• Notorious B.I.G. article in the May 2005 issue of Vibe

    Crooked cops, cover-ups, and confusion: There are plenty of excuses for why The Notorious B.I.G.’S murder investigation has gone nowhere for eight years. While Biggie’s family mounts a lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles and former LAPD brass, Cheo Hodari Coker searches for the truth...

    Shane’s cell phone rang. It was a trusted friend, passing an ominous message: “They coming for you.”

    His face dropped. Shane (not his real name) was at Andre Harrell’s opulent L.A. mansion, chilling with Lil’ Cease, D-Roc, Sean “Puffy” Combs, and the rest of the Bad Boy crew, getting ready to go to the VIBE party that night at the Petersen Automotive Museum. It was the second such warning in as many hours. “I talked to some people,” said another one of Shane’s homies, a New York hustler turned music industry guy who was also out West for the Soul Train Music Awards. “There are some street niggas comin’ after y’all.” No specifics. No names. None needed.

    To Shane, this felt more serious than the commonplace hateration that typically surrounded Puff Daddy. This was “chatter,” a de facto intelligence briefing from the ghetto CIA. So he walked upstairs to give Puff the news. “Man, I don’t want to hear that!” Combs said. “I’m going to have a good time.”

    And Puff lived up to his promise. Cristal flowed like water. The DJ played “Hypnotize” at least eight times, and everyone visited Christopher Wallace’s table to kiss the ring. The crowd was street yet elite: Wesley Snipes, Chris Tucker, Aaliyah, Ginuwine. And also among them, reputed members of the Southside Crips: Dwayne “Keefee D” Davis and his nephew Orlando Anderson.

    After the fire marshal shut the party down, the coast was clear. Some say too clear. “No police, no nothing,” Shane says. “I was, like, Yo, they just closed this party. Why the muthafuckin’ police ain’t here?”

    Shane stood outside for a moment, noticing a few people who seemed out of place. One was a black man with a receding hairline, high cheekbones, and a bow tie, dressed like a member of the Nation of Islam. Shane was wary when they made eye contact and the stranger didn’t acknowledge him, nor say, “As salaam alaikum.” To an outside observer, it might not seem like much, but to Shane, who had experience with the Nation of Islam, they were supposed to, by custom, acknowledge every black man they encountered with the peaceful greeting.

    The cars lined up to go. Puff’s Suburban idled in front with Wallace’s behind it. While Combs’s car zoomed out, running the light at the corner of Fairfax and Wilshire, Biggie’s Suburban stopped at the light, pulling up next to a black Impala SS that had been waiting.

    After the shots rang out, Puffy’s car did a slow three-point turn, maneuvering back to Wallace’s car. All four doors of the Suburban were thrown wide open, and Christopher Wallace lay in the front passenger seat, mortally wounded.

    Shane and another Combs associate took off after the Impala, but lost it due to a chip that wouldn’t allow their oversized SUV to travel more than a hundred miles an hour. When they doubled back to see what had happened to Big, he was still in the front seat. They debated whether or not to call an ambulance or make the journey to the nearby hospital themselves. By the time they pulled Wallace out of the car at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Shane smelled bodily fluids. He didn’t have a good feeling about the rapper’s chances.

    March 9, 1997, is forever tatted on hip hop’s collective conscience. But what remains unexplained is how those in charge of the Wallace murder investigation can’t or won’t tell us what really happened.

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