“You’re nobody ’til somebody kills you”
A decade later, the officially unsolved murders of friends-turned-mortal enemies, rappers Tupac Shakur and Christopher “Biggie Smalls”/”Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace, continue to reverberate as popular myth and to have very real-world ramifications.
Last week, former Tupac friend and associate, Tyruss “Big Syke” Himes, filed a defamation suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Los Angeles Fox television station KTTV and hip-hop magazine XXL seeking unspecified compensatory, special, and punitive damages for alleging his involvement in the March 8, 1997 murder of Wallace in Los Angeles after a Soul Train Awards party at the Petersen Automotive Museum, presumably in retaliation for the Sept. 7, 1996 Las Vegas killing of Tupac Shakur after a Mike Tyson bout.
The suit claims that Inglewood-native Himes had a “pending lucrative record deal” with Treacherous Records that was scuttled by a July 2005 news broadcast on KTTV stating that Death Row Records mogul Suge Knight “used two associates to coordinate the hit” on Wallace, and that Himes was one of those associates.
Then in October of ’05, XXL ran a story stating that Himes was “involved in assembling the team to murder Wallace.” In the suit, Himes claims these allegations are “patently false,” that he did not “coordinate” or “assemble the team” to murder Wallace, and that he had “absolutely no involvement with the murder of Mr. Wallace.”
Himes claims that Treacherous refused to release his album, which had “very positive sales projections” because management was “afraid that its employees as well as other artists affiliated with the label would be physically harmed by those followers of Notorous B.I.G. who believed [Himes] was responsible for his death.” Himes claims a “devastating effect on his professional reputation” and “significant financial damage” as a result of KTTV and XXL’s “reckless disregard of the truth.”
The suit also alleges that the sources for the stories actually identified another person — most likely Harry Billups (a.k.a. Amir Muhammed) — as the person responsible for the Wallace murder, but that the station and the magazine still chose to identify Himes in connection with the killing.
Himes earned the nickname “Little Psycho” early in life on the mean streets of South Central because “you have to be a little crazy to survive in the jungle,” he says on the Treacherous label website. As he grew, the name mutated into “Big Syke.” His music career began in 1990 with the formation of the Evil Mind Gangstas rap group – their album All Hell Breakin’ Loose was sold out of the back of Himes’ car.
He became friends with Shakur in 1992 and participated in a number of his hits, including “Picture Me Rollin’,” “All Eyez on Me,” “How Long Will They Mourn Me?” and “Bury Me a G.”
Prior to Tupac’s death, Syke claims to have been slated to be the first artist signed to the rap legend’s Makaveli Records.
In related matters, the family of Christopher Wallace have asked for an expansion of their wrongful death suit against the city of Los Angeles, contending a pattern linking police to crimes involving rap stars, including Snoop Dogg and Shakur. The family claims officers working for Knight’s Death Row Records were involved with the Wallace killing.
After four days of testimony last summer, U.S. District Judge Florence Marie Cooper declared a mistrial, stating that an LAPD detective had hidden statements by a jailhouse informant linking the killing to disgraced former officers David Mack (now a convicted bank robber) and Rafael Perez (the model for Denzel Washington’s character in Training Day).