On What Would Have Been His 40th, Talk About What Led To Tupac's Death

Originally published on June 16, 2011 11:22 pm

Today would have marked the rapper Tupac Shakur's 40th birthday. But beyond all the tributes of his music on radio and on the web, there's one story making the rounds that puts into question the events that led to his shooting death in September of 1996.

In a letter written from jail to AllHipHop.com, Dexter Isaac, who is serving a life sentence, confessed that he shot Tupac outside Quad Studio in Manhattan in 1994.

AllHipHop reports that Isaac told them he was paid $2,500 for the shooting by James "Jimmy Henchman" Rosemond, the CEO of Czar Entertainment, which manages Mike Tyson and singer Sean Kingston. Rosemond's lawyer responded quickly, telling The New York Daily News that, "It's a flat out lie."

So you're asking yourself why any of this would matter?

That shooting in 1994 was what set the stage for a fierce East Coast V. West Coast feud that ended in Tupac's death in '96 and rapper Biggie's shooting death in 1997. Here's how Entertainment Weekly explains it:

Tupac famously accused the Notorious B.I.G. and Sean Combs—he was still "Puffy" then—of being involved in the shooting, which helped heat the already simmering rivalry between rappers from the two coasts (a ridiculous feud that mostly centered around Suge Knight's Death Row Records roster and Combs' Bad Boy label). The East Coast/West Coast rivalry finally ended in March of 1997, when Biggie Smalls was gunned down in Los Angeles, only five months after Shakur was murdered on the streets of Las Vegas.

Tupac's claim was later thought to be confirmed by a story in the Los Angeles Times back in 2008, though the documents that supposedly corroborated it turned out to be false (the paper issued Combs a formal apology), and proved the case to be as seemingly opaque and unsolvable as ever—even as information from FBI documents linked to Biggie's murder were released earlier this year.

The Daily News reports that detectives from the New York Police Department plan on interviewing Isaac. Both Tupac and Biggie's murders remain unsolved.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.