November 1996: The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory is the last album in which Tupac had creative control and the first of many released posthumously. Conspiracy theorists point to this album as proof that Tupac is still alive. The album is released under the stage name Makaveli, a reference to Tupac's alter ego that was inspired by Italian philosopher Machiavelli, who supposedly advocated faking one's death to deceive enemies.
Captions by Genetta M. Adams
RIP to Biggie?
November 1998: Greatest Hits contains a previously unreleased track called "God Bless the Dead," which opens with "Rest in peace … Biggie Smalls." This fuels speculation that 'Pac is alive, since Biggie died after he did. But it's actually a shout-out to a friend of the song's collaborator, Stretch, of Live Squad. Oddly enough, Stretch is also dead when the song is released; he was shot in 1995.
Who Shot Ya?
January 2002: Biggie & Tupac director Nick Broomfield attempts to unravel the tangled connection between Death Row's Suge Knight and the Los Angeles Police Department. Some speculate that LAPD officers were involved in Biggie's death. Broomfield pulls at several threads but can't tie up all the loose ends. Still, the documentary makes an intriguing case that two of hip-hop's finest were more than just the victims of a bicoastal rivalry.
August 2002: Forbes magazine apparently has no trouble believing that Tupac is no longer with us, since the magazine places the rapper at No. 10 on its list of Top-Earning Dead Celebrities after his estate netted an estimated $7 million. In 2008 the magazine reports that the estate earned around $15 million. If Tupac were alive, he would have tied with Dr. Dre at No. 9 on the mag's list of Hip-Hop Cash Kings.
Dead Man Talking
November 2003: The documentary Tupac: Resurrection features an interesting twist: Director Lauren Lazin strings together archival footage and interviews so that Tupac narrates his life story in his own words and voice. The result is an eerie yet compelling film that goes on to be nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary feature (it loses to Born Into Brothels).
April 1, 2005: A very convincing but fake CNN Web page features a report claiming that Tupac is "alive and well." The story, which is widely circulated via email, says the rapper was seen casually strolling through a mall in Beverly Hills, Calif. The hoax is revealed in the fine print at the bottom of the page: "You just got April Fooled! Tupac's dead. Get over it."
Tupac in Nola?
April 29, 2009: Celebrity-gossip website TMZ posts photos of a man it claims is Tupac, who is spotted drinking Hand Grenades at a Bourbon Street bar in New Orleans. In a tongue-in-cheek story (we hope), the site said, "We were unable to get any sort of DNA evidence — but this photo is good enough for us."
June 2010: Tupac's hit "Dear Mama" is added to the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry. The poignant tribute is described as displaying "further evidence of hip-hop as a musically sophisticated and varied genre that can artfully encompass a wide variety of themes and musical influences." Tupac joins Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Public Enemy and De La Soul as the only hip-hop artists in the registry.
May 2011: The PBS website is attacked by the notorious hacking group LulzSec, which posts a phony story claiming that Tupac is "alive and well" (again!) and staying at small resort in New Zealand. The group has claimed responsibility for some high-profile hacks, including attacks on Sony and News Corp., and often uses popular Internet stories to deface websites.
Up in Smoke
August 2011: Members of the Outlawz, a rap group created by Tupac, make the shocking claim to VladTV.com that they smoked the rapper's ashes. They say they were inspired by a line in the Tupac-Outlawz collabo, "Black Jesuz": "Cremated, last wishes n——- smoke my ashes." A family spokesperson tells TMZ that Tupac's mom, Afeni Shakur, didn't give anyone permission to smoke her son's cremains.