On September 7, 1996, Tupac Shakur—who, with record sales estimated at 75 million is one of the most successful musicians in history—was gunned down in Las Vegas in a drive-by shooting. Since no one has ever been arrested for his murder, conspiracy theories have abounded.
Here is what is not disputed about Tupac’s death:
- Earlier that evening, Shakur, Suge Knight, and their entourage attended a Mike Tyson boxing match in Las Vegas.
- After the boxing match, Shakur got into a fistfight with Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson, an alleged Crips member who was killed by gunfire two years later. According to reports, Anderson was beaten badly—not only by Shakur, but by his crew.
- Shakur was sitting in the front passenger’s seat of the car that Knight was driving as they headed to a club after the fight with Anderson.
- While they were idling at a traffic light, a car pulled up to the right of their car and a gunman fired 14 rounds into their vehicle.
- Knight’s head was slightly grazed by one bullet, but otherwise he was uninjured.
- Shakur was hit four times. He was hospitalized and died six days later—on Friday the 13th.
Now let’s look at the theories about who killed him—or even if he was killed at all.
1. Tupac is definitely alive because he has been spotted in public since the alleged murder. When a famous pop idol dies, many fans have a hard time accepting it and will claim they faked their own death because the pressures of fame were overwhelming. This has been claimed of Elvis Presley, comedian Andy Kaufman, and others. Since Tupac’s death, people have claimed to have spotted him in:
- Cuba. As the theory goes, Tupac grew tired and afraid of the escalating rap wars and fled to Cuba to live with his aunt, the radical black activist Assata Shakur.
- South Africa. In 2016 a video emerged on YouTube called “Tupac is alive new proof 2016” emerged claiming that it showed Tupac living peacefully in South Africa.
- Somalia. Rapper Yaki Kafi was murdered in New Jersey three months after Tupac’s death. A man in Somalia recently came forward to claim “I’ve seen Tupac and Kadafi way after their said deaths – in Somalia. I’ve seen them both alive. I was in a car and they were heading in the other direction.”
2. Tupac hinted in his lyrics that he would fake his own death. While doing a guest spot on a Richie Rich record released after death, Tupac spat the following lyrics, which people used as evidence he is still alive:
I’ve been shot and murdered, can’t tell you how it happened word for word but best believe that n*****’ gonna get what they deserve.
The following lyrics on his song “Life of An Outlaw” are cited as proof that his death was planned:
All for the street fame on how to be managed, six months in advance to what we plotted, approved to go on swole and now I got it.
The track “Ain’t Hard 2 Find” contains what appears to be an eerie foreshadowing of his death:
I heard rumours that I died murdered in cold blood, traumatised pictures of me in my final states – you know mama cried. But that was fiction, some coward got the story twisted.
3. Tupac faked his own death and left hints with an album he recorded under the name “Makaveli.” Tupac recorded under the name “Makaveli” for the album The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory. It was a shout-out to Italian political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli, who had written the following passage:
Sometimes it has been of great moment while the fight is going on, to disseminate words that pronounce the enemies’ captain to be dead, or to have been conquered by another part of the army. Many times this has given victory to him who used it.
Conspiracy theorists say this is evidence that Shakur was only toying with us before he went into hiding.
4. The government killed Tupac? According to one theory, the CIA killed Tupac for giving voice to street gangs. According to another, the FBI put in him into the federal witness protection program in exchange for information about gangs. Others have noted that Las Vegas police didn’t seem remotely interested in solving the murder, which hints that something else was going on.
5. The number seven is the key. Numerologists note that:
- He was shot on September 7. Also, septem, the Latin root word or September, means seven.
- He was 25 at the time of the shooting (2 + 5 = 7}
- He died at 4:03 PM (4 + 3 = 7).
- His birthday was June 16. (1 + 6 = 7).
- He was killed seven months after the release of his last album.
- His career lasted seven years.
That’s a Tupac conspiracy theory aright.
6. The Jewish Defense League had Tupac killed to cover up their hip-hop extortion racket. This theory claims that the Jewish Defense League ran an extortion racket demanding protection money from Shakur and other hip-hop artists, threatening murder if they didn’t comply. Apparently Shakur didn’t comply.
7. Tupac is seen in a 1996 video wearing a brand of sneakers that weren’t available at the time of his death. In his 1996 video for “To Live & Die In L.A.,” Shakur is shown wearing an edition of Nike Air Jordans that weren’t released until two months after his death.
8. The story about Tupac’s alleged cremation doesn’t add up. Suge Knight has claimed that Shakur’s cremation cost him $3 million, which seems a bit pricey seeing as an average cremation costs about $1,000. Also, the man who allegedly performed the cremation disappeared shortly thereafter.
9. East Coast hip-hop rival Biggie Smalls arranged for his murder. This is one of the more popular and intriguing theories. Although Shakur was born in Harlem, he moved out West and was seen as the leading rapper in the West Coast scene. His former friend Biggie Smalls was from Brooklyn and at the time was the most famous East Coast rapper. But a 1994 Biggie track allegedly contained a reference that suggested he was behind a robbery of Shakur, who responded with a 1996 track claiming he’d slept with Biggie’s wife. As everyone and their mother knows, Biggie was killed shortly after Tupac was.
10. Suge Knight arranged for his murder. Let’s be nice and say that Suge Knight doesn’t have the best reputation. As this theory goes, Shakur, who recorded for Knight’s Death Row records, had planned to start his own record company and arranged to have Shakur killed for the disrespect alone. The only thing that doesn’t wash out in this theory is that Knight intentionally placed himself next to the hail of gunfire that killed Shakur.
11. Quincy Jones had him killed because Shakur refused his sexual advances. Yeah, that’s a theory. Jones denies it and few believe it.
12. The Illuminati killed him for using their name. This is proof you should never culturally appropriate the Illuminati… Or something…
13. Crips gang members associated with Orlando Anderson killed Tupac. The most likely explanation of all is that Orlando Anderson returned after his humiliating beatdown and either he, or his friends in the Crips (Shakur was associated with the Bloods) had him shot. Anderson’s Uncle Duane Keith Davis—known as Keefe D recently emerged to claim that he has cancer and has nothing to lose by finally admitting that his nephew was behind the shooting. He would not name the shooter, but he did insist that this was a hit by the Crips in retaliation for the beating earlier that night.