8 months ago

Who killed Tupac and Biggie?

Netflix's true-crime drama takes on hip-hop's biggest mystery.

I hear you thinking already, another unsolved true crime doc. or drama series you can stream right now. But I have a feeling Netflix has it’s data in order and knows what we want to binge-watch. And yes folks, they did it again. So It is of no surprise they bought this original USA Network true crue crime drama series called, Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G.

Unsolved is an American true crime anthology television series. The first season is based on the murders of rappers Tupac and Biggie Smalls in the late-1990s. It premiered February 27, 2018 on the USA Network, and can now be streamed since June 22nd on Netflix global.

Emmy winner Mr. Anthony Hemingway (director) from TheWire and The People v. O.J. Simpson went all out for this incredible investigative series. Hemingway directed the pilot and executive produced the series, along with Mark Taylor through their Hemingway-Taylor production company. Kyle Long (creator of the show) (SUITS) wrote the pilot and also executive produced. Greg Kading also served as co-executive producer.

The production value is incredible for a commercial USA tv miniseries. You are in 90’s LA. The reenactment of both lives from Tupac and Biggie, edited with sometimes original footage is incredibly satisfying. And really sucks you right in where you want to be – at the high times of Gangsta rap, peoples… 

Christopher Wallace – Freestyle at the age of 17 (Brooklyn, 1989).

Overall this is an unexpectedly good series that will satisfy even the most hardcore and knowledgeable Tupac and Biggie fans. Even though many conspiracy theories exist. Unsolved, as a drama series uses real evidence from the LAPD federal task force that investigated the murders of the two rappers that needn’t to be remain unsolved, in theory….

The series will leave you thinking about their unsolved cases long after the credits roll.

The 10-episode first season originally titled The Murders of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G. chronicles the dual police investigations of  real life Detective Greg Kading (Josh Duhamel) and real life Detective Russell Poole (Jimmi Simpson) into the controversial murders of two of the rap industry’s most legendary players, Tupac Shakur (Marc Rose) and The Notorious B.I.G. (Wavyy Jonez).

There are a lot of documentaries and feature films out there currently, with zero approval from Afeni Shakur (2pac’s mother), which spawned a court battle over the rapper’s life rights called on All Eyez on Me, a 2017 American biographical drama film directed by Benny Boom and written by Jeremy Haft, which I personally didn’t really like. To Steve McQueen’s upcoming untitled doc which has received full support from the Shakur Estate, which I am really looking forward to.

So while most will focus on either Tupac or Biggie. USA Network’s true drama series does the task of exploring both murders. With so many expose’s in recent years  as well in conjunction with the 20th anniversaries of the murders in 2016 and 2017. As a fan of  fan of both artists of who I closely followed the careers and investigations into their deaths, I must say the producers and writers did an excellent job of taking a step back and looking at these murders from a fresh perspective.

The series will suck you into a full on binge-watch (thank you, USA network and Netflix to streaming it globally) and let’s its viewers really implore, and explore to think like an investigator and look at all possible theories surrounding the murders. The research is truly amazing and it was very smart of the producers to get real life, former LAPD detective Greg Kadig, known for actually working on a multi law-enforcement task force that investigated the murders of the two rap stars, on board as an co-executive producer. A brilliant choice. This simply for the authenticity of the plot-lines. The series doesn’t insult your intelligence and wants you to think with them.

Kadig also authored the book Murder Rap: The Untold Story of Biggie Smalls & Tupac Shakur Murder Investigations. The same for real life LAPD Detective Russell Poole, who’s book Chaos Merchants was also used a reference. And Poole was the real LAPD Homicide Detective (Hollywood Division) in charge of the Notorious B.I.G. murder.

Russell Poole died from a heart attack on august 19, 2015 (aged 58) while still probing the unsolved case. Busta Rhymes branded the death of former officer as ‘strange’. 

So you are catching my drift, aight.  The entire USA mini-series is based  around real life counterpart, Detective Russel Poole. Some of the scenes between the cops are simply sometimes a bit too much. And knowing this was made for a commercial US broadcaster like USANetwork with a pilot that has to be to plot ready for the whole season and needs to be shown to test audiences first before we buy old TV studio pilot set up. And not the genius streaming platform Netflix, where you get enough creative writing time to focus on the  screenplay with unique great dialogue in the likes of House of Cards or The Crown. I feel sometimes this is too fast paced written, slightly cliched. Had they gone for the Netflix approach in creative writing for the whole season and not just the pilot, his series was up for a full all category blown, Emmy win.

The real life task force vs the one in the series is surprisingly detailed and accurate, that the viewer forgets it is dramatisation.

You can hear music wise from the beginning that they don’t have the rights to both artists music, so they created similar sounding beats and they did a hell of a job. Feels like listening to unreleased material.

The casting is impeccable. The character of Tupac and Biggie are incredibly well played. And characters like Suge and Tupac’s bodyguard Frank Alexander as well. The mannerisms, speech patterns, physical appearance, build and wardrobe of these four characters is impeccable.

Keep in mind that Poole in real life didn’t get any support. He was stonewalled throughout the whole investigation at his department at the LAPD. According to the LAPD chief, this because Poole was too much focused on his own personal drive, not and backed by his colleagues. Too much insubstantial evidence – theories of some sort of Compton LAPD officers working for Suge Knight (Death Row Records) at the time. And being evolved in the murders.

They also touch on head of death row security Reggie Wright, whose father was head of the Compton gang unit before the Compton PD (Rampart scandal) was disbanded for corruption, this angle alone providing enough material for it’s own documentary. This is just one example of the many real life details explored, in depth dramatisation of real events.

Nevertheless what makes this 10 episode series so good?

That it let’s you explore a couple of theories and let’s you think for yourself which theories can be more explored then others and which not. So it rises a lot of unanswered questions about these cases. Yes, but the underscoring is that even 21 years later both cases still remain unsolved.

So who really killed Tupac and Biggie?

The incredible thing after watching the series  is that you can start doing your own research online, and you are just simply mesmerised by the fact that many potential suspects in the true crime drama series Unsolved, are full actual real names. How did this pas through the legal department?

The investigation itself is simply complex, because a lot of the real suspects like Orlando Anderson  who got involved in a shootout with gang members was killed. And Amir Muhammad was surprisingly cleared of suspicion of involvement in the murder of the Notorious B.I.G.

Hoping to implicate Muhammad, the FBI wired an informant who approached Muhammad in 2004 and tried to coax him into talking about the murder, but Muhammad didn’t say anything to cast doubt on his story.

Biggie & Tupac (2002)

I highly recommend watching the 2002 by legendary British filmmaker Nick Broomfield’s documentary called Biggie and Tupac. Eventually with the approval of Biggie’s mother, Voletta Wallace, he gets a lot of people involved in both shootings in front of the camera.

Broomfield suggests the two murders were planned by Suge Knight, head of Death Row Records. Collusion by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) are implied.  In a BBC Radio interview dated March 7, 2005, Broomfield stated (quoting Snoop Dogg) “The big guy next to him in the car… Suge Knight.” When Broomfields film was released the New York Times saw the film as a “largely speculative” and “circumstantial”

In contrast to Broomfield’s implication of Suge Knight in the death of Tupac, a 2002 two-part series by reporter Chuck Philips with the Times, titled “Who Killed Tupac Shakur?” based on a year-long investigation, reconstructing the events leading up to Shakur’s murder including police affidavits, court documents and interviews with investigators, supposed witnesses to the crime and members of the Southside Crips laimed that “the shooting was carried out by a Compton gang called the Southside Crips to avenge the beating of one of its members by Shakur a few hours earlier.”

Orlando Anderson, the Crip whom Shakur had attacked in Vegas, fired the fatal shots. Las Vegas police discounted Anderson as a suspect and interviewed him only once, briefly. He was later killed in an unrelated gang shooting.

I personally agree with this theory and I feel that the Compton Crip gang member named Orlando Anderson really killed Tupac. Greg Kading’s taskforce’s key witness was Anderson’s uncle, known as Keffe D. He claimed to be riding in the white Cadillac when Tupac was gunned down, and said Sean “Diddy” Combs offered their party $500,000 to kill Tupac, and the same amount to kill Suge Knight (but never paid them). (source) As shown in Nick Broomfield’s doc.

A Mob Piru Blood gang member named Wardell “Poochie” Fouse killed Biggie,Greg Kading’s taskforce found, and was paid $13,000 by Death Row Records mogul Suge Knight for the task. The key witness this time was the mother of one of Suge’s children, whom Kading calls Theresa Swann, to protect her anonymity. As shown in the Unsolved drama series. (Source)

Diddy has denied involvement in Tupac’s murder. Knight, currently in jail on a separate murder charge, could not be reached for comment at the time. He has not spoken publicly on Kading’s findings.

Both Anderson and Poochie have since been murdered, in unrelated incidents.

In 2009, before Kading’s team could finish building their cases, Kading was removed from the taskforce, owing to an internal affairs investigation relating to a separate case. He was exonerated, but soon after retired from the department, and the taskforce was dismantled.

In 2011, Kading released their findings in a self-published book, called Murder Rap

A-One-To-Watch, Both!