Say you’re watching a movie and the villain plots a drive-by shooting on someone. Now, imagine if that villain had the audacity to sit in that car next to the person they wanted dead. Would you believe that storyline? If you said yes, then you may believe in the fourth theory of the A&E mini-series Who Killed Tupac? It’s not uncommon for the murder of Tupac to be put on the violent and manipulative label owner Suge Knight. But, is it plausible?
What’s the motive of Suge killing his most prolific and best-selling artist?
After Tupac’s now-iconic album All Eyez on Me came out, several artists were leaving Death Row Records including Dr. Dre. Suge owed a large royalty to Tupac in October 1996, a month before Tupac died in September. Tupac had aspirations to create his own production company. He completed his three-album commitment to Death Row in a matter of months, and he wanted to move on to bigger and better things.
Tupac fired Suge’s lawyer, who was allegedly helping cook books to pocket profits the label owed artists, and many close to the label said this was the last straw. The last weeks of Tupac’s life, it is described that he often wanted to see the accounting of his money from the label, but he never got that chance.
If Tupac left Death Row, he would bring half of the artists with him. If this scenario reached court, it would have been exposed that Suge was stealing from Tupac. An unidentified source in the series made this point: You can make more money off a dead person — just ask Elvis.
It’s almost impossible Suge wouldn’t have been shot in the drive-by
This theory hinges on the positioning of the car Tupac was shot in. The white Cadillac that the shooters were in was ahead of Tupac’s car. They were able to fire just at Tupac instead of being parallel with the car that would have made it more difficult to just to aim at one person, according to journalist Randall Sullivan who has studied this case for 20 years. This explains how Tupac could have been targeted.
The investigative team put this theory to the test by recreating the scene based off witness accounts. Even with a weapon’s expert doing the shooting, the dummy representing Suge was shot three times, no sane person would put themselves in that position.
Suge tried to save Tupac’s life and Tupac wanted his label to be under Death Row Records
Suge ran his record label similarly the way the mafia ran operations: through violence and fear. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t care about his friend Tupac. A Death Row producer, Kurt Kobane (Yes, that’s his name), recounts the time Suge saved Tupac’s life, four months before Tupac was murdered.
Suge and Tupac were vacationing in Cabo, and while on a yacht, the two friends made a friendly wager about who could swim to the shore. Tupac jumped in first and he got half way, but he started to struggle, and that’s when Suge jumped in the ocean and save him.
If Suge wanted him dead, he could have let Tupac drown. It would have been much cleaner and would have looked like an accident. Kobane states Tupac wanted his label, Makaveli Records, to be distributed by Death Row Records. This pokes a large hole in and more or less deflates the theory that Suge is responsible for Tupac’s death.
Watch Who Killed Tupac? Tuesdays at 9pm ET on A&E, or next day on-demand.