Following the Soul Train Awards in 1997, artists and industry leaders came together at Vibe‘s afterparty at the side in L.A. That get-together was shut down early because of over-crowding, so many of the partygoers, including Notorious BIG and his crew, made their way out to their awaiting vehicles.
A little before 1:00 a.m. as he sat at a red light in the passenger seat of a GMC Suburban, Biggie was shot and killed by unknown assailants. Of the four bullets that hit him, only one was fatal. Jermaine Dupri has a vivid memory when it comes to that fateful evening because, according to him, he almost got into Biggie’s truck that night.
“Everybody was there, it was like a party,” Dupri told PEOPLE. “Everybody was at this afterparty in L.A. and me and Big we just had a great relationship so we was just talking before the party was over. He was talking about going to this Outkast party. One thing that Big…once you was his friend, he was just looking out for you, always. We came outside [and] his truck pulled up. My truck was still, I was still waiting for my truck and he didn’t want me to stand outside and wait ’til my car came. He wasn’t gon’ leave me just standing out there, so he was like jump in. As I was getting in, my truck pulled up. So it’s like that, that moment…it could’ve been, wow.”
He said the near-miss of being the vehicle didn’t bother him, but the loss of his friend tore him up. “Biggie leaving was like, crushing to me, though,” he stated. “Somebody so talented, such a great heart. Just to see that happen to them through this music situation. It’s crazy.” He added, “It happened so fast. ‘Cause even when the information came, I was pulling up to the Outkast party and somebody called me and was like, ‘Biggie got…’ I’m like, no way. That can’t be.”
Ominously, Dupri ended the story by saying, “I do know what business I’m in, and I do know that this business has a dark side.”