Chuck Philips [click to read], the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter whose
story in the Los Angeles Times connecting Jimmy “Henchmen” Rosemond and
Puff Daddy to Tupac‘s shooting at New York’s Quad Studios was retracted
earlier this year, is leaving the paper.

Philips is among the 150 editorial
staff who are departing either through buyout or lay off, Kevin
Roderick
wrote on his LAObserved.com blog on Tuesday, adding that
Philips requested and was given a buyout. An e-mail to Philips seeking
comment wasn’t immediately returned.

Philips was the author of a
controversial, two-part article published in September 2002 that
concluded Tupac was murdered by a member of Compton-based Southside
Crips
in retaliation for his stomping out of Crip Orlando Anderson in
the lobby of MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The article quoted anonymous
sources that claimed Notorious B.I.G. was in Vegas and colluded with
the Crips to murder ‘Pac.

Philips won the Pulitzer Prize,
journalism’s top award, in 1999 for his reporting on the entertainment
industry. His departure leaves a void in the Times‘ coverage of Hip Hop, with only a handful of staff and freelance writers
knowledgeable in the culture.

Since the days of Cheo Coker, it’s never
been a place friendly to Hip Hop,
” a Times writer who asked to remain
anonymous said. (Coker was a Times staff writer who went on to write
Biggie‘s biography). “He left the paper over 10 years ago, and there’s
a lot of guys here now who are reaching in the dark