Tupac Shakur Biography
Tupac Shakur was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1971. His mother, Afeni Shakur, was associated with the Black Panthers and involved in various race-related causes and programs. The family moved to Baltimore when Tupac was still young. The most significant detail of his Baltimore years was the fact that he was accepted into The Baltimore School for the Performing Arts. There his artistic abilities were recognized and nurtured. He studied dance, acting and began to write.
"I think hip hop should be about more money, crazier sounds, different beats, MORE MONEY. Cause wit more money we could do something for the communities that these hip hop artists are coming out of." ~ Tupac Shakur
At age 17, his family moved again, this time to Marin City, California. It was there that Tupac came into contact with Shock-G, the leader of Digital Underground, who hired him as a dancer and a roadie. While touring with the group, he worked on his own material. He eventually began rapping with the group. In 1991, he released his debut album, 2Pacalypse Now, and established himself as a rap star. His second album, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z., containing the rap classics "I Get Around" and "Keep Your Head Up," was even more successful.
"Being in Marin City was like a small town so it taught me to be more straightforward with my style. Instead of being so metaphorical with the rhyme, I was encouraged to go straight at it and hit it dead on and not waste time trying to cover things." ~ Tupac Shakur
Meanwhile, Tupac was blossoming as an actor. He starred in "Juice," a low-budget film about gangs and gang violence. When he appeared opposite Janet Jackson in "Poetic Justice," he became a household name. Later, he was to face criminal assault charges for assaulting director Allen Hughes who dropped him from the cast of Menace II Society.
"I done took bullets and went ta jail for this rap shit, done caught cases and got sued and paid millions for this rap shit. About a muthafucka being uncomfortable 'cause I'm doing my thing, I don't give a fuck for real." ~ Tupac Shakur
Tupac had several scrapes with the law the most serious of which resulted in his prosecution for complicity in a sexual assault. He was found guilty. On the eve of the verdict, Tupac was five times while in the lobby of a recording studio in New York. The circumstances were fishy and the perpetrators were never arrested. Tupac wound up serving 8 months of a four and a half year sentence.
"I don't have no fear of death. My only fear is coming back reincarnated." ~ Tupac Shakur
His next album, "Me Against The World," produced by Dre's Death Row Records, was released while he was still in jail. I included hit singles like "Dear Mama" and hit the charts at number one. After his release from prison, he pushed himself with a fresh vitality. His double album, All Eyez On Me, featured a duet with Dre, "California Love," and guest appearances by Snoop Dogg, George Clinton and Method Man and quickly went double platinum. He also appeared in two more films, Gridlock'd and Gang Related, rapped on other rappers' recordings, and recorded The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory. It would later be released under the pseudonym "Makaveli."
"This Thug Life stuff, it was just ignorance. My intentions was always in the right place. I never killed anybody, I never raped anybody, I never committed no crimes that weren't honorable - that weren't to defend myself." ~ Tupac Shakur
On September 7, 1996, Tupac Shakur and Death Row Records president Marion "Suge" Knight attended the Mike Tyson - Bruce Seldon fight in Las Vegas, Nevada. After leaving the MGM Grand in Knight's car, a white Cadillac with four passengers reportedly pulled up alongside them with one person opening fire. Tupac was hit 4 times while Knight escaped serious injury. Tupac was taken to University Medical Center where he died 6 days later on September 13, 1996.
"Police brutality, poverty, unemployment, insufficient education, disunity and violence, black on black crime, teenage pregnancy, crack addiction... Do you want me to go on?" ~ Tupac on the problems facing young Black males
The circumstances surrounding Tupac Shakur's death have been the subject of endless speculation. As he and Suge Knight were leaving the MGM Grand, Tupac was involved in an altercation with a young black man. One theory points the finger at this unidentified youth. Another portrays the shooting as a product of the East Coast - West Coast rapper rivalry. Some think that Suge Knight, responding to Tupac's stated intention to leave the Death Row label, ordered the hit himself, while others believe that Sean "Puffy" Combs and The Notorious B.I.G. were behind the assassination.
"If we really are saying rap is an art form, then we got to be true to it and be more responsible for our lyrics. If you see everybody dying because of what you saying, it don't matter that you didn't make them die, it just matters that you didn't save them." ~ Tupac Shakur
Maybe we'll never know what really happened that night and why. What we do know is that a great talent was snuffed out, a brilliant career extinguished. Five albums have been released since his death, all of which have been certified Platinum.
Having sold over 75 million records worldwide, Tupac is one of the best-selling artists of all time. In 2010, he was added to the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry and, in 2017, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Rolling Stone has included him in the list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.