R.I.P. Zip

R.I.P. Zip
September 12, 2012
R.I.P P-A-C,

R.I.P. B.I.G.,
R.I.P. Z.I.P.,
R.I.P, as 50 says, enough of that shit. Raise a glass, hoist a flag and take a moment to reflect, on the passing of a true hip-hop dignitary: Eric “Von Zip” Martin.

Zip died August 27, 2012.

No disrespect to Chris Lighty, but everybody who’s anybody in rap knew Zip: Big, Pac, Puff, Jimmy Henchman, Bumpy, Barry Hankerson, Frank, Janice, Melvin, Jekyll, Wolf, Buck and Big L. Global Music Corporations too.

In Death, as in Life, Zip made his exit in style, an impeccable suit, an ornate casket, a horse-drawn carriage, leading a star-studded procession up and down the streets of Harlem to Benta’s Funeral Home.

With Lil Kim and Cameron among the celebrities gathered for the wake, many wondered whether Zip’s favorite “Nephew” would show: that Bad Boy CEO of many names: Sean John Combs, Puff, Puff Daddy, P-Diddy, Diddy, Iamdiddy, Swag, Chairman Of The Board, and (who has recently started referring to himself as) Ciroc Obama.

Eric Von Zip, Mike Dean and Jeff Tweedy celebrating Zip’s birthday at Zip Code Harlem

Back in the day, Puff and Zip were tight, logging long days at Bad Boy and longer nights at Daddy’s House. Although Diddy had not seen Zip in ages, he blew in to pay tribute to his “Uncle” – and said a few words in honor of the magnanimous OG who literally saved his life.

Not only was Zip the godfather of Biggie’s son, he was a Harlem music aficionado who owned a nightclub on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.: Zip Code. While his contributions to Bad Boy are unclear, he co-executive produced records with Puff’s close friend, Czar Entertainment chief Jimmy Henchman and Blackground boss Barry Hankerson, including the soundtrack for “Exit Wounds,” a film that starred Steven Seagal and DMX.

Following in the footsteps of his mentor, Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson, Zip semi-ruled Harlem’s underworld on and off for decades. He knew every OG on the East Coast and practically every new kid on the block across the nation. Zip drove a bulletproof Mercedes, operated offices on both coasts, and moved effortlessly in and out of both entertainment and underworld circles.

In fact, it was Zip who introduced Puff to the Southside Crips, a formidable street gang based in Compton, CA, with whom Zip had operated a profitable pharmaceutical business for nearly a decade. A fortuitous introduction indeed.

The Crips came to the rescue when bad blood broke out between Bad Boy Entertainment and Death Row Records, where Suge Knight employed Compton Blood gang members as bodyguards. (Crips and Bloods have long been mortal enemies and warring factions.)

The Crips say Zip worked out a deal with Puff for the gang to guard Bad Boy whenever they traveled West. The shot-caller of the gang has intimated that the arrangement commenced in Anaheim following a 1995 Jodeci concert.
Bad Boy partied with the Crips in Vegas, the gang says, after Mike Tyson’s 1995 prizefight with Peter McNeeley. Members of the gang attended West Coast recording sessions and, according to the Crips, Zip brought Big into Compton that year to check out South Park.

An argument erupted in March 1996 backstage at the Soul Train Awards. Crip gang members drew guns to defend Big and Bad Boy against Pac and his Death Row Blood bodyguards. A fierce standoff ensued, but no shots were fired.

The Compton Police Department, LAPD, Las Vegas Police and FBI conducted an early morning raid in Compton in October 1996, locking up dozens of Crip and Blood gang members. According to the search warrant, the cops were trying to quell a gang war sparked by Pac’s murder. Some of the Crips arrested in that sweep, the cops alleged, had provided protection for Bad Boy.

According to “Murder Rap,” a book published last year by ex-LAPD Det. Greg Kading, a Crips shot-caller said Puff offered to pay the gang $1 million for the murders of Suge and Pac. Puff allegedly ordered the hit after dinner at Greenblatt’s Deli on Sunset Blvd, according to LAPD records.

The Crips shot Pac Sept. 7, 1996 in a drive-by about a block from the Las Vegas Strip following a Mike Tyson/Bruce Seldon championship bout. (He died 9/13/96.)

Six months later, Biggie was gunned down in an identical drive-by outside the Petersen Automotive Museum, about a block from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Several witnesses inside the Petersen party told police they saw Southside’s shot-caller approach Puff and ask if he needed security, after which they saw him approach Lil Cease, and ask the same question. Witnesses then saw the shot-caller approach Biggie, who told his bodyguard to let him through. “He’s cool. I know him,” Big said. The two spoke briefly. Moments after leaving the party, Big was murdered.

Zip was there at the MGM, when Pac got lit up. With Keyshawn Johnson on Fairfax Avenue, before Big wound up in the morgue.

These are facts you won’t find on Sean Combs’ Wikipedia Page.

Zip is mentioned nowhere. And he’s not the only omission. The almost Forbes billionaire photo-shops out every undesirable who helped pave his way to fame and fortune – no matter how important a role they played.

Unlike you and me, Diddy need not be defined by pesky inconvenient facts. In the tradition of a cheesy Bad Boy B.I.G. repackage, Diddy “re-mixes” his past to remove socially unacceptable figures as Uncle Zip, as well as recently convicted crack kingpin James Rosemond, AKA “Jimmy Henchman” – a long-time friend and business associate.

Diddy History deletes any reference to his former best friend, murdered felon Anthony “Wolf” Jones, and incarcerated elementary school buddies and business partners Corey “Buck” Jacobs and Kenneth “Big L” Kemp, as well as Black Mafia Family drug lord Demetrius “Big Meech” Flenory.

In Diddy History, many ex-friends, like many ex-Bad Boy artists, simply do not exist.

Zip was very much alive the day he called me 15 years ago, out of the blue, after I wrote his name in an article about B.I.G’s stalled LAPD murder probe. He didn’t like the piece, and let me know.

Zip and I first met in 2000, on a brisk winter evening in Manhattan. I offered to buy him a drink at The King Cole, my favorite bar. As I waited for him to arrive, my cell rang. Zip asked if I could meet him out front of the St. Regis instead.

The second I walked through the door, a tricked-out Escalade rolled up, with Zip behind the wheel, decked out in a plush full-length mink coat and matching pork-pie hat. The passenger window rolled down. Zip signaled for me to jump in.

We drove around Manhattan, talking through our misunderstandings, listening to music, discussing art, crime, and the quality of California hemp. Zip stopped at a liquor store, bought some provisions, and kept driving. An hour later, he dropped me back at the St. Regis. We shook hands, and off he drove, down 55th Street.

Over the next 10 years, I took the A Train up to Harlem every time I traveled East. One evening, at Zipcode, over scotch, Zip bitterly complained about how Puff had stabbed him in the back – for no apparent reason, just abandoned him, kicked him to the curb, as if Puff suddenly got Altzheimer’s. “Look, you come all the way from California. 3,000 miles. You make a point to stop by and see me,” Zip said. “Puffy has never once set foot in this club.

Zip’s health deteriorated swiftly. He spent years in and out of the hospital, battling cancer. Plus, he suffered incapacitating bouts of severe back pain, following a serious car accident, in which he had been rear-ended.


Last week, artists, cops and criminals across the nation were abuzz about Zip’s passing. One infamous, wise ex-colleague summed up the situation, succinctly:

“His secrets die with him.”

For the record, I sent Combs a dozen questions on Friday regarding Zip and their long-standing relationship, and the story I was writing. On Monday, Combs’ spokeswoman Keesha Johnson, vice president of DKC Public Relations, informed me that Sean was not available for comment.

Thanks for reading.


Compton Search Warrant Impala Search Warrant Redacted Lil Cease Inteview
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39 thoughts on “R.I.P. Zip”

  1. Strange that a southside shot caller would approach three men that he was already providing protection for and ask them if they needed protection? Sounds like they had a problem with communication. Why would the shot caller ask all three? Clearly he would know who to contact. Maybe he was asking for the payment for Pac’s murder. Puttin puffs crew on notice. Sounds like he didn’t get the answer he was lookin for. B.I.G. then gets murked. Pay your debts.

    1. Yup that’s what was reported in a Doc..puff was ignoring the calls for that money, if I remember correctly may have gave a lesser sum…assuming it would appease the crips..etc etc

    2. That makes a LOT of sense. Puffy has done a lot of shady stuff. One reason I believe we don’t know who killed 2Pac and Biggie is because Puffy is blocking it. Imagine the reaction of the hip hop community if they knew that Biggie died because Puffy wouldn’t pay the people he hired to kill 2Pac.

    1. Chuck Philips is actually more credible than people give him “credit” for:
      On March 17, 2008 Philips wrote a Los Angeles Times article stating that Jimmy Henchman ordered a trio of thugs to rough up Shakur. (Court case exhibit: USA vs James Rosemond Case # 1:11-Cr-00424 5/14/2012 Document # 100, exhibit 1:) The article, which was later retracted by the LA Times because it had partially relied on court documents which turned out to be forged, was thought to be vindicated in 2011 when Dexter Isaac admitted to attacking Tupac on orders from Henchman.[31][32][33] Following Isaac

  2. P diddy is untouchable and everyone who messes with him either ends up dead, broke or in jail. I wonder why that is. Do you believe in the Illuminati Mr.Phillips

  3. I’m glad you’re doing your thing! They blackballed u for telling the truth. It’s time for the world to know what happened!

  4. I remember being in High School when Chuck’s story Who Killed Pac ran on the LA Times. At firt i thought it was BS cuz i always thought Suge had him killed cuz Pac was leaving Death Row. After reading the book Murder Rap….Chuck’s inital reports were legit all these years. 12 years before this book. Many props Chuck and apologies for doubting you.

    1. no, seems like he is saying that because puff didn’t pay the crips for pac’s murder what he was supposed to, they got big. but puff is responsible for pac’s death.

  5. I never had doubts about your story Chuck.I read the book murder Rap and I believe what was said in that book.It all adds up.Good read Chuck,You should write a book.

  6. Great article Chuck and thanks for the mention of Murder Rap, that was honorable. You didn’t mention the incident in which ZIP was shot. I don’t have much info on that event. Any thoughts?

  7. We all know Puff and his links to Hench and Zip had Pac killed. They were also suppose to kill Suge that night, but by Pac trying to jump in the backseat shielded him from the bullets. Suge tried to stop Pac from jumping in the backseat, he was trying to make him duck, thats what ur suppose to do when ur getting fired at, but Pac was new to the game and didnt have experience like Suge. Puff and BIGs family with the help for a British journalist and a corrupt ex cop have put the finger on Suge, for Pacs murder. The truth is Puff had Pac murdered, Suge is has been used as a scapegoat by the media to take the eye of the ball, thus the murders will never get solved. Think realistically what mad man would sit in a car as 13 shots are fired into the car, you cant predict which way bullets will fly, the shooter couldnt even aim right, he was a gangbanger not a professional marksman, he shot Pac 4 times and only one bullet was fatal and he still didnt manage to kill Pac straight away, what a shitty shooter he was.

  8. Puffy gettin robbed like a bitch, to hide the fact
    he did some shit he shouldn’t have did, so we ride em for that
    And that nigga that was down for me, restin dead
    Switch sides, guess his new friends wanted him dead
    Probably be murdered for the shit that I said
    I bring the real, be a legend, breathin the dead.

  9. I’ve been following your writing on Tupac for a long time, thank you for being relentless as you search for the truth and report the facts about Tupac’s murder.

    I see you’re using a WordPress based site, I can upgrade your site for no charge. My site is also WordPress based, KingNick.com, just check it out… I would customize the site exactly how you want for no fee, contact me so I can hook you up Mr Philips

  10. Something I’ve always wondered was who called the fire department the night they shut down the party? The fire department doesn’t just drive by and say “Hey let’s go in and shut that party down.” Did the phone call come from event staff? Event security? My point is that it would be crucial for a hit man to have a point of reference for a target to leave the building. Could the call have been made by an off duty police officer (Death Row Employee) to shut down the party? The police reports say that 9mm handgun ammo marked Geko rounds were found at David Macks (Former LAPD police officer who many say was employed by death row) house. A black Impala and a shrine to Tupac. Those special rounds of ammo are designed to pierce metal/steel. The so called 9mm Gecko bullets are sold exclusively at two distributors in the U.S. – one in California and one in New Jersey. What kind of shell casings were found on the scene of the BIG murder? Yup. 9mm Geko rounds.

    Some say Mack was at the party. His time card at work said he was on vacation when BIG was killed. It is my opinion that BIG was killed in retaliation for Pac by Death Row. No doubt. The only question is if Diddy/Hennchman really put out a contract to the Crips for Pac and Suge. Or if the Crips just acted on a whim after Pac decided to put his hands on a SouthSider named Orlando Anderson. It would make sense for the Crips to go for the kill then go after the money whether Diddy asked or not. Make no mistake about it. Orlando Anderson was tied to many murders in Compton. He was a cold- blooded killer. Hmmmmm

    1. Buddy I admire you for having a smart opinion, the closest opinion to reality that I ever saw at somebody. Have you read Murder Rap by Greg Kading ? I think this is the closest to the truth we”l ever get. The guy has no reason to fabulate, he was a detective who worked for the police. He confirms my opinion that Pac was killed by Orlando Anderson and Biggie by Suge Knight in retaliation. The question is WHY ? What are the motives ? Well for Biggie it’s easy, but why did Anderson , Keffe D and other filthy worthless crip scums want to kill Pac and Suge ? Was it a set-up by Bad Boy or they acted in the heat of the monent, after OA was stomped ?

  11. I’ll right away seize your rss feed as I can’t find your e-mail subscription link or newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Please let me understand so that I may just subscribe. Thanks.

  12. Chuck Phillips,
    You have done humanity a great service with your
    investigative reporting.
    Could i pay you to put together an article for
    a Vietnam Veteran who is also a free-lance writer.
    Please e-mail me with your contact information!
    Carl Banks Jr.

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