In episode 2 of USA's UNSOLVED: The Murders of Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G., the detectives are hot on the case of who murdered The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur. Last week, we saw how Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) detectives Greg Kading (played by Josh Duhamel) and Russell Poole (played by Jimmi Simpson) are brought onto the case— years apart. The latter was one of the original detectives on the Biggie homicide in 1997 while Kading joined in 2007 to investigate whether the LAPD had conspired to keep the unsolved case cold.
What we know so far: Biggie and Tupac were initially friends. They respected each other professionally and joked around; even having play fights with guns like little kids. Meanwhile, something is fishy over at the LAPD. An undercover cop named Kevin Gaines has been shot and killed and his personal—and professional—life seems to trace back to Death Row Records founder Marion “Suge” Knight.
“Death Row is a way of life,” Suge says in the start of the episode. “Blood in. Blood out.” It’s clear that once you get chained by Suge—who is affiliated with the gang the Bloods--you’re his partner forever. Here’s what you need to know about the second episode of Unsolved.
$50,000 Reward…and Oprah
Biggie’s murder proved to be high-profile. With a $50,000 reward and spot on America’s Most Wanted, there was no shortage of pointless tips—including one that said that Oprah was the shooter--flowing in. But Poole and his partner were more interested in following the Las Vegas lead; their hunch that the 1996 murder of Tupac was somehow tied to Biggie’s death. “I think Biggie’s murder is related to Tupac’s murder,” says Poole to his disinterested boss. “If I'm right, maybe Vegas can tell us more.”
“I Ain't Mad At Cha”
The last music video Tupac filmed before he died was “I Ain't Mad At Cha,” in which he predicts his own death and afterlife. Interestingly, the actor that starred in the video, Bokeem Woodbine, appears as Kading’s colleague in the show. His character’s back story is fraught. He's described to have committed some unethical acts while on the job. Is he a part of the alleged LAPD corruption that Poole was talking about? We’ll have to keep an eye out on him.
Once Kading gets his rag tag group of detectives together, he shares his three theories on what happened to Biggie. The first involved Suge and the Bloods working together as retaliation for Tupac’s murder. The second theory involves Suge working with corrupt members of the LAPD. The final theory is that Southside Crips killed Biggie over unpaid debts. At the top of this chain is Duane “Keffe D” Davis, a Crip who is related to Orlando Anderson. He was arrested on federal drug charges but has since been released.
September 7, 1996
Even gangsters love Fatburger… Suge is spotted at the fast food restaurant with Tupac near Las Vegas. Two fans come up to Tupac in the parking lot and he flips out, pulling guns out on them. “Westside. Fuck Biggie!” one fan says. “Hell yeah!” Pac responds but he has a forlorn look in his eyes. This innocent interaction points to the fact that Pac may have been conflicted by his public hatred of his former friend Biggie.
Viva Las Vegas
Pac’s infamous fight with Orlando Anderson is shown as stemming back to when the latter jumped a Blood and Death Row affiliate. Pac rushes through the MGM Grand and punches Anderson out. A melee ensues with Suge and others joining in. It was kicking Anderson that caused Suge to violate his probation and get sent to prison. Poole watches the surveillance footage of the incident and learns that Reggie Wright Sr., Compton Police Department’s gang unit head, has a son who was the head of security for Suge. Las Vegas authorities share that they’ve tried to interview Suge and his friends but says that no one is talking. “How are we supposed to solve this thing when no one will talk?” asks a Vegas detective.
Bonnie & Clyde
Kading and his detectives are shocked to find out at that Anderson called Suge several times. “Why would Biggie’s entourage be calling Suge?” one asks. Good question. They start interviewing different people who were in Biggie’s entourage on the night of his murder. A man named Ernest---who has been calling Suge while he was incarcerated--says he wanted to meet the rapper to talk to him about his screenplay. “He was mad cool,” he innocently remarks. His friend Scott claims that they were nowhere near Biggie during the drive-by but the cops aren’t buying it. They believe the duo cut off Biggie’s security when he was murdered at the behest of Suge. “Maybe [Suge] asked you to do him a favor,” says Kading. Ernest claims that he called Suge only to work on his budding film career. “There is one thing you should know about them…” he says. He says that a beautiful woman was with Biggie during the Peterson Automotive Museum party. She was stuck up to Ernest but later got all sweet, asking him what car the rapper was in.
Poole and his partner stumble upon the name Richard McCauley. They find out that he was a LAPD officer working for Death Row, including security in Las Vegas the night Tupac was killed. “We need to find out more!” yells Poole. But McCauley is under investigation by Internal Affairs so they can’t speak to him. “Cops moonlighting? This is something…” Poole and his partner meet up with Tupac’s former bodyguard—who also happened to work in the Orange County prison system--and ask him about McCauley and Gaines. “Pac’s death was not my fault,” he says. “I was always asking for more security for him!” He says that he doesn’t know who killed Tupac but he would talk if he knew.
The Bodyguard Speaks
Tupac’s former bodyguard, Frank Alexander, tells Poole that the rapper didn’t know Anderson. “Pac was loyal and he had a temper,” he says. He says that Suge’s people wanted him to lie that the MGM Grand fight was misconstrued; Suge wasn’t fighting anyone but trying to de-escalate the violence. One person who was easily convinced was the victim, who testified on Suge’s behalf. “Orlando was easy to convince,” he says. Tupac then went back to his room to change. He was there with his girlfriend, Kidada Jones, who is Quincy Jones’ daughter. “Might not be safe for you,” the rapper said, advising his girlfriend to stay in the room.
Tupac and his bodyguard parted ways and the rapper rode in a car with Suge. “You gotta watch yourself,” warned Alexander. “I know” the rapper responded.
Alexander reveals that he didn’t have his gun at the time at Tupac was shot on the advice of Reggie Wright, Jr. The Vegas Strip went crazy that night for the rapper. “Everybody was just drawn to him. They loved him,” Alexander remembers. Tupac and Suge pulled up to a light and that’s when a white Cadillac crept by them. Shots were fired, hitting the rap superstar. “I can’t block it out,” says Alexander. Suge and Alexander started freaking out. “Who shot you?” asked a cop. “Fuck you!” said Tupac, with blood spewing from his mouth.
“Nobody talks,” sighs Poole’s partner. “Not even when they’re dying.”
[Photos: NBC Universal]