The following biography
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Tupac Amaru Shakur (June 16, 1971 –
September 13, 1996), known by his stage names 2Pac (or simply Pac) and Makaveli,
was an American rapper and actor. Shakur has sold over 75 million albums
worldwide as of 2007, making him one of the best-selling music artists in the
world. Rolling Stone Magazine named him the 86th Greatest Artist of All Time.
In addition to his career as a rap
artist, he was also an actor. The themes of most of Tupac's songs are the
violence and hardship in inner cities, racism, other social problems, and
conflicts with other rappers during the East Coast – West Coast hip hop rivalry.
Shakur began his career as a roadie, backup dancer, and MC for the alternative
hip hop group Digital Underground.
Afeni Shakur and Assata Shakur, his
mother and aunt respectively, were involved with the Black Panthers, and 2pac
made reference to the organization in the song Changes. 2pac was involved in a
West-coast East-coast rivalry after a major feud with East-coast rappers,
producers and record-label members of staff.
On September 7, 1996, Shakur was
shot four times in the Las Vegas metropolitan area of Nevada. He was taken to
the University Medical Center, where he died six days later of respiratory
failure and cardiac arrest.
Birth name Lesane Parish Crooks
Also known as 2Pac, Makaveli
Born June 16, 1971(1971-06-16)
East Harlem, New York City
Origin Oakland, California, U.S.
Died September 13, 1996(1996-09-13)
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
Genres Hip hop
Occupations Rapper, actor, record
producer, poet, screenwriter, activist, writer
Labels Interscope, Death Row, Amaru
Associated acts Outlawz, Johnny
"J", Snoop Doggy Dogg, Digital Underground, Richie Rich, K-Ci & JoJo, Dave
Hollister, Dr. Dre, The Notorious B.I.G, Tha Dogg Pound, Boot Camp Clik, Nate
Dogg, Young Noble
Tupac Amaru Shakur was born on the
East Harlem section of Manhattan in New York City. He was named after Túpac
Amaru II, a Peruvian revolutionary who led an indigenous uprising against
Spain and was subsequently executed.
His mother, Afeni Shakur, and his
father, Billy Garland, were active members of the Black Panther Party in New
York in the late 1960s and early 1970s; he was born just one month after his
mother's acquittal on more than 150 charges of "Conspiracy against the United
States government and New York landmarks" in the New York Panther 21 court
Although unconfirmed by the Shakur
family, several sources (including the official coroner's report) list his birth
name as Lesane Parish Crooks. This name was supposedly entered on the birth
certificate because Afeni feared her enemies would attack her son, and disguised
his true identity using a different last name. She changed it later, following
her separation from Garland and marriage to Mutulu Shakur.
Struggle and incarceration
surrounded Shakur from an early age. His godfather, Elmer "Geronimo" Pratt, a
high ranking Black Panther, was convicted of murdering a school teacher during a
1968 robbery, although his sentence was later overturned. His stepfather, Mutulu,
spent four years at large on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list beginning
in 1982. Mutulu was wanted in part for having helped his sister Assata Shakur
(also known as Joanne Chesimard) to escape from a penitentiary in New Jersey,
where she had been incarcerated for shooting a state trooper to death in 1973.
Mutulu was caught in 1986 and imprisoned for the robbery of a Brinks armored
truck in which two police officers and a guard were killed. Shakur had a
half-sister, Sekyiwa, two years his junior, and an older stepbrother, Mopreme "Komani"
Shakur, who appeared on many of his recordings.
At the age of twelve, Shakur
enrolled in Harlem's 127th Street Repertory Ensemble and was cast as the Travis
Younger character in the play A Raisin in the Sun, which was performed at the
Apollo Theater. In 1986, the family relocated to Baltimore, Maryland. After
completing his second year at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School he transferred to
the Baltimore School for the Arts, where he studied acting, poetry, jazz, and
ballet. He performed in Shakespeare plays, and in the role of the Mouse King in
The Nutcracker. Shakur, accompanied by one of his friends, Dana "Mouse"
Smith, as his beatbox, won most of the many rap competitions that he
participated in and was considered to be the best rapper in his school. He
was remembered as one of the most popular kids in his school because of his
sense of humor, superior rapping skills, and ability to mix in with all
crowds. He developed a close friendship with a young Jada Pinkett (later
Jada Pinkett Smith) that lasted until his death. In the documentary Tupac:
Resurrection, Shakur says, "Jada is my heart. She will be my friend for my whole
life," and Pinkett Smith calls him "one of my best friends. He was like a
brother. It was beyond friendship for us. The type of relationship we had, you
only get that once in a lifetime." A poem written by Shakur titled "Jada"
appears in his book, The Rose That Grew From Concrete, which also includes a
poem dedicated to Pinkett Smith called "The Tears in Cupid's Eyes". During his
time in art school, Shakur began dating the daughter of the director of the
Baltimore Communist Party USA.
In June 1988, Shakur and his family
moved to Marin City, California, where he attended Tamalpais High
School. He began attending the poetry classes of Leila Steinberg in
1989. That same year, Steinberg organized a concert with a former group of
Shakur's, Strictly Dope; the concert led to him being signed with Atron Gregory
who set him up as a roadie and backup dancer with the young rap group Digital
Underground in 1990.
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Shakur's professional entertainment
career began in the early 1990s, when he debuted his rapping skills in a vocal
turn in Digital Underground's "Same Song" from the soundtrack to the 1991 film
Nothing but Trouble and also appeared with the group in the film of the same
name. The song was later released as the lead song of the Digital Underground EP
This is an EP Release, the follow-up to their debut hit album Sex Packets.
Shakur appeared in the accompanying music video. After his rap debut, he
performed with Digital Underground again on the album Sons of the P. Later, he
released his first solo album, 2Pacalypse Now.
2Pacalypse Now did not do as well
on the charts as future albums, spawning no top ten hits. His second record,
Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z., was released in 1993. The album did better than the
previous one debuting on number 24 on the Billboard 200. However, the real
commercial success of Tupac Shakur began with his third album titled Me Against
the World which debuted on top of the Billboard 200 and sold two million copies.
His following album, All Eyez on Me, was Tupac's biggest commercial success. The
album debuted at number 1 and has sold 9 million copies till date and is
considered among the best rap albums of all time. The rest of the six albums of
Tupac were released after his death. Four of these albums have been certified
multi-platinum and three of them topped the Billboard 200 while all of these
topped the US R&B charts. Tupac's greatest hit album has sold over 10 million
copies in US and is certified Diamond by the RIAA.
In late 1993, Shakur formed the
group Thug Life with a number of his friends, including Big Syke, Macadoshis,
his stepbrother Mopreme Shakur, and Rated R. The group released their only album
Thug Life: Volume 1 on September 26, 1994, which went gold. The album featured
the single "Pour Out a Little Liquor" produced by Johnny "J" Jackson, who went
on to produce a large part of Shakur's album All Eyez on Me. The group usually
performed their concerts without Shakur.
Shakur's music and philosophy is
rooted in many American, African-American, and World entities, including the
Black Panther Party, Black nationalism, egalitarianism, and liberty. His debut
album, 2Pacalypse Now, revealed the socially conscious side of Shakur. On this
album, Shakur attacked social injustice, poverty and police brutality on songs
"Brenda's Got a Baby", "Trapped" and "Part Time Mutha". His style on this album
was highly influenced by the social consciousness and Afrocentrism pervading hip
hop in the late 1980s and early 1990s. On this initial release, Shakur helped
extend the success of such rap groups as Boogie Down Productions, Public Enemy,
X-Clan, and Grandmaster Flash, as he became one of the first major socially
conscious rappers from the West Coast.
On his second record, Shakur
continued to rap about the social ills facing African-Americans, with songs like
"The Streetz R Deathrow" and "Last Wordz". He also showed his compassionate side
with the anthem "Keep Ya Head Up", while simultaneously putting his legendary
aggressiveness on display with the title track from the album Strictly 4 My
N.I.G.G.A.Z. he added a salute to his former group Digital Underground by
including them on the playful track "I Get Around". Throughout his career, an
increasingly aggressive attitude can be seen pervading Shakur's subsequent
The contradictory themes of social
inequality and injustice, unbridled aggression, compassion, playfulness, and
hope all continued to shape Shakur's work, as witnessed with the release of his
incendiary 1995 album Me Against the World. In 1996, Shakur released All Eyez on
Me. Many of these tracks are considered by many critics to be classics,
including "Ambitionz Az a Ridah", "I Ain't Mad at Cha", "California Love", "Life
Goes On" and "Picture Me Rollin'".; All Eyez on Me was a change of style from
his earlier works. While still containing socially conscious songs and themes,
Shakur's album was heavily influenced by party tracks and tended to have a more
"feel good" vibe than his first albums. Shakur described it as a celebration of
life, and the record was critically and commercially successful.
Shakur was a voracious reader. He
was inspired by a wide variety of writers, including William Shakespeare,
Niccolò Machiavelli, Donald Goines, Sun Tzu, Kurt Vonnegut, Mikhail Bakunin,
Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, and Khalil Gibran. In his book Holler If You Hear
Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur, University of Pennsylvania Avalon Professor of
Humanities and African American Studies Michael Eric Dyson describes the
experience of visiting the home of Shakur's friend and promoter Leila Steinberg
to find "the sea of books" once owned by Shakur.
Shakur never professed following a
particular religion, but his lyrics in singles such as 'Only God Can Judge Me'
and poems such as The Rose That Grew from Concrete suggest he believed in God.
This means many analysts currently describe him as a deist. He
believed in Karma, but rejected a literal afterlife and organized religion.
Even as he garnered attention as a
rapper and actor, Shakur gained notoriety for his conflicts with the law:
In October 1991, he filed a $10
million civil suit against the law enforcement of the Oakland Police Department,
alleging they brutally beat him for jaywalking.
In 1992, a Texas state trooper was
killed by a teenager who was listening to 2Pacalypse Now which included songs
about killing police. This caused a swirl of media controversy. Dan Quayle, the
Vice President of the United States at the time, demanded that the album be
withdrawn from music stores and media across the country; Interscope
refused. Shakur claimed his first album was aimed at the problems facing
young black males, but it was criticized for its graphic language and images of
violence by and against law enforcement. Quayle publicly denounced the album as
having "no place in our society."
On August 22, 1992, in Marin City,
California, Shakur rapped at an outdoor festival, and stayed for an hour signing
autographs and pictures. Some earlier negative remarks made by Shakur about
Marin City had caught up and when arguments started, voices got loud; he pulled
a Colt Mustang, cocked it, fumbled and it fell. Someone picked up the gun and a
bullet discharged. Though nobody in the crowd was shot, about 100 yards away,
6-year-old Qa'id Walker-Teal rode a bicycle at a schoolyard and was hit in the
forehead with a bullet that killed him. (Some sources reported that the child
was the victim of a stray bullet in a shootout between Shakur's entourage and a
rival group.) Shakur and Mopreme left in their car and were stopped by
an angry mob, by chance, in front of a sheriff's substation. The police
"rescued" them and took the two into custody, who were soon released without
charge. In 1995, a wrongful death suit was brought against Shakur by Qa'id's
mother. Ballistics tests proved the bullet that killed the boy was not from
Shakur's or any members of his entourage's guns. No criminal charges were
brought. Shakur's lawyer said that the festival was a "nasty situation," and
Shakur was saddened by the death of the boy. Shakur's record company settled the
lawsuit for an undisclosed amount, reportedly between $300,000 and $500,000.
In October 1993, in Atlanta, two
brothers and off-duty police officers, Mark and Scott Whitwell, were with their
wives celebrating Mrs. Whitwell's recent passing of the state bar examination.
As they crossed the street, a car with Shakur inside passed by them or "almost
struck them," after which the Whitwells began an altercation with the driver,
Shakur and the other passengers, which was then joined by a second passing car.
Shakur shot one officer in the buttocks, and the other in the leg, back, or
abdomen, according to varying news reports. There were no other injuries, but
Mark Whitwell was charged with firing at Shakur's car and later lying to the
police during the investigation, and Shakur with the shooting, until prosecutors
decided to drop all charges against all parties.
In November 1993, Shakur and others
were charged with sexually assaulting a woman in a hotel room. According to the
complaint, Shakur sodomized the woman and then encouraged his friends to
sexually abuse her. Shakur denied the charges. According to Shakur, he had prior
relations days earlier with the woman; she performed oral sex on him on a club
dance floor and the two later had consensual sex in his hotel room. The
complainant claimed sexual assault after her second visit to Shakur's hotel
room; she alleged that Shakur and his entourage gang banged her, and she said to
Shakur when she left, "Why you let them do this to me?" Shakur claimed
that he fell asleep shortly after the woman arrived and later awoke to her
accusations and legal threats. In the ensuing trial, Shakur was convicted of
sexual abuse. In sentencing Shakur to 1½–4½ years in prison, the judge described
the crime as "an act of brutal violence against a helpless woman."
After serving part of his sentence, Shakur was released on bail pending appeal.
On April 5, 1996, a judge sentenced him to serve 120 days in jail for violating
terms of his release on bail.
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November 1994 shooting
On the night of November 30, 1994,
the day before the verdict in his sexual abuse trial was to be announced, Shakur
was shot five times and robbed after entering the lobby of Quad Recording
Studios in Manhattan by two armed men in army fatigues. He would later accuse
Sean Combs, Andre Harrell, and Biggie Smalls—whom he saw after the
shooting—of setting him up. Shakur also suspected his close friend and
associate, Randy "Stretch" Walker, of being involved in the attempt. According
to the doctors at Bellevue Hospital, where he was admitted immediately following
the incident, Shakur had received five bullet wounds; twice in the head, twice
in the groin and once through the arm and thigh. He checked out of the hospital,
against doctor's orders, three hours after surgery. In the day that followed,
Shakur entered the courthouse in a wheelchair and was found guilty of three
counts of molestation, but innocent of six others, including sodomy. On February
6, 1995, he was sentenced to one-and-a-half to four-and-a-half years in prison
on a sexual assault charge.
A year later on November 30, 1995,
Stretch was killed after being shot twice in the back by three men who pulled up
alongside his green minivan at 112th Ave. and 209th St. in Queens Village, while
he was driving. His minivan smashed into a tree and hit a parked car before
On March 27, 2008, the Los Angeles
Times issued an apology to Combs for blaming him for having a role in the
November 1994 shooting. The article stated that Shakur was led to the studio by
Biggie's associates to gun him down to make favor with Biggie. The newspaper
relied on forged documents that The Smoking Gun proved to be faked. Combs
stated that he was disgusted with the LA Times for printing the
On June 15, 2011, an inmate
admitted to this shooting and robbery, claiming to have been hired to do so by
James Rosemond, owner of Czar Entertainment.
Shakur began serving his prison
sentence at Clinton Correctional Facility on February 14, 1995. Shortly
afterwards, he released his multi-platinum album Me Against the World. Shakur
became the first artist ever to have an album at number one on the Billboard 200
while serving a prison sentence: the only other artist to have achieved this
feat is fellow rapper Lil Wayne, whose album I Am Not a Human Being reached
number one in 2010 whilst he was serving a nine-month prison term for criminal
possession of a weapon. Me Against the World made its debut on the Billboard 200
and stayed at the top of the charts for four weeks. The album sold 240,000
copies in its first week, setting a record for highest first week sales for a
solo male rap artist at the time. While serving his sentence, he married his
long-time girlfriend, Keisha Morris, on April 4, 1995; the couple later divorced
in 1996. While imprisoned, Shakur read many books by Niccolò Machiavelli,
Sun Tzu's The Art of War and other works of political philosophy and
strategy. He also wrote a screenplay titled Live 2 Tell while incarcerated,
a story about an adolescent who becomes a drug baron.
In October 1995, Shakur's case was
on appeal but due to all of his legal fees he could not raise the $1.4 million
bail. After serving eleven months of his one-and-a-half year to four-and-a-half
year sentence, Shakur was released from the Attica Correctional Facility due
in large part to the help and influence of Suge Knight, the CEO of Death Row
Records, who posted a $1.4 million bail pending appeal of the conviction in
exchange for Shakur to release three albums under the Death Row label.
Upon his release from Clinton
Correctional Facility, Shakur immediately went back to song recording. He began
a new group called Outlaw Immortalz. Shakur began recording his first album with
Death Row and released the single "California Love" soon after. On February 13,
1996, Shakur released his fourth solo album, All Eyez on Me. This double album
was the first and second of his three-album commitment to Death Row Records. It
sold over nine million copies. The record was a general departure from the
introspective subject matter of Me Against the World, being more oriented toward
a thug and gangsta mentality. Shakur continued his recordings despite increasing
problems at the Death Row label. Dr. Dre left his post as house producer to form
his own label, Aftermath. Shakur continued to produce hundreds of tracks during
his time at Death Row, most of which would be released on his posthumous albums
R U Still Down? (Remember Me), Still I Rise, Until the End of Time, Better Dayz,
Loyal to the Game and Pac's Life. He also began the process of recording an
album with the Boot Camp Clik and their label Duck Down Records, both New
York–based, entitled One Nation.
On June 4, 1996, he and Outlawz
released the diss track "Hit 'Em Up", a scathing lyrical assault on Biggie and
others associated with him. In the track, Shakur claimed to have had sexual
intercourse with Faith Evans, Biggie's wife at the time, and attacks Bad Boy's
street credibility. Though no hard evidence suggests so, Shakur was convinced
that some members associated with Bad Boy had known about the '94 attack on him
beforehand due to their behavior that night and what his sources told him.
Shakur aligned himself with Suge, Death Row's CEO, who was already bitter toward
Combs over a 1995 incident at the Platinum Club in Atlanta, Georgia, which
culminated in the death of Suge's friend and bodyguard, Jake Robles; Suge was
adamant in voicing his suspicions of Combs' involvement. Shakur's signing
with Suge and Death Row added fuel to building an East Coast-West Coast
conflict. Both sides remained bitter enemies until Shakur's death. On July 4,
1996, he performed live at the House of Blues with Outlawz, Tha Dogg Pound, and
Snoop Doggy Dogg also headlining. This was Shakur's very last live
While incarcerated in Clinton
Correctional Facility, Shakur read and studied Niccolò Machiavelli and other
published works, which inspired his pseudonym "Makaveli" under which he released
the album The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory. The album presents a stark
contrast to previous works. Throughout the album, Shakur continues to focus on
the themes of pain and aggression, making this album one of the emotionally
darker works of his career. Shakur wrote and recorded all the lyrics in only
three days and the production took another four days, combining for a total of
seven days to complete the album (hence the name).
On forming the Outlawz, Tupac gave
each of them a name of a dictator/military leader or an enemy of America.
Yaki Kadafi, after Libyan dictator
Hussein Fatal, after Iraqi leader
Mussolini (formerly Big Syke),
after Italian dictator Benito Mussolini
Komani (Shakur's half brother
Mopreme Shakur), after Iranian Islamic Revolution leader Ayatollah Ruhollah
Kastro, after Cuban leader Fidel
E.D.I. Mean, after Ugandan dictator
Napoleon, after French strategist
For himself, Tupac created the
alias "Makaveli" from Renaissance Italian philosopher and strategist Niccolo
Machiavelli, whose writings inspired Shakur in prison, but who also preached
that a leader could eliminate his enemies by all means necessary.
He mentioned Makaveli Records a few
times before his death. This was supposed to be a music label for up and coming
artists that Shakur had an interest in developing or potentially signing, and
his own future projects would have also been published through it as well.
September 1996 shooting and death
On the night of September 7, 1996,
Shakur attended the Mike Tyson–Bruce Seldon boxing match at the MGM Grand in Las
Vegas. After leaving the match, one of Suge's associates spotted 21-year-old
Orlando "Baby Lane" Anderson, a member of the Southside Crips, in the MGM Grand
lobby and informed Shakur, who then attacked Anderson. Shakur's entourage, as
well as Suge and his followers, assisted in assaulting Anderson. The fight was
captured on the hotel's video surveillance. Earlier that year, Anderson and a
group of Crips had robbed a member of Death Row's entourage in a Foot Locker
store, precipitating Shakur's attack. After the brawl, Shakur went to rendezvous
with Suge to go to Death Row-owned Club 662 (now known as restaurant/club
Seven). He rode in Suge's 1996 black BMW 750iL sedan as part of a larger convoy
including many in Shakur's entourage.
At 10:55 pm, while paused at a red
light, Shakur rolled down his window and a photographer took his photograph.
At around 11:00–11:05 pm, they were halted on Las Vegas Blvd. by Metro bicycle
police for playing the car stereo too loud and not having license plates. The
plates were then found in the trunk of Suge's car; they were released without
being fined a few minutes later. At about 11:10 pm, while stopped at a red
light at Flamingo Road near the intersection of Koval Lane in front of the Maxim
Hotel, a vehicle occupied by two women pulled up on their left side. Shakur, who
was standing up through the sunroof, exchanged words with the two women, and
invited them to go to Club 662. At approximately 11:15 pm, a white,
four-door, late-model Cadillac with an unknown number of occupants pulled up to
the sedan's right side, rolled down one of the windows, and rapidly fired a
volley of gunshots at Shakur; bullets hit him in the chest, pelvis, and his
right hand and thigh. One of the rounds apparently ricocheted into
Shakur's right lung. Suge was hit in the head by fragmentation, though it is
thought that a bullet grazed him. According to Suge, a bullet from the
gunfire had been lodged in his skull, but medical reports later contradicted
At the time of the drive-by
Shakur's bodyguard was following behind in a vehicle belonging to Kidada Jones,
Shakur's then-fiancée. The bodyguard, Frank Alexander, stated that when he was
about to ride along with the rapper in Suge's car, Shakur asked him to drive
Kidada Jones' car instead just in case they were too drunk and needed additional
vehicles from Club 662 back to the hotel. The bodyguard reported in his
documentary, Before I Wake, that shortly after the assault, one of the convoy's
cars drove off after the assailant but he never heard back from the
After arriving on the scene, police
and paramedics took Suge and a mortally wounded Shakur to the University Medical
Center. According to an interview with one of Shakur's closest friends the music
video director Gobi, while at the hospital, he received news from a Death Row
marketing employee that the shooters had called the record label and were
sending death threats aimed at Shakur, claiming that they were going there to
"finish him off". Upon hearing this, Gobi immediately alerted the Las Vegas
police, but the police claimed they were understaffed and no one could be
sent. Nonetheless, the shooters never arrived. At the hospital, Shakur
was in and out of consciousness, was heavily sedated, breathed through a
ventilator and respirator, was placed on life support machines, and was
ultimately put under a barbiturate-induced coma after repeatedly trying to get
out of the bed.
Despite having been resuscitated in
a trauma center and surviving a multitude of surgeries (as well as the removal
of a failed right lung), Shakur had gotten through the critical phase of the
medical therapy and was given a 50% chance of pulling through. Gobi left the
medical center after being informed that Shakur made a 13% recovery on the sixth
night. While in the critical care unit on the afternoon of September 13,
1996, Shakur died of internal bleeding; doctors attempted to revive him but
could not impede his hemorrhaging. His mother, Afeni, made the decision
to tell the doctors to stop. He was pronounced dead at 4:03 pm (PDT)
The official cause of death was noted as respiratory failure and cardiopulmonary
arrest in connection with multiple gunshot wounds. Shakur's body was cremated
and some of his ashes were later mixed with marijuana and smoked by members of
Due largely to a perceived lack of
progress by law enforcement in the investigation of Shakur's murder, many
independent investigations and theories emerged. Because of the acrimony between
Shakur and Biggie (who was murdered in March 1997), there was speculation
from the outset about the possibility of Biggie's involvement. Biggie, as well
as his family, relatives, and associates, vehemently denied all such
accusations. In 2002, the LA Times published a story by Pulitzer
Prize-winning investigative reporter Chuck Philips, who claimed to have
uncovered evidence implicating Biggie, in addition to Anderson and the Southside
Crips, in the attack. Philips quoted unnamed gang-member sources who claimed
Biggie had ties to the Crips, often hiring them for security during West Coast
appearances, and that Biggie colluded with the Crips to murder Shakur. In 2008,
after The Smoking Gun reported that the documents relied upon by Philips for his
story were fraudulent, the LA Times printed an official front-page retraction of
Philips' story. Less than five months later, Philips accepted a buyout and
left the LA Times.
In support of their claims,
Biggie's family submitted documentation to MTV suggesting that he was working in
a New York recording studio the night of the drive-by shooting. His manager
Wayne Barrow and fellow rapper James "Lil' Cease" Lloyd made public
announcements denying Biggie's partaking in the crime and claimed further that
they were both with him in the recording studio during the night of the
The high profile nature of the
killing and ensuing gang violence caught the attention of English filmmaker Nick
Broomfield, who made the documentary film Biggie & Tupac which examines the lack
of progress in the case by speaking to those close to the two slain rappers and
the investigation. Shakur's close childhood friend and member of Outlawz, Yafeu
"Yaki Kadafi" Fula, was in the convoy when the drive-by occurred and indicated
to police that he might be able to identify the assailants, however, he was shot
and killed shortly thereafter in a housing project in Irvington.
A DVD titled Tupac: Assassination
was released on October 23, 2007, more than eleven years after Shakur's murder.
It explores aspects surrounding the event and provides fresh insights into the
cold case with new details about the environment.
At a Mobb Deep concert following
the death of the famed icon and release of The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day
Theory, Cormega recalled in an interview that the fans were all shouting
"Makaveli," and emphasized the influence of The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day
Theory and of Shakur himself even in New York at the height of the media-dubbed
'intercoastal rivalry'. Tupac Shakur was also one of the few rappers that
were paid a tribute during the Up in Smoke Tour that featured many west coast
Shakur is held in high esteem by
other MCs – in the book How to Rap, Bishop Lamont notes that Shakur “mastered
every element, every aspect” of rapping and Fredro Starr of Onyx says
Shakur, "was a master of the flow." "Every rapper who grew up in the
Nineties owes something to Tupac," wrote 50 Cent. "He didn't sound like anyone
who came before him." About.com for their part named Shakur the most
influential rapper ever.
To preserve Shakur's legacy, his
mother founded the Shakur Family Foundation (later re-named the Tupac Amaru
Shakur Foundation or TASF) in 1997. The TASF's stated mission is to "provide
training and support for students who aspire to enhance their creative talents."
The TASF sponsors essay contests, charity events, a performing arts day camp for
teenagers and undergraduate scholarships. The Foundation officially opened the
Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts (TASCA) in Stone Mountain, Georgia, on
June 11, 2005. On November 14, 2003, a documentary about Shakur entitled Tupac:
Resurrection was released under the supervision of his mother and narrated
entirely in his voice. It was nominated for Best Documentary in the 2005 Academy
Awards. Proceeds will go to a charity set up by Shakur's mother Afeni. On April
17, 2003, Harvard University co-sponsored an academic symposium entitled "All
Eyez on Me: Tupac Shakur and the Search for the Modern Folk Hero." The speakers
discussed a wide range of topics dealing with Shakur's impact on everything from
entertainment to sociology.
Many of the speakers discussed
Shakur's status and public persona, including State University of New York at
Buffalo English professor Mark Anthony Neal who gave the talk "Thug Nigga
Intellectual: Tupac as Celebrity Gramscian" in which he argued that Shakur was
an example of the "organic intellectual" expressing the concerns of a larger
group. Professor Neal has also indicated in his writings that the death of
Shakur has left a "leadership void amongst hip-hop artists." Neal further
describes him as a "walking contradiction", a status that allowed him to "make
being an intellectual accessible to ordinary people."
Professor of Communications Murray
Forman, of Northeastern University, spoke of the mythical status about Shakur's
life and death. He addressed the symbolism and mythology surrounding Shakur's
death in his talk entitled "Tupac Shakur: O.G. (Ostensibly Gone)". Among his
findings were that Shakur's fans have "succeeded in resurrecting Tupac as an
ethereal life force." In "From Thug Life to Legend: Realization of a Black
Folk Hero", Professor of Music at Northeastern University, Emmett Price,
compared Shakur's public image to that of the trickster-figures of
African-American folklore which gave rise to the urban "bad-man" persona of the
post-slavery period. He ultimately described Shakur as a "prolific artist" who
was "driven by a terrible sense of urgency" in a quest to "unify mind, body, and
In Holler If You Hear Me: Searching
for Tupac Shakur, Michael Eric Dyson indicated that Shakur "spoke with
brilliance and insight as someone who bears witness to the pain of those who
would never have his platform. He told the truth, even as he struggled with the
fragments of his identity." At one Harvard Conference the theme was Shakur's
impact on entertainment, race relations, politics and the "hero/martyr". In
late 1997, the University of California, Berkeley offered a student-led course
entitled "History 98: Poetry and History of Tupac Shakur."
In late 2003, the Makaveli Branded
Clothing line was launched by Afeni. In 2005, Death Row released Tupac: Live at
the House of Blues. The DVD was the final recorded performance of Shakur's
career, which took place on July 4, 1996, and features a plethora of Death Row
artists. In August 2006, Tupac Shakur Legacy was released. The interactive
biography was written by Jamal Joseph. It features unseen family photographs,
intimate stories, and over 20 removable reproductions of his handwritten song
lyrics, contracts, scripts, poetry, and other personal papers. Shakur's sixth
posthumous studio album, Pac's Life, was released on November 21, 2006. It
commemorates the 10th anniversary of Shakur's death. He is still considered one
of the most popular artists in the music industry as of 2006[update].
According to Forbes, in 2008
Shakur's estate made $15 million. In 2002, they recognized him as a Top
Earning Dead celebrity coming in on number ten on their list.
Shakur's hit song "Dear Mama" is
one of 25 songs that was added to the National Recording Registry in 2010. The
Library of Congress has called "Dear Mama" "a moving and eloquent homage to both
the murdered rapper's own mother and all mothers struggling to maintain a family
in the face of addiction, poverty and societal indifference." The honor came
seven days after what would have been Shakur's 39th birthday. Shakur is the
third rapper to enter the library, behind Grandmaster Flash and Public
In a 2005 Rolling Stones Magazine
Vote, Tupac was named No.6 of the '100 immortal artists of all time' behind the
likes of Elvis and Lennon.
MTV ranked him at No.2 on their
list of The Greatest MCs of All Time.
Shakur was inducted into the
Hip-Hop Hall of Fame in 2002.
Ranked No.3 on VH1's 50 Greatest
Hip Hop Artists.
In 2003, MTV's "22 Greatest MCs"
countdown listed Shakur as the "Number 1 MC", as voted by the viewers.
In 2004, at the VH1 Hip Hop Honors
Shakur was honored along with DJ Hollywood, Kool DJ Herc, KRS-One, Public Enemy,
Run-D.M.C., Rock Steady Crew, and Sugarhill Gang.
A Vibe magazine poll in 2004 rated
Shakur "the greatest rapper of all time" as voted by fans.
At the First Annual Turks & Caicos
International Film Festival held on Tuesday, October 17, 2006, Shakur was
honored for his undeniable voice and talent and as a performer who crossed
racial, ethnic, cultural and medium lines; his mother accepted the award on his
In 2008, The National Association
Of Recording Merchandisers in conjunction with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
recognized him as a very influential artist and has added him in their
Definitive 200 list.
On Wednesday, June 23, 2010, Shakur
was inducted to the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry.
The seat of the Catholic Church
released a list of 12 songs onto the social networking Web site's streaming
music service. Among the artists included are Mozart, Muse and Dame Shirley
Bassey; the list also includes Shakur's song "Changes", which was released two
years after his shooting death on a greatest hits album in 1998.
His double album, All Eyez on Me,
is one of the highest-selling rap albums of all time, with over 5 million copies
of the album sold in the United States alone by April 1996; it was eventually
certified 9x platinum in June 1998 by the RIAA.
Year Album Peak chart positions
US US R&B US CAN
1991 2Pacalypse Now 64 13 Gold
1993 Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. 24
1994 Thug Life: Volume 1 (with Thug
Life) 42 6 Gold
1995 Me Against the World 1 1 2×
1996 All Eyez on Me 1 1 9× Platinum
1996 The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day
Theory 1 1 4× Platinum Gold
Year Album Peak chart positions
US US R&B US CAN
1997 R U Still Down? (Remember Me)
2 1 4× Platinum
1998 Greatest Hits 3 1 Diamond
1999 Still I Rise (with the
Outlawz) 6 2 Platinum Gold
2001 Until the End of Time 1 1 3×
Platinum 2× Platinum
2002 Better Dayz 5 1 2× Platinum 3×
2003 Tupac Resurrection 2 3
2004 Loyal to the Game 1 1
2006 Pac's Life 9 3
In addition to rapping and hip hop
music, Shakur acted in films. He made his first film appearance in the motion
picture Nothing But Trouble, as part of a cameo by the Digital Underground. His
first starring role was in the film Juice. In this story, he played the
character Bishop, a trigger happy teen, for which he was hailed by Rolling
Stone's Peter Travers as "the film's most magnetic figure." He went on to
star with Janet Jackson in Poetic Justice (for which he was nominated
outstanding actor in 1994, but did not win) and with Duane Martin in Above the
Rim. After his death, three of Shakur's completed films, Bullet, Gridlock'd and
Gang Related, were released.
He had also been slated to star in
the Hughes brothers' film Menace II Society but was replaced by Larenz Tate
after assaulting Allen Hughes as a result of a quarrel. Director John Singleton
mentioned that he wrote the script for Baby Boy with Shakur in mind for the
leading role. It was eventually filmed with Tyrese Gibson in his place and
released in 2001, five years after Shakur's death. The film features a mural of
Shakur in the protagonist's bedroom as well as featuring the song "Hail Mary" in
the film's score.
Year Title Role Notes
1991 Nothing But Trouble Himself
1992 Juice Bishop First starring
1992 Drexell's Class Himself Season
1993 A Different World Piccolo
Season 6: "Homie, Don't You Know Me?"
1993 Poetic Justice Lucky
Co-starred with Janet Jackson
1993 In Living Color Himself Season
5: "Ike Turner and Hooch"
1994 Above the Rim Birdie
Co-starred with Duane Martin
1995 Murder Was the Case: The Movie
Sniper (Uncredited). Segment "Natural Born Killaz".
1996 Bullet Tank Released one month
after Shakur's death
1997 Gridlock'd Ezekiel 'Spoon'
Whitmore Released several months after Shakur's death
1997 Gang Related Detective
Rodríguez Shakur's last performance in a film
2003 Tupac: Resurrection Himself
Official documentary film
2009 Notorious Himself (archive
footage) Portrayed by Anthony Mackie
2011/2012 Tupac Himself
(archive footage) The official biographical motion picture of Tupac Shakur.
The film is currently being
20?? Live 2 Tell Screenwriter
(Written in 1995)
Shakur's life has been recognized
in big and small documentaries each trying capture the many different events
during his short lifetime, most notably the Academy Award–nominated Tupac:
Resurrection, released in 2003.
1997: Tupac Shakur: Thug Immortal
1997: Tupac Shakur: Words Never Die
2001: Tupac Shakur: Before I
2001: Welcome to Deathrow
2002: Tupac Shakur: Thug Angel
2002: Biggie & Tupac
2002: Tha Westside
2003: 2Pac 4 Ever
2003: Tupac: Resurrection
2004: Tupac vs.
2004: Tupac: The Hip Hop Genius
2006: So Many Years, So Many Tears
2007: Tupac: Assassination
2009: Tupac: Assassination II:
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