"For a second I felt that my son was just murdered [again]," Voletta Wallace said Tuesday of her feelings moments after seeing a newsflash that her son, the Notorious B.I.G., had been implicated by the Los Angeles Times as a conspirator in the murder of Tupac Shakur.
"My initial reaction?" she said, a tone of rage rising in her voice. "I'm hurt. Somebody's attacking my son. My son who died five and half years ago. How do I feel? I'm downright angry. I'm a mother, I'm a human being and [L.A. Times writer Chuck Philips] is gonna attack my son that's not here to come forward and defend himself. Damn I'm mad!"
On Friday, the Times article sent shock waves through the hip-hop community when it hit newsstands and the Internet. The piece alleged that Biggie was in cahoots with the Crips and offered the gang $1 million to murder Tupac. The article painted Big as callous and out for revenge after losing face in the public due to Pac's beef with him. Among the story's most startling and most contended claims are that Big was in Las Vegas the night of the murder, checked into the MGM Grand and that he ordered the Crips to use his own gun when they shot Shakur.
"I haven't really read the article," explained Wallace, who cut an eight-day vacation short after hearing of the Times piece. "I have nothing to say. If he is going to say something nasty or accuse my son, I'll have nothing to do with it. I just didn't want to have any part. News like that gets innocent people murdered. News like that causes hatred. News like that causes a lot of resentment."
"My immediate reaction when I saw the article was definitely shock ... and anger," Biggie's widow, Faith Evans, said Monday in Atlanta. "We feel that it's this type of irresponsible journalism and widespread untruths that lead to people losing their lives sometimes. We don't want it to continue to happen. It's just not right. Sometimes there is some truth in things you read and things you see on TV. This is a case where it's just not true."
While Philips maintains the validity of his story and says the accusations regarding Big come from sources within the Crips, Biggie's friends and family say they have evidence that he was not in Vegas the night Tupac was shot.
"I was actually with Big," Wayne Barrow, the Brooklyn MC's former co-manager, said of his whereabouts on the day of September 7, 1996. "Big was in [Daddy's House recording] studio. 'Nasty Girls' is the record we was recording. Him being able to be in two places at one time, he must be a genie."
Representatives for Voletta Wallace have produced documentation from Daddy's House purportedly confirming what Barrow recollected.
"In terms of where he was during that day, that was the course of the day," Barrow said. "It's impossible for him to make it in time for the fight. I just can't see it — unless he chartered one of them type of jets to get you from New York to England in two hours. Big didn't have that type of paper to be maneuvering like that."
Faith remembers the night as well. "I was living in Manhattan. I was about eight months pregnant with our son C.J. The night [Tupac was shot] I remember Big calling me and crying. I know for a fact he was in Jersey. He called me crying because he was in shock. I think it's fair to say he was probably afraid, given everything that was going on at that time and all the hype that was put on this so-called beef that he didn't really have in his heart against anyone.
"I think it would be some element of fear that would kind of run through his mind," she said, "given the fact that his name was involved in a lot of the situations involving Tupac before his murder. He was already getting threatening phone calls. I'm sure for all he thought, he could be next. Which ironically, months later, he lost his life as well."
Wallace claims Philips never reached out to her, Faith or Cease for information on Big's whereabouts on the night Pac was shot in Vegas.
"I was not home in Jersey, but if he would have called my house they would have transferred him," she said. "The fact that he [says he] tried to reach me, that's just plain ludicrous."
Philips maintains that he tried to reach Wallace and that she would not speak with him once she learned the thrust of his report. The two had developed a rapport during his investigation, but Wallace said their relationship went downhill after she filed a lawsuit against the LAPD alleging negligence in the handling of her son's murder (see "LAPD Chief Interfered With Biggie Murder Probe, Suit Says").
"I will find peace when myself and my lawyers deal with Chuck Philips and the L.A. Times," she concluded. "I'm not gonna change my life. Yes, I do keep a low profile. I work in my garden, I take care of grandkids. I have work to do. I have a foundation running. I'm not gonna stop living as a result of these nasty assertions."
The conflicting opinions on who was behind Tupac Shakur's murder will be examined in an MTV News special report airing Thursday (September 12) at 6:30 p.m. ET, Friday (September 13) at 2:00 p.m. ET and Sunday (September 15) at 9:30 p.m. ET.