A previously unreleased manuscript further reveals the depths of rancor Tupac Shakur lived with in his final days.
Less than a month before his murder in Las Vegas, ‘Pac famously recorded the final album of his life (not career), The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, within a week in August 1996. Released under the alias “Makaveli,” while lyrically sharp and poetically introspective in pockets, the project followed suit with the themes that defined Shakur’s most successful, most complex and final year. Killuminati took direct aim at foes he believed wronged him — in the 1994 Quad Studios shooting attempt on his life and the sexual assault trial that landed him in a New York maximum security prison for much of 1995. Until now, the album’s original liner notes had never been released. And much like several Shakur artifacts (his letter to Madonna, the BMW he was murdered in, etc.), an original transcript of Shakur’s thoughts has hit the auction market.
In the short statement, Shakur blasts a multitude of people for a multitude of reasons. Jacques “Haitian Jack” Agnant for making the call for the Quad shooting. Walter “King Tut” Johnson for pulling the trigger. Biggie, Diddy, Little Shawn (the artist he was supposed to be recording a record with the night he was shot in 1994) and Jimmy Henchman for remaining “silent while quietly conspiring on my downfall.” The notes read like a manifesto of a man’s dying proclamation, so obsessed and hell-bent on revenge while unknowingly serving as a pawn in Suge Knight and Death Row’s endgame of a bicoastal war with Puffy and Bad Boy Records. Without shame, he once again name-checks Faith Evans, thanking her for her greatest weapon (“her low self-esteem” and “beat up p—y”). Names such as Jay-Z, Lil’ Kim, De La Soul and Donnie Simpson are also caught in Shakur’s verbal crossfire.
However right he felt he may have been, and whatever role some of these names may have plotted on his fate, this hatred led him into a demise that would shift pop culture forever. But the soliloquy is a far cry from what he hoped his legacy would be. “I want people to be talking about me like, ‘Remember when Tupac was real bad?’ ” he said shortly after his release from prison. “We all should get that chance. I just want my chance.”
While Shakur is eternally painted in history as rap’s greatest martyr, one of its most beautiful thinkers and cultural critics and perhaps the most influential name the genre will ever see, this is undeniably part of his legacy too. Venom and vindictiveness had overtaken his life. The result of a combination of manipulation, stubbornness and getting in too deep in a game where the only exit strategy is death. “I don’t wanna die,” he told VIBE in 1996, “but if I gotta go I wanna go without pain.” Tupac died angry with hate in his heart — the worst pain of all.