When Tupac Shakur was shot five times on November 30, 1994 after a night of recording inside Manhattan’s Quad Studios and emerged the very next day in a wheelchair to face sentencing on sexual assault charges, his legend was born. From that point on, in the eyes of many, Tupac was a hip-hop god, an immortal rhyming among us. Or, to use his own words, “bustas shot me five times, real n***as don’t die.”
Of course he did eventually die, tragically as the result of a drive-by shooting, less than two years after surviving this initial attack, but not without making a lot of noise and igniting a whole host of fires first. That night at Quad, Tupac saw his then friend and legendary rapper The Notorious B.I.G. with producer and record mogul Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs (his name before the million and one changes) coming out of the studio and, rationally or not, blamed them for his shooting.
This resulted in the biggest feud in hip-hop history, what came to be dubbed by many in the media as the “East Coast/West Coast beef,” and ultimately the deaths of both Tupac and B.I.G. Their murders have gone unsolved.
That’s the part of the story we know and gets repeated by hip-hop fans all over. Without much new information, it was the only story we had. All that is a bit different now.
On the eve of what would have been Tupac’s 40th birthday, a man by the name of Dexter Isaac reached out to AllHipHop.com and admitted to being the one responsible for the robbery and shooting of Tupac in November 1994.
Isaac claims to have been paid $2,500 by James “Jimmy Henchman” Rosemond, who Los Angeles Times reported Chuck Phillips claimed was behind the shooting in a 2008 article. Isaac is currently serving a life sentence plus 30 years behind bars after being convicted for murder, robbery, fraud, and witness intimidation charges for an unrelated 1998 incident.
He says he is coming forward now, after the statute of limitation has passed, in order to “give [Tupac and B.I.G.’s] mothers some closure,” and to prove Rosemond’s involvement. Isaac claims to have a chain he stole that night which belonged to Tupac to offer as proof to back up his admission. Rosemond, according to Isaac, kept one of the rings stolen that night to give to his then girlfriend.
This admission is shocking, to the say the least, and will surely be fodder for many discussions among hip-hop fans and anyone else who has become interested in this story over the years. But it also raises some questions. Why now? What does this help? Does this really change anything? Did Tupac know?
In an interview with VIBE magazine and journalist Kevin Powell, ‘Pac claimed to have known who was behind the shooting. He refused to name names, but insisted he knew. Was he just reiterating his theory that B.I.G. and Puffy were somehow responsible, or had he become aware of a conspiracy to have him robbed and shot setup by Rosemond?
We can’t certain of anything, but Isaac coming forward with this new information adds a new piece to the puzzle and we have to figure if and where it fits. Because if Tupac did know who was actually behind the shooting, his one man war against B.I.G., Puffy, and anyone else who pledged allegiance to their camp at the time seems even more irrational now, or it was fueled by something else inside of him that we will never know.
But does it matter? Surely, given what we know, if we had the ability to travel back in time and prevent the ‘94 shooting that lit the fuse and led to ‘Pac and B.I.G.’s untimely deaths, I don’t know a fan, friend, or family member of either man who wouldn’t jump at the chance. However, this doesn’t offer the type of closure we have yearned for all these years. It gives us a new, albeit muddy picture of what happened, but it doesn’t solve the murders. We still don’t know who was behind either of the triggers that delivered the fatal shots in Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
Isaac’s conscience is clear, but questions about Tupac’s death that have been eating away at the rest of us remain unanswered.