The album peaked at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 664,000 within its first week. By 1999, it was certified 4× platinum. 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, after Tupac was murdered, it did come out... Before that, it was going to be a sort of an underground ."
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 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 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 in 3 days in the month of August 1996. During those seven 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."