Tupac Shakur was killed in a drive-by shooting in 1996, leaving behind an important musical legacy at 25. He was involved in a dispute between East Coast and West Coast rappers when he was killed. This feud lasted for several years.
Who Was Tupac Shakur?
Tupac Shakur was an American rapper and actor who came to personify the gangsta-rap aesthetic of the 1990s. After his untimely death, he was elevated to the status of an icon signifying honorable combat. He is one of the best-selling artists of all time because of the 75 million albums he has sold over his career.
Tupac Shakur was a sensitive, precociously talented, and tortured person. On September 7, 1996, he was shot in Las Vegas and passed away six days later. His murder has never been solved.
Tupac began his career in music as a rebel with a cause to articulate the struggles and injustices that were experienced by a large number of African Americans. Because of his expertise in doing so, he became a spokesperson not just for his generation but also for following generations who continue to fight the same struggle for equality. This struggle is still ongoing.
Throughout his life, his greatest conflict was often with himself. The lines between Tupac Shakur’s work and his life became increasingly blurry, with disastrous results, as fate pulled him towards the nihilism of gangsta rap and into the clutches of the legendary Death Row Records impresario Suge Knight. This led to Shakur’s untimely death.
Tupac Shakur arrived in this world on June 16, 1971, in Harlem, New York. His mother, Afeni, was a single parent who tried her best to provide for her two children despite her financial challenges. The family had a lot of housing changes and even spent some time in transitional housing.
They relocated to Baltimore, where Tupac attended the illustrious Baltimore School for the Arts. At this school, he described experiencing “the most freedom he had ever felt.”
Tupac’s Mom, Father, and Sister
Lesane Parish Crooks was the name given to Tupac when he was born. His mother gave him the name Tupac Amaru after the Spanish executed a Peruvian rebel. This was done after he became a member of the Black Panther group. Later in life, Tupac decided to adopt the surname of Sekiya’s father, Mutulu Shakur, who was also a member of the Panther gang.
Alice Faye Williams, Tupac’s mother, was the daughter of a housekeeper in North Carolina and did not graduate from high school herself. In 1970, she was released on bail after being accused of conspiring to start a race war when she discovered she was pregnant with Tupac. After Afeni had effectively defended herself in court the next year, demonstrating a knack for oration that would be passed on to her son, she was absolved of all charges.
After getting heavily involved with the Black Panther Party, she legally changed her name to Afeni Shakur. Afeni passed away in May of 2016 when she was 69 years old.
When Tupac was five years old, Tupac’s father, Billy Garland, who was also a Panther, lost contact with Afeni. The rapper would not see his father for the next seven years when he was 23 years old. During an interview in 1996 for the publication Vibe, he stated those words to the journalist Kevin Powell. “I thought my father was dead all my life,” he said. I always felt I needed a father figure to guide me through life, but I never had one.
Two years after the birth of Tupac, Afeni gave birth to a daughter named Sekiya. Sekiya’s father, Mutulu Shakur, on the other hand, did not remain in the area for very long.
Jada Pinkett Smith and Tupac’s Friendship
At the Baltimore School for the Arts in Maryland, where they both attended high school, Tupac and Jada Pinkett-Smith first crossed paths. She appeared in a brief scene in the music video he created for the song “Strictly 4 My Niggaz.”
Pinkett-Smith appeared in the biopic All Eyez on Me, released in 2017, about Tupac Shakur. She later revealed to reporters that she had been involved in the drug trade when she met Tupac and that she felt the “reimagining” of their relationship depicted in the movie to be “extremely upsetting.”
“It wasn’t as simple as thinking, “Oh, you have this gorgeous girl and this cool guy; they must have been in this.” No, that wasn’t the case at all; it wasn’t even close. It had always been about survival between us, and now it was about survival again, “— I quote her.
Move to California and Rise to Fame
Because of the high rate of violent violence in Tupac’s former neighborhood in Baltimore, his family decided to relocate to Marin City in California. According to the in-depth posthumous profile of Tupac that Robert Sam Anison wrote for Vanity Fair in 1997, after the rapper’s death, the neighborhood became a “mean little slum.” Crack was a drug that Afeni’s son, Tupac, would sell on the same streets in Marin City that his mother used to buy her supplies, which is how Afeni ultimately became addicted to the substance.
Tupac’s passion for hip-hop would save him from a life of crime (for a while, at least). In the spring of 1989, when he was only 17 years old, he happened upon an older white woman named Leila Steinberg in a park. They began talking about Winnie Mandela as the topic of conversation. In subsequent years, Steinberg would talk of “a young man with fan-like eyelashes, overflowing charisma, and the most irresistible laugh.”
Tupac had already developed an unhealthy obsession with writing poetry when they first met. He managed to talk Steinberg, who had no prior expertise in the music industry, into being his manager.
Tupac landed a job with the hip-hop group Digital Underground in 1990 as a roadie and dancer thanks to Steinberg’s efforts, who eventually succeeded in getting Tupac in front of music manager Atron Gregory. Soon after, he got behind the microphone and made his debut as a recording artist in 1991 with the song “Same Song,” which was the theme song for the Dan Aykroyd comedy Nothing but Trouble. In October of that year, the album Sons of the P by Digital Underground had a guest appearance by Tupac.
When Gregory took over as the band’s manager from Steinberg, he got a recording contract for Tupac with Interscope Records. Tupac’s first album as a solo artist, titled 2Pacalypse Now, was released exactly one month after Sons of the P was made available to the public.
Tupac voiced his frustration regularly that he was misunderstood. He shared his thoughts with journalist Chuck Phillips, saying, “Everything in life is not entirely wonderful.” “There is a significant amount of homicide and drug use. My idea of the perfect record addresses both the challenging and the lighthearted and compassionate topics… It seems like a lot of the sensitive things I write go undetected, and that’s what worries me the most about it.”
Legal Drama and Serving Jail Time
In August of 1992, Tupac was assaulted in Marin City by a group of young people who were envious of him. He pulled out his gun but lost it in the chaos that ensued. Someone took it in their hands, the gun fired, and a bystander named Qa’id Walker-Teal, who was just six years old, collapsed and died.
Tupac was reportedly inconsolable after Walker-death, Teal’s, even though he was not charged with her passing. (In 1995, the Walker-family Teal initiated a civil complaint against Tupac, but it was resolved out of court after an anonymous record company, which is presumed to have been Death Row, gave compensation of between $300,000 and $500,000).
Following a confrontation in Atlanta in October 1993, Tupac shot and wounded two white off-duty police officers, one in the belly and one in the buttocks. Both officers were white. However, the charges against Tupac were dismissed after it was shown in court that the police officers involved had been drinking, had started the altercation, and that one of the cops had threatened Tupac with a stolen gun.
Tupac had been talking about the portrayal of African American guys in society as well as the attitude of some police officers toward them in his music, and this instance demonstrated both of these issues. It turned out that the action portrayed as gun-toting “gangster” behavior by a lawless guy was an act of self-defense carried out by a young man who feared for his life. Throughout it all, Tupac’s star continued to climb higher and higher.
Tupac did spend 15 days in jail in 1994 for punching the film director Allen Hughes, who had sacked him from the set of Menace II Society for being disruptive. Hughes had fired Tupac because of his disruptive behavior on the set.
Tupac vs. Biggie Smalls (aka The Notorious B.I.G.)
There was an additional conflict in the lead-up to the release of Tupac’s third album. Two young African-American guys opened fire on him in the lobby of the Quad recording studio in Manhattan in November of 1994, wounding him many times.
Tupac felt that his adversary in the rap game, Biggie Smalls, was responsible for the shooting, but nobody has ever been prosecuted. (Smalls always denied that he knew anything; in 2011, a New York prisoner serving a life sentence for a crime unrelated to the case named Dexter Isaac claimed that he was paid to steal from Tupac by the artist manager and mogul James “Henchman” Rosemond and that he shot the rapper while robbing him.)
Tupac’s release of the diss single “Hit ‘Em Up” in June 1996 ratcheted the tension between East Coast and West Coast rap. The music was directed at Biggie Smalls and his label boss at Bad Boy Records, Sean “Diddy” Combs. “Hit ‘Em Up” was titled after the song’s chorus, “Hit ‘Em Up.” Their competition was quickly becoming hip hop’s most well-known — and publicly embarrassing — quarrel. Tupac had been assassinated in less than a quarter of a year.
Rape Charges Against Tupac
Tupac was found guilty of sexually abusing a female fan in February 1995 and received a sentence ranging from one and a half years to four and a half years in prison due to the conviction. The incident occurred in November 1993 in Tupac’s suite at the New York Parker Meridien hotel. The case was based on the events that transpired there.
Although Tupac maintained that he had not raped the girl, he admitted to the journalist Kevin Powell of Vibe magazine that he could have prevented others in the suite from doing so. Powell reported that Tupac’s confession was published in the magazine. “I had a job [to protect her], and I never showed up,” he said, expressing his regret, “but I never did.”
Joining Death Row Records
Suge Knight, the infamous head of Death Row Records, paid a visit to the incarcerated Tupac Shakur when the latter was serving time on rape-related crimes. Knight offered to deposit the $1.3 million bail necessary for Tupac to be released until the outcome of his appeal. The prerequisite was for Tupac to sign a contract with Death Row. Tupac compiled and signed. In October 1995, he was granted freedom from the high-security Dannemora institution in New York.
Tupac was funding an at-risk youth center, bankrolling South Central sports teams, and setting up a telephone helpline for young people with problems while glorifying an outlaw lifestyle for Death Row. All of these things were noted in Robert Sam Anson’s Vanity Fair article, published after Tupac’s death.
Songs and Albums
Tupac has 11 platinum albums to his name, four of which were released during his career and seven more after his death. To this day, Tupac has racked up more than 75 million record sales across the globe.
Tupac was ranked as the 44th best-selling artist of all time by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) as of September 2017, when album sales and streaming numbers were considered.
2Pacalypse Now was the first album that Tupac released under his name as a solo artist. Although it did not produce any hits, it sold 500,000 copies. It established Tupac as an uncompromising social commentator on songs such as “Brenda’s Got a Baby,” which narrates an underaged mother’s fall into destitution, and “Soulja’s Story,” which spoke controversially of “blasting” a police officer, and “droppin’ the cop.” Although it did not produce any hits, it did establish Tupac as an uncompromising social commentator on songs such
The song was blamed for a real-life murder of a police officer committed by a teenager named Ronald Ray Howard. At the time, the Vice President of the United States, Dan Quayle, voiced his disapproval of the song. Quayle is quoted as saying that there is “absolutely no reason” for a record such as this one to be disseminated. “There is simply no room for it in our culture.” Because of those statements, Tupac was destined to become famous.
‘Strictly 4 My Niggaz’
In February of 1993, Tupac released his second studio album titled “Strictly 4 My Niggaz.” It continued in the same style as his debut album, which was socially concerned. On the single “Keep Ya Head Up,” which was awarded the gold certification for musical excellence, he expressed his compassion for “my sisters on the welfare” and urged them to “please don’t cry, dry your eyes, never let up.”
Mopreme, Tupac’s stepbrother, contributed to the album in several ways. In 1994, the hip-hop ensemble Thug Life, which had been founded by Tupac and had already issued the album Thug Life: Volume 1, welcomed Mopreme as a new member.
‘Me Against the World’
On March 14, 1995, Tupac’s third solo album was released; however, he was incarcerated then. Its title, “Me Against the World,” couldn’t have been more appropriate for the book’s content. It peaked at number one on the Billboard 200 chart and is regarded as his magnum opus by many music critics. Cheo H. Coker, writing for Rolling Stone, described it as “by and large a work of agony, wrath, and searing desperation.”
But there was also a vulnerable side to it; the lead song, “Dear Mama,” was a heartfelt tribute to the artist’s mother, Afeni, and it peaked at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in April 1995.
‘All Eyez on Me’
In February 1996, Tupac released his first album for Death Row Records, a double-disc set titled All Eyez on Me. All Eyez on Me was an unrestrained celebration of the thug lifestyle, forsaking socially minded lyrics in favor of gangsta-funk hedonism and threat. This was partly because the album marked the debut of his new hip-hop group Outlawz.
Dr. Dre, who had pioneered g-funk with NWA, produced the album’s first hit, “California Love.” The song topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart and is still Tupac’s most well-known recording. “How Do You Want It,” the album’s third song, likewise peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. All Eyez on Me had already been certified five times as a double-platinum record within two months of its first release. It was going to get its diamond certification in the end.
‘How Do U Want It’
When it was first released as a single in June 1996, “How Do You Want It” became more well-known for the B-side track “Hit ‘Em Up,” which aired Tupac’s beef with Bad Boy competitors from the East Coast. Tupac assassinated some rap stars, including Biggie Smalls, Lil Kim, Junior M.A.F.I.A., and Prodigy Mobb Deep, on the incendiary song. The single gave off the eerie impression that it was predicting Tupac’s death and the subsequent conspiracy theories:
“When you see Tupac, make sure you have your Glocks ready;” If you see Tupac, you should call the police; who shot me, but you punks didn’t finish it; He rapped that you were about to experience the fury of a menace now.
‘Don Killuminati: The Seven Day Theory’
Don Killuminati: The Seven Day Theory was Tupac’s fifth studio album, and it was released in November 1996, only eight weeks after the rapper passed. In addition to this, it topped the charts at number one. Up until the release of Pac’s Life in 2006, a total of six studio albums that Tupac had recorded after his death were made available to the public.
Poems and Book
Tupac had a long history as a poet before he became famous for his rapping. One of the verses that he composed when he was a youngster, and that would later be included in the book The Rose that Grew from Concrete, which was published in the year 2000, is as follows: “The world travels fast, and it would rather pass you by / than to stop and see what makes you cry.”
Movies Starring Tupac
When he passed away, Tupac had already made multiple cinematic appearances in addition to his musical career, including lead roles alongside Janet Jackson in 1993’s Poetic Justice and Mickey Rourke in 1996’s Bullet, both of which were released before his death.
Tupac’s Wife and Girlfriend
Tupac wed Keisha Morris in 1995 while still incarcerated; the couple had met a few months earlier at a nightclub when Morris was 20 and Tupac was 21. The wedding took place while Tupac was still doing time. Their marriage was dissolved in October 1995, five months after Tupac was freed from jail; despite this, the two continued to be friends until his passing.
Tupac began a relationship with Kidada Jones not long after the dissolution of his marriage to Morris. After Tupac apologized for disrespecting her father, Quincy Jones, by saying that he only dated white women, the two met at a bar. Jones was with Tupac the night he was shot, both of whom were in Las Vegas.
Tupac had been shot six days before he passed away on September 13, 1996, in Las Vegas from the wounds he sustained. His murder remains unsolved.
Tupac was in Las Vegas on September 7 with Suge Knight to witness a Mike Tyson fight at the MGM Grand hotel. Knight was also in attendance. Immediately following the match, a member of the Crips gang and Tupac got into a fight with each other.
Knight, who was active in the opposing Bloods gang, and members of his entourage quickly crowded inside the vehicle. Later, while Tupac and Knight were riding in a car together and stopped at a red light, a guy exited from another automobile and fired 13 shots at Tupac, hitting him in the hand, pelvis, and chest. Knight was not injured in the shooting. After some time, he passed away at the hospital. During the latter days of his life, he was accompanied by his lover Kidada and his mother Afeni.
Cremation took place with Tupac’s body. His former band, Outlawz, has come under fire for dubiously claiming that some of its members have inhaled some of his ashes in tribute to the late musician. On the tenth anniversary of her son’s death, his mother declared that she would disperse her son’s ashes in Soweto, South Africa, the “birthplace of his ancestors.” This was the announcement she made. Later, she shifted the date to June 16, 1997, which was both Tupac’s 26th birthday and the anniversary of the Soweto uprising in 1976.
Biggie Smalls was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles on March 9, 1997, exactly six months after Tupac had passed away; the murder of Biggie Smalls has also never been solved.
Tupac Conspiracies: Is Tupac Alive?
Tupac was shot multiple times before he passed away in 1996. However, since Tupac was shot, conspiracy theories have been rife because his death has never been satisfactorily explained. Many of Tupac’s fans believe that the rapper faked his death. Tupac rapped about his burial on his album titled Life Goes On. His song “I Ain’t Mad at Cha” was released two days after he passed away. Since Tupac died in 1996, there have been several purported “sightings,” including one in 2012 that Kim Kardashian allegedly made.
During an interview in September 2017, Knight dropped a few hints that Tupac might still be alive. “We were both in good spirits as we walked out of the hospital, laughing and joking. How someone can go from doing well to doing poorly is beyond my comprehension “explained Knight, who went on to say that “with Pac you never know” if he is still alive and could be hiding out anywhere in the world.
At the beginning of 2018, BET aired an episode of Death Row Chronicles in which former Crips member Duane “Keffe D” Keith Davis admitted that he was riding in the car with the man who killed Tupac. He declined to identify the shooter in the interview, revealing only that the shots “came from the back seat,” even though he had previously told federal investigators that the gun was in the hands of his nephew Orlando Anderson. Davis was riding in the car with the man who killed Tupac (now deceased).
Following the disclosure of this information, a petition was started on change.org requesting that the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department close the investigation and label it as “cleared.” It also led to reports that new arrest warrants were about to be issued. Still, the LVMPD stopped those suspicions in July when they stated that they were evaluating the details of what “remains an ongoing homicide case.”
Tupac’s Letter to Madonna
Tupac wrote a letter to Madonna while he was doing time in prison. In the letter, he said he was ending his relationship with the pop diva because of her race. News organizations, including Rolling Stone, checked the authenticity of the letter and determined that it was written on January 15, 1995, at 4:30 in the morning. The letter that Tupac wrote to Madonna was going to be auctioned off in July 2017, and it was estimated that it would bring in $100,000.
In 2018, Madonna initiated legal action against the art consultant and online auction firm responsible for the sale to halt the transaction. A release that Madonna signed in 2004 was why a judge decided to dismiss her lawsuit. In June 2019, Madonna was unsuccessful in her appeal to the court of appeals. In July 2019, the letter was offered up for sale via auction.
The letter details the reasons behind Tupac’s decision to break their relationship. “For you to be seen with a Black man wouldn’t in any way endanger your job – in fact, it would make you seem that much more open and interesting,” he wrote to her. “It wouldn’t in any way jeopardize your profession to be seen with a Black man.” “But for me, at least in my previous perception, I felt that owing to my “image,” I would be letting down half of the individuals who made me what I believed I was. “But for me, at least in my previous perception, the phrase “image” I never intended for you to feel any pain.
Tupac also apologized. He said, “Like you said, I haven’t been the kind of friend I know I am capable of being,” adding that he had “grown both spiritually and mentally” and was no longer the “young man with limited experience with [an] extremely famous sex symbol.” “Like you said, I haven’t been the kind of friend I know I am capable of being,” he said.
‘Who Killed Tupac?’ TV Miniseries
The first episode of the six-part documentary series Biography Presents: Who Killed Tupac? Premiered on A&E on November 21, 2017, and chronicled civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump’s examination into prominent hypotheses regarding the circumstances surrounding the death of Tupac in 1996.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Tupac was given one of the highest accolades in the world of music on April 7, 2017, when he was admitted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This was a fitting award for a rapper considered by many as the best of all time.
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