An American Tragedy

March 9, 2011

Photo acquired from Google Images

On March 9, 1997, a young man by the name of Christopher Wallace was killed after being gunned down in his car at a traffic light in the early morning. That man was known to the world by his stage name, The Notorious B.I.G. Some called him Biggie Smalls. Some just Big. Some called him awesome. Today he is regarded as one of the greatest MCs to ever breathe on the mic. His gangsta/playboy persona, mixed with his incredible rhyming ability and irresistable flow/delivery propelled him to superstardom in the music industry. After leaving an awards show in the early morning hours to go to a club, Biggie was shot to death while at a red light. He died on the scene.

It would be easy to dismiss this as a case of “live by the sword, die by the sword,” but only if one were to look exclusively at Biggie’s lyrics. In fact, according to Jay-Z in his memoir Decoded, the Biggie he knew avoided trouble like the plague, not wanting to blow his shot at maintaining a better life than the one he lived while in Brooklyn dealing drugs or in prison writing rhymes.

So, what was the cause of Biggie’s death? Was he simply in the wrong place at the wrong time? Were these assailants from Biggie’s past, looking to settle a score? Evidence suggests otherwise. It is widely speculated (and some even say proven) that Biggie was killed at the hands of crooked police officers on the payroll of Suge Knight, who were later implicated in the infamous Rampart Scandal. Knight certainly had motive, as he believed Biggie and his associates were behind the first assassination attempt on Tupac Shakur.

In fact, a wrongful death lawsuit that was corroborated from the testimonies of Los Angeles police officers claiming that detectives backed off the investigation when it started pointing to fellow police officers. Officer Russell Poole went as far as resigning in protest. In the lawsuit itself, it is stated that Rafael Perez admitted to the planning and participation in the murder of Biggie. Still to this day, no one has ever been charged with the murder of Biggie.

What’s most tragic about this is not that someone was murdered. While that is a terrible occurrence, murders happen every day in this world. What is more alarming to me is that, even faced with hard evidence, the law will not prosecute its own for wrongdoing. In my personal favorite television series, The Shield, Captain Claudette Whymms poses the question: “How can we expect justice out there if we don’t even demand it in our own house?” My sentiments exactly. May the murder be solved, the guilty parties be brought to justice, and may something like this never happen again.

R.I.P. Christopher Wallace. My condolences to his family, friends, and fans.

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