|Tupac Amaru Shakur
||Lesane Parish Crooks
|Also known as
||2Pac, Pac, Makaveli
||June 16, 1971
East Harlem, New York City, New York, U.S.
||Marin City, California, U.S.
||September 13, 1996 (aged 25)
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
||Rapper, actor, record producer, poet, screenwriter, activist
||1988-1996 (rapping) 1990-1996 (acting)
||Interscope, Death Row, Amaru
||Outlawz, Johnny “J”, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Digital Underground, Richie Rich, K-Ci & JoJo, Dave Hollister, Dr. Dre, Tha Dogg Pound, Boot Camp Clik, Nate Dogg
Tupac Amaru Shakur (June 16, 1971 – September 13, 1996), known by his stage names 2Pac (or simply Pac) and Makaveli, was an American rapper. Shakur had sold over 75 million albums worldwide as of 2007, making him one of the best-selling music artists in the world. In the United States alone he has sold 37.5 million records. 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 and backup dancer for the alternative hip hop group Digital Underground.
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 6 days later of respiratory failure and cardiac arrest.
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 case.
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.
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.
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 record 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 albums.
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, 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 suggests he believed in God. This means many analysts currently describe him as a deist.
Even as he garnered attention as a rapper and actor, Shakur gained notoriety for his conflicts with the law:
In October 1991, he attempted to file 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.[inconsistent] 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.[inconsistent] 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 said 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.
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 flipping over.
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 is disgusted with the LA Times for printing the story.
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 five weeks. The record 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.
Death Row Records
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 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 performance.
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 record 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).
Upon forming the Outlawz, Tupac gave each of them a name of a dictator/military leader or an enemy of America.
For himself, Tupac created the alias “Makaveli” from renessaince 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 p.m., while paused at a red light, Shakur rolled down his window and a photographer took his photograph. At around 11:00–11:05 p.m., 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 p.m., 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 p.m., 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 this statement.
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. Shortly after the assault, the bodyguard reported in his documentary, Before I Wake, that one of the convoy’s cars drove off after the assailant but he never heard back from the occupants.
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 p.m. (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 Outlawz.
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 event.
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.
||Since his death, Tupac has become an international martyr, a symbol on the level of Bob Marley or Che Guevara, whose life has inspired Tupacistas on the streets of Brazil, memorial murals in the Bronx and Spain, and bandanna-wearing youth gangs in South Africa.
|— Vinyl Ain’t Final: Hip Hop and the Globalization of Black Popular Culture 
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 hip-hop artists.
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 spirit”.
Michael Eric Dyson, University of Pennsylvania Avalon Professor of Humanities and African American Studies and author of the book Holler If You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur 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.
According to Forbes, in 2008 Shakur’s estate made $15 million. In 2002, they recognize him as a Top Earning Dead celebrity coming in on number ten on their list.
Library of Congress
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.” This honor comes seven days after his birthday, where the rapper would have been 39. Shakur is the third rapper to enter the library, behind Grandmaster Flash and Public Enemy.
- According to Guiness Book of Records 2004, he is the highest selling rap/hip-hop artist selling over 67 million copies worldwide.
- In a 2005 Rolling Stones Magazine Vote, Tupac was named #6 of the ‘100 immortal artists of all time’ behind the likes of Elvis and Lennon.
- MTV ranked him at #2 on their list of The Greatest MCs of All Time.
- Shakur was inducted into the Hip-Hop Hall of Fame in 2002.
- Ranked #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 behalf.
- 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.
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 movie 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 movie features a mural of Shakur in the protagonist‘s bedroom as well as featuring the song “Hail Mary” in the movie’s score.
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 (TV)
- 2001: Tupac Shakur: Before I Wake…
- 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 (TV)
- 2006: So Many Years, So Many Tears
- 2007: Tupac: Assassination
- 2009: Tupac: Assassination II: Reckoning
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