Biggie & Puffy Break Their Silence — ’96 VIBE Cover Story [PG.3]
“He can’t front on me, “ says Big. “As much as he may come off as some Biggie hater, he knows. Kne knows when all that hit was going down, I was schooling a nigga to certain things, me and [Live Squad rapper] Stretch—God bless the grave. But he chose to do the things he wanted to do. There wasn’t nothing I could do, but it wasn’t like he wasn’t my man.
While Tupac was taking shots at Biggie—claiming he’d bit his “player style and sound—Suge was cooking up his own beef with Bad Boy. At the Source Awards in August 1995, Suge made the now legendary announcement, “If you don’t want the owner of your label on your album or in your video or on your tour, come sign with Death Row.” Obviously directed at Puffy’s high-profile role in his artists’ careers, the remark came as a shock. “I couldn’t believe what he said,” Puffy recalls. “I thought we was boys.” All the same, when it came time for Puffy to present an award, he said a few words about East-West unity and made a point of hugging the recipient, Death Row artist Snoop Doggy Dogg.
Nonetheless, Suge’s words spread like flu germs, reigniting ancient East-West hostilities. It was in this increasingly tense atmosphere that Big and the Junior M.A.F.I.A. clique reached Atlanta for Jermaine Dupri’s birthday party last September. During the after-party at a club called Platinum House, Suge Knight’s close friend Jake Robles was shot. He died at the hospital a week later. Published reports said that some witnesses claimed a member of Puffy’s entourage was responsible.
At the mention of the incident, Puffy sucks his teeth in frustration. “Here’s what happened,” he says. “I went to Atlanta with my son. At that time, there wasn’t really no drama. I didn’t even have bodyguards, so that’s a lie that I did. I left the club, and I’m waiting for my limo, talking to girls. I don’t see [Suge] go into the club; we don’t make any contact or nothing like that. He gets into a beef in the club with some niggas. I knew the majority of the club, but I don’t know who he got into the beef with, what it was over, or nothing like that. All I heard is that he took beef at the bar. I see people coming out. I see a lot of people that I know, I see him, and I see everybody yelling and screaming and shit. I get out the limo and I go to him like, ‘What’s up, you all right?’ I’m trying to see if I can help him. That’s my muthafuckin’ problem, Puffy says, pounding his fist into his palm in frustration. “I’m always trying to see if I can help somebody.
“Anyways, I get out facing him, and I’m like, ‘What’s going on, what’s he problem?’ Then I hear shtos ringing out, and we turn around and someone’s standing right behind me. His man—God bless the dead—gets shot, and he’s on the floor. My back was turned; I could’ve got shot, and he could’ve got shot. But right then he was, like, ‘I think you had something to do with this.’ I’m, like, ‘What are you talking about? I was standing right here with you!’ I really felt sorry for him, the the sense that if he felt that way, he was showing me his insecurity.”
After the Atlanta shooting, people on both coasts began speculating. Would there be retribution? All-out war? According to a New York Times Magazine cover story, Puffy sent Louis Farrakhan’s son, Mustafa, to talk with Suge. Puffy says he did not send Mustafa but did tell him, “If there’s anything you can do to put an end to this bullshit, I’m with it.” The Times reported that Suge refused to meet with Mustafa. Suge has since declined to speak about his friend’s murder.