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A thorough report on the investigation of the drive-by shooting of one of rap music’s top stars.

On March 9, 1997, Christopher Wallace, alias Biggie Smalls and The Notorious B.I.G., left a party at the Soul Train Music Awards in Los Angeles. Within moments, a car pulled up next to his and a well-dressed black man gunned him down and disappeared. Only six months earlier in Las Vegas, rival rapper Tupac Shakur had met a similar demise. In both cases, there were no clear suspects: the black community said that the police weren’t trying, and the police claimed that the witnesses weren’t cooperating. Journalist Scott (The Killing of Tupac Shakur, not reviewed) examines the speculation that the two violent deaths arose from a bicoastal rap feud. She went into the “gangsta” worlds of these celebrities in both New York and Los Angeles to interview people who knew them. At one time, the two men had been friends, but jealousy and media hype stirred up trouble between them—and yet there was clearly something more at stake. Between 1995 and 1998 nine men who were loosely associated with Smalls and Shakur were killed, including the only willing witness to Shakur’s murder (shot in the face, execution-style, just before his scheduled interrogation). Theories about who was behind these high-profile killings ranged from rival record producers to cops to gangs: there was even talk that Smalls was not the intended target. The identity of the killer remains unclear to this day (unless Scott’s lengthy detour into the misadventures of Puffy Combs is a hint).

A compelling tale that hits some snags but reveals an exotic world based in greed, violence, and the need for self-expression.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-312-26620-0
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2000