11 Conspiracy Theories About The Murder Of Tupac Shakur

Hip hop artist Tupac Amaru Shakur was a musical icon who took the '90s rap scene by storm. Most known for his lyricism, Shakur's songs stand the test of time. His tragic passing at age 25 cut short what should have been a highly successful music career. What's even more tragic is that no one has quite figured out why (or how) Shakur was slain. His case was a high-profile unsolved homicide. On September 7, 1996, Shakur and record producer Suge Knight were driving in a car along the Las Vegas Strip when the young rapper was fatally shot in a passing car. In a medically-induced coma, Shakur passed a few days later in a Nevada hospital on September 13. Who offed Shakur? There are plenty of theories about his passing, but which one is true?

In the mid-1990s, the West Coast hip-hop scene was led by Death Row Records head honcho Suge Knight and his marquee artist, Shakur. On the East Coast, Sean "Puffy" Combs ran the hit factory Bad Boy Records, whose flagship artist was The Notorious B.I.G. (a.k.a. "Biggie" or "Biggie Smalls"). The Tupac Biggie feud, as well as their labels, ramped up throughout the mid-'90s.

So who ended Shakur? Some argue Knight put a hit on his number-one artist because Shakur wanted to leave the label for monetary reasons. Others implicated in Tupac conspiracy theories include Combs and 'Pac's arch-enemy, The Notorious B.I.G. The craziest theory of all? That maybe Shakur is still alive.

Here are the most outrageous theories about Tupac's passing.

Photo: Tupac Amaru Shakur Unofficial Channel / YouTube / N/A

  • Marion "Suge" Knight Put Out A Hit On Tupac Over Money

    Marion "Suge" Knight Put Out A Hit On Tupac Over Money
    Photo: Nick Leisure / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 2.0

    A 2002 documentary called Biggie & Tupac presented some interesting theories about Shakur's passing, including one that Knight ordered a hit on his superstar artist with whom he was having some monetary disputes. It claimed Shakur was planning to split from Death Row, and in retaliation, Knight wanted him taken out. Knight then had Biggie taken out in order to take suspicion off of himself for Shakur's case. Interestingly, Knight reportedly owned (or just took) Tupac's money.

    Corroborating this suggestion was the late Jerry Heller, the controversial former manager of pioneering West Coast rap group N.W.A. Before his expiration, Heller claimed Knight “unquestionably put the hit out" on Shakur. Knight, who was riding beside Shakur in the car when the rapper was shot, allegedly pulled his friend in front of himself as a shield.

  • Tupac Faked His Own Passing And Is In Hiding

    One of the most popular theories about Shakur's passing is that he isn't actually gone at all. In fact, some believe he's really alive, hiding out in luxurious locations all over the world. Why? Shakur assumed the moniker "Makaveli," a reference to the Renaissance philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli, who supposedly suggested faking a passing in order to evade enemies. Some claimed "Makaveli" was an anagram for “Am Alive K."

    The sleeve copy of Shakur's final album, The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, which was released posthumously, contained the sentence "Exit 2Pac, Enter Makaveli,” suggesting rebirth under a new name. There have been Shakur "sightings" all over the world, in which people claim to have seen the artists (or lookalikes), and he is reportedly frequently seen in the Caribbean. In 2018, a man named Michael Nice said he was part of the security team that helped Shakur escape Las Vegas, first to Barbados and then to Cuba in the aftermath of his "alleged" shooting. Nice previously had told media, "Why [do] you think nobody [has] been arrested if they said they [are] the one[s] that killed Tupac?" Nice reportedly passed in December 2018.

  • They Found The Fatal Tool Used, But The Feds Destroyed It For Suspicious Reasons

    They Found The Fatal Tool Used, But The Feds Destroyed It For Suspicious Reasons
    Photo: Cocoparisienne / Pixabay / Pixabay License

    Adding fuel to the conspiracy theory fire, a 2017 docu-series revealed the fatal tool used in the Shakur case was discovered in a Compton backyard in 1998. The now-defunct Compton Police Department took the gun into evidence and handed it over to the LAPD after the department was dissolved. 

    In 2006, a deputy working on The Notorious B.I.G case discovered that the property where the evidence was found belonged to a girlfriend of a Crip gang member. 

    But the piece of evidence was never handed over to the Las Vegas Police Department. Why? According to documents obtained by the documentary crew, a federal prosecutor was worried it might alert potential conspirators. Very strange indeed. 

  • The Right-Wing Jewish Defense League Was Influencing Tupac

    The Right-Wing Jewish Defense League Was Influencing Tupac
    Photo: Paal K. / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    Before Shakur's end, he was allegedly being forcibly influenced by an extremist group called the Jewish Defense League (JDL), a right-wing organization that identified as a domestic terrorist group. The JDL allegedly blackmailed him for money (or said Shakur was in danger) then offer him protection in exchange for cash.  

    Did they have something to do with his passing? It's unknown. But Shakur wasn't the only artist threatened by the JDL. The FBI also mentioned N.W.A.'s Eazy-E as one of the group's targets.

  • The Illuminati Organized A Hit

    The Illuminati is a secret organization (that may or may not exist) that has huge influence and spans across the world. Several famous people were allegedly ended by the Illuminati, and other huge events, like terrorist attacks, are coordinated by the group. Some even say they had something to do with Shakur's passing. Theorists allege the title of his album Don Killuminati meant Shakur had ties to the Illuminati

    Why? That's unclear. But there is alleged proof the group had a hand in it. Namely, the group is named in Jay-Z's N****s In Paris as Shakur's killers. Some went further to say Jay himself is an Illuminati member who helped end Shakur. 

  • Sean "P. Diddy" Combs Wanted Tupac Gone To Protect Himself

    Sean "P. Diddy" Combs Wanted Tupac Gone To Protect Himself
    Photo: Daniel Incandela / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    Some accused Sean "P. Diddy" Combs as the man behind Shakur's passing. Combs has always denied the allegations, but former LAPD cop Greg Kading said Diddy paid Crips gang member Duane Keith "Keffe D" Davis $1 million to off his arch-rivals, Knight and Shakur. The shooter was allegedly Keffe D's nephew, Orlando "Baby Lane" Anderson, who coincidentally got into a fight with Shakur hours before his end.

    Why would Diddy want the Death Row team gone? In 1995, an associate of Knight's, "Big Jake" Robles, was fatally shot. Knight believed Diddy and his crew were responsible, and he wanted revenge. Allegedly afraid for his own safety, Combs was said to have hired men to take out Knight and Shakur to protect himself. Combs has denied there is any truth to these theories.