Rap COINTELPRO Pt VI: Is The Murder of Biggie Setting Up a Civil War In Hip-Hop ?

Cedric Muhammad

Cedric Muhammad

Note: The Rolling Stone.com online version of the “The Murder Of Notorious B.I.G.” is only an excerpt from the full article which appears in the hard copy

After reading the feature article in the June 7th issue of Rolling Stone Magazine, “The Murder Of The Notorious B.I.G.” we suggest that the Hip-Hop community and industry brace itself for some serious mischief making. The publication of this article and the time of its appearance, which coincides with the news that the NYPD has Hip-Hop artists under surveillance has us just about convinced that something sinister is going on with the FBI, LAPD, NYPD and media outlets that looks just like the COINTELPRO of the 1960s and 70s and which may manifest violently this summer. In light of recent events, the stage has now been set, enough seeds have been dropped and a cover story written for a civil war in Hip-Hop and inside of the Black and Latino community that would involve East Coast Rappers, West Coast rappers, Bloods, Crips, Latin Kings and the Nation of Islam and which would serve the ultimate objective of the U.S. government’s phony war on drugs and gangs.

By far, this article is the most extensive, in terms of innuendo, rumor-mongering and potentially slander and libel that we have seen since we began writing this series about our belief that the Hip-Hop community and industry are the object of a destabilizing effort that bears a startling resemblance to the FBI-coordinated efforts to discredit, neutralize and destabilize Black organizations. In that effort everything from surveillance, informants, planted evidence and newspaper articles were used to destroy organizations and their reputations from within and in the court of public opinion.

Det Russell Poole

Det Russell Poole

This article in Rolling Stone, which relies heavily upon the account of a single LAPD officer, Russell Poole, works to pin the murder of the Notorious B.I.G. on Suge Knight and a group of LAPD officers. This is the second time that a media outlet has attempted to do this. The first effort began in early 1999 but was unsuccessful in large part due to articles printed in Brill’s Content and the work of another reporter who writes for the LA Times who poked numerous holes in the theory.

SugeKnight-cigar-225The Rolling Stone article, even though it acknowledges that the first effort to link Suge Knight with the murder of Biggie had some very serious problems with it spends not so much as a whole paragraph detailing how Brill’s Content and the second LA Times reporter poked wholes in the initial theory. Instead, Rolling Stone writer Randall Sullivan spends tens of thousands of words dropping seeds and speculating that Suge Knight, some LAPD officers and an individual named Amir Muhammad were involved in the murder of Biggie.

Sullivan very deviously and slyly works to even connect the murder with the Nation Of Islam, an effort that actually publicly began within hours of the shooting, by emphasizing the reports and police sketch indicating that the shooter wore a bow tie. Sullivan then states that Amir Muhammad and David Mack, one of the off-duty officers allegedly involved in the murder of Biggie, claimed to be Muslims.

Regardless to what their faith may be we find it especially peculiar that Sullivan and Rolling Stone, in thousands of words of writing, only make one reference to the second LA Times reporter who debunks the association of Amir Muhammad with the murder of Biggie. They only mention it briefly but do nothing to explain how the reporter saw through the loose reporting of his fellow reporter who first put in print the theory that Suge Knight, LAPD officers and Amir Muhammad were behind the shooting.

One of the more interesting things that comes out of the Rolling Stone article is that the reporter reveals how the government and the LAPD infiltrated Death Row Records as well as businesses connected with Suge Knight. They even make reference to a probe of Death Row Records and Suge Knight, which was/is being run out of the U.S. Justice Department.

But by far, the most interesting aspect to the story is that while it makes numerous efforts to pin the murder of Biggie on Suge Knight it drops some very peculiar information that seems to indicate that people way above Suge Knight and off-duty LA police officers have knowledge of who is actually behind Biggie’s murder.

Sullivan writes:

diddy flowers-225“One week after Russell Poole took over the Biggie Smalls murder investigation, the media learned that as many as a dozen law-enforcement officers had been on the scene when Smalls was shot to death. Six cops had been working for Smalls that night. The rapper was being shadowed as well by an assortment of undercover officers from the New York Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The New York cops believed that the same man who shot Tupac Shakur at Quad Studios had killed by one of their off-duty officers and might still be working for either Puffy Combs or Biggie Smalls. The ATF officers were part of a federal task force investigating allegations that employees of Death Row Records were involved in money laundering and the sale of stolen weapons.”

It is interesting that Sullivan leaves out the fact that the officers that followed Biggie’s car as he was killed were able to show members of Biggie’s entourage actual pictures of cars and individuals taken while they were following Biggie. That information shocked the members of Biggie’s entourage who were totally unaware that the government and NYPD cops were following them. This was reported in the LA Times, why didn’t Rolling Stone and Randall Sullivan indicate that in their article?

And why does Sullivan rely almost exclusively on information and sources within the LAPD when he knows that NYPD officers and ATF agents were following Biggie at the exact moment that he was shot? We think in light of that fact it would be incumbent on any reporter worth two cents to follow up that angle. If the NYPD and government agents had a birds’ eye view of Biggie’s murder why all of the emphasis on the LAPD?

LAPDWhy would a supposedly enterprising reporter like Sullivan not work his investigation from the actual scene of the shooting? Why do we have so much information in his article about people at the party that Biggie attended before the shooting where “Muslim-looking” individuals and off-duty police officers connected to Death Row were seen, and so little information about the government agents and undercover NYPD officers following Biggie’s car when he was shot?

To ignore the scene of the crime as Sullivan does, when information is available, is a sign of horrific reporting, at best.

Unless… the Rolling Stone article is part of the cover story being written not by Rolling Stone but through Rolling Stone, by the government, with the help of editors and a willful or ignorant reporter, Randall Sullivan, to pin the murder of Biggie on Suge Knight, off-duty LAPD officers and others in order to serve a larger purpose with implications on the Hip-Hop and Black communities.

The FBI and CIA, for years, used reporters and editors to influence stories and even plant stories in mainstream media sources that were uncomplimentary to various groups.

Notorious BIG DiddyA basic reading of the story indicates that Sullivan directly or indirectly was fed information from people in the U.S. government who have been watching Death Row and Bad Boy Records and who work with the LAPD and NYPD. No one can reasonably refute that from the manner in which Sullivan quotes unnamed sources and weaves in information into his story that had to have been given to him by the government itself, or through others in touch with the FBI or Justice Department.

The most striking aspect of the article which makes us believe that the story at least has been crafted, is that after spending the entire emphasis on the article and tens of thousands of words on making the LAPD the entire focus of the article, Sullivan turns his attention to the reality that the FBI is now working on an effort with the help of a Los Angeles jail inmate to connect Suge Knight with the murder of Biggie. The effort is not lightweight, according to Sullivan.

Our question for Sullivan’s reporting is: if the FBI has been investigating Biggie’s murder all along, why does he place the entire emphasis of his story on the LAPD and its investigation of the murder?

Even Sullivan’s primary source, Russell Poole, who evidently has knowledge of the FBI’s investigation, is quoted by Sullivan as saying, “The FBI has something big cooking…”

David Mack LAPD

David Mack LAPD

For Sullivan to leave out the NYPD, ATF, the Brill’s Content and LA Times articles which contradict the alleged Suge Knight, David Mack, Amir Muhammad connection with the murder of Biggie; and for Sullivan to leave out the FBI’s investigation into the murder, until the end of his lengthy piece, results in his writing and willful omissions fitting rather nicely with whatever the FBI is “cooking”.

Why is all of this information coming out now, on the eve of Suge Knight’s release from jail?

Has the government, law enforcement agencies and informants in the Hip-Hop industry/community planned something even bigger that puts not even Suge Knight’s life in danger, upon his exit from jail, but the entire Hip-Hop community and sectors of the Black community?

What kind of atmosphere is being created by the Rolling Stone article, media outlets like Newsweek, MSNBC (particularly the Imus in the Morning Show) hyping up Suge Knight’s release from prison, and what of the hidden efforts of the Justice Department, FBI, ATF, NYPD and LAPD – including these law enforcement agencies’ ongoing investigations focusing on Hip-Hop artists and record labels?

How does all of this relate to the recent revelation that the NYPD now has the entire Hip-Hop community under surveillance? And what about the recent arrest of Jay-Z while under surveillance by the NYPD’s Street Crime Fighting Unit and his reported feud with Jayo Felony, a rapper from LA who is said to be a Crip?

Who would benefit from a war in the Black community involving East Coast rappers, West Coast Rappers, Suge Knight, Puffy, Bloods, Crips, and even the Nation Of Islam – all of whom, through innuendo, are made to look like criminals in the Rolling Stone piece?

Fasten your seat belts.


Cedric Muhammad

Friday, June 01, 2001

Rap COINTELPRO PtV…The NYPD Zeros In On Hip-Hop

Cedric Muhammad

Cedric Muhammad

The news out this week that the New York Police Department (NYPD) has been specifically watching the Hip-Hop community should come as no surprise to those of you who are regular readers of our “Hip-Hop Fridays” columns. For nearly a year now, we have been writing about the documented relationship between the FBI, local law enforcement and the media in the 1960s and 1970s and comparing that relationship with its real and potential counterpart today, in reference to the Hip-Hop industry. Any skepticism for what we have been arguing should have been swept away by Jay-Z’s arrest two weeks ago, by the NYPD street crime unit, and by this week’s admission from the NYPD, that its gang intelligence unit has been monitoring Hip-Hop artists and the nightspots that they and their fans frequent.

Having said that we hope that no one is really so naïve as to believe the NYPD’s explanation of their activities, that they are doing what they are, to protect Hip-Hop artists. We argue to the contrary and believe that their explained efforts to “serve and protect” the Hip Hop industry is a cover story, or a front to really arrest Hip-Hop artists on gang, drug and racketeering charges. This has been their aim for some time now.

To be sure, there are certainly a few who may be guilty of crimes. But a full-scale monitoring of an entire industry, in its biggest city, is evidence of more than good police work. After all, if drugs and gangs are what they are after, the police would be better staking out raves, heavy metal concerts and the homes of Rock artists in search of heroin, cocaine and ecstasy drug use, as well as ties to organized crime.

Black-Panthers-Huey-Bobby-brownFar from an effort to save rap artists, the effort is an indication of a return to the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program – a program that was aimed at organizations like the Nation Of Islam, the 5% Nation Of Islam, the Black Panthers, SCLC and SNCC. Interestingly, two of the biggest files that the FBI kept during COINTELPRO, were its files on the NOI and the 5 Percenters – the two communities that arguably have had more impact on Hip-Hop than any other.

So now, an entire music industry joins that rarified air, previously the domain of activist and progressive organizations and those concerned with political consciousness, social change and community development. Now, that we have established this fact, we hope that the Hip-Hop community in general, and Hip-Hop artists in particular, are prepared for what awaits them and what has already been happening to them. We hope that they are prepared for their telephone lines to be tapped; their vehicles and homes to be bugged; agents to be placed within their organizations; their friends turned into government informants; letters and communications attributed to them, and even their forged signatures attached to such, without their knowledge; conflicts started between rivals and competitors; lies and half-truths about them planted in various media outlets, and yes, even violent action taken against them.

Every one of these acts, and much, much more were performed in COINTELPRO, with the help of the FBI and local police departments. In order to get an idea of how extensive the FBI’s efforts were, and for evidence of what we have described above, one should visit the FBI’s reading room, in person or online. foia.fbi.gov/foiaindex.htm .

photo credit: Panther 1619

photo credit: Panther 1619

You maybe surprised at some of the names the FBI has in its file index as part of COINTELPRO or other surveillance programs. The list includes several celebrities www.fbi-files.com/celebrities/index.html who the Bureau feared could move the public in ways counter to the desired direction of the status quo. Many of the most famous were White actors. The same fear exists today for Hip-hop artists who may have the most loyal fans in all of the entertainment industry.

The NYPD’s program is already being described as illegal and unconstitutional. Many believe that the program represents “profiling” – a practice that is increasingly coming under fire. It will be interesting to see if civil libertarians or the liberals and progressives which dominate the industry will come to the aid of the Hip-Hop community and defend them from what at the very least, is a massive invasion of privacy and at the most, an act of war.

We advise that Hip-hop artists should not be surprised to find little support from the labels that employ their services. For years, several record executives have been handing over marketing plans and providing information on a variety of artists to federal law enforcement officials. And on the local level, we know of at least two record label executives who have silent alarm buttons in their offices that connect them to the NYPD, in the case of an emergency or violent altercation. Of course these record label execs have their own artists in mind as the likely perpetrators of aggression.

Which leads us to a final point. If the Hip-Hop community is going to avoid the mistakes that the targets of COINTELPRO previously made, they will have to 1) begin to question their “friendships” with record label executives, lawyers and business managers who seem to have no problem providing privileged information to law enforcement officers 2) compare notes with one another 3) discontinue their recently increased leaning toward public disputes, 4) End any activities that can be construed as illegal and 5) they must seek ways to peacefully resolve conflicts and unite.

That is a tall order for rappers with enormous egos, and a disrespect for history, but if lives are to be saved today, a major change in the thinking of Hip-Hop artists and some of their fans must take place, in a hurry.

In light of the NYPD’s new program, if anybody can’t see what is happening by now, we don’t know what else will get their attention, before it is too late.

The more things change the more they stay the same. Hip-Hop…meet COINTELPRO.


Cedric Muhammad

Friday, April 27, 2001

Rap COINTELPRO Pt 3 (Five Percent Nation & the Golden Era)

Cedric Muhammad

In the last of our three-part series on COINTELPRO and its possible application to the Hip-Hop Industry and Community we take a look at some of the work that the U.S. intelligence community has performed via media outlets. The purpose in doing so is to establish that in fact, there exists documented evidence that the U.S. government has used T.V. Stations, radio stations, newspapers and their editors and journalists to spread misinformation, lies and half-truths designed to destabilize Black and progressive organizations.

Furthermore, said reporters and editors have been used to actually spy on such organizations as well as on liberation movements in foreign lands – all on behalf of the U.S. government. The New York Times revealed some of this in 1977 – showing that Reuters, CBS and several newspapers had been used by intelligence agencies.

The most instructive example, relevant to the education of the Hip-Hop community, that I have been able to locate in regards to finding an example of how media outlets were used to destabilize Black groups and organizations, is the work the FBI accomplished through media outlets in the 50s, 60s and 70s against the Nation of Islam. This example should be combined with a thorough knowledge of what the FBI did to oppose the Five Percent Nation of Islam, particularly from 1965-1967. Why? Because these groups (NOI and Five Percenters) are still around today and arguably have had more impact on the evolution of Hip-Hop than any other force – spiritual, political, economic or cultural. That point is almost beyond debate, just weigh the impact that the NOI and Five-Percent teachings have had on Rakim, Public Enemy, Ice Cube, Wu-Tang Clan and Lauryn Hill. And then look at the impact these individuals and groups have had on Hip-Hop, America and youth culture in general.

Minister Farrakhan and Jabril Muhammad

In a book entitled This Is The One, written by Nation of Islam Minister Jabril Muhammad (he was known as Minister Bernard Cushmeer when he wrote This Is The One) the question of the coordination of media outlets in a propaganda war against the Nation of Islam was raised. Keep in mind that Minister Muhammad began writing this book in the late 60s when COINTELPRO was not known to be in existence by the general public. This kind of reminds me of the situation that we find ourselves in today, where, for the most part members of the Black and Hip-Hop Community don’t have public knowledge of any intelligence campaign being waged against them by the FBI, CIA or NSA. Here is the actual quote of what Minister Muhammad wrote in his book which he began in 1968:

Back In 1959, the white press, as if on signal, launched a furious attack on Messenger Muhammad and The Nation Of Islam, following the dishonest portrayal of us entitled: “The Hate That Hate Produced.” Through such publications as Time, U.S. News and World Report, Newsweek, The Reporter, Esquire, Confidential, True, Saga, and a host of other magazines and newspapers; white America spewed forth a flood of articles, both superficial, spurious and poisonous in nature. A few among them did a creditable job, as far as they went. But the bulk of what was written was insidious and rotten to the core. But it did not hurt us.

There is plenty of evidence to show that much of the material was deliberately misleading. There are instances when reporters found interpolations in the text of their stories that were altered, here and there, by their “bosses” so as to misrepresent their findings of the Messenger and his followers.

The white people – newscasters, commentators, etc.,–have lied in concert. The television newsmen were not, and are not, above editing their films in such manner as to actually tell lies to their viewers. They conspired to deceive the public regarding Messenger Muhammad. This can be proven with ease. Members of a large orchestra do not accidentally play the same tune.

Mattias Gardell

Was Minister Muhammad right? According to a White Swedish Scholar, Mattias Gardell, he was absolutely correct. In Mr. Gardell’s book, In The Name of Elijah Muhammad: Louis Farrakhan And The Nation Of Islam, published in 1996 (28 years after Minister Muhammad began his book) Gardell verifies the truth of what Minister Muhammad wrote. Gardell writes:

In 1959, the FBI launched a large-scale media campaign. In this first phase, the FBI briefed selected journalists who wittingly channeled the view of the bureau to the American public. The special agent in charge (SAC) in Chicago, wrote:

“Originally the program was centered around espousing to the public, both white and black, on a nationwide basis the abhorrent aspects of the organization and its racist, hatetype teachings. This was done in such leading magazines as Time, U.S. News and World Report, Saturday Evening Post etc., as well as through newspapers.”

The sudden outburst of media interest is commented on by NOI apologist Jabril Muhammad (then Bernard Cushmeer). His view might have seemed overly paranoid to some readers, but Cushmeer was correct: “Back in 1959, the white press, as if on signal, launched a furious attack on Messenger Muhammad and the Nation of Islam…white America spewed forth a flood of articles, both superficial, spurious and poisonous [sic] in nature…They conspired to deceive the public…Members of a large orchestra do not accidentally play the same tune.”

In the notes in his book, Gardell makes reference to the actual FBI files that he saw, on which he bases his statements.

For context, for those so inclined, get the Church Committee Report, go into the Congressional Record and look into the Second Session of the 94th Congress and get Senate Report Number 755. You will find, very clearly, the various lies, tricks and evil which the U.S. government directed at certain groups in order to destabilize and destroy them. All of which are maneuvers used in modern warfare.

Go to the FBI’s own online website and read the files that they have released pertaining to COINTELPRO and how they had virtually every organization that even thought of doing any good under surveillance. The address is http://foia.fbi.gov/room.htm

Many dope emcess were members of the Five Percent Nation

Again don’t forget to play close attention to the Five Percenter file which is available in two parts. And lastly, apply what you see to what happened to the Hip-Hop community, particularly what happened to the industry after the golden era of Hip-Hop consciousness, which in my opinion, ran from 1988-1992.

(*update Jan 2011* peep this article on Influence of Five Percent Nation)

Was it an accident that the industry moved so dramatically away from this era? Was and is there any interaction between intelligence officials and music industry executives like there is between the CIA and executives in other industries (I hope most of you are aware of this and are familiar with industrial espionage and how the government relies upon business executives to supply info on other countries, governments and citizens that it does business with in foreign lands – to the skeptics, if you don’t know anything about this please do some research of your own or reserve judgment until I write about this in a future A Deeper Look)?

What about the dramatic impact that marijuana and now ecstasy is having on the Hip-Hop community? To what degree has the FBI, Justice Department and DEA coordinated its crime fighting and war on drugs and “gangs” with those who work in the music industry? We already know that the U.S. Drug Czar Gen. Barry McCaffrey, works with news outlets and editors and “rewards” them for content that is viewed as helpful in the “war on drugs”. If you are unfamiliar with this please visit Salon Magazine‘s expose on this at

Propaganda for dollars


Prime-time propaganda

And never forget how the war on drugs has hurt and not helped Blacks and Black Youth in particular. This month a slew of studies came out about this.

And remember, Gen. McCaffrey’s position was made a cabinet-level position by President Clinton. He is officially part of the executive branch of the United States government.

Finally play particular attention to how the East Coast-West Coast feud was played up in the media and how freely the FBI and police departments gave info to journalists covering the supposed “feud” and the murders of Tupac and Biggie. Get your hands on old newspaper articles that came out in major cities the week after Biggie’s murder, in particular. And of course please re-read my series in its entirety, whenever your schedule permits, things that were a bit foggy when I first began this series may now be more clear, hopefully.

May we learn the lessons of history and not have to wait 28 years before we figure out what has been going on today. If I seem paranoid to some of viewers, then I consider myself to be in good company (smile).

Thanks for staying with me during this series.


Cedric Muhammad

Friday, June 30, 2000

original article: http://www.blackelectorate.com/articles.asp?ID=139

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