything by going to the West Coast?

S8: This is slow burn. I’m your host, Joel Anderson. This is Episode 7 to live in Dianella.

S6: When Tupac Shakur punched Orlando Anderson at the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas, he was jumping into a much bigger fight. Tupac had been rolling with a crew of mob pirate gang members. Anderson was a South Side Crip when Tupac got shot. The Pirates didn’t wait for police investigation to decide who was responsible.

S10: Shooting them knew it was the South. Sighs immediately.

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S4: That’s Alex Allonzo, a sociologist who studies gangs in L.A..

S10: You see, you gotta understand the PI rules in the South ICOM. The Crips had already been fighting. They already been warring. This just probably reignited a new war that had already existed between two neighborhoods. A hated each other.

S4: Two days after the shooting in Vegas, a Southside Crip was shot in the back in Compton the day after that. On September 10th at 2 p.m. to my pie, Rous got shot, probably in retaliation. Three hours later, the brother of one to sugar most notorious enforcers took a bullet. And within minutes of that shooting, Mobb PIROUZ went in to kripp turf and shot up a car. Robert Ladd and Tim Brennan were gang detectives with the Compton Police Department in the 1990s. In their book Once Upon a Time in Compton, they argued that all of this violence stemmed from the Vegas shooting. The big issue as far as gang members were concerned wasn’t the attack on Tupac. It was the attempt on Sugai life. So Ignite was seen as a symbol of the pirates. They wrote Shooting at him was an act of epic disrespect. Disrespect one you disrespect all. Although nobody was killed in that cluster of shootings in L.A., gang detectives were overwhelmed with all those crime scenes to visit. They couldn’t keep an eye on known gang hotspots. And with the cops otherwise occupied, the violence went to another level.

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S11: On the morning of September 11th, a man named Bobby Ray Finch dropped his 10 year old daughter at school and headed for the gym in his new Acura, a Honda Civic pulled up next to him. Shots were fired. Finch was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead as soon as he arrived. He was 30 years old. Some people thought Finch had been mistaken for a neighbor, a member of the Southside Crips. Others pointed to his baby blue casket and suggested he was a member of the gang himself. Two days later, Marcus, Darren Childs and Timothy Flanigan were shot and killed while they were working on a car. They were both known to be members of the Mob Pyro.

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S12: And it just created a snowball effect to where other people that weren’t even directly connected to the conflict were getting killed as well. There have been other intense conflict in Compton before. You know, I don’t know how to compare it from other wars that have existed between the Pirates and the Crips.

S10: But I mean, this was definitely an intense conflict.

S1: No one was charged with any of those killings. Instead of making a few targeted arrests, law enforcement went bigger.

S13: It began before dawn. The crime sweep involved 300 officers. Ten agencies, including the FBI at more than thirty seven locations in the Compton, Linwood and Long Beach areas. Compton police say the arrests were for local crimes in connection with twelve shootings that occurred in the city of Compton that resulted in three deaths.

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S6: But officers, the police raid started in the early morning hours of October 2nd. Twenty three people were arrested that day. One of them was Orlando Anderson, the Southside Crip who Tupac had gone after in Las Vegas. Anderson was arrested on suspicion of an earlier murder that wasn’t related to Tupac’s. Schick Knight was arrested later that month when he’d helped Tupac beat down Orlando Anderson. He’d violated the terms of his probation for an earlier assault charge. He was placed in Los Angeles County Jail to await sentencing. Sugar being born in Compton, he’d grown up around gangs and it brought gang members along with him when he became a successful businessman. It was predictable that an attack on him would give rise to recriminate ESSERY violence. That had been the pattern in Compton for a very long time. Tupac’s murder was also seen in the context of another battle, this one was the rivalry between East Coast and West Coast. That conflict had only begun to get serious with the Quad Studios shooting in nineteen ninety four. It wasn’t clear how that feud would play out in nineteen ninety six in the wake of Tupac’s murder. Would there be recriminations there to. Nine days after Tupac’s death, the Nation of Islam convened what it called a day of atonement for the hip hop community.

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S14: It was a sad period. But it was something that was not totally a shock. And as an activist and as a minister, I knew instinctively the community needed healing.

S4: That’s Reverend Conrad Tiller, who was then known as Conrad Muhammad. He was the minister of the Nation of Islam’s mosque in Harlem. To many, he was known as the hip hop minister till it was a rising star in the Nation of Islam, which was in the midst of a resurgence. The nation had real influence in black communities in the 80s and 90s when it was one of the few stable institutions left in urban areas ravaged by crime and drugs.

S6: Leaning on his connections in hip hop tiller to announce the upcoming day of Atonement while making a guest appearance on a local radio show. He hoped the event, held in an auditorium in Harlem, would serve both as a memorial for the rapper and as an opportunity for death-row and badboy to reconcile. But he also wanted hip hop in its audience to mend their ways.

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S14: When the season of Atonement, the Million Man March had just happened and it was right note for what young people needed at that time, and it turned out to be a blessing that it rained that day because about 5000 people came. And, you know, we didn’t have room for everyone. We put speakers outside and so and people stayed in the rain.

S4: The problem was none of the major players in the feud showed.

S14: Puffy said he would come and Biggie would bring Biggie. And I told them, I said, this is important. You need to be here because I had gotten word some death row people were going to be there. And he said, I’ll be there. And I mean the khuda grass that they would have been puffy and biggie there.

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S15: Most of the rappers in attendance were veterans who’d made their bones before gangsta rap existed, among them, Grandmaster Flash Black owned up for what it was made for the whole world to listen to and if we ever create is more connected with accountability for what is going on.

S1: The Nation of Islam couldn’t bring the East Coast and West Coast together.

S7: A comedian did this rivalry stuff.

S16: We got to stop it, man. We stopped and we stop a lot of this violence.

S6: Whether you like it or not. In February of 1997, Snoop Dogg and Puffy made a joint appearance on the sitcom The Steve Harvey Show with Sick Night in jail. Puffy and Snoop appeared to have the power to put the controversy to rest in the script. At least that’s what they did live up in here.

S17: You know, Steve, check this man on the East Coast. Lesko stuff is a bunch of media hype mundo from day one know saying so good between me and my peoples.

S16: That’s what we came here for. We came in a ladder that provided that we may.

S18: I was trying I was trying to. Get everybody on one accord, even if it’s to nothing but the music.

S1: That’s easy, Mobi. A producer from Brooklyn. If anyone was the bridge between the coast, it was him. He produced six of the songs on Biggie’s debut Ready to Die. He also collaborated with 2Pac on Me Against the World. His final album before signing with Death Row. Is biggest started working on a second album, Life After Death. Moby had an idea. He wanted to put together a song that could bring the East and West together.

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S18: I realize that more bounce to the ounce. Is like, what love is the message. But NTFS B is to us here in New York. It’s the anthem, L.A. anthem.

S1: More bounce to the ounce was released in nineteen eighty by the funk band Zap. By the mid 90s, it became a staple of West Coast hip hop sampled by artists including Ice Cube in digital underground. After Tupac was killed, MOBI use more bounce to the ounce as the backbone for a new track. He then handed that track off to Biggie. Months later, Moby ran into one of Biggie’s friends who told him the song was finished.

S18: He said, Yo, he set fire to your joint. So you heard it say what you’re talking about. He said he titled it going back to Kelly right in the store. I said, Yo! No easy.

S1: Mobi was afraid Biggie had used his track to rip the West Coast. He shouldn’t have worried. Going back to Cali was a love note. Biggie singing the praises of the state’s weed weather in women choose the coach got to choose the.

S19: He’s upset about this, so don’t go to camp. Rest in the nice west in the west and get stuck with me.

S1: If Biggie saw California as a nice place to visit, Puffy saw it as a major market. There were a lot of record buyers and media outlets in California making amends with hip hop fans out. There was a business accessory, so Puffy organized a trip to California for Biggie in February and March. Nineteen ninety seven. That was right before the release of Life After Death and right when Puffy himself appeared with Snoop on the Steve Harvey Show. Still, some people thought the trip was a bad idea. Here’s what Teo Kappa Longo, better known as Matty C. He was a writer for the source and then started working with rappers at loud records.

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S7: I think there’s a lot of people who feel as though different ways that puff move may have also helped put big more risk.

S4: In mid-February, Biggie and Puffy shot the video for the first single off the new album Hypnotise.

S6: They wanted it to look like a blockbuster action movie. They got helicopters, yachts, sports cars, motorcycles, even a life panther. They shot the speedboat scenes off the Santa Monica coast as they raced across the water. You see them drinking champagne with women in bikinis, smiling at the camera with Biggie playfully bobbing along to the beat.

S20: The rap song called The Still One.

S1: Chico Del Veck remembers Biggie calling from California to tell him how much fun they were having.

S16: Kelly is beautiful. So we doing on no-till he’d name do we to win. Everything is all lovely, man. You got to come out here and see this thing thing. I’m like like yo seized the one up.

S7: Put a wee cheeky smile. So much we don’t know. It’s crazy as it is.

S6: Well, Biggie and Puffy were in Los Angeles, Shug Knight was sentenced to nine years in prison. During a court hearing, it came out that he’d been running death row records from a pay phone in his jail cell. All those high profile attempts at peacemaking wouldn’t amount to much without sugar on board. In the meantime, Biggie was busy promoting his album or March 1st. He joined the wakeup show on l.a.’s ninety two point three, The Beat.

S1: He was in a playful mood. Puffy was then launching his own career as a rapper, and Biggie joked with the host that he was now Puffy’s manager. When the interview turned to Tupac. Things got serious. You can hear Biggie sadness for his old friend, but as he says, he had his own struggles.

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S21: For me, it definitely was a loss, a great loss. I feel for his family. But at the same time, I can’t be the one to sit here and really distress over somebody else. You know, at that time, I was going through my own problems with my kids and my wife and my business, my money.

S1: March 7th was supposed to be big his last day in Los Angeles. That afternoon, he and Puffy went to the Soul Train Awards at the Shrine Auditorium near the USC campus as they stepped up to present the nominees for best R&B soul single. They heard boos from the cheap seats. Some people in the audience even threw up the hand sign for West Side. Biggie smiled as he leaned into the mike and said, What up, Kelly? That night, Biggie watch the tape delayed broadcast of the awards from his suite at the Westwood marquee. He invited journalist Sheil Heydari Coaker to join him.

S22: Big Haas’s room service, Pizza Hut, a play at a big part, she added. They had pizza like lean back. It was balanced on a stomach. And so he’s kind of eating the pizza at the same time that we’re talking.

S4: Coaker found begin in an unusually reflective mood, Biggie’s said he was looking forward to raising his toddler daughter, tianhe, and his newborn son S.J. out of the media spotlight.

S23: He was talking about how he wanted to essentially buy a house in Atlanta and he was talking about how he wanted to give Chiana away at her wedding and he wanted to see S.J. graduate from high school. And, you know, all these different things that he said wasn’t going to happen if he was out there while in. And what he was basically describing was that he realized that he could have a rap persona, but that he could also live a different life, that nothing to do with that rap persona.

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S1: Coker also noticed a new tattoo on Biggie’s right forearm. It was a quotation from Psalm 27.

S6: The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the truth of my life? Of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even my enemies and foes came upon me to bite my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Was bigger getting more religious? Was he trying to clean up his image or was he feeling triumphant?

S1: It’s hard to know, but Coaker left that night feeling as if Biggie, a lovable street hustler at heart, was moving toward another phase of his life.

S23: He basically wanted to be the suburban soccer dad that occasionally made hip hop records.

S1: The day after the Soul Train Awards, Biggie was scheduled to get on a plane to London to start the international press tour for life after death.

S23: But he didn’t want to go because whole thing was like, look, the weed is positive, the women’s positive, and the sunshine is positive. Like, I don’t need to be going anywhere right now. He does want to go from party to party. You know, I’m saying he wasn’t even thinking about or I don’t think they fully understood just how much danger he was in.

S1: He canceled the London flight and decided to go to the Soul Train afterparty instead at Topi.

S3: Oh, yeah.

S2: Be careful out there. Close out. I would be they wish the hell they come back.

S5: Where? Why is a mortgage to be that long?

S1: The after party was at the Petersen Automotive Museum for Biggie. It was a testament to everything he loved about California. There was great music, quality liquor and plenty of rich and beautiful people. Whitney Houston was there. So was Wesley Snipes and Leah. At one point, the deejay played hypnotise over and over again. Biggie took in the scene from a table in a dark corner. He was wearing a black suede shirt, a gold chain with a Jesus pendant and clear framed wraparound shades close by. Big East Side was a black came. He needed it to get around after the car crash. And pitches from that night begin looks happy, jubilant. Even here he was in L.A. and everyone was loving him in his music.

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S24: A little after 12:30 a.m., far Marshall shut down the party because of overcrowding. That wasn’t a problem for Biggie. He had another party to go to. This one at a house in the Hollywood Hills. He and his team loaded into a green suburban. His friend G. Money was behind the steering wheel. He rode shotgun, Lucys was in the backseat. Puffy was one car ahead. They cranked up going back to Kalli and pulled into the street right in front of the museum.

S4: They stopped at a traffic light.

S25: A dark colored Chevrolet SS Impala pulled up on the right side of the suburban from the backseat.

S26: Lucy saw a man behind the steering wheel of the Impala with a gun in his right hand.

S9: Parked across the street from the museum. Six rap fans from Houston were watching for celebrities. One of them was holding a video camera. In the video, you can see the car Puffy is riding and begin to make a turn. Then you hear gunshots.

S27: The camera spins around to try to capture the scene.

S28: The rapper known as Biggie Smalls was shot several times as he sat in his Chevy Suburban early this morning outside the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles after the shooting, Smalls was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

S29: Christopher Wallace was 24.

S30: Noshing, Meyrick remembers waking up in a hotel room and getting the news.

S31: We have pages back there.

S32: My pages are overflow, so oh, fuck this, why?

S33: Then I’m taking my grandmother. You know, say something like that so I’m scared to call home.

S34: And we were scared to call home or worked up the courage. I called home.

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S32: My mom picks up the phone and say, Neistat, where you at? What happened? She’s they killed big.

S35: My what? They kill Big Ten.

S34: I’m looking at a news report and I’m like, what is it?

S32: Is dead. How does this happen?

S34: Who else died with him? So by month, so my motherfucking better head die will die. Well, why I want the.

S36: How the fuck does half.

S30: The gunman in the Impala sped away from the scene. No one was ever charged in the killing. No one had been charged in two pucks because murder either or in the assault quad recording studios that have started the hostilities between the two men.

S6: Two years and three months earlier.

S8: Two famous black men shot down in public. Why is no one been brought to justice next week?

S37: Life after death?

S38: Slow Burn is a 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 this season and this week’s bonus episode, you’ll hear more from my conversation with Shale Heydari Coker, who conducted Biggie’s final interview. Slow burn is produced by me and Christopher Johnson with editorial direction from Josh Levine and Gabriel Roth. Sophie Summer grad is our researcher, our mix engineers, and Jared Paul and Paul mounty.

S25: Dunn will composed our theme song, The Artwork for Slow Burn by Lisa Larson Walker special thanks to Slate’s Child 2 Derek Johnson Lo and Lou, Allison Benedikt and Jared Hope you can find a full list of books, articles and documentaries used to research this episode on our show page. And by the way, we created a playlist on Spotify to go with this season. We’ll be updating it each week with new episodes and songs by Tupac, Biggie and their collaborators. Check it out every week at the link in the show notes.

S39: Thanks for listening. Peace.