The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory (commonly shortened to The 7 Day Theory or Makaveli) is the fifth studio album by American rapper Tupac Shakur, credited as the alias Makaveli. It was released on November 5, 1996, almost two months after his death, and was released through Death Row Records and Interscope Records. It is his only album released under a new alternative stage name, Makaveli. The album was originally scheduled for release in March 1997, but as a result of his death, Suge Knight released it four months earlier
The album peaked at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 664,000 copies within its first week. By 1999, it was certified 4× Platinum by the Recording Association Industry of America (RIAA). The album was supported by three singles: “Toss It Up“, “To Live & Die in L.A” and “Hail Mary“.
The album was completely finished in seven days during the first week of August 1996. The lyrics were written and recorded in only three days and mixing took an additional four days. These are the last songs Shakur recorded before his fatal shooting on September 7, 1996. The album’s preliminary title was “The 3 Day Theory”, (originally consisted of around 14 tracks). E.D.I. Mean of The Outlawz & Ronald “Riskie” Brent revealed in an August 2014 interview that the official name of the album was mixed up in the rush to release the album following Tupac’s death. Tupac wanted the album to be called; “Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory,” with Makaveli the Don referenced as the artist name and Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory as the main title. Death Row’s tumultuous staff at the time would incorrectly label the title as “The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory.” Ronald “Riskie” Brent is the creator of The 7 Day Theory cover painting. The album cover, which features Shakur on the cross in an attempt to convey his crucifixion by the media, is intended to imply an artistic resurrection and was created in mid-August 1996.
George “Papa G” Pryce, Former Head of Publicity for Death Row, claimed that “Makaveli which we did was a sort of tongue-in-cheek, and it was not ready to come out, [but] after Tupac was murdered, it did come out… Before that, it was going to be a sort of an underground [release].”
Recording and production
Many of Shakur’s usual producers were not involved in the project. The only producer with whom Shakur had worked prior to this album was QD3, the son of Quincy Jones and half-brother of Shakur’s girlfriend Kidada Jones. Shakur also co-produces three tracks on the album. The other two producers were Hurt-M-Badd and Darryl “Big D” Harper. E.D.I. Mean of the Outlawz recalls: “At the time Hurt-M-Badd, who was just an up-and-coming producer at Death Row, and Darryl Harper, who was an R&B producer – Suge had him working on all the R&B projects – they had a green room up in Can-Am [Studios] which everybody around Death Row called the ‘wack room’ because they said ‘Ain’t nothing but wack shit come out of there.’ But we was up in the studio one day and we trying to get music done – ain’t none of us producers – we see them two niggas in the ‘Wack room’ and ‘Pac like, ‘Go get them niggas.’ So niggas go bring them, ‘Pac just putting niggas to work like, ‘I need a beat here, I need y’all to do this, do that.’ And these are niggas that nobody at Death Row was fucking with. They’ll tell you themselves.”
The album was recorded at Can-Am Studios in Tarzana, Los Angeles, California during August of 1996. During those days 21 songs were completed, 12 of which made the final product. The album did not feature the star-studded guest list that All Eyez on Me did. Most of the guest verses are supplied by Shakur’s group The Outlawz. The only verse that was not from one of the Outlawz was from Bad Azz. Young Noble of the Outlawz recalled: We had started writing the shit and we was taking long. ‘Pac was like, “Who got something? Bad Azz you got something?” and it fit perfect, so it was meant for Bad Azz to be on that song. We had already been on a million ‘Pac songs. That was his way of motivating us like, “If y’all ain’t ready, then you don’t make the song.”
While All Eyez on Me was considered by Shakur “a celebration of life”, The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory is much darker. Shakur’s rapping is still emotional, but is intensified throughout. Some songs on the album contain both subtle and direct insults to Shakur’s rivals at the height of the East Coast–West Coast feud. Rappers insulted include The Notorious B.I.G., Junior M.A.F.I.A., Puff Daddy, De La Soul, Jay-Z, Mobb Deep, Nas and former Death Row label mate Dr. Dre, as well as New York hip hop executives Jimmy “Henchman” Rosemond, Jacques “Haitian Jack” Agnant and Walter “King Tut” Johnson, accused of being associates of Puff Daddy and Bad Boy Records in orchestrating the 1994 Quad Studio assault.
Although Shakur insulted Nas on “Intro/Bomb First (My Second Reply)” and “Against All Odds”, rapper Young Noble, who appeared on several songs on The 7 Day Theory, stated in an interview that Nas’s “I Gave You Power” was the main inspiration for Shakur’s “Me and My Girlfriend”. Shakur and Nas squashed their beef at the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards, days before Shakur was murdered. They were scheduled to meet in Las Vegas, but never got the chance. Death Row associate Kurt Kobane revealed in an interview in 2016 that Shakur was listening to Nas’ It Was Written the day he got shot – September 7, 1996 – on his way to Vegas.
The album cover for The Don Killuminati was done by Compton based artist Ronald “Riskie” Brent, known artistically as “Riskie Forever.” According to Riskie, Death Row Records C.E.O Marion “Suge” Knight introduced Riskie to Tupac on the set of the California Love (Remix) video shoot in Compton, California. Riskie, while in Tupac’s trailer showed him his art portfolio, impressing Tupac with his artwork. Upon seeing his artwork Tupac agreed that Riskie had good artistic talent and requested for Riskie to do his next album cover. Riskie received a phone call from the then President of Death Row Norris Anderson with Tupac’s request that he be drawn on a cross for the album cover of The Don Killuminati: The Seven Day Theory.
The Don Killuminati album cover draws on Renaissance portrayals of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Tupac is by himself in the image with his head tilted to the side, possessing the classic wound in his right side similar to the wound of Jesus as depicted in the accounts of his crucifixion. There is a bandana covering the head of Tupac and barbed-wire covering both his hands and his feet. Absent from the painting is Tupac’s iconic “Thug Life” tattoo as it is covered up by the parental advisory sticker covering his genitals. On the cross of Tupac there is a map connecting various cities from across the country. The cities listed are cities with large African-American populations, including the major urban centers of the East, West, and Southern parts of the United States. The color pattern of the cultural production is a gloomy red and black. The only light in the artistry is the moon and the few beams of light that emerge from the cracks on the cross. Near the bottom of the image is a written disclaimer: “In no way in this portrait an expression of disrespect for Jesus Christ. -Makaveli”
There are many interpretations of this album cover, the primary theme communicates that through depiction, Tupac is highlighting what he perceives to be his being vilified by the media and left alone to suffer his fate. The parental advisor sticker could be a reference to both what he perceived to be his demonization due to his promiscuous lifestyle, but also and most importantly, it could be a reference to his conviction of sexual assault, a charge in which he maintained his innocence against. The names of the cities that are on the album cover may be a representation of Tupac’s belief that he represents the entirety of the African-American community in his public vilification, that he, like African-American people as a whole, is on display to be gazed upon and judged through the Euro-American racial prism. Furthermore, this theme of representation is also connected to the political commitments of Tupac Shakur as he was in the midst of deepening his political activity in the form of the creation of a Hip-Hop political party prior his murder.
The first two singles, “Toss It Up” and “To Live & Die in L.A” were released on September 26, 1996 and November 16, 1996. Dr. Dre‘s former Death Row colleagues, including Shakur, recorded and attempted to release “Toss It Up”, containing numerous insults aimed at Dr. Dre and using a deliberately similar instrumental to “No Diggity”, but were forced to replace the production after Blackstreet issued the label with a cease and desist order stopping them from distributing the song.”Toss It Up” music video features Shakur, Danny Boy, K-Ci & JoJo, Aaron Hall, and was directed by Lionel C. Martin.According to Death Row Records, it was the last music video Shakur filmed. The video also includes an appearance from actress LisaRaye McCoy. An unreleased version of the video was leaked some years later, known online as “Toss It Up Beach Version”.
“To Live & Die in L.A, was produced by QDIII who was the only outside Death Row producer on the album besides Demetrius Shipp who did “Toss It Up”. QDIII was one of Shakur’s favorite producers. QDIII told XXL Magazine:
I was in the studio with ‘Pac, I had some records with me, and there was this old song that I played for him to see if he liked the vibe. He felt it and told me to go home and hook up a beat like that. I went home and hooked it up as fast as I could, and I think I came back the same night and he listened to the track three times, and in like 15 minutes he was already done with his lyrics. He went in the booth without telling anyone what the track was about he just laid it in one take–over about three tracks. Then he told Val Young what the concept was, and she went in and laid her chorus vocal in one take, too. After the vocals were done, ‘Pac had Ricky Rouse [Makaveli musician] replace my keyboard bass and guitar parts with live bass and guitar parts, and the song was done–less than two hours total. This song just flowed out of everyone that was a part of it. No one thought twice no one doubted anything. It was full speed ahead until it was done–as if it was guided or meant to be. Ever since recording like that, without thinking twice like that, I have changed the way I look at making music.
A music video for “To Live & Die in L.A” was shot in July 1996. It features Shakur working at a fruit stand, driving around Los Angeles in a car filled with women, and also features various scenes and pictures of notable places and events in Los Angeles. It was the first video shot for the album.
“The tracks are fat with funky menace…” observed Rolling Stone, “and the choral-vocal effect in many of the raps has a street-corner, pass-the-bottle charge. Alas, the record – issued just two months after 2Pac’s murder – merely perpetuates Los Angeles hip-hop gangland stereotypes, in particular the East Coast/West Coast feud that has gone beyond pointless all the way to deadly.” Writing for The New York Times, Neil Strauss commented on the album saying, “as Mr. Shakur’s last stand, The Don Killuminati fares a lot more poorly than his previous album, All Eyez on Me, does. This one was clearly meant as filler, a way to burn off creative energy, put down his rivals at Bad Boy Entertainment and tide fans over until the next album.
AllMusic‘s Thomas Erlewine gave the album 2.5 out of 5 stars saying:
Everything about The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory smacks of exploitation. Released only eight weeks after Tupac Shakur died from gunshot wounds, Death Row released this posthumous album under the name of Makaveli, a pseudonym derived from the Italian politician Niccolo Machiavelli, who advocated using deception and fear on one’s enemies. Naturally, the appearance of Don Killuminati so shortly after Tupac’s death led many conspiracy theorists to surmise the rapper was still alive, but it was all part of a calculated marketing strategy by Death Row – the label needed something to sustain interest in the album, since the music here is so shoddy. All Eyez on Me proved that Tupac was continuing to grow as a musician and a human being, but Don Killuminati erases that image by concentrating on nothing but tired G-funk beats and back-biting East Coast/West Coast rivalries.
Los Angeles Times critic Cheo Hodari Coker said, “While there are moments of power and poignancy in The Don Killuminati, it lacks the full ambition and range of Shakur’s epic All Eyez on Me and Me Against the World packages. It’s in those albums–and songs such as “Brenda’s Got a Baby“, “Lord Knows” and “Only God Can Judge Me”—that the legacy of this tortured, talented artist will be best found.” In a negative review from People, they commented saying: “In light of how he died, all the bloodletting seems both preordained and sad. At the same time, Don Killuminati may be seen as Tupac’s last grand artistic statement. Quite frankly, the CD is not that good.”
The emotion and anger showcased on the album has been admired by a large part of the hip-hop community, including other rappers.”There are a lot of 2Pac records I like,” said 50 Cent, “but this is consistent all the way through. You could put this on and clean your whole house.”Rapper J. Cole named it one of his favorite albums of all time, he commented on the album saying, “Collectively, from ‘Hail Mary’ to ‘Krazy’ to ‘Against All Odds,’ it’s deep. This album gets better for me as time goes on. Me Against the World is like that too, but Makaveli is really the one where the older I get, the more of it I get. Every year that I get older, I hear this album differently. I know more about life, so I’m like, ‘Oh shit, this is what he meant.’ So Makaveli is super special.”
The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200, selling 664,000 copies in its first week, becoming the second-highest first week sales of the year. On June 15, 1999, the album was certified quadruple platinum for sales of over four million copies in the United States.
- Credits adapted from album booklet.
No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1.”Bomb First (My Second Reply)” (featuring Outlawz)
- Darryl “Big D” Harper
3.”Toss It Up” (featuring Aaron Hall, Danny Boy, KC & JoJo)
- Aaron Hall
- Daniel Steward
- Cedric Hailey
- Jo Jo Hailey
- Demetrius Ship
- Reggie Moore
- Prince Ital Joe
6.”Life of an Outlaw” (featuring Outlawz)
- Cooper III
- Mutah Beale
- Darryl “Big D” Harper
7.”Just Like Daddy” (featuring Outlawz)
- Cooper III
8.”Krazy” (featuring Bad Azz)
- Jamarr Stamps
Darryl “Big D” Harper5:16
9.”White Man’z World”
Darryl “Big D” Harper5:38
10.”Me and My Girlfriend”
- Ricky Rouse
- Darryl “Big D” Harper
11.”Hold Ya Head”
12.”Against All Odds”
Total length: 59:05
- ^a signifies a co-producer
- “White Man’z World” features uncredited vocals from Danny Boy
- “Blasphemy” features vocals by Prince Ital Joe & JMJ
- “Life Of An Outlaw” features vocals by Bo-Roc
- “Me And My Girlfriend” features vocals by Virginya Slim
- “Bomb First (My Second Reply)” contains a sample of “Da Funk” performed by Daft Punk, “Uptown Anthem” performed by Naughty by Nature, “More Peas” performed by Fred Wesley and The J.B.’s, and “Ambitionz Az a Ridah” performed by 2Pac
- “Toss It Up” contains a sample of “No Diggity” performed by Blackstreet
- “To Live & Die In L.A” contains a sample of “Do Me, Baby” performed by Prince
- “Just Like Daddy” contains a sample of “Impeach the President” performed by The Honey Drippers
- “White Man’z World” contains a sample of “Up Where We Belong” performed by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes
- “Hold Ya Head” contains a sample of “One Love” performed by Whodini and “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?” performed by Patti Austin and James Ingram
Credits for The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day of Theory adapted from AllMusic.
- 2Pac, Makaveli – primary artist, producer, executive producer
- Suge Knight, Simon – executive producer
- Tommy D. Daugherty – chief engineer, mixer, additional production
- Steve Anarden – engineer
- Ronald “Riskie” Brent – paintings
- Danny Boy – featured artist
- Yaki Kadafi – featured artist
- Kastro – featured artist
- E.D.I. – featured artist
- Scott Gutierrez – associate engineer
- Cedric “K-Ci” Hailey – featured artist
- Joel “JoJo” Hailey – featured artist
- Aaron Hall – featured artist
- Darryl Harper – producer
- Hurt-M-Badd – producer/featured artist
- Justin Isham – digital editing
- Reggie Moore – producer
- John Morris – associate engineer
- Outlawz – featured artist
- Lance Pierre – associate engineer
- Demetrius Shipp – mixing, producer
- Guy Snider – engineer, track engineer
- Troy Staton – mixing, producer, unknown contributor role
- Don “Dubb” Smartt – associate engineer, unknown contributor role
- Young Noble – featured artist
- Val Young – featured artist
- Bad Azz – featured artist
Chart performance for The Don Killuminati: The Seven Day Theory
List of number-one albums of 1996 (U.S.)
List of number-one R&B albums of 1996 (U.S.)
List of number-one R&B albums of 1997 (U.S.)
List of hip hop albums considered to be influential
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^ XXL Magazine, October 2003 issue
^ “Riskie Talks Makaveli Album Cover”. YouTube. August 3, 2014. Retrieved July 6, 2016.
^ “Airbrush Artists\TUPAC IS AN OG Memorialize Tupac at Amoeba Hollywood at the Amoeblog”. Amoeba.com. 2011-09-14. Retrieved 2012-06-26.
^ http://hiphopdx.com, HipHopDX -. “Makaveli & Riskie: A Conversation with Death Row Graphic Artist Ronald “Riskie” Brent”. HipHopDX. Retrieved 2018-02-19.
^ “Tupac The Workaholic. (MYCOMEUP.COM)”. YouTube. 2010-02-11. Retrieved 2012-06-26.
^ XXL Magazine, October 2003 issue, Page 111
^ XXL Magazine, October 2003 issue, Page 118
^ Miloszewski, Filip. “The Making of Makaveli – The 7 Day Theory”. Scribd. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
^ Nguyen, Hao. “HIP-HOP GEM: 2PAC AND NAS SQUASHED THEIR BEEF BEFORE PAC’S DEATH”. Stop The Breaks. Retrieved November 27, 2016.
^ “2pac Was Listening To A Nas Album The Day He Was Shot 9/7/96 & Makaveli Records – Kurt Kobane RAW”. YouTube. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
^ “Bio of Ronald “Riskie Forever” Brent”.
^ “Who Killed Tupac?”(2017). 2018 A&E Television Networks, LLC.
^ Tupac interview (1995) outside of New York courthouse where he was facing sexual assault charges https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9j8fs6SSfc
^ Karin Sanford, ‘Keeping It Real In Hip Hop Politics: A Political Perspective on Tupac Shakur. Journal of Black Studies. Jan 2011; 42 (1), p 3-22.
^ Arnold, Paul W. (May 27, 2010). “Danny Boy Tells All About Death Row Years, Part Two”. HipHopDX. Cheri Media Group. Retrieved April 11, 2013.
^ Lionel C Martin (January 21, 2015). “2Pac-“Toss It Up” – Feat. Danny Boy, KC & JoJo – directed by @vidjunkie #stilldope…”. Twitter. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
^ Death Row Records (March 30, 2010). “2Pac – “Toss It Up” – Featuring Danny Boy, KC & JoJo – Official WIDEawake Death Row Upload”. YouTube. Retrieved November 28, 2016.
^ “2Pac Toss It Up Beach Version High Quality 1996”. YouTube. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
^ Miloszewski, Filip. “The Making Of Makaveli – The 7 Day Theory”. Scribd. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
^ “2PAC – To Live and Die in L.A”. YouTube. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
^ “Don Killuminati: 7 Day Theory Dual Disc, Enhanced”. Amazon. Retrieved November 28,2016.
^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (1996-11-05). “The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory – 2Pac, Makaveli : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards”. Allmusic. Retrieved 2012-06-26.
^ Browne, David (1996-11-22). “Music Review: ‘The Don Killuminati/The 7 Day Theory’ Review”. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2012-10-12.
^ a b Coker, Cheo (November 3, 1996). “Makaveli: the 2 Sides of Tupac”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 11, 2017.
^ Low Key. “MVRemix Urban Album Reviews: Makaveli – The 7 Day Theory | Online Hip Hop, Rap and Soul Magazine | US and Canadian Mainstream and Underground – exclusive interviews, articles”. Mvremix.com. Retrieved 2012-02-14.
^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian David (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide – Nathan Brackett, Christian Hoard – Google Books. ISBN 978-0-7432-0169-8. Retrieved 2012-06-26. Portions posted at “Tupac Shakur: Album Guide”. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-10-12.
^ XXL (December 2007). “Retrospective: XXL Albums”. XXL Magazine.
^ Muzik (1/97, p. 113) – 5 out of 5 – “… one of the most important [albums] of the year…. perfectly captures the dark tensions arising from the centre of the vicious heat that is the City of Angels…
^ Rolling Stone Yearbook, 26 December 1996 – 9 January 1997
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