The Wildest Unsolved Hip-Hop Murders And Scandals
According to Nielsen Music’s mid-year report, hip-hop officially overtook rock ‘n’ roll and EDM as the most popular genre of music for the first time in history. It reportedly makes up 25.1 percent of all music consumed in the U.S. That’s a huge market in a $16.1 billion industry, but that doesn’t mean it’s all smooth sailing.
Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems
The Notorious B.I.G. said it himself, “the more money we come across, the more problems we see.” From the beginning, the hip hop world has been plagued with scandals, violence, and even murder, and a huge chunk of these crimes have never been solved. Even B.I.G.’s own murderer was never found (though his mother claims to know who it is).
Click through to see these suspicious, unsolved murder cases of some of your favorite classic hip-hop stars.
The Murder Of Biggie Smalls
The highly publicized murder of Biggie Smalls (a.k.a The Notorious B.I.G.) was so mysterious and culturally significant that it led to the blockbuster hit Notorious. His death marked the end of an era — the white flag in the undeniable Death Row Records-Bad Boy Records/West Coast-East Coast feud that basically defined ’90s hip hop. Despite the media circus surrounding Biggie’s death, the case remains unsolved more than 20 years later.
Biggie’s murder was thought to be retaliation for the death of West Coast rival Tupac Shakur, who was murdered six months earlier. No one expected investigators would fail to charge a suspect even with an abundance evidence.
Biggie Was Fatally Wounded In A Drive-By
On March 9, 1997, the Brooklyn rapper left a music industry party in L.A. and was fatally wounded in a drive-by shooting. He was sitting in a green Chevy Suburban parked on Wilshire Boulevard when he was struck by four GECO bullets, a rare type of metal-piercing 9mm ammo. These specific bullets were extremely difficult to find and only sold in special California and New Jersey shops.
At the time of the murder, the streets were crowded and witnesses described the assailant as a black man wearing a suit and bow tie, driving a Chevy Impala. Out of the four shots, just one bullet, which entered Biggie’s right hip and tore through several organs in his left shoulder, was fatal.
Biggie’s Mother Claims The Unsolved Case Is A Conspiracy
Despite the fact that it was a crowded street and cops had obvious leads from the ongoing feud between Biggie (Christopher Wallace) and Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs (head of Bad Boy records) and their West Coast rivals, they hit roadblock after roadblock. Even with the FBI’s involvement, no suspect was ever charged, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t tons of evidence.
Biggie’s mother Voletta Wallace insists there’s a “conspiracy” in the way her son’s murder case was handled and blames the LAPD. She told The Daily Mail that both she and the LAPD know who murdered her son.
“I have a very good idea who murdered Christopher, and I genuinely believe that the LAPD knows exactly who did too,” She said. “They’ve done their investigation, but they just refuse to move forward. I don’t know why they haven’t arrested who was involved. It seems to me that it’s one giant conspiracy, and someone is definitely being protected somewhere down the line.”
The Murder Of Tupac Shakur
When the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur became friends, no one could ever suspect that it would turn into a massive East Coast-West Coast feud. Though the pair were frequent collaborators, a near-fatal robbery at a Manhattan recording studio in 1994 escalated into a massive battle that would eventually take both of the rapper’s lives. The murder sent shockwaves through the music community and became one of the most iconic murder cases of all time. Over 20 years later, the case, which inspired the biopic All Eyez on Me, remains unsolved. The event is so mysterious that some even question if Shakur died at all.
Biggie Smalls and Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs Deny Involvement
On September 7, 1996, Shakur, who was known for his poetic wit and realism, was fatally gunned down in a drive-by shooting while riding down a street in Las Vegas. Since the murder occurred, there have been various theories about who exactly aimed the fatal shot. Many blame Biggie Smalls and Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, who basically helmed the East Coast rap scene, but the duo denied all involvement. Some blame Suge Knight, the owner of Tupac’s label Death Row Records. Allegedly the bullet was meant for the label-owner and not Shakur; however, the LAPD have different ideas.
LAPD Reportedly Rules The Death Gang Warfare
According to People Magazine, an LAPD insider says the murder can be attributed to gang warfare. Allegedly, Shakur was serving a 4.5-year prison sentence for sexually abusing a 19-year-old fan when Suge Knight offered to finance an appeal in exchange for putting out three records on Death Row. Knight was a prominent affiliate of the L.A.-based gang Mob Piru, who had an intense rivalry with the Crips. On the day Shakur got murdered, he had a fist fight with Crip member Orlando Anderson at the MGM Grand Casino. Anderson had tried to steal a Death Row Records medallion from one of Shakur’s entourage. The gang retaliated for Anderson’s beating by killing the rapper. Still, no one was ever charged.
Las Vegas Police Think Tupac Knew His Assailant
When Shakur was lying on the ground bleeding out, a police officer pressed him to say who pulled the trigger. Shakur’s only response was, “[expletive] you.” This led Las Vegas Police Department detective Dan Long to believe that Tupac knew who was behind the wheel of the fatal car.
“My belief is they both knew,” he told People. “The cars were two or three feet apart when the shooting occurred. Tupac was the passenger, [and] he would have been right up against him in an extremely well-lit part of town.”
Suge Knight, who was in the car with Tupac at the time of the shooting and struck in the head by fragmentation, refused to speak to police. Police do not believe he was involved because he was also a victim.
The Murder of Jam Master Jay
Jam Master Jay is best known for his work in the groundbreaking hip-hop group Run-DMC, but he was truly a multi-talented artist. After Run-DMC’s popularity faded, Jay found success by starting the record label JMJ Records and producing other artists. Despite the fact that Jay was never involved in any sort of rap drama in his decades-long career (he hadn’t even released so much as a single diss track) he was still a target because of his fame.
The most mysterious part of Jay’s death is that the studio was filled with several people, yet not a single one of them saw who shot the DJ. How could that happen? Police think someone won’t speak up.
Jam Master Jay Knew His Assailant
The murder took place on October 30, 2002, while Jam Master Jay was recording at his studio in Queens, New York. Allegedly, Jay’s friend Uriel Rincon reached down to answer his cell phone and heard footsteps around 7:30 p.m. The assailant (or assailants, because no one knows if they acted alone) walked by assistant Lydia High’s desk and asked her to get on the ground. The assailant greeted Jay, and Jay allegedly embraced or slapped hands with the shooter, who originally was buzzed into the studio by High.
According to Rincon, this is when the assailant opened fire and struck Jay on his leg and in the back of his head. No one saw who pulled the trigger, and some unnamed person in the control room left to follow the gunmen (or gunman) and fired back at the assailant.
Theories For Jay’s Murder
No one’s really sure why Jam Master Jay was murdered, but a number of theories have been floating around the Internet since the fatal event. In December of 2002, Randy Allen, a longtime friend of Jay who was present in the studio during the murder, denied claims that he was involved as a means to collect on Jay’s $500,000 life insurance policy. In 2003, several Queens residents admitted they knew who killed the DJ but were too afraid to give the police information. A Newsday report was published claiming that Jay was in debt and owed $500,000 in taxes which forced his mother to get a job at Banana Republic – also a curious amount of money considering his alleged life insurance policy.
Even more mysteriously, five years after the murder Rincon came forward and said Jay knew his killer and brought a pistol with him the night of the murder, suggesting he knew something was amiss. The murder remains a mystery today.
The Murder Of M-Bone
In 2011, it was nearly impossible to avoid the song Teach Me How To Dougie. Unfortunately, the Cali Swag District, the group behind the song, was plagued with scandal. Montae Talbert, who went by the name M-Bone, never contributed vocals to the group. Instead, he created the dance that put them on the map. It was so popular that Michelle Obama used it in her kids’-fitness campaigns, but the young talent behind the song was callously murdered at the age of 22.
On May 15, 2011, Talbert was sitting in a car with his friend when a vehicle pulled up and fatally shot the hip hop star. Police were never able to find a motive for the killing, though some people think it was a person who was jealous of Talbert’s seemingly overnight success.
The Murder Of Scott La Rock
Scott La Rock was a social worker by day, and never even got a chance to enjoy his success as a club DJ before his untimely death. He had been playing in a group called Scott La Rock and the Celebrity Three before the members decided to switch things up and form Boogie Down Productions. Boogie Down Productions was poised for major success, but would also lead to La Rock’s downfall. In 1987, the hip hop group signed to Jive Records and released their debut album Criminal Minded. But before La Rock could enjoy his success, he was fatally shot.
La Rock Died Breaking Up A Fight
On August 27, 1987, Scott La Rock attempted to mediate a fight between bandmate Derrick “D-Nice” Jones and an unnamed enemy. This fight escalated to gunfire and La Rock was shot in a Jeep outside of the Highbridge projects in the Bronx. According to Just-Ice, a rapper who was close friends with BDP, the DJ was shot from a 20-story rooftop. After the shooting, Just-Ice and members of La Rock’s entourage found the shooter inside of the Latin Quarter night club. It took police a year, but they eventually arrested Cory Bayne and Kendall Newland in connection with the murder. Because no one witness was willing to testify (not even D-Nice who La Rock died defending), the pair was acquitted.
The Murder Of Big L
Big L was part of the D.I.T.C (Diggin’ in the Crates Crew), one of New York’s best underground rap groups of the early ’90s. His lyrical talent got him noticed by Columbia Records who signed him in 1992 and released his debut solo album Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous. Sadly, Big L never got to see the success of his solo album or the three albums he released after his death (a seemingly common occurrence for dead rappers). While Big L was recording his follow up and about to sign to Jay-Z’s massive label Roc-A-Fella, he was murdered. The 24-year-old was shot multiple times a few blocks from his childhood home. Gerard Woodley was charged with the murder but released because there was not enough evidence, and no other suspects have ever been charged.
The Murder Of Stretch (A.K.A. Randy Walker)
Randy Walker was a close friend of Tupac Shakur, despite living on the East Coast, which was dangerous territory for one for Pac’s crew during the West Coast-East Coast rap feud of the ’90s. At the time of his murder, Walker knew trouble was brewing. A year prior to the incident, Shakur was shot and wounded in a Times Square recording studio, but Walker narrowly escaped without a single injury. Walker’s murder was thought to be in connection with that very shooting.
On November 30, 1995, he wasn’t as lucky. After dropping his brother off at home in Queens, Walker was confronted by two men who pulled up alongside his green minivan. The men opened fire and Walker attempted to flee. The incident resulted in a car chase where Walker hit a tree and flipped his car after being shot four times. No one was ever charged with his murder.
The Murder Of Mac Dre
Andrew “Mac Dre” Hicks was determined to be successful in the music industry. He dropped three albums in the ’80s, and in 1992, he recorded two albums over the phone in jail while serving a five-year sentence. The rapper started his own label and released four albums, but his success was short-lived.
While leaving a performance in Kansas City, Missouri in 1994, Hicks was fatally shot at the age of 34. Local rapper Anthony “Fat Tone” Watkins was rumored to be the assailant, but there was never enough evidence to charge him, and authorities never named a suspect. Watkins was mysteriously murdered the following year.
The Murder Of Soulja Slim
Soulja Slim (born James Tapp Jr.) dropped out of high school and found his way to rap. After releasing his debut album Soulja fa Lyfe in 1994 and a follow-up as Magnolia Slim, he signed to Master P’s label in 1998. Slim went to prison in 1998 and changed his name to Soulja Slim. From there, he released three albums including the chart-topping hit “Slow Motion” with famed rapper Juvenile. Sadly, the rapper was killed in front of his mother’s home just a few months after the release of his second album on his own independent label. Police arrested suspect Garelle Smith, who was released months later. Smith was mysteriously murdered after his release, and no one else has been charged with the murder of Soulja Slim.
The Murder Of Smiley Culture
Smiley Culture was a London-born rapper best known for his hit “Police Officer.” The song told the story of his arrest and release (police allegedly let him go because he was a celebrity). In line with the tale in his famed song, Culture continued to have trouble with the law. He was charged with drug conspiracy and when police gained a search warrant and searched his house, they found Culture dead. Police reported that Culture had stabbed himself in the heart at age 48. They ruled it a suicide and allegedly found no evidence of misconduct, but the court of public opinion ruled it murder. Culture’s untimely death remains a mysterious point of contention for many hip hop fans.
The Murder Of Magnolia Shorty
Magnolia Shorty (born Renetta Yemika Lowe) was a breath of fresh air on the male-dominated Cash Money Records. When founder Bryan “Birdman” Williams signed the young rapper, she joined the ranks of some of hip-hop’s biggest hitmakers including Lil’ Wayne and Juvenile. Shorty released her debut album Monkey on that D$ck in 1997 and enjoyed moderate success. Over a decade later, she was shot to death in a car not far from her home. Magnolia Shorty died in December 2010 at the age of 28, and no one has ever been charged with her murder.