Slate's 'Slow Burn' to Explore the Deaths of Tupac, Notorious B.I.G. in Third Season

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Notorious B.I.G., aka Christopher Wallace (left), and Tupac Shakur

The podcast will have a new host following Leon Neyfakh's departure.

Slow Burn is bringing its longform storytelling style to one of music's biggest unsolved mysteries. 

The podcast will return for a third season later this year that will focus on the murders of Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace, better known by his stage name The Notorious B.I.G. 

This will be the first season of Slow Burn without writer and host Leon Neyfakh, who left Slate in November to work on a new podcast, Fiasco, for subscription service Luminary. Replacing Neyfakh in the hosting chair will be ESPN reporter Joel Anderson, who previously covered the intersection of college sports, news and culture. 

"We're very proud of the two seasons we did with Leon," says Slate Podcasts director Gabriel Roth. "We're also really excited to work now with Joel Anderson to tell a slightly different kind of story."

Planning has been underway on season three since before Slow Burn's second season, which focused on Bill Clinton's impeachment, wrapped at the end of 2018. Early in the planning process, the team landed on the idea of exploring the late 1990s murders of the rap stars, which remain unsolved.

"We thought it would be interesting to try something in a different milieu," says Roth, though he acknowledges that the story has similar DNA to the sagas explored in Slow Burn's first two seasons. Like Watergate and Clinton's impeachment, it's a widely known story that, Roth adds, can be told in a fresh way by exploring new angles and details. Despite the change in subject matter, Roth says the new season "will be familiar to people who listened to the first two seasons." 

The biggest change will be the voice of new host Anderson, who joins Slate from ESPN, where he was a senior writer. The journalist, who got his start at the Associated Press, previously spent four years covering race, sports and culture for BuzzFeed. "What we need to make a season of Slow Burn is a writer who can take those familiar stories and turn them over and see what's underneath," says Roth, adding that in his previous work, Anderson would "come at stories from an angle that nobody else had." 

Anderson, in a statement, added, "The first two seasons of Slow Burn brought fascinating fresh perspectives to these well-known historic moments, and I'm excited for the opportunity to do the same with this story. It's almost surreal to have this chance to dig more deeply into the lives of the artists and people who influenced my generation and the music that was the soundtrack of much of my own life."

Slate produces around 30 podcasts, including the daily conversation show The Gist with Mike Pesca and the music-centric Hit Parade. Collectively, its shows were downloaded more than 180 million times in 2018. Slow Burn has been a breakout for the media company. Episodes of the show have been downloaded more than 15 million times. The Watergate-focused first season is currently being adapted into a six-episode docuseries for Epix.