On This Day: Legendary rapper Tupac Shakur shot at a stoplight

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On this day 25 years ago, legendary rapper Tupac Shakur, or 2Pac, was shot four times in the chest while waiting at a stoplight in Las Vegas.

The iconic hip hop artist was riding shotgun in a car driven by Death Row Records head Marian “Suge” Knight on September 7, 1996 when a white Cadillac pulled up alongside them on Flamingo Road and opened fire.

At least 12 shots were fired, four of which struck Tupac and one of which grazed the head of Suge Knight.

Tupac died six days later from the fatal blows. He was 25 years old.

Tupac talks into a walkie talkie backstage. Source: Getty Images
Tupac Shakur, or 2Pac, was shot four times in the chest while waiting at a stoplight in Las Vegas. Source: Getty Images

Despite it taking place on a busy street, a block away from the Las Vegas Strip, no one has ever been arrested for Tupac’s murder.

Tupac’s demise has prompted many conspiracy theories, with many pointing the finger at the Southside Crips, a gang from Compton, California. Tupac was involved with the Mob Piru Bloods, who are a known rival of the Crips.

Tupac 'signed his death warrant'

It’s said Tupac “signed his death warrant” when he and his Bloods bodyguards beat one of Crips members, Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson, in the lobby of the Bruce Seldon vs. Mike Tyson fight venue earlier that night.

“When he ran across the lobby of that casino and slugged another gang member, he signed his own death warrant,” said former Los Angeles Police Department detective Greg Kading, who led a task force to investigate the murder of Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G. aka Biggie Smalls.

Kady confirmed it was Anderson who later pulled the trigger in the drive-by-shooting that ultimately “cost him his life.”

Tupac and Biggie Smalls rapping on stage together in 1993. Source: Getty Images
Rappers Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls perform onstage in 1993 before the relationship turned sour. Source: Getty Images

Tupac and Biggie's beef escalates

Others, like Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chuck Philips, posited that it was Tupac’s friend-turned-rival Biggie Smalls (real name Christopher Wallace) who ordered the hit on the rapper and gave his attackers the gun. 

It’s well known that Wallace had previously offered to pay the Crips $1 million for the hit.

The public feud between the two rappers previously inspired the pair’s infamous beef tracks – Biggie’s Who Shot Ya? and Tupac’s savage response Hit ‘Em Up.

To this day, Hit ‘Em Up is considered the greatest diss track of all time, with violent threats made toward Biggie and fellow East Coast rappers.

It’s said the song’s release only exacerbated the East Coast-West Coast hip hop rivalry of the ‘90s and played a role in Tupac’s death – as he was shot three months after its release.

Tupac performs on stage shirtless wearing signature bandana. Source: Getty Images
Tupac and Biggie's public feud inspired his 'greatest' diss track Hit Em' Up. Source: Getty Images

What happened next?

Tupac’s death set off a series of events, which saw Biggie gunned down in a hit ordered by the West Coast rapper’s friend Suge Knight. It was a gun-for-hire Wardell "Poochie" Fouse who pulled the trigger.

Both Anderson and Poochie were killed before they could be charged. Anderson was shot and killed collecting a drug debt in 1998, while Poochie was gunned down riding his motorcycle in 2003.

As a result, the Tupac and Biggie cases remain "technically" unsolved.

Tupac remains one of the most influential rappers of all time, even in death.

His lyrical rawness, aggressive flow and social awareness has made him a symbol of resistance and outlaw spirit – which has inspired generations of rappers, including Kendrick Lamar and Snoop Dog.

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