Behind the Death of Tupac, 27 Years Later

This month marks 27 years since legendary rapper Tupac Shakur was slain in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas, an event that altered the course of hip-hop history. At the time of his death, Pac was only a handful of months removed from releasing his fourth studio album All Eyez on Me, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in February with 566,000 units sold.

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Even in September, the LP was still captivating hip-hop and mainstream audiences, as its promotional double-sided single “California Love/How Do U Want It” remained inside the top 15 of Billboard‘s Hot 100, and the project stayed in the top 50 of the Billboard 200. Additionally, he was preparing to release his next full-length effort The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, a much-anticipated follow-up to All Eyez on Me where Pac would air out all his grievances with the rap industry.

All of this momentum came to a screeching halt, though, when he went to check out his good friend Mike Tyson’s boxing match in Vegas on September 13, 1996. After Tyson knocked out Bruce Seldon, Pac would hop in a car with Suge Knight, a close confidant of the rapper who also ran Death Row Records, the label he was signed to.

The car driven by Knight would eventually come to a stop at a traffic light, and a mysterious vehicle pulled up next to them and fired shots without hesitation. Pac sustained multiple bullet wounds and would die that night.

This sent the entire music world into a frenzy, as a global grieving soon commenced. Considering Pac, Knight, and all of Death Row were in an intense street rivalry with The Notorious B.I.G., Diddy, Bad Boy Records, and a litany of East Coast emcees, many believed they had something to do with the killing, even Knight. But, according to Faith Evans, who was married to B.I.G. at the time, he had no knowledge of the murder until he found out when the rest of the world did.

“The night [Tupac was shot] I remember Big calling me and crying,” Evans told MTV in 2002. “I know for a fact he was in Jersey. He called me crying because he was in shock. I think it’s fair to say he was probably afraid, given everything that was going on at that time and all the hype that was put on this so-called beef that he didn’t really have in his heart against anyone.”

The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory would end up coming out two months later, and would serve as Pac’s first posthumous release. Including hits like “Hail Mary,” “To Live & Die in L.A.,” and “Against All Odds,” the album would garner Pac another No. 1, selling a whopping 664,000 units in week one.

[RELATED: Revisit Tupac’s “I Get Around” Performance on the 1993 ‘Arsenio Hall Show’]

Earlier this year, though it was considered a cold case by many of the authorities involved, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police opened a new investigation relating to Pac’s death. Searching a home in Henderson, Nevada, in July, about 20 miles outside of Vegas, police confiscated cell phones, laptops, bullets, and other paraphernalia belonging to the homeowner Duane Davis, who went by the name Keefe D.

Keefe D has claimed previously that he was a passenger in the car where the shots were fired at Tupac, eventually ending his life. Additionally, investigators like Greg Kading, who was an LAPD detective in the 2000s who worked on the case, believe Keefe D’s cousin Orlando Anderson was the man who pulled the trigger. However, since Anderson is now deceased, he cannot be charged for the crime.

Instead, LVMPD is currently looking for accomplices and accessories to Pac’s demise. But, while they were able to obtain “items they believe could tie Davis to the murder” during the search, they also confirmed that the bullets they found were not compatible with the weapon that was used to shoot the rapper. The investigation still continues.

Photo By Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

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