by Kimmy Sullivan

I’ve never believed in aliens, Elvis Presley sightings or the Illuminati. I’m definitely not one of those lunatics who believes those 3 a.m. National Geographic specials featuring low-budget reenactments of West Virginia bigfoot sightings. But when I stumbled upon the theory that Tupac Shakur, one of the most prominent rappers of the 20th century, was still alive, I was intrigued.

Tupac was “murdered” in a drive-by shooting involving a member of a gang in Sept. 1996. I soon discovered that there were people who firmly believed that Tupac had faked his death and was planning his return. Several of these theorists had compiled their evidence on various web pages (that, in retrospect, probably gave my computer viruses). One read-through was enough to send me raving to basically anyone who would listen that Tupac was living, breathing and probably chilling in Cuba.

To my dismay, my enthusiasm was only met with disbelief; but I persevered. People just didn’t seem to understand that faking your death is completely plausible. After weeks of ridicule, I decided to do a little more research.

The most compelling piece of evidence for Tupac’s faked death was the fact that, shortly before his death, he renamed himself “Makaveli” in reference to the philosopher Machiavelli. Apparently this guy advocated faking one’s death to fool one’s enemies in his book The Art of War, and that by sheer coincidence he had faked his death at age 25, Tupac’s exact age at the time of his death. Coincidence? I thought not. Unfortunately, after about three minutes researching Machiavelli, I discovered that every part of this theory was false.

But I wasn’t about to throw away months-worth of dedicated belief over one measly piece of evidence proven false. I kept researching, and discovered that in his last album,  Don Killuminati: The Seven Day Theory, Tupac rapped about his own death and referenced his future return, revenge and “rebirth.” Upon further analysis, these lyrics have nothing to do with Tupac faking his own death, but to do with Tupac’s depiction of the gang culture that was prominent in his life.

Bit by bit, my theory fell apart as every single piece of evidence was proven false. I looked into videos of “Tupac sightings,” most of which turned out to be poorly filmed footage of lanky black guys in bandanas who vaguely resembled Tupac. I looked into coincidences between Tupac’s death and the number seven, which turned out to be just that—coincidences. Pride deflated, I finally admitted it: Tupac was dead. How foolish I had been. At least I learned the value of checking your facts before thrusting unfounded conspiracy theories on your friends and family.

The conspiracy was probably sparked by diehard fans’ inability to accept his death, or even by his record label looking to rake in a few extra bucks. But it doesn’t matter how the theory began; what matters is that it brought people together—regardless of how idiotic it truly is. At the end of the day, the spirit of Tupac lives on in all of us.