The East Coast vs. West Coast rap feud is on. In episode 6 of UNSOLVED: The Murders of Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G., the battle lines have been drawn between Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. The episode opens with the 1995 Source Awards in which Marion “Suge” Knight of Death Row Records famously fired shots at rival Bad Boy Records: “Come to Death Row!”
What we know so far: Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). Detectives Greg Kading (played by Josh Duhamel) and Russell Poole (played by Jimmi Simpson) have questioned suspects and gone down various rabbit holes. With the series more than halfway done, it seems that we should be getting closer to a resolution in the murders of Tupac and Biggie.
Random observation: Can people change? Kading’s team has a mantra: “Once a dope dealer, always a dope dealer.”
Here’s what we know after episode 6:
It’s unclear how the East vs. West Coast feud began. Tupac is simmering behind bars, heated that Biggie didn’t help him during the Quad Studios shooting. Meanwhile, Biggie maintains that Tupac was hanging with a bad crowd before the shooting—and he tried to warn him. Neither wants to take credit for sparking the coastal feud. “I never disrespect that black man,” says Biggie. “There’s no beef…I’m too focused on me,” says Tupac. By the time Suge bails Tupac out of jail, he’s changed his tune. “I’m a soldier for Death Row,” he says angrily. He drops “Hit Em Up,” a diss song that includes threats of violence and boasts about sleeping with Biggie’s wife. By the end of the episode, Death Row offers a Bad Boy associate $500,000 for his loyalty and violently forces him to give up information about Puffy.
There’s been hints of dirty cops throughout the series but we finally have one speaking out in his own words. While being questioned for his involvement in re-selling confiscated drugs, the character Rafael Perez coolly claims in "UNSOLVED" that “everybody” in LAPD gang units is corrupt. “Guns, drugs, murder,” he says, “it’s how we got shit done.” Perez gets immunity to flip on other cops. This is the big break that Poole has been waiting for.
The Unraveling of Russell Poole
There’s no doubt that Russell Poole is dedicated to his job. But as the series progresses, it’s clear that he’s becoming obsessed with the Biggie murder and whether the LAPD was involved. He’s been reprimanded and even taken off the case. But he can’t shake it. He’s willing to risk it all to prove his theory that LAPD officer David Mack was contracted by Rafael Perez to kill Biggie. When he tries to tell Chief Bernard Parks his theory, he gets the blow off. Poole is visibly beaten down. Poor, Russ. You have to feel bad for this guy.
Kading and Officer Dupree are sure that they’ve found the gun used in Tupac’s murder. “It’s not a match,” says a ballistics expert in Las Vegas. Kading and his team aren’t sure. “It’s a match and it proves that the Southside Crips killed Tupac. The gun is proof!” says Blondie. Kading says they need more evidence. The smoking gun—or nothingburger, depending on who you ask—drives the squad apart.
Death Row was Searched
Death Row Records was raided by the LAPD and Poole’s partner. It was a ghost town. Reggie Wright Jr., head of security, sits back while the cops search and spin their wheels. “There isn’t anything to find,” he smiles. Not so quick. The cops find a registration for a red Impala. Could this have been the same Impala used in the Biggie shooting? Making things worse for Death Row, Poole believes that Suge has a District Attorney in his pocket. Apparently, the D.A. has a daughter who just so happened to be the first white artist signed to the record label. Coincidence?
The death of Tupac has created countless conspiracy theories, including one that he’s actually alive and living in Cuba. Keffe D says that Tupac was planning on jumping ship from Death Row and was murdered because of it. Kading’s team is not sure. What would Suge gain by killing his biggest star? Suge was riding in the car with Tupac; he could’ve easily been killed. There's more questions than answers. It’s funny that the LAPD has heard the same rumors that have circulated among fans for years.
[Photo: NBC Universal]
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