Jason Holley
The Unsolved Mystery of The Notorious B.I.G.
Rolling Stone Magazine

This was a huge story (8000 words) that touched on an incompetent police
department, murderous gangs, malfeasance at the LA Times, showbiz,
money, the biggest civil law suit in the city’s history, a devastated mother,
and an assassin who has yet to be brought to justice. The editors wanted
every single one of those elements included in the illustration. I understood
their desire to want to control the image—it was and is an important story
that had been painstakingly investigated and constructed over years—but
often, my job is to consolidate the information by distilling the story down
to its ’ essence thus sharpening the impact of the picture. In the case of
this painting, it was going to be a losing battle. The challenge was to make
this complicated painting look somewhat effortless and cohesive. The final
directive from the editors was that there be something to indicate that the
story was taking place in Los Angeles. The more I thought the absolute worst
cliché on the planet—the palm tree—the creepier and more appropriate
it seemed to me. If you live in Los Angeles, you learn pretty quickly that the
trees that populate the City of Angels are actually filled with rats.