19 years ago today, just two months after the untimely murder of Tupac on the Las Vegas strip alongside Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight, the fifth and final album, Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, was released. Recognized as ‘Pac’s most influential body of work, the Killuminati album was not only his most controversial, but its concept still has many of his fans believing that ‘Pac is still alive.
Besides his beef with Nas, Jay-Z, B.I.G. and almost any relevant New York rapper you can think of, the album hinges on the life of Makaveli, a play on the name of Italian writer and philosopher Nicollo Machiavelli, who is believed to have staged his own death.
That project would also see Tupac reclaim some artistic autonomy after the Death Row-celebrating All Eyez On Me. Released in February 1996, that double album had been Tupac's coronation as the newest star on the most dangerous label in hip-hop; but it often felt like Pac's persona was too immersed in the standard blunts-and-bitches fare that Death Row had been known for since 1992.
On his follow-up, Pac didn't lean so heavily on the typical Death Row hitmakers and sounds, recruiting his own set of producers and minimizing the guest appearances from label mainstays. It was clear that Pac wanted this album to be his album.
The album was originally set to be dropped in March of 1997, but after Shakur was killed, Death Row boss Suge Knight released the album four months later. Ironically, Brooklyn rap rival Notorious B.I.G. was shot down in Los Angeles, California on March 9, 1997.
The album, recorded in 12 days in August 1996, hosted a list of timeless, classic singles including 'Hail Mary', 'Me And My Girlfriend' and 'Against All Odds'; all of which were remade by premiere artists after Shakur’s death. The 5X platinum album has been listed as one of the top-selling Hip Hop albums of all time.