On September 7, 1996, legendary rapper Tupac Shakur was shot multiple times while he was the passenger in a car in Las Vegas.
According to reports, Shakur and Suge Knight, founder of Shakur’s label Death Row Records, were on their way from a boxing match to Knight’s club. A white Cadillac reportedly drove up alongside their vehicle and fired multiple shots into the car.
Shakur made it to the hospital where surgeons removed one of his lungs and placed him on life support. Six days later, he was pronounced dead.
Police never solved his murder.
Shakur’s death quickly became one of the most infamous unsolved murders in history. The mystery has led to numerous documentaries, feature films, and of course, conspiracy theories surrounding who killed Tupac — or if he’s even dead at all.
Despite evidence to the contrary, some people think Tupac is still alive. Let’s explore.
1. A gang member killed Tupac.
Of course, we can’t deny the truth behind Tupac's murder.
According to an LAPD source, Knight was a high-profile member of the Los Angeles gang Mob Piru, which was in a rivalry with the Compton Crips. The source told PEOPLE that when Shakur signed with Knight’s label, he, therefore, signed himself up as an enemy of the Crips.
Earlier on the day of the shooting, Shakur had gotten into an altercation with Crips member Orlando Anderson.
“It was simple retaliation: you mess with one of ours, we will mess with one of yours,” the source explained.
According to Vice, Anderson was indeed a primary suspect in Shakur’s murder, though police weren’t able to find enough evidence to indict him. A couple of years later, Anderson was also shot and killed.
2. P. Diddy killed Tupac.
Okay, so no one thinks P. Diddy (or Sean Combs, or Puff Daddy, or Diddy, whatever it is he’s known as these days) actually pulled the trigger.
But if you ask author and former LAPD detective Greg Kading, the music mogul played a key part in Shakur’s death.
According to Kading’s book Murder Rap, Diddy hired Crips member Keffe D for $1 million to take out both Shakur and Knight.
LA Weekly reports that Keffe D revealed on tape, "[Combs] took me downstairs and he's like, 'Man, I want to get rid of them dudes.' ... I was like, 'We'll wipe their [sic] out, quick. It's nothing.' ... We wanted a million."
In the confession, Keffe D apparently reveals that he was the passenger in the Cadillac that rolled up on Shakur and Knight while his nephew Orlando Anderson (yes, the same Anderson in the above theory) “leaned over, and...rolled down the window and popped him.”
Kading isn’t the only one making these allegations. Even Knight himself addressed them, telling TMZ in 2014, "...Puffy can get him a [sic] star and every rat in the world say he's the one who killed Tupac, or had him shot."
Of course, Diddy denies all allegations. "This story is pure fiction and completely ridiculous,” he wrote in an email to LA Weekly.
But if the police have all of this information, why does Tupac’s murder remain unsolved? Is it because Tupac is… alive?
Here’s what we know.
3. Suge Knight says Tupac is still alive.
In that same TMZ video where Knight references Diddy’s alleged connection to the September 1996 shooting, Knight asks why no one has ever gone down for Shakur’s murder. “Because,” he answers, “Tupac not dead.”
Whaaaaat? If anyone would know the truth, it’s Knight. He was in the car the night of the shooting (and even sustained some injuries of his own).
But still, he says, “if he was dead, they’d be arresting these dudes for murder.”
In fact, Knight is so convinced that Shakur is still alive that he’s reached out from jail (he was awaiting trial on murder charges at the time) to Ice-T and Soledad O’Brien for their upcoming special “Who Shot Biggie & Tupac?”
TMZ released a clip of the special where Knight says over the phone, “when I left that hospital, me and Pac was laughing and joking. So I don’t see how somebody can turn from doing well to doing bad.”
4. Suge Knight's son claimed Tupac is still alive.
Like father, like son. In 2018, Suge Knight's son Jacob Knight posted a series of since-deleted images to Instagram claiming Tupac is alive.
The photos depicted an aged Tupac next to current stars like Beyoncé and 50 Cent. "He never left us. They’ll be after me soon smh. For y’all tho." Jacob captioned the photos, according to CapitalXtra.
5. Did Tupac fake his own death?
Perhaps the strangest piece of evidence regarding the shooting has to do with the last photo taken of Shakur right before the shooting.
The shooting was reported to have happened on September 7th. But remember when cameras printed dates on developed photos? This supposed “last” picture shows the date for September 8th.
The person who reportedly took the photo told Complex that he snapped the picture as Shakur and Knight were sitting at a red light, and as the light turned green the two immediately drove off.
However, theorists have pointed out that it’s rather odd that Knight is driving the car without keys in the ignition.
Furthermore, some say Tupac’s face was superimposed. Take a look for yourself:
In 2015, a retired police officer reignited theories that Tupac is still alive when he came forward claiming he was paid $1.5 million dollars to help the rapper fake his death.
While in critical medical condition, the officer reportedly said, “The world needs to know what I did. I’m ashamed that I let a price be put on my word and I cannot die without letting the world know.”
This officer’s deathbed confession has since been debunked, but some say the idea isn’t all that outlandish. The officer claimed that part of Shakur’s elaborate plan was to have a body double taken to the morgue, which Popdust claims the autopsy photo proves.
According to Popdust, three things about the autopsy photo just don’t add up. For one, there aren’t any visible bullet wounds, which is rather odd for someone who was allegedly shot multiple times in the chest. Secondly, his head faces away from the camera, which makes it pretty hard to identify him for certain. And lastly, theorists say his ‘Makaveli’ neck tattoo is mysteriously missing.
Conspiracy theorists also claim the official coroner’s report doesn’t totally make sense.
While the report lists Tupac as being 6 feet and 215 pounds, theorists have pointed out that Shakur’s driver’s license (which was issued 4 months before his death) has him at 5’10” and 168 pounds.
What’s more, the social security number listed is not currently registered in the Social Security Death Index.
According to TMZ, Knight reportedly paid $3 million dollars to have Shakur cremated.
"The person who supposedly cremated Tupac ... this guy got about 3 million dollars .. personally from me ... cash ... and next thing I know I never heard from the guy or seen him again ... he retired and left."
There’s also the ‘7 Day Theory,’ which is not only the name of Tupac’s first posthumous album released under the name Makaveli (a reference to Nicolo Machiavelli, Nicolo Machiavelli, an Italian writer and strategist who discussed faking your own death to fool your enemies) but also believed to be the key to the reality behind his death.
Photo: Tupac 7 day theory
So if Tupac is still alive… where is he?
In his interview with TMZ, Knight references the fact that Shakur is “somewhere smoking a Cuban cigar on the island somewhere.” Hmm… interesting, considering Shakur’s infamous aunt Assata Shakur is currently under political asylum in Cuba after escaping prison.
In an interview, Tupac’s mom said that she believed her son was “tired. Tired of fighting, tired of being vilified,” and in the end, decided to “leave quietly.”
After reading all of the rumors, her comment could mean a lot of things. Leave the limelight quietly? Go quietly in death?
We may never know.