Now that I have the introductions out of the way, let me begin my first official post by speaking on a topic that's been a concern mine for many years; a topic that has millions of people still talking about it over 13 years after the fact: The murders of and Biggie.
I want to start with a quick history lesson, for those who don't know. Back in the late 1960s, after his recent success in taking down Dr. King (do the research), FBI director J. Edgar Hoover started feeling pressure due to a group of Black "subversives" from impoverished areas all over , who went by the name Black Panther Party for Self Defense. This was a group who was inspiring not only Blacks, but oppressed people of all races, colors and creeds to stand up for themselves and not tolerate any type of mistreatment from neither the police nor other facets of the system that wished to abuse and exploit them; this of course disrupted the status , the "natural order of things", so what Hoover did was implement a covert bureau operation called (Counter Intelligence Program) to undermine any and every attempt the Panthers made to uplift the community. What began as mere spying and failed tries to pit Party members against each other ended up in one of the most despicable acts in history; the intentional flooding of cheap dope (heroin to be exact) in every ghetto in the country where the Panthers had a major influence and following. With so many Panther supporters and even Panthers themselves falling prey to this new epidemic, as well as scores of Panthers finding themselves incarcerated on blatantly trumped up charges, the vast power of the organization was effectively neutralized.
In the wake of the Black Panthers came the glamorization of the criminal lifestyle in the Black community; the films where pimping, and dope pushing were made to look like the "hip" things to do. Even though I will credit a lot of these movies with showing both sides of the proverbial coin, it seemed (at least to me) like a lot of times they portrayed "the life" to be almost worth the risk. Then you had shows like Good Times, What's , etc., that on the surface portrayed "clean, wholesome, urban-American families" to make it look like the entertainment business was "changing with the times", but in reality did little more than play into mainstream stereotypes of Blacks with all the jive talk, exaggerated body language and unnecessary dancing. Of all the predominantly Black shows from that time period, the only one I didn't mind much was Sanford & Son; if you ask me, Fred G. Sanford was the only real one in the entire Black television equation at that time. Think about it now; Fred was the 1st image on TV of a Black man working for himself and not "Whitey". He spoke his mind, regardless of how it was taken and regardless of the person's race who he was speaking to. How Redd was able to get away with some of the things he said during those times, on prime-time television no less, is nothing short of a miracle far as I'm concerned. But of course, once you crack that surface and see what's under it, you'll see how the Aunt Esther role kind of canceled out in a sense the barriers and stereotypes that Fred set out to demolish. You see Fred standing up as a proud Black man, stating that even though he may not have much, it's his. Then along comes Esther, with her caricature of the "typical Black Bible thumping old lady;" I'm sure I can't be the only one that always wondered, "Is it REALLY necessary for her to scream and shout she opens her mouth?! Does she REALLY have to act like she's having a seizure whenever she leaves the room?! What's more, why isn't anyone saying anything about this?!?!"
Now here people, here's where it starts to get interesting........
By now, we all know the of Hip-Hop...birthed in the Bronx in the early to mid-70s by Herc as a form of expression by urban youth who felt (rightfully) rejected by mainstream . Some of Hip-Hop's earliest records were rooted in uplifting/unifying the ghetto community and bringing about social awareness; you had Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five with "The Message" and "White Lines (Don't Do It)", and Zulu Nation playing an instrumental part in curbing a lot of the gang violence going on in New York at the time. As Hip-Hop grew and evolved, so did the messages coming from it. The next wave of artists in the late-80s saw young men like -One/Boogie Down Productions, Public Enemy, Brand Nubian, , etc; groups who openly challenged the system and brought to light that the injustices many people in poor communities feel is universal and constant, and not just isolated incidents. In the early-90s however, a young poet and emcee who made his bones as a backup dancer for a more playful Hip-Hop group made his debut with an album and attitude that would rattle not only the Hip-Hop community, not only the Black community, but the entire nation to its very core. For those living under a rock for the past 20 years, that young man was Parish Crooks; b.k.a. Amaru ; a.k.a. 2Pac.
Now 'Pac's fate, in a lot of ways, was pretty much sealed at birth. Being the son of such influential member of the Panthers as , he had that knowledge and awareness instilled in him at an early age. This in turn made him ask questions: "WHY are things like this? What are the causes, and what can be done about it?" The moment he discovered rapping and began asking those questions in front of growing numbers of captive audiences, that proceeded to send him along his merry way. See, 'Pac even mentioned himself in many interviews, that the main targets of the FBI during their attacks on the Black Panthers were those in the organization who, and I quote, "posed the biggest threat as an orator"; that is, those who were capable of speaking to groups of people and getting those people to pay attention. Many debate the man's actual greatness as far as lyrical ability, but it can never be denied that 'Pac made people PAY ATTENTION; and once he had people's attention, he gave his fans some of the same jewels of knowledge he received from his elders growing up, as well as things he'd learned from his own life experiences.
Now me personally, I find it just a bit more than a coincidence that once came out and his messages started gaining momentum and more popularity, that all these media attacks on Hip-Hop started appearing everywhere we turned, with 'Pac as the unofficial "whipping boy" so to speak. Even when Death Row came under fire for the violent lyrics in their music, politicians and critics like C. Delores Tucker, Rev. Calvin Butts, etc. always found some way to inject 'Pac's name into the mix; even before 'Pac joining Death Row was so much as a thought in mind. All these reports started coming out in the major magazines, with all sorts of fabricated statistics trying to somehow link Hip-Hop music to juvenile delinquency and urban crime, completely ignoring the fact that this angry music was in direct response to the effect the crack epidemic was having on urban communities all over the country; not only the death, violence and destruction, but growing incarceration rates and addiction in mind-boggling numbers. What's crazy about the whole thing is, groups like Public Enemy, Poor Righteous Teachers, etc. had already been bringing these issues to the light; sure they came under fire, but they were given a "pass" of sorts because (although they did have fans of other races) their messages were more or less contained to the Black community. however, had a reach that extended far beyond that...'Pac had fans all over the world that were pissed off and ready to fight back. The man said it himself, they target those who pose the biggest threat as an orator; with him being without a doubt the biggest figure in Hip-Hop, and saying without remorse the types of things he was saying about and the way things are run, NATURALLY something had to be done.
If you ask me, the whole plot started unfolding the night the alleged "sexual abuse" took place. If you check the archives, admitted to not even knowing any of the other men supposedly involved. In his own words, "You got the weed? Okay, you can kick it. You got the hook-ups to the clubs? Okay, you can kick it." That's a very believable story, especially considering the type of bond 'Pac always had with his fans and supporters. If you ask me, not only were those other men and the alleged victim in cahoots, they were also planted there. Now he has to be in NY to face trial, and of course being 'Pac, he's going to want to get in the booth and record as much as he can before he goes in. We all know what happened as a result at Quad City that fateful night in 1994. Once again, strictly speculation, but was never meant to neither make his sentencing nor do that stretch at Clinton Correctional. Fortunately for him, someone f@#$%d up; hence explaining why one-time friend Randy "Stretch" Walker (one of many people 'Pac suspected in being involved) was gunned down exactly one year to the date of the shooting/"robbery attempt". With the original plan going up in flames, a backup plan had to be constructed, and quick. Enter Knight.
Now throughout the whole Death Row reign was viewed by the public as this mysterious and complicated man, but in reality he was probably the most simple and transparent person in the history of the music industry (at that time anyway; but that's a whole other blog right there). See, one and only motivation was money. For the right price and boost in notoriety, Marion "" Knight would do literally anything. Call me crazy or what have you...but just like that rape victim and her cohorts, was sent to to wave that tissue paper contract and freedom in his face, knowing he'd take the bait so he could both be free and get back to making music. Call me crazy, but knew in October 1995 what was going to end up happening to . It was fine with him though, because he figured he'd eat off both ends of the table; from 'Pac's record sales, as well as what he was paid to approach 'Pac in the first place. This explains why upon 'Pac's release from jail the rest of the Death Row roster was virtually ignored and abandoned by ; 2Pac seemed to be the only person on the planet that even mattered to him anymore.
Fast forward to Vegas; September 13, 1996.
Ever since this date there have been numerous reports stating that didn't even want to be in Vegas for the Tyson- fight (which I also found kind of odd, being that Mike and 'Pac were close friends). 'Pac's bodyguard Frank Alexander even states this in the documentary - Before I Wake: did NOT want to be in Vegas, NV that night, at all; from the sounds of it, he was very adamant about expressing this sentiment. So why was he there if he was so dead-set against being there?? Anyone knowing prowess and attitude towards his orders and authority being challenged should be able to answer that question for themselves. If you watch Before I Wake, Alexander also goes into detail about some other very out-of-the-ordinary incidents that he says raised questions for him even at the time they ; things such as security being told not to carry their weapons, security personnel who were supposed to be in one place being called to other places without anyone else being notified, etc. So once the stage was all set and everything was in place the way it needed to be, it was time to send in the mole: a Mr. Orlando Anderson.
To this day not one person has been able to say exactly what Anderson was doing at the MGM Grand, why he was just standing there seemingly waiting for to confront him; just another plant if you ask me. It should also be noted that it was one of associates who whispered in 'Pac's ear, prompting him to go in pursuit of Anderson. Now Frank Alexander, 'Pac's bodyguard, revealed that intentionally directed the caravan of entourage vehicles through the busier sections on the strip rather than an alternate, more low-key route that Frank suggested to arrive at Club 662, club where the was scheduled to take place (where additional bodyguards originally assigned to 'Pac that night were called without warning). Why? Again, call me crazy, but maybe because it was known by Mr. Knight that something was about to take place.
The white Cadillac. The mysterious white Cadillac. The Cadillac that pulled up in the middle of the Vegas strip, in front of hundreds of middle class White people who the media already had terrified of "gun-toting gangsta rappers", and unloaded multiple rounds into a European model car without a single one of those onlooking White people seeing so much as a license plate number. I'm not a racist man by any means, but that's not only an oxymoron but also a bit too convenient.
I already know, the instant I mentioned possible involvement in the whole thing there were those of you who started feeling like 'Why would he put himself in harm's way like that, especially as big as he is?? That's the stupidest s^!t ever!!" Think about the logic in this for a minute though: Yes, is much larger than 'Pac was in stature; so large, in fact, that he could have easily grabbed 'Pac when the gunfire started and used him as a SHIELD. Let's not forget Mr. Knight's own words, that 'Pac attempted to jump in the backseat (which would have left wide open), and pulled him BACK in the front seat and "covered him with his own body." Yeah.....OKAY .........
So dead, the entire world's numb with shock, and his death will prompt him to be considered the greatest to ever do it; the whole saga's over, right?? WRONG. With every major earthquake comes one or a series of aftershocks, which can sometimes be as devastating as the original earthquake itself. Let's talk about one aftershock of this situation in particular, one Christopher Wallace, b.k.a. Notorious B.I.G. or Biggie Smalls. This is a man who was once considered one of 'Pac's closest friends in the rap game; a protégé, for lack of a better word. When Biggie started making a name for himself in the music industry, it was 'Pac who schooled him on the ins and outs and the outs and ins of the business. After Quad City however that all changed, as we're all well aware of. According to my theory, after the botched assassination and 'Pac's accusation of Biggie and others' involvement in it all, the people in power who sent the hit to begin with saw the opportunity to use Biggie as a pawn piece in the grand scheme of things as well. It's no coincidence that not long after the shooting (who was in on the whole thing) made that comment at the Source Awards where he verbally attacked Puffy in his own hometown, effectively sparking conversation of an "East vs. West conflict." Then true to form, here came the media (who receive their orders from the same higher-ups the Feds do, don't think they don't) to fan the flames; literally everywhere you turned, it was right there in your face: "East vs. West," "Cali vs. New York," "Death Row vs. Bad Boy." Funny thing is, there were MANY East and West coast artist and factions that had tension during that time; Deep came out with "L.A., L.A.", Connection had nearly an entire album dissing the East Coast. Hell, practically every artist on Death Row was actively involved in the conflict; yet when it came down to it, only TWO names were shoved down our throats when it came to that topic: and Biggie. So naturally, when 'Pac met his demise in Vegas, WHO was everyone looking at, police included?? I'll give you two guesses, but you only need one. E-40, the same man who gave Biggie a "pass" in Cali a couple years prior due to remarks made by B.I.G. in an interview, was even quoted as warning Biggie not to show his face back in Cali after 'Pac's death. Now here's where the plot thickens.....
Let's compare the two scenarios here... leaves a major fight in Vegas his producer, pulls up to a stoplight, and is gunned down by four bullets from anonymous assailants in a nondescript vehicle, none of which (neither assailants nor the vehicle) are ever found. Biggie leaves a major party in L.A. with his producer, pulls up to a stoplight, and is gunned down by four bullets from another group of anonymous assailants in another nondescript vehicle. Anyone who knows the alphabet agencies (FBI, CIA, DEA, etc.), knows they like to keep things as consistent as possible when it comes to their methods in a specific operation or assignment. When they went after the different chapters of the Panthers, although they may have had to do certain specific things differently in each case, it was all the same basic principle with the same basic methods. It's no different in this case. "Wait a minute," you might ask, "what the hell do the Feds have to do with Biggie dying?!" The answer's simple: Collateral damage. In order for them to get rid of and make it look like it was the result of the whole "East vs. West" nonsense sensationalized by the media, Biggie had to go; he HAD to go, in order to make it all look good!
Now let's touch on a couple of the smaller aftershocks; first, what happened to when the dust cleared. What must be understood is, the Feds are like the Mafia when it comes to paying outsiders who work for them: They keep you paid and keep you happy long as you're doing their bidding for them, but what no one seems to realize is they never actually let you keep the money; once the deed is done and they no longer need you, the eliminate you by any means they can, be it death or otherwise destroying your life and livelihood. Once they got through with , they not only snatched the record label he helped build (which they'd also been after all along), but also sent him to Oregon for nine years to "cool off"; and is far from a stupid man, he knew it was in his best interest to keep his mouth shut about all the goings-on or he would be the next body with a tag on his toe behind the whole drama. Secondly, I have to mention how the mysterious murder of god-brother and group member b.k.a. , just two months after 'Pac's death. Adding to the tragedy of death is the fact that he was the ONLY eyewitness to the shooting in Vegas! Now it's been reported that was allegedly slain by group member Napoleon's cousin, in a dispute over money. I'm sorry, but I have to call b#^^$@!t on that as well. It's all too convenient; the man who was the lone witness to the murder of one of the most recognizable figures in music history, as well as one of the closest people to that figure, is found dead just two months later; but it's not connected?! ......
In conclusion, I just want to explain how the fallout from the deaths of and Biggie are eerily similar to what happened in the community after the demise of the Black Panther Party. Remember how at the beginning of the blog, I recounted the influx of cheap drugs in the ghettos and stereotypical images of people of color in the mainstream served to counteract any and all influence the Panthers had within the community. Now I ask you, being an intelligent reader to take a look around you. Turn on your TVs and radios, check out magazines such as VIBE and others that are supposed to represent US as a culture. Look at the artists and other public figures all these outlets support now. Tell me they're not modern day J.J. "Dy-no-mite" and Aunt , playing and Mammies; thinking they're being laughed with and not at. Look at how BET, once the cornerstone of information, diversity and awareness for people of all cultures, has transformed into the epitome of everything mainstream always hated about us to begin with: Full of loud, obnoxious coons; shucking, jiving, and acting like monkeys while the shareholders of Viacom (the corporation former BET owner Robert Johnson sold his soul to) laugh AT them all the way to the bank. Instead of Video Soul, we now have 106 & Park; instead of Teen Summit, a show that dealt directly with issues the teens that make up most of demographic face, we now have College Hill and the Frankie & Show.....that's right, in 2010 they'd rather give a crackhead some shine than inform a bright young man or woman on ways they can overcome the adversities they face everyday that would otherwise prevent them from maximizing and realizing their full potential!!! Keep that last sentence in mind as I pose this final question, in closing......
With all the information given, as well as what you see with your own eyes in the world around you today......do you REALLY still think the deaths of and Biggie Smalls were part of some petty "beef", or would you agree that their deaths were in fact part of a much bigger picture, a picture that had started being painted an entire generation earlier??
READ BETWEEN THE LINES, AND QUESTION EVERYTHING............