In a morbid twist on the years when they were still alive to drop competing tracks, The Notorious B.I.G.’s FBI files have been answered by the feds’ papers on Tupac Shakur—although unlike the in-depth (though still frustratingly murky) investigation into Biggie’s murder, Tupac’s files are focused entirely on death threats he and his fellow West Coast hip-hop stars allegedly received from the Jewish Defense League. According to the files, the pro-Israel nationalist organization—characterized by the FBI as a domestic terrorist group—was found to have been extorting money from various rappers by phoning them up to say that their lives were in danger, then offering them protection in exchange for money. Yet although there are records of JDL calls to Tupac before his death in 1996, the files detail how the FBI were unable to use these to draw any sort of conclusive connection, either to his death or the supposed extortion scheme—which they also believed targeted Eazy-E.
The JDL’s involvement with Tupac, Eazy-E, and other Death Row artists is nothing new: It’s long been known that when Dr. Dre left Ruthless Records to form Death Row, the negotiations were presided over by JDL bodyguards, who were hired by Ruthless executives Mike Klein and Jerry Heller after Suge Knight allegedly threatened (or even assaulted) Eazy-E. Recounting in his memoir Ruthless that decision to hire a JDL security force, Heller said it was purely to protect themselves, not only from Suge Knight but from others who were making threats against Eazy—and that in fact, Eazy was so enamored of the organization (in particular its motto, “Never Again”) that he supposedly told Heller he wanted to make a movie about them. Nevertheless, these new files detail the FBI’s suspicion that both Eazy and Tupac were victims of the group’s scheme to shake them down, even if they could never prove it.
Of course, while the JDL connection is bound to be inflammatory (check out the comment boards at any hip-hop fan site today for an example), there are still many who would dismiss it as just one of several conspiracy theories, or even red herrings purposefully distracting from the “truth,” such as pinning the blame on Suge Knight, or believing that Tupac faked his own death and fled to Cuba. And as Nah Right astutely points out, there’s still something missing here—namely any other, likely far juicier files the FBI have on Tupac and his murder. So even with this newly released (albeit long-rumored) information, ultimately we’re no closer to knowing who killed Tupac than we ever were. All it really does is point out, yet again, that hip-hop sure used to be a lot more serious and complicated than today’s “vodka wars.” [via HipHopDX]