|Biggie & Tupac (2002)
Starring: Nick Broomfield
Director: Nick Broomfield
So what's the true story behind the murders of rap superstars Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G.? Well, we may never know, but director Nick Broomfield certainly has raised some intriguing questions with his new documentary, "Biggie & Tupac." Dubbed "the most frightening moment in movies this year" by the LA Times, this investigative film was a hit at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival and, regardless of your opinions on the hip-hop industry, is a must-see for all you aspiring conspiracy theorists out there.
Broomfield, who's also directed documentaries on Heidi Fleiss and Kurt Cobain, initiates his latest project by revisiting Tupac's and Biggie's adolescent days on the streets of Baltimore and Brooklyn, respectively. Through a series of one-on-one interviews, video footage and Broomfield's own narration, we're shown how the once strong friendship between Tupac and Biggie evaporated into a vicious rivalry fueled by accusations, insults and gang violence. And when Biggie was shot to death just six months after Tupac met the same bloody fate, it logically was assumed that the feud between the two rap legends led to the tragic events.
But former LAPD detective Russell Poole's ensuing investigation suggested that this was something much more complicated than a long-standing grudge between East coast and West coast rappers. Crooked cops appeared to play a significant role in the killings, cops who worked off-duty for Suge Knight, the head of Death Row Records who was in the car with Tupac the night he was killed. Yet despite these findings, Poole was ordered to end his investigation by the LAPD and to this day, the murders remain unsolved.
Enter Broomfield, who throughout "Biggie & Tupac" interviews Poole on several occasions as well as many of the rappers' former associates, including family members, bodyguards, fellow artists, longtime friends and even Suge Knight himself. This is where the documentary earns its appeal because I'm certain I wouldn't have the sack to visit the places and talk to the people that Broomfield encounters throughout this film: rough neighborhoods in Baltimore and Brooklyn, known gang territories in Compton and even the prison where Knight was nearing the end of an eight-year sentence. And while Broomfield admits during his director commentary that he was nervous throughout the filming, he does a marvelous job of disguising that on camera.
Granted, "Biggie & Tupac" doesn't necessarily answer many of the questions surrounding these high-profile murders, but with the help of Poole and several other inside sources, including Biggie's mother Voletta Wallace, Broomfield asks the questions that seemingly so few involved with this situation have been willing to answer. Hitting the streets with only a cameraman and a microphone, Broomfield plunges into the dangerous world that took the lives of two cultural icons and emerges with a chilling film that dares to seek out the truth.