VIBE has a storied history with two of the most iconic hip-hop artists of all-time: Tupac “2Pac” Shakur and Christopher “The Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace. In the ‘90s, our brand closely covered the ascension of their careers as well as their untimely, unfortunate demises. With the murders of these two musical geniuses come long, twisted and 20-plus years of police investigations that brought no one to justice for their deaths.
In the wake of various theories, new information and coverage comes in the form of USA Network’s crime drama docuseries, Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac & The Notorious B.I.G. The 10-episode scripted program leans on the viewpoint and investigative work of the LAPD officers and detectives who worked the cases from the ‘90s until present day, specifically Greg Kading and Russell Poole. Forming the basis for the series is information gathered by Kading’s book Murder Rap: The Untold Story of Biggie Smalls & Tupac Shakur…; what viewers will witness is a myriad of thought processes by all those involved in the ongoing saga.
To dig a bit deeper into the mind frames of the characters, VIBE sat down with the illustrious cast members of this heavy body of work: Josh Duhamel (Greg Kading), Bokeem Woodbine (Officer Daryn Dupree), Jimmi Simpson (Russell Poole), new talent Wavvy Jones (The Notorious B.I.G.) and familiar face Marcc Rose (Tupac Shakur).
In the 30-minute sit-down, much is discussed, including how Woodbine set the scene of when he first met Tupac (which lead to his feature in Pac’s classic, “I Ain’t Mad At Cha” music video). Jones and Rose explain how they felt on set while feeling the spirits of their characters. Duhamel and Simpson go on to explore the connection between the cases in detail. These gentlemen, as a group, heap tremendous amounts of praise on the series’ writers and director, Kyle Long and Anthony Hemingway, respectfully. Both Long and Hemingway are no strangers to controversial productions.
Long has been integral to the USA Network’s show Suits. Emmy-winning Hemingway, directed the film Red Tails and the celebrated series, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. Both creators wanted to do something special with this project.
“We’re continuing to turn the page of our own history, to hopefully learn and heal from it,” says Hemingway. “It’s something special and exciting. I know for myself, it’s my era. Coming up with Big and Pac, composing my childhood was something exciting I latched on to when Kyle called me to be a part of this with him.
“I think the team that we are collecting, and the cast both in front and behind the camera, everyone seeing and understanding the opportunity that we have and not wanting that to go in vein.”
Based primarily in Los Angeles, Unsolved gives viewers from that era a nostalgic feeling, while those that are intrigued by the times of rap’s past are informed in detail and brought up to speed on the legendary happenings of the two friends that changed hip-hop forever.
Watch VIBE‘s Datwon Thomas roundtable discussion with the cast of Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G. above.