“Biggie and Tupac” Points the Finger at Cops

“Biggie and Tupac” Points the Finger at Cops

By James Hill, BET.com Staff Writer

“Biggie and Tupac” Points the Finger at Cops

Posted September 27, 2002– A White Los Angeles cop is ousted from the force once his investigation into the high-profile deaths of two rappers starts pointing to dirty cops.

This is the story of Biggie and Tupac – or so Nick Broomfield presents it in his enthralling and sometimes refreshingly funny documentary named after the two hip-hop legends.

So how does a film about two Black rapping legends, killed in their prime and leaving behind masses of grieving family, friends and fans, become about a White detective? Ask Medgar Evers, Steven Biko or any other major Black figure whose life (and death) is portrayed as stories of sympathetic White men’s search for truth.

This film has two White men — Russell Poole, the LA detective whose investigation is truly the impetus for the film, and Broomfield himself. Initially, Broomfield is only heard in a voice-over, his British accent making the film feel like a “National Geographic” excursion to the hood. Soon enough though, Broomfield steps in front of the camera and helps to erase some of the European distance inherent in the documentary genre. His shabby appearance and Brit pronunciation of Tupac (“Two-pack”) gives him a nervous Hugh Grant quality that ultimately brings some levity to the film.

Actually there is a lot of humor running throughout the film. Footage of a young Christopher Wallace (aka Biggie Smalls) hamming it up for the camera or sharpening his skills in a battle is priceless. Confirming a long held practice in hardcore hip-hop, Biggie’s mother, Volletta, eagerly admits that Wallace’s tales of gangster living were simply entertainment. Biggie was a persona used to sell albums. The real Wallace was a “sweetheart.” Likewise, footage of Tupac fooling around in the studio and doing his “Scarface” impersonation helps you understand why the world has missed him so. Both charismatic, funny and talented, Biggie and Tupac were our cousins, brothers and boyfriends.

Of course they’re both gone and Broomfield feels Poole knows why and most importantly who. The trail of answers starts at the big question that Poole posits early on, “if this is really a case of gang violence, why hasn’t it been solved yet?” Good question. Poole says the answer is simple. When cops are involved, cases are rarely solved — especially if the cops in question are involved with Suge Knight, the film asserts. Two cops, Harry Billups and David Mack, made extra money freelancing as bodyguards for Knight, head of Death Row records, as it was then called.

The short answer, Broomfield alleges, is that Knight orchestrated both deaths using two LA cops as the triggermen. The reason for Tupac’s death is financial. Shakur told close friends he was leaving Death Row due to the fact that the label owed him upwards of $10 million. Sadly, Biggie’s death was simply a clean-up. A fact confirmed by a man known as “the bookkeeper,” a financial wiz serving time for impersonating a lawyer. In no uncertain terms, he claims he heard Suge Knight and associates plan Biggie’s death using Harry Billups as the trigger man. Not only did he hear it, he helped pay for it, he says.

And while we all wasted time and ink blaming the infamous East Coast/West Coast rivalry and gang violence, Broomfield’s film says they were both smoke screens for Knight’s murderous plans.

All of this ultimately leads to a “showdown” with Suge Knight, who was serving time for parole violation. Even in a prison and sporting a cane to support a leg injury, Knight is treated like a cornered tiger or a hungry shark that the camera is visibly scared of. Naturally, Knight evades all questions about Tupac, while he insists on sending positive messages to the kids.

This review can’t do justice to all the evidence, courage and tragedy this film captures. Unfortunately, this film is not a love letter for the slain rappers, it’s a taunt – a call for justice for two crimes from which many of us have not yet recovered.

Posted by on Sep 27 2002. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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