|BLODDY RIVALRIES: THE deaths of Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur remain among rap’s biggest mysteries but the industry has suffered a spate of unsolved murders and stars who disappeared. From Scott La Rock – one of the first high-profile stars gunned down in 1987 – to Gonzoe and Edai who died just this week, the dozens of murders have left law enforcement stumped for decades. After hip-hop sparked in the Bronx in the 1970s, there have been at least 77 slayings, according to XXL Magazine.It amounts to almost two a year with only a handful solved and more than 40 rappers killed with no suspect identified.While more recent high-profile killings such as Pop Smoke, King Von, Nipsey Hustle, and XXXTentacion have led to arrests, much greater mystery surrounds earlier deaths with rumors and speculation still circling about who is responsible.TUPAC SHAKUR AND THE NOTORIOUS B.I.G.For almost a quarter of a century, the unsolved murders of rival rappers Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur have conjured up multiple theories.Biggie, also known as Notorious B.I.G., has been accused of hiring a hitman to kill his former pal Tupac in 1996 in a hail of bullets on the Las Vegas strip.Less than a year later New Yorker Biggie was also fatally shot in an apparent act of vengeance.In a recent documentary titled Last Man Standing: Suge Knight And The Murders Of Biggie & Tupac, British investigative journalist Nick Broomfield has alleged that rogue cops were also involved in Biggie’s death. And he claims there was a cover-up by LA police in order to avoid paying out half a billion dollars in damages to Biggie’s family.The Tupac murder appears to be more straightforward.The rapper was caught on CCTV on the day he was shot beating up a gang member in a Vegas hotel.SUSPECT NAMED BY UNCLETupac was shown launching kicks at the head of Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson a member of the Southside Crips – the rival crew to Knight’s Bloods gang.In 2018, Duane Keith Davis, a member of the Crips and Anderson’s uncle, alleged that Baby Lane pulled the trigger in the drive-by shooting which killed Tupac in revenge for the hotel beating.Broomfield agrees that it was Anderson who shot the rapper.”I think there’s no doubt,” he said.The British filmmaker says the murder of Biggie is more complex, however.He told The Sun: “The hit on Biggie was done by a professional, [it was] incredibly well coordinated.”They were two very different events. I think the car that Tupac was in had 15 bullets going into it, so it was just a normal gangbanger kind of shooting. The other one was very orchestrated – and that’s the one that involved the LAPD.”Biggie was killed when the driver of a dark Chevrolet Impala SS pulled up alongside his SUV at a red traffic light and opened fire.His autopsy – released 15 years after his death – showed only the final gunshot was fatal.It entered through his right hip and struck his colon, liver, heart, and left lung.One theory suggests Biggie was killed by mistake and that Sean Combs, aka Puff Daddy, was the original target of the shooter.Leaked FBI documents reveal record producer Puffy – now known as P Diddy – had received multiple death threats and his security guard confronted a man who had approached his car just moments before the shooting. BIG LPopular underground New York rapper Big L was shot nine times in the face and chest on February 15, 1999, in a drive-by shooting in Harlem. It is believed that his brother could have been the main target as Big L, real name Lamont Coleman, was wearing his necklace at the time. His childhood friend, Gerard Woodley, was arrested for the murder in May 1999. Yet Woodley was released due to a lack of evidence and the case remains unsolved. Big L’s older brother, Donald Phinazee, said in 2010 that he believed his other brother Lee was the main target. Three years later, Lee was also killed. MAC DREUnderground rapper Mac Dre was killed in Kansas City, Missouri, on November 2, 2004, after a gunman shot at a van he was riding in. The 34-year-old San Francisco Bay area rapper, whose real name was Andrew Hicks, was reportedly a member of a gang of robbers, according to Billboard.The attack happened in the early hours of a Monday morning after Dre had spent a weekend in the city following a concert on Friday. Cops struggled to find a motive as it did not appear that he had been arguing with anyone or that it was a road rage incident. He had recorded more than a dozen albums since 1989 but got into trouble himself in the early 90s when he and associates were investigated over a string of bank robberies. He was charged with conspiracy to commit bank robbery after he was caught preparing to rob a bank and released from prison in 1996. Dre continued to record lyrics over the phone in prison. Cops eventually decided that his death was caused by a financial dispute but rumors still circulated that he had a fallout with a Kansas City rapper dubbed “Fat Tone.”Anthony “Fat Tone” Watkins was cleared of the murder. Yet he and another Kansas City man were gunned down by two men from San Francisco six months later in what the San Francisco Gate reports was revenge for Dre’s death. The San Francisco men were convicted of murder and days later a call girl who had been with them in Vegas also turned up dead. SCOTT LA ROCK|
Scott La Rock was the first of the most high-profile rapper murders, according to XXL. He was gunned down in 1987 aged 25. The rapper had reportedly been attempting to break up an argument in the Bronx when he was shot in the neck and ahead. Two suspects arrested for the death in 1988 were later acquitted. PROOFEminem’s hype man and a contributing MC in the chart-topping Detroit rap collective D12, the death of Deshaun Holton, aka Proof, was solved but has always been disputed. The 32-year-old was shot three to four times by a bouncer named Mario Etheridge at CCC Club in Detroit on April 11, 2006, according to XXL. It reportedly happened after a fight broke out between Proof and a man named Keith Bender over a game of pool. Etheridge was Bender’s cousin and police reports said he fired warning shots to break up the fight. It added that Proof then pulled a gun and shot Bender, and was then shot by Etheridge.
Bender also later died from his injuries. TOMMY BUTTAControversial Philadelphia rapper Tommy Hill, more commonly known as Tommy Butta, died on December 4, 2011, aged 36 in an alleged robbery that turned fatal. He had gained notoriety in the late 90s and early 2000s as part of the hip-hop group R.A.M. Squad. Hill reportedly walked out of Reuben’s Marc Bar without paying his tab and was followed by the staff. As he took out money to pay his bill, he was surrounded by three men who declared a robbery. The bar manager said he heard a gunshot as the three men were going through Hill’s pockets. Despite cops finding no evidence that it was anything other than a robbery, locals were not convinced it wasn’t a hit, according to WHYY. Hill had been criticized for accepting money from former mob boss Joey Merlino to get started with R.A.M. Squad and had a public argument with fellow Philadelphia rapper Beanie Sigel. He had also been accused of giving testimony in a 2004 trial against three drug dealers but denied the claims. “It was a hit,” one person told WHYY. “He [angered] just about everybody you possibly could.”FBG DUCKChicago rapper FBG Duck was killed aged 26 on August 4, 2020. He was shopping near his home when two cars pulled up and four people jumped out to begin shooting at the rapper. The investigation continues but no arrests have ever been made in connection with the “Slide” rapper. Another man and woman bystander were injured in the shooting but survived. D-BOYOne of the first Christian rappers, Danny “D-Boy ” Rodriguez was shot in an alleged carjacking in Dallas, Texas, on October 6, 1990. He managed to drive his car for several blocks before flipping it. No suspects were ever identified. A counselor at Street Church Academy, he had rapped about both gang life and his faith. A posthumous album and LP were released in his honor in 1990 and 2006. KENT WON’T STOPAspiring Virginia rapper Kent Won’t Stop was the subject of a police search late last year after his mysterious disappearance. The 25-year-old, real name Brian Trotter, went missing in early October 2020 after he was picked up by a friend and fellow aspiring musician, Robert Avery Coltrain. The pair were heading to DC to take pictures, he told his father. “I told him, ‘I love you,’ and he said, ‘I love you,’” the musician’s father, also named Brian Trotter, told the Miami Herald. He added that the family filed a missing person’s report when he never returned home and Coltrain gave them contradictory explanations. Among his claims was that he had dropped Trotter off in DC where he was picked up by another friend. In the meantime, Coltrain had driven to Florida where he got in a car crash. Responding officers noticed a foul smell and flies buzzing around the car and found Trotter’s body wrapped in a piece of fabric in the trunk. He was already in an advanced stage of decomposition and a gun believed to have been the murder weapon was also found in the car.