CHRIS CONNELLY: Just six weeks after his death, Tupac’s mother Afeni Shakur filed suit against Death Row Recrds to stop the label from selling unlicensed Tupac merchandise. She would later file another suit against the label, charging that it was withholding millions in royalties from the Shakur estate. Death Row responded that Tupac actually owed them money to re-pay cash advances that the label claimed he had squandered on cars and jewelry. Suddenly, it seemed everyone wanted a piece of Tupac, from his natural father — who had abandoned the family when he was four and nevertheless sued for half of his son’s money — to his chief critic, C. Delores Tucker, who claimed just one reference to her in one song was worth $10 million in emotional damage.
DYSON: As one other rapper, Whodini said, “The Freaks Come Out At Night.” And in the midst of the dark night of his soul, many people have come forth to claim this legacy who honestly just don’t deserve it.
SERGEANT KEVIN MANNING,
Las Vegas Police: Essentially, we have two to four black males who were inside the vehicle and we have no further description.
MTV: The Las Vegas police investigation into Tupac’s murder never got much further. In March, MTV News reported that Shakur’s murder touched off a gang war in Compton, California, and that Compton police informants had heard that Orlando Anderson — the same man who was beaten by Knight and Shakur at the MGM Grand — was the triggerman in the Shakur killing. The day after our report aired, Anderson spoke briefly to CNN.
ORLANDO ANDERSON: I just want to let everybody know that… I didn’t do it.
MTV: Las Vegas police did briefly consider Anderson a suspect, but have since all but closed down their investigation, saying officially that they think they know who killed Tupac, but don’t expect to get enough evidence to ever make an arrest.
TREACH: Look, they could kill somebody else and they find the person the next day. You got two
of the biggest hip hoppers and don’t nobody know nothing.
MTV: The March murder of the Notorious B.I.G was instantly and unavoidably compared with Tupac’s murder six months earlier. Both were drive-by shootings after high profile events, and both left police with few leads. But where Tupac’s death sparked little public sentiment from his label mates, Biggie’s friends rushed to memorialize their man quickly and openly.
SEAN “PUFF DADDY” COMBS (at 1997’s “MTV Video Music Awards”): First, I would like to say, I wish we never had to make this record and I wish we didn’t have to make this video. But that’s our reality… and B.I.G., we’ll never forget you.
TREACH: That’s how you’re supposed to put it down. Your homey go, you’re supposed to put it down for him. Keep his name on the streets. No doubt.
MTV: Sadly, it took a full year for the first major dedication to Tupac to hit the airwaves.
TREACH: It’s like, the purpose behind this record, I really
didn’t see him sent off just right, the way I thought, you know what I mean?
MTV: Besides paying tribute, Treach and the other keepers of Tupac’s flame hope that Tupac will be remembered as a communicator, and not just an instigator.
TREACH: People got to listen to Pac. There’s so much that he said and was saying that touched, and like really hit emotions that a lot of us go through every day. No matter what you’re doing, no matter what you’re doing, either you thought about it, ain’t know how to say it, but when you hear it from him, you like, I’m feeling that, I’m feeling that.
You can catch Naughty By Nature’s “Mourn You ’Til I Join You” video on “Yo!” Thursdays at 10 p.m.
One final note: Tupac’s mother, Afeni Shakur, has finally reached a legal settlement with her late son’s label, Death Row Records. The settlement gives her control of Tupac’s unreleased works, which she thinks can be used for some sort of educational purpose in colleges and high schools.
To this end, she’s starting her own label, Amaru Records. She named her son “Tupac Amaru” after the murderous, Marxist Peruvian guerrilla band of that name — which has since been effectively decimated by the Peruvian government. Tupac Shakur’s lyrics are already being taught in a new course at the University of California at Berkeley this semester. And finally, there’s a new book just out called “The Killing of Tupac Shakur,” by Las Vegas “Sun” crime reporter Kathy Scott, which includes a grisly autopsy photo that should end all speculation as to whether the late rapper might still be alive.