Tupac Shakur's estate teases new music in cryptic '1998' message
Considered by many as the greatest rapper of all time, Tupac Shakur changed the face of hip hop. Following his death in Las Vegas in September 1996, his legacy has lived on through his music. However, what was once thought to be a known quantity of tracks, freestyles and mixtapes may actually be missing some material.
His official Twitter and Instagram accounts, which are managed by his estate, currently feature a photo of the late rapper along with “1998” and “Saturday 11/24”. Both accounts also link to a mysterious LinkTree website which, in turn, only has links to 2Pac.com, the 2Pac shop and a newsletter signup.
When it comes to the rumours that Shakur is still alive, this adds yet more fuel to the near inextinguishable fire. Just one month ago, Suge J. Knight, the son of Death Row Records founder Suge Knight, claimed Shakur is living in Malaysia.
Furthermore, the Blast reported in late September that the five-year lawsuit between Entertainment One and the Shakur estate had finally been settled. The suit, over royalties, reportedly ended in the estate receiving more the $1 million. However, even more interesting for fans was the detail that this includes a glut of unreleased master recordings which could be enough for two or three albums.
With no specific date set, the site indicated that the Shakur estate would be “cranking them out ASAP”. Relatives such as his sisters are expected to receive “big windfalls of cash” but there will also be “large contributions made to charities that meant a lot to both Tupac and his mother”, according to the report.
While the possibility of unheard music being released is perfectly likely, the claims that Shakur is still alive are more questionable. That said, in the 22 years since his death, many have contested the official version of events and pointed to purported holes in the story.
Shakur was involved in a heated rivalry between the east and west coasts which was compounded by the icy reception received by rappers from the west coast at the 1995 Source Awards, held in Manhattan. Shakur was serving a sentence for, in the judge’s words, “an act of brutal violence against a helpless woman” following a rape trial. But this did nothing to stop the rising tension.
“The Source, although we were based in New York, went out of our way to make sure our point of view was not New York-centric,” explains former Source co-founder Dave Mays. “Because New York people were sort of snobbish about hip-hop. That’s the birthplace. And they looked down on hip-hop from other regions. So that particular year, it was in New York. The artists all come and the labels all come, but we were selling thousands of tickets to the public, and these are people from New York. So the overwhelming majority of people in the crowd are pro-New York.”
Despite the organisers’ best intentions, this was the point at which the relationship between east and west turned truly sour. By extension, Shakur and former friend Christopher “Biggie Smalls” Wallace were now sworn enemies.
Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs’ east coast label Bad Boy Records found a deadly rival in Suge Knight’s west coast label Death Row Records. A fiercely masculine environment, artists on both sides suffered run-ins with gang members, bodyguards and fellow artists. Having been shot five times and robbed by three assailants while in the lobby of New York City’s Quad Recording Studios in 1994, Shakur now blamed Combs, Wallace and convicted drug dealer and record executive James “Jimmy Henchman” Rosemond.
Lyrical attacks became ever more aggressive, each one baiting an even more personal response. Gangster rap was now making national headlines as the violence spilt from bars and house parties into the streets.
On the night of September 7, 1996, Shakur and Suge Knight watched a boxing match between Mike Tyson and Bruce Seldon in Las Vegas. A member of Knight's entourage spotted Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson in the lobby of the MGM Grand. Anderson had previously robbed a Death Row associate and Shakur attacked him in an act of revenge.
Shakur and Knight later went to Death Row-owned Club 662 however, a white Cadillac with four assailants pulled up alongside Shakur's sedan and four shots were fired, hitting Shakur in the chest, arm and thigh. Dying from his injuries six days later, the killer was never found - leading to a number of different speculations - but a number of albums were released posthumously.
However, trapped between the warring Shakur estate and the entertainment company claiming exclusive ownership of the music, these tracks might just be the most anticipated posthumous tracks from the rapper yet. While it’s unlikely that he’s living it up in Mayalsia, Saturday could still be a very interesting day for 2Pac fans.