The response to this article has been monstrous.
I published my first investigation into the supposed "death" of rapper Tupac Shakur back in 1999. Six years later, the overwhelming majority of search engine traffic to this site still comes from Tupac truthseekers seeking truth about Tupac:
I want to thank everyone for their support. In answer to the most common question, no, you don't need to donate to keep this site going. My love of Tupac is what pays me. That and the banner ads.
Tupac Shakur's life supposedly ended in September of 1996, a gangster who died a gangster's death, the victim of a drive-by shooting.
But in the years since, fans and friends of the rapper/actor have kept rumors alive that the star might not have died at the hands of an anonymous gunman that warm September night. It's here, at the supposed end of Shakur's life, where our journey begins.
Shakur, in 1995
The first album after Tupac's "death" was released in November of 1996: Makaveli: Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory. The title aroused some curious glances from those who knew Shakur. The first part of the title refers to Niccol Machiavelli, an old-school Italian philosopher who believed the faking one's own death was a sure way to foil his enemies. Machiavelli's two most famous books, Discorsi dopra la prima deca di Tito Livio (Life With Tito) and Il Principe (Ill Communication) were both written well after his death. Some wonder if Tupac's reference wasn't a signal to the world that things were not as they seemed.
This is perhaps mere paranoia, as this album was obviously recorded while Tupac was "still" alive. But then, one year later, R U Still Down? is released in stores (November of '97). This was a full 14 months after the performer's death, and Tupac appeared in three videos in support of the album. When questioned about this, Tupac's manager Robert Bloomenstein said, "Tupac was a forward-thinking man. His performances in those videos were shot more than two months before his unfortunate 'death,' and in no way should indicate that Tupac is still alive."
Mr. Bloomenstein's words weren't enough to keep the rumors from spreading, however, especially after November of 1998. That's when Tupac released 2pac's Greatest, a greatest hits compilation that included six new tracks. Record company executives claimed that these tracks were also recorded years before; yet this is contradicted by the timeliness of the lyrics. Tupac makes references to the film Armageddon in one track and in another he congratulates the Denver Broncos on winning the Super Bowl - both events taking place well after Shakur was supposedly in the grave. Again, rumors of a massive hoax emerged. Bloomenstein again dismissed the talk as nothing more than rumor mongering.
"This is nothing more than rumor mongering," said Bloomberg. "Tupac was a hard-working, busy musician and the continued release of new material should in no way indicate that Tupac is actually alive and living in South America under the assumed name of Jamal Millwood."
From July 1998. Is that him?
The next few years turned out to be the most prolithic of Tupac's recording career. Still I Rise (with Outlawz) hit the scene in December of 1999. The "Lost" Tapes: Circa 1989 appeared in April of 2000 and The Rose that Grew from Concrete came in November of that same year. Tupac recorded tracks for Suge Knight Represents: Chronic 2000, a compilation of all of the artists Suge Knight claimed to have killed. He also performed live for an album called Funkmaster Flex & Big Kap: The Tunnel. New Tupac tracks then turned up on Cellblock Compilation: Face Off II and Too Gangsta for Radio, before an album of all-new Tupac tracks, Until the End of Time, appeared in 2001.
"I simply wish the public could let Mr. Shakur rest in peace," said Bloomenstein. "Mr. Shakur has actively denied all accusations about still being alive, and he will continue to do so until the day of his, uh... nevermind."
When the album Better Dayz appeared in November of 2002, many music critics noted that Tupac had released more albums since his death (seven) than many of the nation's top living artists.
When that fact is coupled with the references to the World Trade Center attack in one track of Better Dayz plus the curious title of the B-side single Empty Coffin, rumors again were rampant. Is it merely the product of a rabid fan base that cannot let go of their beloved hero?
Photo taken last summer
One player in this drama who is not speaking out is Tupac himself. Rumors insist that Tupac will be headlining shows in Chicago, Milwaukee and Indianapolis in the next few weeks. Shakur can also be seen starring in the new thriller Streets on Fire with Keanu Reeves this summer and will allegedly host Saturday Night Live in October of this year.
Add that to the CNN story in Spring of 2005 which clearly stated Tupac was alive...
...and the fact that Tupac's name is misspelled on his tombstone...
...and the case becomes more than a curiosity.
Will we ever know the answer? I doubt it. In six weeks Tupac Shakur is releasing his eighth posthumous album, titled Death Faker. Some fans say the title contains a hidden message which could be taken to mean that Tupac didn't really die on that September night nine years ago. Some also claim that certain tracks, such as Still Breathin' and I'm not dead, motherfuckers contain hints about the star's supposed passing.
What can it mean?
But even if Tupac's life is over, our search for the truth cannot be. And there are millions of fans who will not stop until they have it.