Twenty-years ago, up-and-coming rapper The Notorious B.I.G., whose name was Christopher Wallace, was gunned down in his car in Los Angeles.
The hip-hop star, who earlier in his career went under the name Biggie Smalls, was shot four times in Los Angeles in the early morning of March 9, 1997. He was in Southern California promoting his second studio album, Life After Death, when it happened. Along with his entourage on their way to his hotel, a Chevrolet Impala SS that was dark in color pulled up alongside Biggie’s car. A man dressed in a bow tie rolled his window down and pulled out a gun, firing at Biggie’s car. He was transported to a hospital, but died a short while later at the age of 24.
Biggie’s death came about six months after West Coast hip-hop artist Tupac Shakur was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas in September 1996.
Even after an extensive investigation, Biggie’s killer has not yet been found. Because of that reason, many conspiracy theories have been formed as to who killed Biggie. One of those theories revolves around Marion “Suge” Knight, who is the co-founder of West Coast-based Death Row Records. With Biggie’s murder occurring in such similar fashion and so close in time to Tupacs’, it was speculated that it was a revenge killing by Knight in retaliation to the shooting death of Tupac.
Here’s what you need to know about Knight and Biggie:
1. A Book Accuses Knight of Conspiring In the Shooting
A book released in 2002 by Randall Sullivan titled LAbyrinth accuses Knight of conspiring with a police officer from the Los Angeles Police Department to kill Biggie. The book was a compilation of information about the murders of both Biggie and Tupac by former LAPD detective Russell Poole.
Poole alleges that that Knight conspired with David Mack, who was arrested eight months after Biggie’s death for the robbery of a bank in LA. Poole claims that Knight tabbed Mack for assistance so that Biggie’s death could appear like it was the part of the tense rivalry in the 1990s between the West Coast and the East Coast.
The theory claims that the hitman was Amir Muhammad, an acquaintance of Macks. He surmised the theory because of evidence provided by an informant and the facial composite.
But Muhammad’s name was eventually cleared from any wrongdoing and in 2005, Poole’s report was shot down in a Los Angeles Times article by Chuck Philips. Poole’s informant told Philips that the information he provided was “all hearsay.”
Poole’s theory was dismissed in 2010.
2. Snoop Dogg Reportedly Said Knight Killed Tupac
Tupac was on his way to go to a boxing match in Las Vegas when the car he was in that was being driven by Knight was shot at. Tupac was hospitalized after the shooting and died six days later from his injuries. He was just 25-years old when he died.
Similar in fashion to Biggie’s murder, the killer has never been caught.
And because of Knight’s proximity to Tupac at the time of the shooting, there was and continues to be speculation that Knight was the one who murdered Tupac. According to a Rolling Stone Magazine article about an alleged conversation with an LAPD officer, Snoop apparently said the guy who killed Tupac was “the guy who was seated next to him.” The officer asked, “You mean Suge Knight?” And Snoop allegedly answered “Yes.”
3. Knight Was Charged With Murder In 2015
Knight was charged in 2015 with murder in a hit-and-run incident in Compton.
According to the criminal complaint, Knight allegedly ran over two men — killing one of them — after an argument that started on the set of the film Straight Outta Compton. He followed the men to a fast-food restaurant and ran them over after an altercation. He has since claimed self defense in the incident and had his initial bail set at $25 million, though it was later reduced to $10 million.
The following is surveillance video of the incident and is graphic in nature.
The trial has been delayed until later this year.
4. Knights’ Death Row Records Filed for Bankruptcy In 2006
In 2007, Knight filed for bankruptcy because of a suit filed by Lydia Harris, his former business partner at Death Row Records. She alleged that Knight “cheated” her out of a 50-percent stake of the company and he was ordered to pay Harris $107 million.
He filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and in 2007 put his $6 million-plus mansion in Malibu up for sale, which went through in 2008 for $4.5 million. In June 2008, he sold Death Row to Global Music Group, a company from New York, for a reported $24 million.
5. Knight Allegedly Tried to Have Eminem Killed
The Telegraph wrote that Knight tried to have rapper Eminem killed not just one time, but twice.
Byron Williams, Eminem’s old bodyguard whose nickname is Big Naz, said that the first time was in 2001 at the Source Hip Hop Awards. He said in an interview with Murder Master Music Show that Knight sent “henchmen” to rough up Eminem.
Williams said in the interview that he saw people with red shirts at the award show and there was a “sea of red guys” screaming about Death Row.
I had to snatch him up, I had to call (Dr.) Dre and his bodyguards and tell them what was going on. I said, ‘Look, I need you all to have that car around when I call you all. But the way they had it set up, the limos can only stay seated for, like, 30 seconds at a time in front of the red carpet for security reasons. So long story short, we ended up going backstage, Eminem did his presentation and we had to watch out for guys backstage. So I pretty much had to have him stand behind me and I just had to be on knockout mode, man.
Williams spoke about the alleged second time an incident like that happened. Eminem was in Hawaii where he was greeted by a number of police officers in Honolulu. They told the Detroit rapper that “Death Row is here,” Williams said.
Suge Knight had sent 50 guys to try to break up the show. When we got there, vacation mode was over, we were locking and loading, putting on bullet proof vests with their wives and girlfriends sitting next to them.