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Reporter: Who Killed Tupac Shakur?

Aired September 14, 2002 - 07:45   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CATHERINE CALLAWAY, CNN ANCHOR: It's a question that has sent ripples throughout the pop community in recent days: who killed rising rap and movie star Tupac Shakur? A Los Angeles Times reporter claims that he knows. And his accusations have become a firestorm of controversy.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CALLAWAY (voice-over): They were two of the most famous hip-hop stars of the '90s. Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. Both sold millions of records, and won legions of fans from the inner cities to the suburbs. But their tragic and untimely deaths have spawned a string of conspiracy theories. A real-life hip-hop world whodunit.

Over a week ago, the Los Angeles Times ran a series of stories claiming The Notorious B.I.G., whose real name was Christopher Wallace, paid members of a Los Angeles street gang $1 million to gun down Shakur on September 7, 1996 in Las Vegas.

The Times claims Orlando Anderson, a member of the Los Angeles Bloods, shot Tupac after the rapper and his entourage beat him earlier that night. Family and friends say Wallace had nothing to do with the killing. Family members of Anderson, himself shot to death in 1998, also denied his involvement.

Shakur's death, up to that point, had become the most violent chapter in a nasty feud between East Coast and West Coast rappers. It was matched months later, in March 1997, when Wallace was shot to death in Los Angeles. No arrests have been made in either case.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

And with us now to talk about all of this, with Vibe Magazine, is Hyun Kim, thanks for being with us this morning.

HYUN KIM, VIBE MAGAZINE: Thanks for having me.

CALLAWAY: You know, it's been so many years and we're still talking about it. You know, what has been the buzz this week, following the L.A. Times article?

KIM: I think when the story broke, a lot of people were shocked, obviously. Some of the revelations that were in there, especially saying that B.I.G. was a part of the shooting was a surprise to a lot of people, and it opened up a lot of wounds. A lot of people kind of want to see this case solved, and they want to put it behind them. But, it's a very painful thing and when a story like that breaks out, it kind of reminds us of why we miss him so much.

CALLAWAY: Biggie's mother even has said that she's afraid that this kind of story could bring about more violence.

KIM: Well, I think any time you implicate people or any time there's finger pointing, you're going to have a lot of misunderstanding, a lot of miscommunication. Of course, people in hip- hop kind of -- you want to avoid that. I mean, this was a very painful time for everyone that was involved. And for this to come out now is a shock.

CALLAWAY: You know, it's not only looking back, but looking way back. Because the East Coast/West Coast war that I think everyone knew about. You know, we saw moments when they supposedly had made amends and that things were -- you know -- back on the mend. And, now these wounds have been opened again. So, what now?

KIM: I think what now is that everyone just needs to be careful; everyone is kind of reassessing the facts that was -- especially in the story -- trying to figure out what the real truth is. And, I think the fact that there's still in the news is kind of speaks to what kind of icons Tupac and Biggie were. That they were one of the most beloved rappers of the time, and to have both of them murdered so violently at the top of their game is something that's still very difficult for a lot of us to deal with.

CALLAWAY: Well, Tupac Shakur was certainly known not only as a musician, but as a movie star. And, what kind of contribution do you think B.I.G. made?

KIM: Well, I think B.I.G. was one of the first rappers to really help hip-hop cross over and make it what it is today. I think if you speak to a lot of rappers, if you speak to Ja Rule, Nelly, and Eminem, the top rappers of today, they'll tell you that they were influenced by B.I.G.'s style, his charisma, his story telling, his ability to have party songs as well as street songs. That's something that's still missing today.

CALLAWAY: Also, we know as you mentioned, Tupac still having a big influence on people in the hip-hop community; I think we have a ranking now of just how important he is even though the has passed along. I think he ranks third, only behind Elvis and John Lennon in posthumous profits. Certainly, still very popular.

KIM: People still want a piece of Pac. I think that, you know, his success after his death just speaks to what an icon he was. Just like other successful icons, like Bob Dylan to Kurt Cobain, he spoke to a generation. He was the voice. And people will still cling to that.

CALLAWAY: And lest we forget, that these two gentlemen were once friends.

KIM: I think that's the sadder thing. You know, the saddest thing right there is that Biggie and Tupac; I mean, Tupac used to spend the night over at Biggie's house. And, this so-called East Coast/West Coast beef just kind of blew out of proportion. A lot of things were said that shouldn't have been said and it just -- and we lost Biggie and Pac, two of the biggest rappers of all time.

CALLAWAY: Hyun Kim thanks for being with us.

KIM: Thank you.

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