The rapper’s unsolved murder in 1996 is one of music’s most enduring unsolved mysteries, and conspiracy theories abound about whether he actually died at all. Now the son of ‘Pac’s label chief is adding a new idea to the pile.
In a series of bizarre Instagram posts, Suge J. Knight asserted that the “Dear Mama” emcee is currently living in Malaysia. It started with a simple image that read “Tupac is alive” in black text, and next Knight shared a screenshot of a text fight he had with an anonymous source, who allegedly told him, “You said [too] much. Time for you to go.”
Then he added photos that appear to show an older Shakur with 50 Cent and Beyoncé, apparently as evidence. Throughout Knight’s Instagram story, he also mentions the Illuminati and capped it all off by insisting he’s “not on drugs.”
Pac was mysteriously gunned down on the streets of Las Vegas in a drive-by shooting on Sept. 7, 1996. More than 21 years later, in September 2017, an LAPD source involved in the investigation revealed to PEOPLE exclusively that attack was prompted by “gang retaliation” against the senior Knight.
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Shakur came of age on the rough streets of New York, Baltimore and Northern California, but his fatal association with street gangs began when he signed to Knight’s label, Death Row Records, in the fall of 1995. At the time, he was serving a 4½-year prison sentence after being convicted of sexually abusing a 19-year-old fan. Knight offered to finance an appeal in exchange for a three-record deal.
“[Shakur] wanted to get out of jail and he basically signed his life away to Suge,” the LAPD source told PEOPLE. “He didn’t want to do it, but when he does that they own him.” Knight was a high-profile affiliate of the L.A. street gang Mob Piru, then locked in a deadly rivalry with the Compton Crips. “Mob Piru was built off of Death Row,” the LAPD source said. “They had been around for a while, but Suge put them on the map and they started making money and became big.” By signing with Knight, Shakur “immediately becomes enemies with the Crips.”
On the day of his murder, Shakur was involved in a brawl with Crip member Orlando Anderson on the floor of the MGM Grand casino. Earlier, at a local mall, Anderson had tried to steal a Death Row Records medallion from one of Shakur’s entourage — a Mob Piru member — sparking a fistfight. Spotting Anderson at the casino, the hot-tempered rapper attacked. The LAPD insider said a former leader of the Crips admitted that Shakur’s death was revenge for this beating. “It was simple retaliation: you mess with one of ours, we will mess with one of yours,” the source explained. “If Orlando had never been jumped in the hotel, they never would have killed Tupac that night.”
Knight Sr. was sentenced to 28 years in state prison last month. The 53-year-old former hip hop impresario was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in a January 2015 hit-and-run incident during which a vehicle he was riding in struck two pedestrians, including witness Cle “Bone” Sloan, in Compton, California, killing 55-year-old Terry Carter.