After 14 Years, FBI Releases Details Surrounding Notorious B.I.G’s Death

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Christopher "Notorious B.I.G." Wallace attends the 1995 Billboard Music Awards in 1995 in New York City.

Larry Busacca/WireImage

Biggie fans may finally get their chance to learn what happened to the legendary rapper 14 years after his death. The FBI recently released hundreds of pages of records (heavily redacted) of their investigation into the 1997 slaying.

While who killed Biggie still remains a mystery, the public does get an insight into the workings of the two-year FBI investigation and the details surrounding the life and deaths of two of rap’s biggest megastars.

For those in need of a refresher: On March 9, 1997, Biggie, real name Christopher Wallace, was gunned down as he was leaving a music industry party in Los Angeles. His death followed the fatal shooting of rival Tupac Shakur 6 months earlier in Las Vegas.

(More on See TIME’s top ten unsolved crimes)

At the time, rumors swirled of a rap-rivalry gone wrong, with some speculating Biggie’s death was an act of revenge for Tupac’s killing. Some believed people in Biggie’s posse were responsible for Tupac’s murder. Others thought it went even further and that Biggie and Tupac were casualties of a bigger conflict between their record labels. The two rappers had been friends until Tupac’s downward spiral into a life of violence made Biggie distance himself. Later, as Tupac landed in prison, Biggie’s career took off.

There was also talk of police corruption and gang violence related to the larger than life characters, and the FBI became involved, starting a review of public corruption and civil rights violations. That’s the gist of it. For more details, check out TIME’s coverage from way back when.

So what do the files from this investigation reveal?

  • The FBI was trying to link the killing of Tupac and Biggie from the start. The files include details of their relationship, the evolution from friends to rivals and records of minor skirmishes and fatal shootings. They found individuals who were present at the death of both rappers.
  • Biggie was shot with rare Gecko 9mm ammunition, made only in Europe and sold only in select California and New Jersey stores. The FBI tried to find other crimes committed using the same ammo, hoping to find a connection, but no dice.
  • They suspected police involvement. Sources wouldn’t talk to LAPD investigators about Wallace’s death because they thought there was internal corruption at the force. Though not proof of their involvement, a number of officers on duty at the party Biggie was leaving at the time of his death were also employed by rival record label Death Row Records as security officers. Which is, incidentally, a violation of LAPD policy.
  • Biggie had connections with the Genovese crime family in New York. FBI theorize the family could have photo or video evidence of his shooting, but have no proof such a thing exists.
  • Biggie had some full pockets the night he died. The FBI list: a Georgia driver’s license, a pen, 0.91 grams of marijuana, an asthma inhaler, and three condoms among his possessions.

What else does Biggie’s case bring to light? The fact that the FBI makes some of their documents publicly available. For more on cases frequently requested from the FBI, (and released), check out The Vault. On it are the likes of Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden and there’s even a section for “unexplained phenomena.” (via AP, Los Angeles Times)