Following Tupac Shakur’s murder in Las Vegas in 1996, speculation about who the killer could be ran rampant. Some of the suspects most frequently named were people associated with Bad Boy Records, particularly Sean “Puff Daddy”Combs and Christopher “Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace. Proponents of this theory cited the “diss” song “Hit ‘Em Up” and Shakur’s previous shooting in New York as possible motives.
The bad blood between the West Coast and East Coast rappers that intensified after Shakur’s death led many of Wallace’s associates to advise him against traveling to California. Despite the possible danger, Wallace attended the Soul Train Awards in Los Angeles on March 8, 1997, where he presented an award to Toni Braxton and was booed off the stage. In the early hours of the following day, Wallace was shot dead, a murder that many saw as revenge for Shakur’s killing.
Outlawz member Yafeu "Yaki Kadafi" Fula, a part of Shakur’s entourage on the night of his shooting, told Las Vegas police that he might be able to identify the rapper’s killer. This could have led to major progress in the case, especially as the police had basically no leads, which some say was due to disinterest in investigating the crime. However, Fula himself was shot to death in New Jersey, less than a month after Shakur’s murder. The killing of a key witness so soon afterward led to further speculation that the Las Vegas police were not interested in solving the crime.
Often, fans refuse to believe that someone they admired could actually be dead, with celebrities such as Elvis Presley, Jim Morrison and Princess Diana rumored to have faked their own deaths to escape the public eye or a real or perceived danger to their lives. Tupac Shakur joined the list, with believers ticking off a long list of evidence that the rapper was in fact still alive.
Some clues that Shakur is still alive, according to believers, are found in his music. First, the sheer volume of unreleased tracks is regarded by some with skepticism, as what young artist would leave that much raw material? Shakur’s song lyrics and music videos also offer hints, with lines about his death and images of him as an angel in Heaven. Shakur’s use of the name “Makaveli” is also pointed out, as this name is based on that of the Italian Niccolò Machiavelli, who lived during the 15th and 16th centuries and is often said to have faked his own death.
In 2011, Dexter Isaac, an associate of Czar Entertainment CEO James Richmond, claimed responsibility for the 1994 shooting of Shakur. Isaac stated that Richmond paid him $2,500 plus the majority of the jewelry taken from the rapper during the shooting. Whether this confession is true or not, it doesn’t shed any further light on the murder of Shakur or that of Wallace, however. Both cases remain unsolved.
On April 15, 2012, Shakur made a surprise appearance onstage at the Coachella Music Festival, performing a set that included parts of "Hail Mary" and "2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted" (also often called "Gangsta Party") with Snoop Dogg. The appearance has spurred further speculation that the rapper may be alive, but his appearance was achieved through an optical illusion that dates back to the 19th century. This trick, called "Pepper's Ghost", is basically a manipulated reflection. Early reports referred to the image as a "hologram", however, and the misnomer stuck, with Hologram Tupac making headlines and even a Twitter account. It was rumored that producer Dr. Dre is considered taking the hologram on tour, after the sensation it caused at Coachella. However, Dr. Dre confirmed that the appearance was a one-time event.