I have dozens of questions for former LAPD homicide detective Greg Kading, but only one really matters.
“How sure are you about your theory of who killed Biggie and ’Pac?”
“One hundred percent,” responds the lead investigator behind the task force commissioned by the city of L.A. to unravel the murder mysteries. No pause to weigh his answer, just absolute confidence.
“This is undoubtedly the definitive explanation,” Kading continues, wearing a New York Yankees jersey, his blue eyes focused like a born interrogator. “I think that truth rings for everyone who has a background or history in investigating the case.”
He’s right. I’ve squandered countless hours over the last two decades watching documentaries and reading books, interviewing attorneys for the deceased and conspiracy theorists, ex-cops and former friends alike. Nearly 20 years after the death of 2Pac, Kading’s theory, thoughtfully laid out in the new documentary Murder Rap, might be the closest thing we’ll get to closure on the killings.
Directed by Mike Dorsey and based on Kading’s 2011 tome of the same title, Murder Rap’s controversial hypothesis alleges that Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs offered a million dollars to South Side Compton Crips to kill 2Pac and Death Row Records chief Suge Knight.
Murder Rap’s theory hinges on a video-taped confession from Duane Keith “Keffe D” Davis, the uncle of Orlando Anderson, the Crip infamously beaten down by 2Pac and Death Row forces at the MGM Grand just hours before the rapper was slain. Anderson allegedly pulled the trigger on that sweltering night in Las Vegas. But the money was never delivered, and since there’s no evidence that Combs paid the Crips for the hit, the accusation is almost impossible to prove in court.
“In the context of the time, none of it is unusual,” Kading says, sitting next to Dorsey at a Silver Lake café. “Puffy was in a very precarious situation and I don’t know that a lot of people would’ve done anything different if their own lives were in danger. You can’t go to the cops and say, ‘Please help protect me from Suge Knight.’ From Puffy’s perspective, the cops were working for Suge Knight. It was a preemptive situation.”
These theories have floated around in various iterations for years, but the documentary’s visual element and lucid storytelling bring a sharper clarity. Also, few things are more convincing than watching an alleged conspirator confess on camera.
“It’s one thing to read Keffe D’s confession in the Murder Rap book,” Dorsey says. “But it’s so much more compelling to be able to watch him do it with his street vernacular and voice.”
A producer and editor at the Discovery Network, Dorsey spent three years and more than $30,000 of his own money on this labor of love. Since the film’s release on iTunes last month, most stories about it have focused on the possible link between Combs and 2Pac’s death. But roughly half its run time is spent making the case for Knight’s role in the murder of The Notorious B.I.G.
Through complicated maneuvering, Kading and company extract a confession from Knight’s ex-girlfriend, alleging that the former Death Row don paid $13,000 to an associate named Wardell “Pooch” Fouse to kill Biggie. The evidence is as damning as it is unsurprising.
We’ll never get a smoking gun, but Murder Rap’s refusal to indulge in blatant conspiracy theories makes it a rap game Occam’s razor. It offers the most logical conclusion.
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“Before, you were offered self-contradictory, problematic conspiracy theories with nothing to back it up,” Kading says. “But I think this will set the story straight, and the conspiracy theories will die off. We might never get judicial resolution, but that doesn’t mean we can’t feel assured as to what happened. We’re trying to set history straight.”
An L.A. native, Jeff Weiss edits Passion of the Weiss and hosts the Shots Fired podcast. Find him online at passionweiss.com.