Nick Broomfield: Tupac, Biggie & The LAPD

While the loss of perhaps the two biggest and brightest stars in hip-hop still resonates throughout the collective ears of hip-hop today, many of us still scratching our heads in awe. We all wonder: How could two of the most high profile murders in history go unsolved? It’s known the Feds were following them both. […]

While the loss of perhaps the two biggest and

brightest stars in hip-hop still resonates throughout the collective ears of

hip-hop today, many of us still scratching our heads in awe.

We all wonder: How could two of the most high

profile murders in history go unsolved? It’s known the Feds were following them

both. How could either be murdered in such high profile situations, with so

many people around, yet no one has been brought to justice?

The answer can be found in a documentary that

came out of left field. Despite the flashy commercials hyping "Biggie &

Tupac," the film documentary is far from that. It is filled substance.

Information that, according to sources, could very well put the alleged perpetrators

behind bars, much to certain peoples chagrin. Meet Nick Bloomfield. Can you give a little bit of your background?

Nick Broomfield: I am a journalist, but I guess

I know a lot of people. I was going to do a film with Princess Diana at one

point. I have been interested in lots of different kinds of stories. I was brought

into this story when I was living in Los Angeles. What got you so involved with Biggie and Tupac

in particular?

N: I liked Tupac’s music, I was a lot more aware

of him than Biggie and I always wanted to do something about the LAPD, and also

being aware that this is the richest country in the world and yet so many people

are living under the poverty line. I read a newspaper article the other day

saying ¼ of all the kids living in Harlem suffer from asthma and there

is an enormous amount of deaths from asthma. Asthma is something that is easily

curable, but in LA your always reading about people dying from bad water, or

there are no medical facilities, bad schools and so on. This is like a big issue

and I guess it’s the same thing in many American cities. I wanted to do something

that involved that kind of situation as well so it was a portrait of a political

situation in America. First I thought being English or being white would be

a real negative factor, but I thought I could also bring something to it too

as an outsider. As I started working on it I found that once people realized

I was serious and that I was really interested and working hard at it they were

really helpful. Did you employ a certain kind of interview


N: I employed a couple of private detectives.

Some of these police were arresting drug dealers and stealing drugs from the

evidence locker and then getting other drug dealers to sell it for them. This

has been going on for a number of years, so some of these guys were quite wealthy.

They were supposed to invest some of the money into properties under various

aliases. We were trying to find some of the properties. The thing is the LAPD

has really not tried to get to the bottom of the story because it’s an embarrassment

to the police force when their officers are involved. Justice somehow stops

when other members of the police force are involved or it reflects badly on

them ’cause they stop investigating. That’s why we hired the private detectives,

’cause we thought maybe we could come up with info that would embarrass the

LAPD to get to the bottom of all this. I think we still got enough out there.

I know that the case is moving forward and it has been reopened. There is a

pretty successful lawsuit happening against the LAPD from the Christopher Wallace

estate. A lot of the info that we got we gave to them and I’m optimistic that

there will be developments. One of the things I have been trying to get people

to do is see the DVD now that it’s in stores and to actually email the LAPD

police chief William Bratton on LAPD online. Ask him why there hasn’t been any

arrests? Why haven’t these murders ‘t been solved in 5 years, particularly when

a couple of people are named in the DVD? I think police chiefs are influenced

by public pressure; they don’t like being embarrassed or things reflecting badly

on them. What was your approach to doing the film?

N: When you make these films if you remain very

positive and determined, move a little forward everyday then you’ll get it made.

I think everybody that we saw was at least 50 phone calls or more, you have

to be very patient. A lot of the people you had to win their trust and their

belief that it was worth there while taking part in the film and that it wasn’t

going to be some stupid piece that they would expose themselves for unnecessarily.

We read every single interview done by the police and read every interview with

every single witness on the Biggie Smalls murder. So there’s a lot of information

in there around David Mack, the people working with him, his gang members, his

girlfriends, it’s all in the book. I found it unbelievable that Suge Knight

said "I’m not going to talk to you." Death Row said "you’re not

going to talk to him" and the president still said "if you want you

can still come," so we’re actually walking around Suge’s prison yard asking

other prisoners where Suge is. It was like a dream, not a particularly good

dream, but a dream. Then we walked into the cellblock, there he was right across

the room. He was shocked, he was sweating, worried like "how did they get

in here?" We didn’t look like a professional crew, it was a ragged bunch.

I think he did the interview through shock more than anything else. There DVD suggests that there is so much evidence

towards Suge Knight being behind the Murders of both Biggie and Tupac but nothing

has happened.

N: I think to charge murder, you have to have

a smoking gun or something. I think Suge and a gentleman named Reggie Wright

Jr. have had a falling out. Reggie Wright Jr., according to various sources

was involved in staging the hit on Biggie Smalls.Reggie Wright, who I think

may be murdered in the next few weeks, is like the weak link at the moment.

A lot of the witnesses have been murdered who were there that night. I think

there are still people that know and it might require one of them to cooperate. Have you got any negative feedback like death

threats? So many people have done things on this. Ronin Ro (author of "Have

Gun, Will Travel") did something on this, which was very detailed.

N: He even changed his name, I spoke to him a

few times and his real name is something entirely different. He was frightened.

In fact I tried to involve him in this film, but he has a young daughter and

he said the last thing he wants to do is expose her to problems and stuff. I

think he was particularly frightened of Suge Knight. I was worried before I

started, but once I started filming you can’t carry on being worried ’cause

it’s not much of a point. You just have to finish the film. I think I always

felt a little protected having or being apart of a film crew. If I’m doing something

that’s right and I’m following something that deserves to be exposed, then I’m

somehow protected. Maybe that’s a little naive, but I stopped worrying after

awhile. So no death threats?

N: I got lots of very unpleasant phone calls

from Death Row when I was making the film, like "where are you staying?

What plane are you coming in on? What lab are you using?" And usually there

would be many during the day. They said we couldn’t interview Suge Knight and

Death Row was going crazy to see the footage. They were aggressive and I was

pleased to leave town. I cut the film in England. Nothing happened, but I did

feel a little vulnerable. I don’t think there’s any point in taking risks unnecessarily. What did you think about the LA times report

that Biggie orchestrated Tupac’s murder?

N: I thought it was crap. I heard a rumor from

pretty reliable sources that Randall Sullivan (author of the book LAbyrinth)

himself was being investigated or looked at for his links to Death Row. He’s

very in with in with David Kenner and Paul Palidino who was with the private

detective that got Snoop off with his case. David Ray is the criminal lawyer

who represented David Mack who was a policeman and one of the main suspects.

Chuck Phillips is the only guy that got the only interview with Amir Muhammed

(the suspected triggerman in the Biggie Smalls murder). Muhammed was also the

godfather of David Mack’s kids. Chuck Phillips had the only interview with him

and sort of proclaimed him innocent. There are too many weird co incidents and

I thought it was irresponsible of the LA times to publish an article that’s

not backed up by any facts. But I think the LA times is a sh*t newspaper anyway.

I think it’s like a respected tabloid sheet and it often prints stories that

are not backed up by facts. I think Chuck Phillips piece was like that. It’s

interesting that there haven’t been so many pieces from Chuck Phillips anymore.

I interviewed him a couple of times too and he also wanted to know where we

were staying and stuff. He was a creepy guy. Have you got any feedback from Tupac’s family?

N: We tried very hard to get Afeni to be apart

of the film and that was very difficult. She wanted a list of all the people

we talked to and we realized she wasn’t coming from a good place. It was more

like she wanted to sense out what we’ve done. It was like we had to jump through

5 hurdles before she would take part in the interview and we worked with her

for 2 months trying to make her happy and trying to be relaxed about the film.

At a certain point we started getting phone calls from her lawyers objecting

to our interview with The Outlawz. We realized she regarded our film as being

competition to something she might want to do on Tupac. A lot of Tupac’s friends

who we have talked to and got footage from were very reluctant to appear in

the film ’cause they were with him when he got shot and watched him die. I think

all of Tupac’s friends pointed a finger at Suge Knight and to see his mother

try to work some kind of deal out with him was pretty upsetting. That was a

monkey area I didn’t really bother going into. That wasn’t really what I was

trying to do; I was trying to put the heat more on the police to solve these

murders. A lot of Tupac’s and Biggie’s friends feel the Justice system is not

for them. It’s one thing if you live in Beverly Hills and it’s very different

when you come from Compton or Watts. I think that’s why there is a big suspicion

of the police and justice system. Do you know the current status of the case?

N: I think I’m going to find out more, but witnesses

are being reexamined and I have been led to believe there will be significant

developments. Have you stayed in touch with Biggie’s family?

N: Yeah I spoke to Voletta last week. Does she feel you have been that person that

can make things move a little faster for her?

N: I think so. I tried as hard as I could and

I have continued to try and cooperate with her lawyer to push things along.

I tried to get people to talk to each other ’cause a lot of the problem is that

people don’t share the info that they have with each other. In order for these

kinds of cases to get solved you need the body guards, lawyers, mothers, police

officers and everybody needs to talk together. There are people like Kevin Hakey,

who was one of Tupac’s body guards, whom I think has information that he gave

to the LAPD. He was offered a promotion and to work for the FBI if he cooperated,

which he did, but there was a big misunderstanding and he ended up in prison.

Now just wants money, so he’s talking about selling his info on Ebay. I think

Hakey does know stuff and I understand him being angry. I think a lot people

have a lot of things to hide. There are even people in the DA office that are

covering information. How come the FEDS haven’t jumped on if they

were following Biggie and Tupac?

N: I guess their function is to observe what’s

happening. From Martin Luther King on, any major black potential leader has

been followed by the FBI. Not to protect them, but to find out what they’re

up to. I guess Hoover had this idea about the Black messiah coming along and

I think particularly Tupac was regarded as a trouble maker and Biggie likewise.

The thing was to see what was happening and to make sure that things weren’t

being planned, organized or things might get out of hand. That’s why they were

there. I think they would only become involved again if they really thought

there was some kind of justice issue and too many people knew about something,

that it could no longer be ignored. What’s your take on people who say your trying

to capitalize off of Biggie and Tupac? Have you gotten any criticism about it?

N: That can only be judged by the piece of work

you’re looking at. I think there have been little puff pieces on all of the

channels about Biggie and Tupac. It’s not unusual. I think every network has

done their own little piece on the deaths of Biggie and Tupac. I think certainly

this is the most thorough piece of work that has been done on it and probably

the only one that is going to push the investigation forward. I think the benchmark

is whether that piece has made a contribution to actually solving something. What do you think about those other DVD’s?

N: I thought "Welcome to Death row"

was interesting, otherwise I have only seen "Thug Angel" about Tupac

when he was much younger and I found that interesting. So do you like those or are they just more

entertaining than investigative?

N: I think the whole Harry-O background and where

his drugs came from, which was probably from the Nicaraguan war is interesting.

It didn’t really go into that in enough detail. I thought there was some interesting

stuff in there, but it wasn’t quite tough enough. I think it is a very political

story and obviously if you’re a Tupac or Biggie fan it’s great to see Biggie

and Tupac ’cause they’re amazing artists. I think the story now has become a

portrait of a particular political system in which justice hasn’t happened.

I think it’s a part of a racial portrait of the United States really, so in

order for something to be really good it’s got to relate their story to the

bigger picture in an entertaining but tough way. Will you be happy if there’s an arrest made

in the case?

N: I would be really delighted for Voletta Wallace

as much as anything. She helped me focus my mind a lot while I was doing this