Conspiracy theories are, for the most part, difficult to believe. Meaning, most of them are dismissed without second thought. However, conspiracy expert Charles Pidgen says not to follow conventional wisdom and encourages us to search for truth that may be overlooked. I used this approach while looking into one of hip-hop’s biggest mysteries, the death of Tupac Shakur. Tupac was pronounced dead on September 13, 1996 after a drive-by shooting a week prior, but many people believe he is still alive today. This theory should be investigated further in order to determine the true fate of the acclaimed rap artist.
On September 7, 1996, Tupac Shakur went with Marion “Suge” Knight to the WBA heavyweight boxing championship between Mike Tyson and Bruce Seldon at the MGM Grand hotel. Before leaving the venue, Tupac and his crew got into a fight with Orlando Anderson (Hale, Andreas). A few hours later, Shakur and Knight were stopped at a red light in downtown Las Vegas as a white Cadillac pulled up next to them and fired fourteen shots into their vehicle. Tupac was hit four times and Suge Knight was left with only a cut on his head. Shakur was taken to the hospital, where he died six days later at the age of twenty five and his body was cremated soon after (“Tupac Shakur”). Yet, a popular theory claims that Tupac faked his own death to escape the limelight and move far away.
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While this may sound ridiculous, there are many facts and stories that either conflict with, or just do not quite add up with the accepted truth regarding Tupac’s death. The first being that there were fourteen shots fired into the car and Suge Knight, the driver of the car, was relatively unharmed with only a cut on his head (Connick, Tom). Knight is a large man at 6’2″, 260 pounds, making him a relatively large target. With that being said, it seems unlikely that Suge had not taken more damage than he did. However, this detail does not carry much weight until paired with other coincidences from that night.
Next, the murder was never solved, despite taking place on a heavily trafficked road in a highly populated city. On top of this, Tyson fights bring even more people into Las Vegas. So it sounds unusual that no one was able to identify the murderer, especially on this night in particular. Orlando Anderson, a Los Angeles gang member, was one of the prime suspects, but he was shot and killed before police had definitive evidence against him (“Tupac Shakur”). Nonetheless, you cannot simply say that he was the assailant just because the killer was never caught.
Moreover, the coroner’s report had Shakur listed at a height and weight of seventy-two inches and 215 pounds, whereas his driver’s license read 5’10”, 168 pounds (Parham, Jason). One could argue that his height and weight could have changed since he first got his license. However, due to the fact that his license would have expired in the year 2000 and that a California license must be renewed every five years, Tupac would have gotten his license in 1995 (“California DMV”). Less than a year is not much time for a twenty-five year old man to grow two inches and gain over forty-five pounds.
In addition to the conflicting stories, there was plenty of other suspicious activity going on as well. Such as, Tupac not wearing a bullet proof vest, even though he always wore one under his clothes when he was in public. He started doing this after being shot two years earlier. “So for him to leave his vest behind for a high-profile public event like a Mike Tyson fight is bizarrely out of character,” and questions whether or not this was an ironic coincidence or part of a plan kept from the public eye (Connick, Tom).
To continue the shady behavior, the man who cremated Shakur retired shortly after and has not been seen since (Young, Alex). Perhaps he received a large sum of money since Tupac was a celebrity. However, that would not explain his disappearance. This could suggest that the cremator was paid to keep quiet.
Furthermore, the last known photo taken of Tupac depicts himself and Suge Knight sitting in a car. Knight appears to be driving the vehicle. However, Jason Parham points out that there were “no keys in the ignition” and that ‘the date indicated by the photo is 9/8/96, which was the day after the shooting.’
The conspiracy also makes the claim that Tupac was inspired by Italian philosopher, Niccolo Machiavelli, who supposedly advocated faking your own death to fool your enemies. While Shakur was in prison, he became familiar with Machiavelli’s work and later began to go by the alias of “Makaveli” (Edwards, Brielle). This led many to believe that he was hinting that he faked his own death after an album was released under that name less than two months after the shooting in Las Vegas. Written inside this album, The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, are the words “Exit: 2pac, Enter: Makaveli” (Young, Alex). This album is one of seven that were released after Shakur’s death (O’Malley Greenburg, Zack). That means more albums have been released under Tupac’s name after his death than when he was alive.
Through my research I have found that there are many interesting “facts” that make Tupac Shakur’s death seem suspicious. I also noticed that many sources use similar arguments, but have some inconsistencies, leading me to believe that some truths have been twisted to convince readers that Tupac is still alive today. With that being said, I still think that is important to take Pidgen’s advice on how to view conspiracy theories, since there is no definitive proof pointing to either side of the argument.
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