With the release of his iconic album in 1996, All Eyez On Me, Tupac—regarded as an urban prophet, of sorts—delivered angry and urgent lyrics, and shocked his fans by profoundly predicting his own premature death: “I been shot and murdered, can tell you how it happened word for word / But best believe n—-s gon’ get what they deserve.”[1] Just months after this album was released Tupac’s prophecy came to fruition in what is regarded as one of the most perplexing murder cases of all time.

At 11 p.m. on September 7, 1996, after attending a high-profile heavy weight fight in Las Vegas, Nevada, Tupac was gunned down in the passenger seat of his vehicle by a drive-by shooter in a white Cadillac. He was shot four times, leaving him in critical condition and died six days later from the injuries he sustained. [2]

Or did he?

Almost immediately after news broke of the iconic rapper’s untimely death, rumors swirled and spread violently around this controversial and inexplicable tragedy—and this reaction was not unwarranted. The combination of mysteries surrounding his death conjured the perfect storm around which conspiracies are grounded.

Some of the conspiracies that developed around the death of the hip-hop legend include theories of gang-related hit-men, inside-jobs and of course, the Illuminati. But the most widely accepted and followed conspiracy suggests that the rapper was never gunned down at all. According to hard core fans and theorists, Tupac is still alive and kickin’ it (and probably in Cuba).

Figure 1: Fans of the late rapper and followers of the conspiracy have claimed to have seen the rapper out and about. This photo depicts a man who bears striking resemblance to Tupac.

This conspiracy caused a media frenzy and journalists, churning out piece after piece about the strangeness of his death, only fueled the fire. High profile media outlets and organizations such as MTV.com, Gawker, and The Rolling Stone all ran stories touting conspiracy related evidence and theories. To the common reader (and especially those who may lack media literacy), many of these websites are seen as absolute authoritative sources, and could easily convince the masses to fall into conspiracy traps.  

As if publicity alone isn’t enough to push conspiracies to the forefront surrounding the rapper’s death, many individuals who were closely involved with the rapper and his death have made comments which seem to support the theory that Tupac was never killed on that night in ‘96.

When speaking to TMZ reporters in 2014, the rapper’s former label boss, Suge Knight (who was driving the vehicle at the time of Pac’s death) insinuated that he’s on board with theorists regarding Tupac’s alleged death: “Why you think nobody been arrested if they said they the one that killed Tupac? Because Tupac not dead. If he was dead, they’d be arresting those dudes for murder. You know he’s somewhere smoking a Cuban cigar on an island.”[3]

And Suge isn’t the first from the industry to side with conspirators. American author, producer, and rapper, “Chuck D,” famously offered 18 speculations regarding the death: Why wasn’t there a funeral? Why was Shakur’s body cremated so quickly? Where are the witnesses? [4] As a major player in the music industry and as political activist, Chuck D’s opinion is heard and regarded by many.

Before analyzing the logistics and weaknesses regarding the conspiracy, it’s important to recognize that the facts and coincidences surrounding and supporting this theory are, undoubtedly, strange. Here are just a few pieces of suggested evidence cited by Jason Parham at Gawker that support conspirator’s theories about Tupac still being alive and kickin’ it: [5]

  1. Shooters were never found and an assailant was never charged for the murder.
  2. The official coroner’s report does not match Tupac’s official driver’s license height and weight stats.
  3. Tupac’s mother and the medical staff are the only witnesses who saw the rapper following the shooting and preceding his death.
  4. Tupac’s album that was released post-mortem in ‘96 is titled, Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory. and was released under the pseudonym “Makaveli” as a nod to Niccolo Machiavelli, a philosopher who famously wrote, “to fool one’s enemies, fake one’s death.”
  5. Tupac’s death occurred seven days after the shooting further attributing meaning to the album’s title (“the 7 Day Theory”)
  6. Since the rapper’s death, seven albums have been released under his name using tracks that were said to have been recorded before his death.
Figure 2: This photo, said to have been taken on the night of the shooting, raises two questions: If Tupac was shot on 9/7/96, why does the photo indicate it was taken on 9/8/96?

Many believers of this conspiracy have latched onto recent Tupac “sightings” which have been posted all throughout the web. Selfies and photos of Tupac look alikes have been analyzed and touted as cold hard evidence that the rapper is still around, and ready to come out of hiding. These photos call to attention that it’s important to be wary of facilities and fabrications in any conspiracy. In this age of photoshop and image manipulation, an image alone can not be proof of anything, unless it can somehow be proven as undoctored.

Figure 3: This photo, taken in 2015, depicts a man who strongly resembles Tupac. The photo first appeared in a video on Youtube which has accrued over 1.5 million views.

Despite these suspicious photos and facts, there are still many logical grounds around which the theory can be challenged. Firstly, many logical fallacies can be identified within the supporting facets of the conspiracy. As previously mentioned, Suge Knight supported the theory by making radical statements insinuating that Pac was never killed. His motivation for speaking out could come from a biased standpoint in order to deflect attention, as he has become the center of another developing conspiracy about Tupac’s death.

This fallacy, defined as deflecting criticism and placing the blame elsewhere, is known as Tu Quoque. Believers of this conspiracy argue that Suge had major motivation to kill Tupac in order to stop him from leaving his record label, Death Row Records. As Tupac was killed and never able to leave the record label, Knight has been able to continue to profit from Tupac’s works posthumously. [6] This heavy accusation spread like wildfire in the media—what better way to stop the theory dead in its tracks than to fuel another extremely popular and radical conspiracy.

Furthermore, believers of the conspiracy tend to churn up question after question regarding the attack, however, they are not often able to find answers definitively. They are committing the “Burden of Proof” fallacy—they’re placing the responsibility to prove their claims elsewhere, and never actually answering these claims themselves. This is almost universally true with all conspiracies—if all claims could be answered with cold hard facts, the conspiracies would be debunked, or proven to be true (in which case, they would no longer be considered conspiracies).

So how does a conspiracy such as this one come to be so widely accepted? Often, through the dissemination of propaganda and its relative techniques, a conspiracy message can be become widespread, and many people can be convinced of the conspirator’s arguments. In the case of this specific Tupac theory, the conspiracy itself is a direct appeal to Tupac fans’ emotions.

During the time of his death, Tupac was a rising legend, reaching the ranks of those who are regarded as the best musicians of all time. His fans did not want to believe that he was killed. They would do anything and cling to any glimmer of hope that he might have survived—it made coping with his passing less devastating.

Before booking a ticket to Cuba to search for your favorite late (or not so late) rapper, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. If Tupac was really waiting to come out of hiding all of this time, wouldn’t he have done so by now?
  2. Would his posthumous success be motivation to return to the limelight to capitalize on his earnings?
  3. Why, 20 years later, would he still be motivated to be stay incognito?



[1] Josephs, By Brian. “Tupac Shakur — Rappers Who Correctly Predicted Their Own Deaths.” The Boombox. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Nov. 2016.

[2] Staff, MTV News. “Rapper Tupac Shakur Gunned Down.” News. N.p., 13 Sept. 1996. Web. 06 Nov. 2016.

[3] Fleischer, Adam. “Suge Knight Says Tupac Is Alive And Living On An Island.” News. N.p., 02 May 2014. Web. 06 Nov. 2016.

[4] Errico, Marcus. “Tupac Shakur Is Alive!” E! News. N.p., 5 Sept. 1997. Web.

[5] Parham, Jason. “Tupac Is Alive (and Probably Living in Cuba): A Conspiracy, Explained .” Gawker. N.p., 31 Mar. 2015. Web. 06 Nov. 2016

[6] Weiss, By Jeff. “A Former LAPD Detective Thinks He Knows Who Killed Tupac | VICE | United States.” VICE. N.p., 17 June 2015. Web. 06 Nov. 2016.



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