Published on October 30th, 2019 | by Jerry Doby0
Introducing Slow Burn Season 3: Tupac and Biggie Hosted By Joel Anderson
Today, Slate launched the new season of it’s award-winning, critically-acclaimed narrative podcast Slow Burn, episodes of which have been downloaded more than 35M times. In its first two seasons, Slow Burn looked back at two of the biggest stories of the late 20th century—the Watergate scandal and the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Season three, which is hosted by Joel Anderson, tackles another: the unsolved murders of Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G.
The story takes place at a moment when hip-hop was taking over pop culture, rap lyrics were used as evidence in murder trials, and the Vice President of the United States called on record companies to pull albums from stores. And at the center of all of it were the world’s two most famous rappers: Tupac Shakur, a former theater kid from the Bay Area and the Notorious B.I.G., a one-time crack dealer from Brooklyn. In just a few years, they changed music forever. They went from friends to enemies. And they ended up victims of a deadly rivalry between East Coast and West Coast music.
Unlike some other versions of this story, Slow Burn will excavate the strange subplots and forgotten characters of two of the biggest crimes in American history. In the words of host Joel Anderson, “That’s what I set out to do on this season of Slow Burn. Over eight episodes, you’ll hear about the creative lives and tragic deaths of two of hip-hop’s foundational talents, from voices and angles you’ve never heard before. You’ll hear about how a friendship gone bad turned into a nationwide turf war. How lyrics about violence blurred into the real thing. And how investigators have failed to solve the murders of two of the 20th century’s most important artists.”
The first episode explores the moment when Tupac and Biggie went from allies to enemies: “A few hours later, Tupac left the Quad on a gurney after an apparent hold-up, alive but his body full of bullet holes…He looked angry, at everyone and everything. I always assumed he was flipping the bird at the photographer. That he was pissed off at the media for invading his privacy in this vulnerable moment. But [Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s] Chico Del Vec told me I had it wrong: Tupac was giving the finger to Biggie and his crew, who he suspected were involved in the shooting, though there’s little evidence that they were.”
The episode features interviews with Junior M.A.F.I.A’s Chico Del Vec, noted hip hop and R&B producer Easy Mo Bee, police detectives Derrick Parker, and more. And tune into next week’s episode: Hip Hop Vs. The Cops.
As a way to commemorate the 90s and the lives of Tupac and Biggie, and introduce listeners to our new season, Slate has manufactured limited edition CDs with the Slow Burn trailer that will be given out at various locations throughout New York and Los Angeles. Those locations include record stores, hip hop themed restaurants, and bars. In addition, CDs will also be given out during tours celebrating the lives of Tupac Shakur in Los Angeles and the Notorious B.I.G. in New York respectively. While we think the CD is a fun collectors item that is in the spirit of this season, we also know that there aren’t many people still listening to CDs regularly. That’s why each CD case includes a QR code that directs listeners back to the podcast and the back cover is, essentially, one giant hashtag so that we can extend the conversation on social media.
Listen to the first episode here, and find more information about, and quotes from, the first episode below.
Joel Anderson: “At the same time, those close to Tupac thought that he seemed doomed. Easy Mo Bee wondered if Tupac was faded to find trouble wherever he went.”
Easy Mo Bee: “I don’t know but for whatever reason it seemed like…the devil was on his trail.”
Joel Anderson: “Tupac tried to disassociate from Haitian Jacques. In one interview he called Jacques a “hanger on.” When they ran into each other at one of Puffy’s parties, Tupac ignored Jacques and instead stuck close to Biggie. This was blatant disrespect. Even enemies acknowledged each other’s presence…and disrespecting someone like Haitian Jacques was dangerous.”
Chico Del Vec: “By the time we get down there, the police is there. So we’re all the way downstairs getting searched by the cops. And we’re like ‘oh shit, we smell gunpowder’…and we see Tupac’s blood…”
Joel Anderson: “But no Tupac…sometime before the cops arrive and before Biggie and Chico got down to the lobby, Tupac made it onto an elevator that was going up. He rode up to the 8th floor then dragged himself to the studio where he was supposed to meet with Shawn…he made it into a chair and used paper towels to try and stop the bleeding. The room was filled with New York hip hop luminaries…Puffy was there, so was Puffy’s mentor Andre Harrell, and various members of Junior M.A.F.I.A…Tupac was confused, scared and suspicious. He later would say no one would look him in the eye…Chico denies that Biggie and Junior M.A.F.I.A. had any connection to the shooting. Chico said that Biggie came down with a gun ready to defend Tupac.”
Joel Anderson: “[Tupac] had lots of time to think about who shot him. And wonder whether his friends were really his friends. Tupac thought how Biggie hadn’t given him a mention in the liner notes of his debut album, Ready To Die. He had been a mentor to Biggie. That was disrespect. He thought about how Biggie and Puffy allowed Haitian Jacques in their entourage…most of all Tupac thought about the ambush at Quad Studios. How Biggie’s friend Lil’ Cease had seen him on the street. How no one else had put up a fight. How, when it was all over, no one could even look him in the face. He felt betrayed and he thought, maybe Biggie and them were in on it the whole time.”Tweet