Stunned by allegations made Friday in the Los Angeles Times that Notorious B.I.G. was behind Tupac Shakur's murder, members of the hip-hop community are dismissing the claims and asking others to do the same.
Figures ranging from Biggie's close friend Lil' Cease to mogul Russell Simmons said that rap fans should not believe everything they read in Chuck Philips' telling report (see "Biggie Paid Gang To Kill Tupac, Report Says"), nor should they overreact.
"I really would hope the people in the hip-hop community and the pop community and everyone who is watching not pay too much interest to it, because what it can do is spiral into something serious all over again," Ja Rule said Sunday night. "Hip-hop is in a good state right now and I think we should keep it going that way."
Ja called the Times report, which alleges Christopher Wallace agreed to pay Crips $1 million to kill Shakur and supplied them with his own gun, "just one man's theory."
"It's sad that something like this gets put out six years after the whole incident and blows the whole thing out of proportion once again," he added.
The Roots' Amir "?uestlove" Thompson said readers shouldn't consider the article to be gospel just because Philips is a distinguished writer, and he also questioned Philips' motives.
"I don't believe that story, but even if I did, what's the purpose?" Thompson asked. "[Biggie's] gone. Why are you even trying to destroy his legacy like that? That is going to cause nothin' but bad feelings and stir a lot of old feelings that we're slowly starting to get over. It has absolutely no merit, as far as I'm concerned, and he really set us back ... eons."
Russell Simmons, whose Hip-Hop Summit Action Network is working for unity in the hip-hop world, said the report does more to inflame passions and emotions than to clear the air with facts.
"People should not rush to judgment concerning this tragedy based on inaccuracies as reported by the L.A. Times," Simmons said in a statement. "We need healing in our community. Only facts and the real truth will bring ultimate justice and peace."
Lil' Cease said he fears that Tupac fans may believe the article and take action.
"It's not no little kid thing. It could get serious. Some people could get hurt," he said. "If [fans] feel you did something to somebody, when they see you, they're gonna approach you about it or they're gonna let you know how they feel or they may want to do something to you. ... Everybody's gotta continue to live their life."
Cease — who said Friday he was with Biggie in New Jersey the night of Tupac's murder in Las Vegas (see "Notorious B.I.G.'s Family 'Outraged' By Tupac Article") — and other rappers have blasted Philips' story since it was published.
Not only has Cease provided an alibi for Biggie, he said he has documentation proving the rapper was in a recording studio in New York that day and refuted allegations that Bad Boy Records employed Crips as security guards. He also noted other problems with the Times report.
"Big ain't even have a million dollars," he said. "[If] Big got a million dollars, that's going in the bank. That just ain't Big. Big ain't give nobody a million dollars to do nothing. He'll take care of his friends before he'll do something of that nature. ... His mom would have some of that million dollars. His daughter would have some of that million dollars."
The Junior M.A.F.I.A. rapper questioned other elements of Philips' story. "Ain't no way in the world that Big could get on the plane with a fake ID ... and how do you get a pistol on a plane? And Big is too big to duck a sold-out event. Nobody seen this 300-pound, 6'4" dude walking around with a Kangol on? It's nonsense."
When posed with Biggie's alleged alibi and Cease's questions, Philips said Monday that he stands by his story.
On Thursday, Philips said he attempted to talk with the rapper's mother, Voletta Wallace, about his findings, but once she learned what they were, she did not return his calls.
On Saturday, former LAPD detective Russell Poole, who believes the Biggie allegations are bogus and is in close contact with the rapper's mother, said she did not know about Philips' report until it was printed, otherwise she would have tried to have it halted.
Philips' and Poole's conflicting opinions on who was behind 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
If there is one thing that all parties interviewed for this story seem to agree on, it's that Las Vegas police dropped the ball on solving Tupac's murder.
In the second part of Philips' report — published Saturday, the sixth anniversary of Shakur's shooting — he examined the major problems with that investigation, beginning with how police on the scene treated Tupac's entourage.
"The minute they descended on the scene, they didn't know who did what," Philips explained. "All they know is they got a car full of guys running away from a shooting. So they throw everyone down on the ground, spread-eagle, guns to their head, swearing at them. So the people who witnessed the murder were not very friendly after that. It started the investigation off on a sour note."
Philips also reported, and many agree, that Las Vegas police overlooked the importance of Shakur's scuffle with Orlando Anderson a few hours before his shooting, failed to make informants inside the gangs and, perhaps most importantly, did not trust investigators in Compton, where many believe those involved in the shooting lived.
"The year Tupac was shot dead, 168 murders occurred in Las Vegas," Philips also noted. "They have a small gang unit, a small murder homicide unit. That's three killings a week. If no one is talking you move on."