• Tue. Jul 16th, 2024

The Murder of Tupac Shakur and the arrest of Duane ‘Keefe D’ Davis

ByJada Horan

Nov 8, 2023
Tupac Shakur

The murder of Tupac Shakur is one of the most infamous pop culture events, one that has been highly speculated about and mythologized due to its unsolved nature. Heated debates and outlandish theories have swirled around the event since it occurred almost 30 years ago. However, on September 29, 2023, an arrest was made in connection with Shakur’s murder, providing a glimpse of closure to the decades-long murder case.

Tupac Shakur was an incredibly influential figure in music, and his legacy has continued to shape hip-hop since he died in 1996. His music career spanned less than ten years, beginning with his debut on ‘Same Song’, a 1991 single from rap group, Digital Underground. Shakur’s debut album, 2Pacalypse Now, was released in November of the same year. He went on to release four more studio albums before his untimely death.

In just five years, Tupac Shakur became a revolutionary cultural influence known for his lyrical confrontation of social issues, namely racial discrimination and police brutality. His powerful storytelling paired with his intimate experience with the volatile racial landscape of the United States made Shakur’s music particularly resonant. While the events that led to Shakur’s murder are still somewhat unclear, the following account is the most widely accepted version.

In Las Vegas on September 7, 1996, Shakur left a Mike Tyson prizefight in a black BMW driven by co-founder of Death Row Records, Marion Knight (commonly known as ‘Suge’ or ‘Suge Knight’). The pair were said to be headed to Knight’s nightclub, Club 662. One of Shakur’s childhood friends, Malcolm Greenidge, was witness to the events that unfolded as he followed Shakur and Knight to the club in a car behind them. He recounted to a grand jury that, while stopped at a stoplight, Tupac chatted with some women in a car in the adjacent lane. When the women drove off, a white Cadillac slowly took their place. Before speeding off, a dozen rounds were fired from the Cadillac into Shakur and Knight’s BMW.

Shakur was hit four times while a bullet fragment grazed Knight. On September 13, 1996, six days after the shooting, Shakur died from his injuries at the University Medical Center in Las Vegas. He was only twenty-five years old at the time of this death. Despite his relatively short career, Shakur cemented himself in pop-culture history as a divisive, powerful force. His murder would go unsolved for nearly three decades.

However, in late September of this year, Duane ‘Keefe D’ Davis, a member of the notorious South Side Compton Crips, was arrested for Tupac Shakur’s murder. Davis has been one of the prime suspects since the early days of the investigation. He even admitted to playing a role in the murder in his 2019 memoir, Compton Street Legend, in which he stated he was not only in the white Cadillac, but provided the gun that was used in the shooting. He further alleged the other three men in the car were Terrence Brown, DeAndre Smith, and Davis’ nephew, Orlando Anderson – who he implicated as the shooter. Anderson was reportedly in a fight with Shakur, Knight, and several other men at the prizefight just before the shooting.

This provocation seemed to be the final straw in a series of tense interactions coloured by underlying gang rivalries, and it is thought that the shooting was an act of retaliation. It was long speculated that Tupac Shakur’s murder was deeply entrenched in the highly-publicized hip-hop rivalries and warring gang violence that surrounded him. Rivalling gangs, particularly the California-based gangs of the Southside Compton Crips and the Mob Piru Bloods, are often associated with Shakur’s death. While Death Row Records, Shakur’s representation, and Marion Knight were associated with the Bloods, Davis and Anderson were affiliated with the Crips. This element adds another layer of significance to Shakur and Anderson’s interaction before the shooting.

In addition to gang-related disputes, a volatile relationship that is often associated with Shakur’s death is the rivalry between his record label and Bad Boy Records, a New York-based record label founded by Sean Combs, also known as ‘Puffy’ or ‘P. Diddy’. The record label’s rivalry is a symptom of the greater East Coast-West Coast hip-hop rivalry, one whose complex history is too extensive to delve into in this article. While rumours that Sean Combs and Bad Boy Records offered Davis money to kill Shakur have swirled around the investigation for years, this has yet to be proven beyond speculation.

The circumstances underlying the murder of Tupac Shakur are highly contested and deeply rooted in complex rivalries and systems of violence. Duane Davis is facing murder charges, though he has pleaded not guilty. His trial is set to be scheduled on November 7. Aside from Marion Knight, who is currently incarcerated for voluntary manslaughter, Davis is the only person affiliated with the murder that is still alive.

As Davis’ trial commences, more information is expected to come to light regarding the details of Shakur’s murder.

Tupac at the inauguration…” by zarzoso is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.