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Tupac Shakur dies

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Hip hop star Tupac Shakur dies on September 13, 1996 of gunshot wounds suffered in a Las Vegas drive-by shooting.

More than a decade after his death on this day in 1996, rapper Tupac Shakur remains one of the most recognizable faces and voices in hip-hop. A steady stream of posthumous album releases has kept his name near the top of lifetime sales rankings, and artistic efforts like the 2003 film Tupac: Resurrection have kept his image and music current among fans who were far too young to have seen and heard him perform while he was still alive. His recording career came to an end with his death at the age of 25, but like another famous rapper with whom his story is intertwined, Shakur has only grown in stature with each passing year since his still-unsolved murder.

The story of Shakur’s death on September 13, 1996, begins with a failed attempt on his life two years earlier. On November 30, 1994, Tupac Shakur was shot and seriously wounded during a robbery committed by two armed men in the lobby of a midtown Manhattan office building that housed a recording studio where he’d been working on his third album, Me Against the World (1995). For reasons that have been detailed obsessively in works such as Nick Broomfield’s 2002 documentary Biggie and Tupac, Shakur blamed the attack on producer Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs and rival rapper Christopher Wallace—a.k.a. “The Notorious B.I.G.” Shakur’s charges, and his subsequent move to the L.A.-based record label Death Row Records, sparked the so-called “East Coast vs. West Coast” feud that defined the hip-hop scene through the mid-1990s.

In Las Vegas on September 7, 1996, for the Mike Tyson-Bruce Seldon boxing match, Shakur and others in his entourage were captured on tape in the lobby of the MGM Grand hotel engaging in a violent scuffle with a man later identified as a member of the Los Angeles-based Bloods street gang. Hours later, Shakur was riding as a passenger in a car driven by Death Row Records head Marian “Suge” Knight when a white Cadillac pulled up alongside them at a stoplight on Flamingo Road and opened fire. At least 12 shots were fired, four of which struck Shakur and one of which grazed the head of Suge Knight. Emergency surgery at University Medical Center saved Shakur’s life that night, and in the days following, doctors announced that his chances of recovery had improved. On September 13, 1996. however, Tupac Shakur died of his wounds.

Six months later, Shakur’s rap rival, Christopher Wallace, was murdered in similar circumstances in Los Angeles. No arrest has been made to date in connection with either murder.

Timeline of a Criminal Suspect and Crime Victim

Raymond Boyd / Getty Images

  • 1992: After a performance in Marin City, California, a confrontation occurred in which Shakur pulled out his registered Colt Mustang and then allegedly dropped it. When a member of his entourage picked the gun up, a bullet discharged. The stray bullet killed 6-year-old Qa'id Walker-Teal. Shakur and his stepbrother Maurice Harding were arrested, but the charges were later dismissed. It was reported that Shakur agreed to pay a settlement of between $300,000 and $500,000 to the parents of the slain child.
  • April 5, 1993: Shakur spent 10 days in a Michigan prison for beating another rapper with a baseball bat.
  • October 31, 1993: Shakur was arrested for a shooting incident in Atlanta involving two off-duty cops. According to witnesses, Mark Whitwell, a police officer in Clayton County, Georgia, and Whitwell's brother Scott, a police officer in nearby Henry County, and their wives were crossing the street when they were nearly hit by a car. The officers, who were in civilian clothing, got into a verbal altercation with the driver of the car and its passengers, as well as with the occupants of a second vehicle that stopped. The evidence regarding who fired the first shot or which car Shakur was in is not clear. However, as the fight escalated, Shakur shot one policeman in the leg and the other in the buttocks. (Some witnesses say Mark Whitwell pulled a gun first.) Charges were dropped when it was determined that the officers involved were intoxicated and carrying guns taken from the police evidence room.
  • November 18, 1993: Shakur was arrested for sexually abusing a 19-year-old woman, whom he'd met at a New York nightclub. Shakur allegedly sodomized and sexually abused the woman along with three of his friends. There were additional weapons charges. The sodomy and weapons charges were dropped. Shakur was sentenced to 1.5 to 4.5 years in prison, for which he served nine months (beginning February 14, 1995) at the Clinton Correctional Facility.
  • November 10, 1994: Shakur, slated to star in the movie "Menace II", punched the film's director Allen Hughes for which he spent 15 days in prison. Shakur was replaced in the movie by Larenz Tate.
  • November 30, 1994: Shakur was ambushed by three Black men in the lobby of a Times Square recording studio in New York City. The men robbed him of over $35,000 in cash and jewelry and shot him five times—wounding him in the head, groin, and hand.
  • April 5, 1996: Shakur was sentenced to 130 days in jail for violating the terms of his bail release.


Rapper. Actor. Activist. Thug. Poet. Rebel. Visionary. Though his recording career lasted just five years, Tupac Amaru Shakur (1971-1996) is one of the most popular artists in history, with over 75 million records sold worldwide. More than half of his eleven studio albums sold over three million copies in the U.S., and both 1996&rsquos All Eyez on Me and his Greatest Hits collection have been certified diamond, surpassing the ten-million mark and placing them among the top-selling albums of all time.

Intent on escaping Baltimore&rsquos violence, his family relocated to Marin City, California when he was 17. He hooked up with the popular Bay Area rap crew Digital Underground, starting as a roadie and back-up dancer, and eventually working his way up to contributing a verse to the 1991 hit &ldquoSame Song,&rdquo his recorded debut. Tupac was signed to Interscope Records by Tom Whalley (who still oversees his estate today), and his first solo album, 2Pacalypse Now, arrived a few months later, generating both acclaim and controversy. Though the single &ldquoBrenda&rsquos Got a Baby&rdquo demonstrated his empathy and conscience, the album&rsquos unsparing examinations of street violence and police harassment led to a public condemnation by Vice President Dan Quayle.

This tension would continue to play out over the next five years, as Tupac&rsquos life grew increasingly tumultuous and his popularity escalated. In 1993, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z., including the hits &ldquoKeep Ya Head Up&rdquo and &ldquoI Get Around,&rdquo became his first platinum release. Two years later, following the release of the Thug Life: Volume 1 album (recorded with Thug Life, his group of five MCs), the more somber and reflective Me Against the World reached Number One on the album charts and was nominated for two Grammys.

Things got even bigger in 1996 with All Eyez on Me, Tupac&rsquos best-selling album, which spawned five singles, including two Number One hits, &ldquoCalifornia Love&rdquo and &ldquoHow Do U Want It.&rdquo At the height of his phenomenal success, Tupac&rsquos life was cut short on September 13, 1996 when he was murdered in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas at the age of 25.

Despite the tragedy, Tupac&rsquos music catalog continued to grow thanks to a significant cache of unreleased songs. He recorded at a relentless pace, eventually amassing enough music for an additional seven studio albums, including the multi-platinum releases R U Still Down?, Until the End of Time, and the double-disc Better Dayz.

Nearly a decade after his final album, appreciation has only deepened for the lasting impact of Tupac&rsquos music. His story was told in 2003&rsquos Academy Award-nominated documentary Tupac: Resurrection. The Library of Congress added &ldquoDear Mama&rdquo to the National Recording Registry in 2009, and even the Vatican featured &ldquoChanges&rdquo on its official playlist.

Today in History: Rapper Tupac Shakur died

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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Tupac Shakur was mourned in the Brooklyn, New York, church he attended as a boy, mourned by those who see him as a victim in a society where murder is the leading cause of death for young black men.

Various theories have attempted to establish a connection between the two murders.

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Tupac Shakur, 25, Rap Performer Who Personified Violence, Dies

Tupac Shakur, a rapper and actor who built a career on controversy, died of wounds yesterday from a drive-by shooting last Saturday. He was 25 years old.

Mr. Shakur, who lived in Los Angeles, had been in critical condition at University Medical Center in Las Vegas since Saturday. That night as he was leaving the Mike Tyson-Bruce Seldon prizefight, a Cadillac pulled up alongside the BMW in which he was riding and he was shot four times. His right lung was removed on Sunday. No arrests have been made.

Mr. Shakur was a complex and sometimes contradictory figure, with a career featuring million-selling albums, gunshot wounds and run-ins with the police. He was an intelligent, vivid writer who had studied acting at the High School of Performing Arts in Baltimore he was an accomplished rapper with a husky baritone and crisp enunciation. He was also a convicted sex offender, and the words ''Thug Life'' and ''Outlaw'' were tattooed on his body.

''It's really unfortunate that the violent perception that the world has of that young man may be exacerbated by the way he died: art is being confused with real life,'' Mr. Shakur's lawyer, Shawn S. Chapman, said yesterday in Los Angeles. ''There was this wonderful, charming, bright, talented, funny person that no one is going to get to know they are just going to know this other side. Hopefully, this will have some positive effect on people -- the gang members -- who are shooting each other.''

In some raps, Mr. Shakur glamorized the life of the ''player,'' a high-living, macho gangster flaunting ill-gotten gains. But in many others, sometimes on the same albums, he portrayed the gangster life as a desperate, self-destructive existence of fear and sudden death. He described gangsterism as a vicious cycle, a grimly inevitable response to racism, ghetto poverty and police brutality.

'ɺll we know is violence,'' he declared in ''Trapped.'' In an interview with Vibe magazine this year, he said children should be told that '�use I'm talking about it doesn't mean that it's O.K.'' But he also reveled in his notoriety, particularly after he was released from jail.

With many raps about killing policemen (usually in self-defense), Mr. Shakur offered prime examples for groups that wanted to clean up rap lyrics he also considered himself a target of police harassment. At the same time, he sold millions of albums and reached No. 1 on Billboard's pop-albums chart. Long before his death, his career raised questions about hip-hop's devotion to ''realness,'' the notion that a performer has to live (or have lived) the life he raps about.

'ɺlthough some may say that Tupac laid down in the bed he made, it is always unfortunate when someone with talent dies at such a young age, regardless of circumstances,'' said Geoff Mayfield, director for charts at Billboard, the music's industry trade magazine. ''Hopefully, the reaction to what has happened will dampen enthusiasm for violence among those who looked up to him, rather than promote it.''

Tupac Amaru Shakur was born in New York City, the son of Afeni Shakur, a member of the Black Panthers who was in jail on bombing charges while she was pregnant with him she was acquitted. He grew up in the Bronx, then moved with his mother to Baltimore, where he studied acting at the High School of the Performing Arts. There, after a friend was shot while playing with guns, he wrote his first rap, about gun control, and began performing it. He dropped out of high school (although he later earned a general equivalency diploma) and moved to northern California.

He returned to performing, and auditioned for Shock G of the group Digital Underground. He was hired for the road crew and eventually performed and recorded with Digital Underground, appearing on the group's ''This Is an EP Release'' (Tommy Boy) and ''Sons of the P'' (Tommy Boy), which was nominated for a Grammy Award. In 1991, he started a solo recording career with the album 'ɲPacalypse Now'' (Interscope), which sold half a million copies. It included two modest hits, ''Trapped'' and 'ɻrenda's Got a Baby,'' a song about an unwed teen-age mother's plight. Before the album was released, he also started a career as a movie actor, playing the violent, unpredictable Bishop in the Ernest Dickerson film ''Juice.''

In October 1991, Mr. Shakur said, police officers in Oakland, Calif., assaulted him because he was jaywalking he filed a $10 million lawsuit. In the spring of 1992, a Texas state trooper was killed by a teen-ager who was listening to 'ɲPacalypse Now,'' which includes songs about killing policemen. Vice President Dan Quayle demanded that the album be withdrawn Interscope refused.

In 1993, Mr. Shakur played the male lead in John Singleton's film ''Poetic Justice,'' opposite Janet Jackson, and released ''Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.,'' which sold a million copies, mixing tales of violence with positive messages about women and the responsibility of fatherhood. It was followed in 1994 by ''Thug Life, Vol. 1,'' made by a group of rappers featuring Mr. Shakur. The group's hit single, ''Pour a Little Liquor,'' was an elegy for victims of gangster life it was used in the soundtrack of '➫ove the Rim,'' a movie in which Mr. Shakur had a supporting role.

In November 1993, Mr. Shakur was indicted on charges that he and some associates sodomized a 20-year-old woman in a Manhattan hotel suite. During the trial, he was shot twice as he entered a Manhattan recording studio and robbed of $40,000 worth of jewelry. He was sentenced to 1 1/2 to 4 1/2 years in prison for sexual assault. While in prison, he married his longtime girlfriend, Keisha Morris, but the marriage was annulled. In October 1995, pending appeal, he was released on $1.4 million bail, which was put up by his new recording label, Death Row Records.

His 1995 album, ''Me Against the World'' (Out Da Gutta/Interscope), apparently recorded before his prison term, was a more somber reflection on ghetto violence it entered the Billboard album chart at No. 1, and sold two million copies. Upon his release, Mr. Shakur immediately began recording songs for 'ɺll Eyez on Me'' (Death Row/Interscope), which has sold 2.5 million copies since its release this year. It was the first double album in hip-hop, and it also reached No. 1. The cautionary tone was gone on the album, Mr. Shakur flaunted his success, reveling in fame and wealth.

''His latest album was his best-selling album, and one expects that he would have built on it from there,'' said Mr. Mayfield of Billboard.

Mr. Shakur had planned a tour this fall with other Death Row performers, including Snoop Doggy Dogg.

He is survived by his mother and a half-sister, Sekyiwah Shakur, who live in Decatur, Ga., and a half-brother, Maurice Harding.

20 Years After Tupac's Death: 'A Symbol of Possibility, of Life Cut Short'

W hen the rapper and actor Tupac Shakur died on Sept. 13, 1996, TIME called his murder &ldquoa defining nightmare for a gangsta-rap world whose paranoid royalty seem increasingly compelled to live out the grotesque violence that fills its art.&rdquo

In the 20 years since, however, his legacy has proved to be about much more than that “gangsta-rap world,” according to research by Jeremy Prestholdt, an associate professor in the Department of History at UC San Diego. His book, Icons of Dissent: The Global Resonance of Che, Marley, Tupac and Bin Laden, is due out next March. Prestholdt tells TIME that, while researching in East Africa in the years after Shakur’s death, he realized that Shakur had a “global resonance” that was “more complicated and more nuanced than what I was familiar with from an American perspective.”

As Prestholdt described in a 2009 article for the Journal of African Cultural Studies, Shakur became a widely used symbol during the civil war in Sierra Leone, which began before his death and went on until 2002. He “became a lodestar for multiple rebel factions,” Prestholdt says, and the Revolutionary United Front used Tupac T-shirts as uniforms. The rapper was likewise a symbol in places including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast and Libya.

Prestholdt explains that there was a “convergence of circumstances” in the early 1990s that led to this situation. Hip-hop had become a globally popular art form, and he was recognizable all over the world. There was a post-Cold War “sense of disillusionment,” a loss of meaning, which Shakur was able to capture. His message about systemic oppression and poverty appealed to many, even those whose experiences were very different from his. And, of course, there was his headline-making sudden death at the height of his career.

Prestholdt posits that his death helped make him “a symbol of possibility, of life cut short” as well as righteous violence and “courage, invincibility, resilience [and] a form of masculinity” in many different places around the world where people faced violent trauma, from South Africa to the South Pacific.

That symbolism has only increased in the past two decades.

&ldquoTupac has become more and more a mythlike figure since his death,” Prestholdt says. &ldquoThat&rsquos consistent across very different socioeconomic, very different national environments.”

But that myth has also changed, as some of that post-Cold War alienation has faded.

One of Prestholdt’s arguments is that, in order for someone who has become a symbol to remain one, the symbolism has to evolve over time. In some ways, the violent end that helped establish Shakur’s legacy has become less and less a part of his story, especially in the United States.

&ldquoHe was vilified during his life by lawmakers and others and then you fast forward to the recent past and you have his poetry being used in Powerade commercials, you have the Vatican in 2009 using his music on their MySpace page,” Prestholdt says. The social relevance of his lyrics has taken on prominence&mdashas, for example, in the musical Holler If Ya Hear Me&mdashwhile the parts of his life that were seen more critically at the time have tended to fall away from view.

“He has become a voice for people who feel alienated, who feel marginalized by political or social systems, and I think the fact that he, in the minds of listeners or fans. really gave voice to their sense of alienation or their grievances, is what continues to make him such a powerful and resonant figure,” Prestholdt says. “People feel like he&rsquos speaking directly to them and he&rsquos narrating their experience.”

Read TIME’s 1996 coverage of Tupac Shakur’s death, here in the TIME Vault:What Goes ‘Round

Rape Charges Against Tupac

In February 1995, Tupac was sentenced to between one and a half and four and a half years of jail time for sexually abusing a female fan. The case related to an incident that had taken place in Tupac&aposs suite in the New York Parker Meridien hotel in November 1993.

Tupac maintained that he had not raped the girl, although he confessed to the Vibe magazine journalist Kevin Powell that he could have prevented others who were present in the suite at the time from doing so. "I had a job [to protect her]," he said, expressing his sorrow, "and I never showed up."


Shakur was born on June 16, 1971, in the East Harlem section of Manhattan (New York City). [13] While born Lesane Parish Crooks, [14] [15] [16] he was renamed, at age one, after Túpac Amaru II [17] (the descendant of the last Incan ruler, Túpac Amaru), who was executed in Peru in 1781 after his failed revolt against Spanish rule. [18] Shakur's mother explained, "I wanted him to have the name of revolutionary, indigenous people in the world. I wanted him to know he was part of a world culture and not just from a neighborhood." [17]

Shakur had an older stepbrother, Mopreme "Komani" Shakur, and a half-sister, Sekyiwa, two years his junior. [19] His parents, Afeni Shakur—born Alice Faye Williams in North Carolina—and his birth father, Billy Garland, had been active Black Panther Party members in New York in the late 1960s and early 1970s. [20]

Panther heritage

A month before Shakur's birth, his mother Afeni was tried in New York City as part of the Panther 21 criminal trial. She was acquitted of over 150 charges. [21] [22]

Other family members who were involved in the Black Panthers' Black Liberation Army were convicted of serious crimes and imprisoned, including Shakur's stepfather, Mutulu Shakur, who spent four years among the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives. Mutulu Shakur was apprehended in 1986 and subsequently convicted for a 1981 robbery of a Brinks armored truck, during which police officers and a guard were killed. [23]

Shakur's godfather, Elmer "Geronimo" Pratt, a high-ranking Black Panther, was convicted of murdering a school teacher during a 1968 robbery. His sentence was overturned when it was revealed that the prosecution had hidden evidence that he was in a meeting 400 mi (640 km) away at the time of the murders. [24] [25]

School years

In 1984, Shakur's family moved from New York City to Baltimore, Maryland. [26] He attended eighth grade at Roland Park Middle School, then two years at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School. On transfer to the Baltimore School for the Arts, he studied acting, poetry, jazz, and ballet. [27] [28] He performed in Shakespeare's plays—depicting timeless themes, now seen in gang warfare, he would recall [29] —and as the Mouse King role in The Nutcracker ballet. [23] With his friend Dana "Mouse" Smith as beatbox, he won competitions as reputedly the school's best rapper. [30] Also known for his humor, he could mix with all crowds. [31] As a teen, he listened to musicians including Kate Bush, Culture Club, Sinéad O'Connor, and U2. [32]

At Baltimore's arts high school, Shakur befriended Jada Pinkett, who would become a subject of some of his poems. [33] After his death, she would call 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." [34] [35] Upon connecting with the Baltimore Young Communist League USA, [36] [37] [38] Shakur dated the daughter of the director of the local chapter of the Communist Party USA. [39] In 1988, Shakur moved to Marin City, California, a small, impoverished community, [40] about 5 miles (8.0 km) north of San Francisco. [41] In nearby Mill Valley, he attended Tamalpais High School, [42] where he performed in several theater productions. [43]

Later relations

In Shakur's adulthood he continued befriending individuals of diverse backgrounds. His friends would range from Mike Tyson [44] and Chuck D [45] to Jim Carrey [46] and Alanis Morissette, who in April 1996 said that she and Shakur were planning to open a restaurant together. [47] [48]

Shakur briefly dated Madonna in 1994. [49] [50] On April 29, 1995, Shakur married his then girlfriend Keisha Morris, a pre-law student. [51] [52] The marriage was annulled ten months later. [53] In a 1993 interview published in The Source, Shakur berated record producer Quincy Jones for his interracial marriage to actress Peggy Lipton. [54] Their daughter Rashida Jones responded with an irate open letter. [55] Years later, Shakur apologized to her sister Kidada Jones, who he was dating at the time of his death in 1996. [56]

In January 1991, Shakur debuted under the stage name 2Pac on rap group Digital Underground's single "Same Song." The song was featured on the soundtrack of the 1991 film Nothing but Trouble. His first two solo albums, 2Pacalypse Now (1991) and Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. (1993), preceded Thug Life: Volume 1 (1994), the only album with his side group Thug Life. [57] Rapper/producer Stretch guests on the three albums.

2Pac's third solo album, Me Against the World (1995), features rap clique Dramacydal, reshaping as Outlawz on 2Pac's fourth solo album, and last in his lifetime, All Eyez on Me (1996). At the time of his death, another solo album was already finished. The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory (1996), under the stage name Makaveli, was recorded in one week in August 1996, whereas later posthumous albums are archival productions. Later posthumous albums are R U Still Down? (1997), Greatest Hits (1998), Still I Rise (1999), Until the End of Time (2001), Better Dayz (2002), Loyal to the Game (2004), Pac's Life (2006). [58]

Beginnings: 1989–1991

Shakur began recording using the stage name MC New York in 1989. That year, he began attending the poetry classes of Leila Steinberg, and she soon became his manager. [59] [40] Steinberg organized a concert for Shakur and his rap group Strictly Dope. Steinberg managed to get Shakur signed by Atron Gregory, manager of the rap group Digital Underground. [40] In 1990, Gregory placed him with the Underground as a roadie and backup dancer. [40] [60] Under the stage name 2Pac, he debuted on the group's January 1991 single "Same Song," leading the group's January 1991 EP titled This Is an EP Release, [40] while 2Pac appeared in the music video. It also went on the soundtrack of the February 1991 movie Nothing but Trouble, starring Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, Chevy Chase, and Demi Moore. [40]

Rising star: 1992–1993

2Pac's debut album, 2Pacalypse Now—alluding to the 1979 film Apocalypse Now—arriving in November 1991, would bear three singles. Some prominent rappers—like Nas, Eminem, Game, and Talib Kweli—cite it as an inspiration. [61] Aside from "If My Homie Calls," the singles "Trapped" and "Brenda's Got a Baby" poetically depict individual struggles under socioeconomic disadvantage. [62]

US Vice President Dan Quayle partially reacted, "There's no reason for a record like this to be released. It has no place in our society." Tupac, finding himself misunderstood, [29] explained, in part, "I just wanted to rap about things that affected young Black males. When I said that, I didn't know that I was gonna tie myself down to just take all the blunts and hits for all the young Black males, to be the media's kicking post for young Black males." [63] [64] In any case, 2Pacalypse Now was certified Gold, half a million copies sold. Altogether, the album sits well within the context of the socially conscious rap, addressing urban Black concerns still prevalent in rap to this day. [40]

2Pac's second album, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. , arrived in February 1993. A critical and commercial advance, it debuted at No. 24 on the pop albums chart, the Billboard 200. [65] An overall more hardcore album, it emphasizes Tupac's sociopolitical views, and has a metallic production quality. It features Ice Cube, the famed primary creator of N.W.A's "Fuck tha Police," who, in his own solo albums, had newly gone militantly political, along with L.A.'s original gangsta rapper, Ice-T, who in June 1992 had sparked controversy with his band Body Count's track "Cop Killer".

In fact, in its vinyl release, side A, tracks 1 to 8, is labeled the "Black Side," while side B, tracks 9 to 16, is the "Dark Side." Nonetheless, the album carries the single "I Get Around," a party anthem featuring Digital Underground's Shock G and Money-B, which would render 2Pac's popular breakthrough, reaching No. 11 on the pop singles chart, the Billboard Hot 100. And it carries the optimistic compassion of another hit, "Keep Ya Head Up," an anthem for women empowerment. This album would be Certified platinum, with a million copies sold. As of 2004, among 2Pac albums, including of posthumous and compilation albums, the Strictly album would be 10th in sales, about 1 366 000 copies. [66]

Stardom: 1994–1995

In late 1993, Shakur formed the group Thug Life with Tyrus "Big Syke" Himes, Diron "Macadoshis" Rivers, his stepbrother Mopreme Shakur, and Walter "Rated R" Burns. Thug Life released its only album, Thug Life: Volume 1, on October 11, 1994, which is certified Gold. It carries the single "Pour Out a Little Liquor", produced by Johnny "J" Jackson, who would also produce much of Shakur's album All Eyez on Me. Usually, Thug Life performed live without Tupac. [67] The track also appears on the 1994 film Above the Rim's soundtrack. But due to gangsta rap being under heavy criticism at the time, the album's original version was scrapped, and the album redone with mostly new tracks. Still, along with Stretch, Tupac would perform the first planned single, "Out on Bail," which was never released, at the 1994 Source Awards. [68]

2Pac's third album, arriving in March 1995 as Me Against the World, is now hailed as his magnum opus, and commonly ranks among the greatest, most influential rap albums. The album sold 240,000 copies in its first week, setting a then record for highest first-week sales for a solo male rapper. [69] The lead single, "Dear Mama," arrived in February with the B side "Old School." [70] The album's most successful single, it topping the Hot Rap Singles chart, and peaked at No. 9 on the pop singles chart, the Billboard Hot 100. [71] In July, it was certified Platinum. [72] It ranked No. 51 on the year-end charts. The second single, "So Many Tears," released in June, [73] reached No. 6 on the Hot Rap Singles chart and No. 44 on Hot 100. [71] August brought the final single, "Temptations," [74] reaching No. 68 on the Hot 100, No. 35 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks, and No. 13 on the Hot Rap Singles. [71] At the 1996 Soul Train Music Awards, Tupac won for best rap album. [75] In 2001, it ranked 4th among his total albums in sales, with about 3 million copies sold in the US. [76]

Superstardom: 1995–1996

While imprisoned February to October 1995, Tupac wrote only one song, he would say. [77] Rather, he took to political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli's treatise The Prince and military strategist Sun Tzu's treatise The Art of War. [78] And on Tupac's behalf, his wife Keisha Morris communicated to Suge Knight of Death Row Records that Tupac, in dire straits financially, needed help, his mother about to lose her house. [79] In August, after sending $15,000 for her, Suge began visiting Tupac in prison. [79] In one of his letters to Nina Bhadreshwar, recently hired to edit a planned magazine, Death Row Uncut, [80] Tupac discusses plans to start a "new chapter." [81] Eventually, music journalist Kevin Powell would say that Shakur, once released, became more aggressive, and "seemed like a completely transformed person." [82]

2Pac's fourth album, All Eyez on Me, arrived on February 13, 1996. Of two discs, it basically was rap's first double album – meeting two of the three albums due in Tupac's contract with Death Row – and bore five singles while perhaps marking the peak of 1990s rap. [83] With standout production, [71] the album has more party tracks and often a triumphant tone. [71] As 2Pac's second album to hit No. 1 on both the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and the pop albums chart, the Billboard 200, [71] it sold 566,000 copies in its first week and was it was certified 5× Multi-Platinum in April. [84] "How Do U Want It" as well as "California Love" reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. At the 1997 Soul Train Awards, it won in R&B/Soul or Rap Album of the Year. [85] At the 24th American Music Awards, Tupac won Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist. [86] The album was certified 9× Multi-Platinum in June 1998, [87] and 10× in July 2014. [88]

Tupac's fifth and final studio album, The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, commonly called simply The 7 Day Theory, was released under a newer stage name, Makaveli. [89] The album had been created in seven days total during August 1996. [90] The lyrics were written and recorded in three days, and mixing took another four days. In 2005, ranked The 7 Day Theory at No. 9 among hip hop's greatest albums ever, [91] and by 2006 a classic album. [92] Its singular poignance, through hurt and rage, contemplation and vendetta, resonate with many fans. [93] But according to George "Papa G" Pryce, Death Row Records' then director of public relations, the album was meant to be "underground," and "was not really to come out," but, "after Tupac was murdered, it did come out." [94] It peaked at No. 1 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and on the Billboard 200, [95] with the second-highest debut-week sales total of any album that year. [96] On June 15, 1999, it was certified 4× Multi-Platinum. [97]

Tupac's first film appearance was in the 1991 film Nothing but Trouble, a cameo by the Digital Underground. In 1992, he starred in Juice, where he plays the fictional Roland Bishop, a militant and haunting individual. Rolling Stone ' s Peter Travers calls him "the film's most magnetic figure." [98]

Then, in 1993, Tupac starred alongside Janet Jackson in John Singleton's romance film, Poetic Justice. Tupac then played another gangster, the fictional Birdie, in Above the Rim. Soon after Tupac's death, three more films starring him were released, Bullet (1996), Gridlock'd (1997), and Gang Related (1997). [99] [100]

Director Allen Hughes had cast Tupac as Sharif in the 1993 film Menace II Society, but replaced him once Tupac assaulted him on set due to a discrepancy with the script. Nonetheless, in 2013, Hughes appraises that Tupac would have outshone the other actors, "because he was bigger than the movie." [101] [102] For the lead role in the eventual 2001 film Baby Boy, a role played by Tyrese Gibson, director John Singleton originally had Tupac in mind. [103] Ultimately, the set design includes in the protagonist's bedroom a Tupac mural, and the film's score includes the 2Pac song "Hail Mary." [104]

1991 Oakland Police Department lawsuit

In October 1991, Shakur filed a $10 million lawsuit against the Oakland Police Department for allegedly brutalizing him over jaywalking. The case was settled for about $43,000. [105]

Shooting of Qa'id Walker-Teal

On August 22, 1992, in Marin City, Shakur performed outdoors at a festival. For about an hour after the performance, he signed autographs and posed for photos. A conflict broke out and Shakur allegedly drew a legally carried Colt Mustang but dropped it on the ground. Shakur claimed that someone with him then picked it up when it accidentally discharged. About 100 yards (90 meters) away in a schoolyard, Qa'id Walker-Teal, a boy aged 6 on his bicycle, was fatally shot in the forehead. Police matched the bullet to a .38-caliber pistol registered to Shakur. His stepbrother Maurice Harding was arrested, but no charges were filed. Lack of witnesses stymied prosecution. In 1995, Qa'id's mother filed a wrongful death suit against Shakur, settled for about $300,000 to $500,000. [106] [107]

Shooting two policemen

In October 1993, in Atlanta, Mark Whitwell and Scott Whitwell, two brothers who were both off-duty police officers, were out celebrating with their wives after one of them had passed the state's bar examination. Drunk, the officers were crossing the street when a passing car carrying Shakur allegedly almost struck them. The Whitwells, later found to have stolen guns, argued with the car's occupants. When a second car arrived, the Whitwells ran away, as Shakur shot one officer in the buttocks and the other in the leg, back, or abdomen. Shakur was charged in the shooting. Mark Whitwell was charged with firing at Shakur's car and later with making false statements to investigators. Prosecutors ultimately dropped all charges against both parties. Both brothers filed civil suits against Shakur Mark Whitwell's was settled out of court, while Scott Whitwell's $2 million lawsuit resulted in a default judgment entered against the rapper's estate. [108] [109]

Assault convictions

On April 5, 1993, charged with felonious assault, Shakur allegedly threw a microphone and swung a baseball bat at rapper Chauncey Wynn, of the group M.A.D., at a concert at Michigan State University. On September 14, 1994, Shakur pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, and was sentenced to 30 days in jail, twenty of them suspended, and ordered to 35 hours of community service. [110] [111]

Slated to star as Sharif in the 1993 Hughes Brothers' film Menace II Society, Shakur was replaced by actor Vonte Sweet after allegedly assaulting one of the film's directors, Allen Hughes. In early 1994, Shakur served 15 days in jail after being found guilty of the assault. [112] [113] The prosecution's evidence included a Yo! MTV Raps interview where Shakur boasts that he had "beat up the director of Menace II Society." [114]

Sexual assault conviction

In November 1993, Shakur and three other men were charged in New York with sexually assaulting a woman in his hotel room. The woman, Ayanna Jackson, alleged that after consensual oral sex in his hotel room, she returned a later day, but then was raped by him and other men there. Interviewed on The Arsenio Hall Show, Shakur said he was hurt that "a woman would accuse me of taking something from her." [115]

On December 1, 1994, Shakur was convicted of first-degree sexual abuse, but acquitted of associated sodomy and gun charges. In February 1995, he was sentenced to 18 months to 4 + 1 ⁄ 2 years in prison by a judge who decried "an act of brutal violence against a helpless woman." [116] [117] On October 12, 1995, pending judicial appeal, Shakur was released from Clinton Correctional Facility, [29] once Suge Knight, CEO of Death Row Records, arranged for posting of his $1.4 million bond. [105] On April 5, 1996, Shakur was sentenced to 120 days in jail for violating his release terms by failing to appear for a road cleanup job, [118] but on June 8, his sentence was deferred via appeals pending in other cases. [119]

In 1991, 2Pac debuted on a new record label, Interscope Records, that knew little about rap music. Until that year, Ruthless Records, formed during 1986 in Los Angeles county's Compton city, had prioritized rap, and its group N.W.A had led gangsta rap to platinum sales, but N.W.A's lyrics, outrageously violent and misogynist, precluded mainstream breakthrough. On the other hand, also specializing in rap, Profile Records, in New York City, had a mainstream, pop breakthrough, Run-DMC's "Walk This Way", in 1986. In April 1991, N.W.A disbanded via Dr. Dre's departure to, with Suge Knight, launch Death Row Records, in Los Angeles city. [120] With its very first two albums, Death Row became the first record label both to prioritize rap and to regularly release mainstream, pop hits with it. [120]

Released by Death Row in late 1992, Dre's The Chronic—its "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang" ubiquitous on pop radio and "Let Me Ride" winning a Grammy—was trailed in late 1993 by Snoop's Doggystyle. [120] Gangsta rap, no less, these albums and more propelled the West Coast, for the first time, ahead of New York to rap's center stage. [120] But meanwhile, in 1993, Andre Harrell of Uptown Records, in New York, fired his star A&R man, Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs, later "P. Diddy." [120] Puffy, while leaving behind his standout projects Jodeci and Mary J. Blige—two R&B acts—took to his own, new record label, Bad Boy Records, the promising gangsta rapper Biggie Smalls, soon also known as The Notorious B.I.G. [120] His debut album, released in late 1994 as Ready to Die, promptly returned rap's spotlight to New York. [120]

Rap world

Stretch and Live squad

In 1988, Randy "Stretch" Walker, along with his brother, dubbed Majesty, and a friend debuted with an EP as rap group and production team, Live Squad, in the Queens borough of New York City. [121] Tupac's early days with Digital Underground made his acquaintance with Stretch, who featured on a track of the Digital Underground's 1991 album Sons of the P. Becoming fast friends, Tupac and Stretch recorded and performed together often. [121] Stretch as well as Live Squad contributed tracks on 2Pac's first two albums, first November 1991, then February 1993, and on 2Pac's side group Thug Life's only album of September 1994.

The end of Tupac's and Stretch's friendship in late 1994 surprised the New York rap scene. [121] The next 2Pac album, released in March 1995, lacks Stretch, and 2Pac's album after that, released in February 1996, has lines suggesting Stretch's impending death for betrayal. No objective evidence would publicly emerge to tangibly incriminate Stretch in the gun attack on Tupac, while with Stretch and two others, at about 12:30 am on November 30, 1994. In any case, after a Live Squad production session for the second album of Queens rapper Nas, Stretch's vehicle was chased while receiving fatal gunfire at about 12:30 am on November 30, 1995. [121]

Biggie and Junior M.A.F.I.A.

During 1993 and 1994, the Biggie Smalls guest verses on several singles, often R&B, like Mary J. Blige's "What's the 411? Remix," set high expectations for his debut album. The perfectionism of Puffy, still forming his Bad Boy label, extended its recording to 18 months. In 1993, visiting Los Angeles, Biggie asked a local drug dealer for an introduction to Tupac, who then welcomed Biggie and Biggie's friends to Tupac's house and treated them to recreational activities. [79] On later visits to Los Angeles, Biggie would stay at Tupac's place. [79] And when in New York, Tupac would go to Brooklyn and hang out with Biggie and his circle. [79]

During this period, at his own live shows, Tupac would call Biggie onto stage to rap with him and Stretch. [79] Together, they recorded the songs "Runnin' from the Police" and "House of Pain." Reportedly, Biggie asked Tupac to manage him, whereupon Tupac advised him that Puffy would make him a star. [79] Yet in the meantime, Tupac's lifestyle was comparatively lavish, whereas Biggie appeared to continue wearing the same pair of boots for perhaps a year. [79] Tupac welcomed Biggie to join his side group Thug Life. [79] Biggie would instead form his own side group, the Junior M.A.F.I.A., with his Brooklyn friends Lil' Cease and Lil' Kim, on Bad Boy.


Despite the "weird" timing of Stretch's shooting death, [121] a theory implicates gunman Ronald "Tenad" Washington both here and in the 2002 murder of Run-DMC's Jam Master Jay via, as the unverified theory speculates, Kenneth "Supreme" McGriff punishing the rap mentor for recording 50 Cent despite Supreme's prohibition after this young rapper's 1999 song "Ghetto Qu'ran" had mentioned activities of the Queens drug gang Supreme Team. [122] Supreme was a friend, rather, of Irv Gotti, cofounder of Murder Inc Records, [122] whose rapper Ja Rule would vie among New York rappers after the March 1997 shooting death of Biggie, visiting Los Angeles.

Haitian Jack

By some accounts, the role Birdie, played by Shakur in the 1994 film Above the Rim, had been modeled on a New York underworld tough, Jacques "Haitian Jack" Agnant, [123] a manager and promoter of rappers. [124] Reportedly, Shakur met him at a Queens nightclub, where, noticing him amid women and champagne, Shakur asked for an introduction. [79] Reportedly, Biggie advised Tupac to avoid him, but Tupac disregarded the warning. [79]

In November 1993, in his Manhattan hotel room, Shakur received a woman's return visit. Soon, she alleged sexual assault by him and three other men there: his road manager Charles Fuller, aged 24, one Ricardo Brown, aged 30, [125] and a "Nigel," later understood as Haitian Jack. [79] In November 1994, Jack's case was split off and closed via misdemeanor plea without incarceration. [79] In 2007, for shooting at someone, he would be deported. [126] Yet in November 1994, A. J. Benza, in the New York Daily News, reported Tupac's new disdain for Jack. [79] [123]

Jimmy Henchman

Through Haitian Jack, Tupac had met James "Jimmy Henchman" Rosemond. [79] Another underworld figure formidable, Jimmy Henchman doubled as music manager. [123] Bryce Wilson's Groove Theory was an early client. [123] The Game as well as Gucci Mane were later clients. [123] In 1994, a client lesser known, and signed to Uptown Records, was rapper Little Shawn, friend of Biggie and Lil' Cease. [123] Eventually, Jack and Henchman would reportedly fall out, allegedly shooting at each other in Miami. [123] And for his major drug trafficking, Henchman would be sent to prison on a life sentence. [123] But in the early 1990s, Jack and Henchman reputedly shared interests, including a specialty of robbing and extorting music artists. [123]

November 1994

On November 30, 1994, while in New York recording verses for a mixtape of Ron G, Shakur was repeatedly distracted by his beeper. [123] Music manager James "Jimmy Henchman" Rosemond, reportedly offered Shakur $7,000 to stop by Quad Studios, in Times Square, that night to record a verse for his client Little Shawn. [79] [123] Shakur was unsure, but agreed to the session as he needed the cash to offset legal costs. He arrived with Stretch and one or two others. In the lobby, three men robbed and beat him at gunpoint Shakur resisted and was shot. [63] [127] Shakur speculated that the shooting had been a set-up. [63] [127] [128]

Three hours after surgery, against doctor's advice, Shakur checked out of Bellevue Hospital Center. The next day, in a Manhattan courtroom bandaged in a wheelchair, he received the jury's verdict in his ongoing criminal trial for a November 1993 sexual assault in his hotel room. Convicted of three counts of sexual assault, he was acquitted of six other charges, including sodomy and gun charges. [129]

In a 1995 interview with Vibe magazine, Shakur accused Sean Combs, [130] Jimmy Henchman, [127] and Biggie, among others, of setting up or being privy to the November 1994 robbery and shooting. Vibe alerted the names of the accused. [131] The accusations were significant to the East-West Coast rivalry in hip-hop, the accusation was because Sean Combs and Christopher Wallace were at Quad Studios at the time and in 1995, months later, Combs and Wallace releasing song "Who Shot Ya?", whereas the song made no direct reference or naming of Shakur, Shakur took it as a mockery of his shooting and thought they could be responsible, so he released a (direct) diss song called "Hit 'Em Up", where he targeted Wallace, Combs, their record label, Junior M.A.F.I.A., and at the end of "Hit 'Em Up", he mentions rivals Mobb Deep and Chino XL. [132] [133] [134] [135] [136]

In March 2008, Chuck Philips, in the Los Angeles Times, reported on the 1994 ambush and shooting. [137] The newspaper later retracted the article since it relied partially on FBI documents later discovered forged, supplied by a man convicted of fraud. [138] In June 2011, convicted murderer Dexter Isaac, incarcerated in Brookyn, issued a confession that he had been one of the gunmen who had robbed and shot Shakur at Henchman's order. [139] [140] [141] Philips then named Isaac as one of his own, retracted article's unnamed sources. [142]

Death Row signs Shakur

During 1995, imprisoned, impoverished, and his mother about to lose her house, Shakur had his wife Keisha Morris get word to Marion "Suge" Knight, in Los Angeles, boss of Death Row Records. [79] Reportedly, Shakur's mother promptly received $15,000. [79] After an August visit to Clinton Correctional Facility in northern New York state, Suge traveled southward to New York City to join Death Row's entourage to the 2nd Annual Source Awards ceremony. [79] Already reputed for strongarm tactics on the Los Angeles rap scene, Suge used his brief stage time mainly to belittle Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs, boss of Bad Boy Entertainment, the label then leading New York rap scene, who routinely performed with his own artists. [120] [143] Before closing with a brief comment of support for Shakur, [144] Suge invited artists seeking the spotlight for themselves to join Death Row. [120] [143] Eventually, Puff recalled that to preempt severe retaliation from his Bad Boy orbit, he had promptly confronted Suge, whose reply – that he had meant Jermaine Dupri, of So So Def Recordings, in Atlanta – was politic enough to deescalate the conflict. [145]

Still, among the fans, the previously diffuse rivalry between America's two mainstream rap scenes had instantly flared already. [120] [144] [143] And while in New York, Suge visited Uptown Records, where Puff, under its founder Andre Harrell, had started in the music business through an internship. [146] Apparently without paying Uptown, Suge obtained the releases of Puff's prime Uptown recruits Jodeci, its producer DeVante Swing, and Mary J. Blige, all then signing with Suge's management company. [146] On September 24, 1995, at a party for Dupri in Atlanta at the Platinum House nightclub, a Bad Boy circle entered a heated dispute with Suge and Suge's friend Jai Hassan-Jamal "Big Jake" Robles, a Bloods gang member and Death Row bodyguard. [120] [147] According to eyewitnesses, including a Fulton County sheriff, working there as a nightclub bouncer, Puff had heatedly disputed with Suge inside the club, [120] whereas several minutes later, outside the club, it was Puff's childhood friend and own bodyguard, Anthony "Wolf" Jones, who had aimed a gun at Big Jake, fatally shot while entering Suge's car. [120] [148] [149]

The attorneys of Puff and his bodyguard both denied any involvement by their clients, while Puff's added that Puff had not even been with his bodyguard that night. [150] Over 20 years later, the case remains officially unresolved. Yet immediately and persistently, Suge blamed Puff, cementing the enmity between the two bosses, whose two record labels dominated the rap genre's two mainstream centers. [120] [151] In the late 1990s, Southern rap's growth into the mainstream would dispel the East–West paradigm. [144] But in the meantime, in October 1995, violating his probation, Suge visited Shakur in prison again. [120] Suge posted $1.4 million bond. And with appeal of his December 1994 conviction pending, Shakur returned to Los Angeles and joined Death Row. [120] On June 4, 1996, it released the 2Pac B side "Hit 'Em Up." In this venonmous tirade, the proclaimed "Bad Boy killer" threatens violent payback on all things Bad Boy—Biggie, Puffy, Junior M.A.F.I.A., the company—and on any in New York's rap scene, like rap duo Mobb Deep and obscure rapper Chino XL, who allegedly had commented against Shakur about the dispute.


On the night of September 7, 1996, Shakur was in Las Vegas, Nevada, to celebrate his business partner Tracy Danielle Robinson's birthday [152] and attended the Bruce Seldon vs. Mike Tyson boxing match with Suge Knight at the MGM Grand. Afterward in the lobby, someone in their group spotted Orlando "Baby Lane" Anderson, an alleged Southside Compton Crip, whom the individual accused of having recently in a shopping mall tried to snatch his neck chain with a Death Row Records medallion. The hotel's surveillance footage shows the ensuing assault on Anderson. Shakur soon stopped by his hotel room and then headed with Knight to his Death Row nightclub, Club 662, in a black BMW 750iL sedan, part of a larger convoy. [153]

At about 11 pm on Las Vegas Boulevard, bicycle-mounted police stopped the car for its loud music and lack of license plates. The plates were found in the trunk and the car was released without a ticket. [154] At about 11:15 pm at a stop light, a white, four-door, late-model Cadillac sedan pulled up to the passenger side and an occupant rapidly fired into the car. Shakur was struck four times: once in the arm, once in the thigh, and twice in the chest [155] with one bullet entering his right lung. [156] Shards hit Knight's head. Frank Alexander, Shakur's bodyguard, was not in the car at the time. He would say he had been tasked to drive the car of Shakur's girlfriend, Kidada Jones. [157]

Shakur was taken to the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada where he was heavily sedated and put on life support. [9] In the intensive-care unit on the afternoon of September 13, 1996, Shakur died from internal bleeding. [9] He was pronounced dead at 4:03 pm. [9] The official causes of death are respiratory failure and cardiopulmonary arrest associated with multiple gunshot wounds. [9] Shakur's body was cremated the next day. Members of the Outlawz, recalling a line in his song "Black Jesus," (although uncertain of the artist's attempt at a literal meaning chose to interpret the request seriously) smoked some of his body's ashes after mixing them with marijuana. [158] [159]

In 2002, investigative journalist Chuck Philips, [160] [161] after a year of work, reported in the Los Angeles Times that Anderson, a Southside Compton Crip, having been attacked by Suge and Shakur's entourage at the MGM Hotel after the boxing match, had fired the fatal gunshots, but that Las Vegas police had interviewed him only once, briefly, before his death in an unrelated shooting. Philips's 2002 article also alleges the involvement of Christopher "Notorious B.I.G." Wallace and several within New York City's criminal underworld. Both Anderson and Wallace denied involvement, while Wallace offered a confirmed alibi. [162] Music journalist John Leland, in the New York Times, called the evidence "inconclusive." [163]

In 2011, via the Freedom of Information Act, the FBI released documents related to its investigation which described an extortion scheme by the Jewish Defense League that included making death threats against Shakur and other rappers, but did not indicate a direct connection to his murder. [164] [165]

The online, rap magazine AllHipHop held a 2007 roundtable where, among fellow New York rappers, Cormega, citing tour experience with New York rap duo Mobb Deep, imparted a broad assessment: "Biggie ran New York. 'Pac ran America." [166] In 2010, writing Rolling Stone magazine's entry on Tupac Shakur at No. 86 among the "100 greatest artists," New York rapper 50 Cent appraised, "Every rapper who grew up in the Nineties owes something to Tupac. He didn't sound like anyone who came before him." [167] Dotdash, formerly, while ranking him fifth among the greatest rappers, nonetheless notes, "Tupac Shakur is the most influential hip-hop artist of all time. Even in death, 2Pac remains a transcendental rap figure." [168] Yet to some, he was a "father figure" who, said rapper YG, "makes you want to be better—at every level." [169]

According to music journalist Chuck Philips, 2Pac "had helped elevate rap from a crude street fad to a complex art form, setting the stage for the current global hip-hop phenomenon." [170] Philips writes, "The slaying silenced one of modern music's most eloquent voices—a ghetto poet whose tales of urban alienation captivated young people of all races and backgrounds." [170] Via numerous fans perceiving him, despite the questionable of his conduct, as a martyr, "the downsizing of martyrdom cheapens its use," Michael Eric Dyson concedes. [171] But Dyson adds, "Some, or even most, of that criticism can be conceded without doing damage to Tupac's martyrdom in the eyes of those disappointed by more traditional martyrs." [171] More simply, his writings, published after his death, inspired rapper YG to return to school and get his GED. [169] In 2020, California Senator and Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris called Shakur the "best rapper alive", a mistake that she explained because "West Coast girls think 2Pac lives on". [172] [173]

In 2006, Shakur's close friend and classmate Jada Pinkett Smith donated $1 million to their high school alma mater, the Baltimore School for the Arts, and named the new theater in his honor. [174] [175] In 2021, Pinkett Smith honored Shakur's 50th birthday by releasing a never before seen poem she had received from the late rapper. [176]

Afeni Shakur

In 1997, Shakur's mother founded the Shakur Family Foundation. Later renamed the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation, or TASF, it launched with a stated mission 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. In June 2005, the TASF opened the Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts, or TASCA, in Stone Mountain, Georgia. Afeni also narrates the documentary Tupac: Resurrection, released in November 2003, and nominated for Best Documentary at the 2005 Academy Awards. Meanwhile, with Forbes ranking Tupac Shakur at 10th among top-earning dead celebrities in 2002, [177] Afeni Shakur launched Makaveli Branded Clothing in 2003.

Academic appraisal

In 1997, the University of California, Berkeley, offered a course led by a student titled "History 98: Poetry and History of Tupac Shakur". [178] In April 2003, Harvard University cosponsored the symposium "All Eyez on Me: Tupac Shakur and the Search for the Modern Folk Hero." [179] The papers presented cover his ranging influence from entertainment to sociology. [179] Calling him a "Thug Nigga Intellectual," an "organic intellectual," [180] English scholar Mark Anthony Neal assessed his death as leaving a "leadership void amongst hip-hop artists," [181] as this "walking contradiction" helps, Neal explained, "make being an intellectual accessible to ordinary people." [182] Tracing Tupac's mythical status, Murray Forman discussed him as "O.G.," or "Ostensibly Gone," with fans, using digital mediums, "resurrecting Tupac as an ethereal life force." [183] Music scholar Emmett Price, calling him a "Black folk hero," traced his persona to Black American folklore's tricksters, which, after abolition, evolved into the urban "bad-man." Yet in Tupac's "terrible sense of urgency," Price identified instead a quest to "unify mind, body, and spirit." [184]

Multimedia releases

In 2005, Death Row released on DVD, Tupac: Live at the House of Blues, his final recorded live performance, an event on July 4, 1996. In August 2006, Tupac Shakur Legacy, an "interactive biography" by Jamal Joseph, arrived with previously unpublished family photographs, intimate stories, and over 20 detachable copies of his handwritten song lyrics, contracts, scripts, poetry, and other papers. In 2006, the 2Pac album Pac's Life was released and, like the previous, was among the recording industry's most popular releases. [185] In 2008, his estate made about $15 million. [186]

In 2014, BET explains that "his confounding mixture of ladies' man, thug, revolutionary and poet has forever altered our perception of what a rapper should look like, sound like and act like. In 50 Cent, Ja Rule, Lil Wayne, newcomers like Freddie Gibbs and even his friend-turned-rival Biggie, it's easy to see that Pac is the most copied MC of all time. There are murals bearing his likeness in New York, Brazil, Sierra Leone, Bulgaria and countless other places he even has statues in Atlanta and Germany. Quite simply, no other rapper has captured the world's attention the way Tupac did and still does." [187]

On April 15, 2012, at the Coachella Music Festival, rappers Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre joined a 2Pac hologram, [188] and, as a partly virtual trio, performed the 2Pac songs "Hail Mary" and "2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted." [189] [190] There were talks of a tour, [191] but Dre refused. [192] Meanwhile, the Greatest Hits album, released in 1998, and which in 2000 had left the pop albums chart, the Billboard 200, returned to the chart and reached No. 129, while also other 2Pac albums and singles drew sales gains. [193] And in early 2015, the Grammy Museum opened an exhibition dedicated to Tupac Shakur. [194]

Film and stage

In 2014, the play Holler If Ya Hear Me, based on Tupac's lyrics, played on Broadway, but, among Broadway's worst-selling musicals in recent years, ran only six weeks. [195] In development since 2013, a Tupac biopic, All Eyez on Me, began filming in Atlanta in December 2015, [196] and was released on June 16, 2017, in concept Tupac Shakur's 46th birthday, [197] albeit to generally negative reviews. In August 2019, a docuseries directed by Allen Hughes, Outlaw: The Saga of Afeni and Tupac Shakur, was announced. [198]

Awards and honors

In 2003, MTV's viewers voted 2Pac the greatest MC. [199] In 2005, on Vibe magazine's online message boards, a user asked others for the "Top 10 Best of All Time." [200] Vibe staff, then, "sorting out, averaging and spending a lot of energy," found, "Tupac coming in at first". [200] In 2006, MTV staff placed him second. [92] In 2012, The Source magazine ranked him fifth among all-time lyricists. [201] In 2010, Rolling Stone placed him at No. 86 among the "100 Greatest Artists." [167]

In 2007, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's "Definitive 200" albums—choices irking some otherwise [202] —placed All Eyez on Me at No. 90 and Me Against the World at No. 170. [203] In 2009, drawing praise, the Vatican added "Changes," a 1998 posthumous track, to its online playlist. [204] On June 23, 2010, the Library of Congress sent "Dear Mama" to the National Recording Registry, [205] the third rap song, after a Grandmaster Flash and a Public Enemy, ever to arrive there. [206]

In 2002, Tupac Shakur was inducted into the Hip-Hop Hall of Fame. Two years later, cable television's music network VH1 held its first ever Hip Hop Honors, where the honorees were "2Pac, Run-DMC, DJ Hollywood, Kool Herc, KRS-One, Public Enemy, Rock Steady Crew, Sugarhill Gang." [207] On December 30, 2016, in his first year of eligibility, Tupac was nominated, [208] and on the following April 7 was among five inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. [11] [209]

Studio albums

Posthumous studio albums

  • The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory (1996) (as Makaveli)
  • R U Still Down? (Remember Me) (1997)
  • Until the End of Time (2001)
  • Better Dayz (2002)
  • Loyal to the Game (2004)
  • Pac's Life (2006)

Collaboration albums

Posthumous collaboration albums

Year Title Role Notes
1991 Nothing but Trouble Himself (in a fictional context) Brief appearance as part of the group Digital Underground
1992 Juice Roland Bishop First starring role
1993 Poetic Justice Lucky Co-starred with Janet Jackson
1993 A Different World Piccolo Episode: Homie Don't Ya Know Me?
1993 In Living Color Himself Season 5, Episode: 3
1994 Above the Rim Birdie Co-starred with Duane Martin
1995 Murder Was the Case: The Movie Sniper Uncredited segment: "Natural Born Killaz"
1996 Saturday Night Special Himself (guest host) 1 episode
1996 Saturday Night Live Himself (musical guest) Episode: "Tom Arnold/Tupac Shakur"
1996 Bullet Tank Released one month after Shakur's death
1997 Gridlock'd Ezekiel "Spoon" Whitmore Released four months after Shakur's death
1997 Gang Related Detective Jake Rodriguez Shakur's last performance in a film
2001 Baby Boy Himself Archive footage
2003 Tupac: Resurrection Himself Archive footage
2009 Notorious Himself Archive footage
2015 Straight Outta Compton Himself Archive footage
2017 All Eyez on Me Himself Archive footage

Biographical portrayals in film

Year Title Portrayed by Notes
2001 Too Legit: The MC Hammer Story Lamont Bentley Biographical film about MC Hammer
2009 Notorious Anthony Mackie Biographical film about The Notorious B.I.G.
2015 Straight Outta Compton Marcc Rose [210] Biographical film about N.W.A
2016 Surviving Compton: Dre, Suge & Michel'le Adrian Arthur Biographical film about Michel'le
2017 All Eyez on Me Demetrius Shipp, Jr. [211] Biographical film about Tupac Shakur [212]


Shakur's life has been explored in several documentaries, each trying to capture the many different events during his short lifetime, most notably the Academy Award-nominated Tupac: Resurrection, released in 2003.

Today in Hip-Hop History: Tupac Shakur Dies After Being Gunned Down on Las Vegas Strip 22 Years Ago

Cultural icon Tupac Shakur was then taken to the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada hospital after being shot several times in a drive-by on a Las Vegas strip on September 7, 1996, and was under a medically induced coma for six days before dying from internal bleeding on September 13, 1996.

After several failed attempts by doctors to revive 2Pac, his mother Afeni Shakur requested for his life support machine to be turned off. What were the events that transpired the days before the September 7th shooting that caused his early demise and why has the mystery of his death never been solved? These are the questions that remain 19 years later. Chris Carroll, a retired Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department sergeant, told Vegas Seven Magazine in an interview last year that we may never know

“Shakur’s murder is still considered an unsolved homicide and an unsolved homicide case is technically never closed. But nothing more is ever going to happen with it.”

After all the documentaries that have been put out pertaining to Pac’s death, most fans attempt to put the clues together and create their own hypothesis yet without hard evidence it’s still just an educated guess as to what really happened the night of September 7, 1996.

The only real evidence police have are the witness accounts from Outlaw member E.D.I Mean, who claimed to have seen all four men in the vehicle and Yaki Kadafi, who was involved in a scuffle with officers two days following the shooting after they pulled over a driver he was with and he protested. Officers did not try to locate Kadafi, who was later gunned down in Irving, NJ two months after the shooting.

Compton investigators assembled mug shots of several gang members, which included Orlando Anderson, the Crip that Tupac attacked in the MGM Grand lobby hours before the shooting. Anderson is the suspect said to have fired the fatal shots that killed Pac. Las Vegas police later discounted Anderson as a suspect and interviewed him only once. He was later killed in an unrelated gang shooting.

‘Pac’s killer has yet to be found or even suspected, but the fight to bring his killer(s) to justice is continual and highly publicized, which will hopefully bring the truth about his untimely death to light.

Is Tupac Still Alive?

There are many conspiracy theories about the final resting place, if any, of Tupac. Many claim he is not actually dead. The most common theory is that Tupac and his entourage faked the death and that he has been in near-perfect hiding, despite being a celebrity, with a well-known and distinctive face. Sightings of the in-hiding Tupac abound, coming from places as far afield as Cuba, New Zealand, Tasmania, Los Angeles, Sweden, New Jersey, Boston, and/or Somalia.

Reality suggests it is unlikely that Tupac is alive, at least in the conventional sense. His spirit lives on in his music for sure, but it is, entirely possible that his spirit lives on—namely, as a presence that frequents his last haunts on this earth.

Interested in learning more about Tupac’s paranormal relationship with Vegas? Consider joining us on our nightly Vegas Ghosts tour. We visit the most haunted sites on the Vegas Strip, including the place where Tupac’s presence is known to linger.

Watch the video: 2Pac - Legends Never Die 13 September. 2021 (August 2022).