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Shakur, Tupac 1971–1996

Tupac Shakur 19711996

Rap singer and actor

Bit By Acting Bug

Everybodys Gonna Know Me

Film Stardom, More Controversy

Pitfalls of Thug Life

Saw Chart Success From Prison

Selected discography

Sources

Few rap stars filled their music or their lives with as much violence as Tupac Shakur, proclaimed Time in its obituary for the performer, adding, his murder forced a culture that glamorized hate to consider the consequences. While Shakurs 1996 death by multiple gunshot wounds certainly inspired reflection in the rap world and beyond, Time s reduction of his life and work to violent content was not the only point of view. Other observers saw Shakur as a much more complex figure, one who struggled with issues of violence, political power and personal commitment in his music and approached greatness in his film work. He glowed, journalist dream hampton declared in a Request magazine roundtable following Shakurs death. He was a star, and thats such a rare thing.

Shakurs notoriety among mainstream audiences had much to do with his outlaw image, which was derived in large part from his frequent and high-profile scrapes with the law. Given his upbringing, however, this was perhaps to be expected. He was in prison, he often reminded interviewers, before he was born. His mother, Afeni Shakur, was a member of the militant Black Panther movement; in 1969 she and 20 others in the organization were arrested in connection with an alleged conspiracy to blow up several buildings in New York City. By 1971 she was pregnant and living in the Womens House of Detention in Greenwich Village. Though she was acquitted, she soon found herself raising her newborn son, Tupac Amaru Shakurnamed for an Inca princeby herself. My mother was hella real with me, Tupac noted to Vibe interviewer Kevin Powell. She just told me, I dont know who your daddy is. It wasnt like she was a slut or nothin. It was just some rough times.

Bit By Acting Bug

Afeni and Tupac struggled to get by during those rough times, living in the Bronx and Harlem, at times sleeping in homeless shelters. They moved repeatedly, the rapper recalled, and each time I had to reinvent myself. People think just because you born in the ghetto you gonna fit in. A little twist in your life and you dont fit in no matter what. He admitted to feeling like my life could be destroyed at any moment. He took refuge in writing poetry; his mother tried to bolster

At a Glance

Born Tupac Amaru Shakur, June 16, 1971 in New York, NY; died September 13, 1996, Las Vegas, NV; son of Afeni Shakur (born Alice Faye Williams), a political activist. Education: attended Baltimore School for the Arts.

Rapper-film actor, 1991-96. Appeared in play A Raisin in the Sun, c. 1983 with 127th Street Ensemble; joined rap group Digital Underground, 1990, and appeared on recording This Is an EP Release, 1991; signed with Interscope Records and released solo debut 2Pacalypse Now, 1991; appeared in films Juice, 1992, Poetic Justice, 1993, and Above the Rim, 1994; formed group Thug Life and contributed to Above the Rim soundtrack as well as releasing the bands debut, Volume One, 1994; established own recording label, Out Da Gutta, affiliated with Interscope Records; established own production company; convicted of sexual abuse charges and confined to prison, 1995; released in 1996 and signed to Death Row Records; album The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory released posthumously under the name Makaveli; subsequent recordings and film work slated for 1997 release.

Awards: Platinum records for Above the Rim soundtrack and 1993s Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z ; gold record for 2Pacalypse Now.

Addresses: Death Row Records, 8200 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211.

his creative side by enrolling him in Harlems 127th Street Ensemble, which was the site of Tupacs acting debut, as Travis in the play A Raisin in the Sun. It was here that the acting bug bit him. I remember thinking, This is the best shit in the world! he remembered.

After he and Afeni moved to Baltimore, Tupac attended that citys School for the Arts, studying acting and dance. He also wrote his first rap there and felt himself beginning to fit in, at long last. But by his junior year he was packing up again, moving this time to Marin City, a desolate stretch of northern California known locally as The Jungle. Moving out of his mothers home, he began selling drugs and establishing himself on the streets of his adopted town. It was like a hood and I wanted to be a part of it, he explained to Powell. If I could just fit in here, Im cool. And I thought I did.

Everybodys Gonna Know Me

At the same time, he began to entertain thoughts of a music career. In 1990 he auditioned for the Bay Area rap group Digital Underground, and was hired as a dancer and roadie. He joined the ensembles Sex Packets tour of the U.S. and Japan, and made his recorded debut on their 1991 This Is an EP Release. His newfound success, however, was tainted by some unwelcome news: I was on the road with D.U. and called my homies just to say whassup, and they told me my moms was buying dope from somebody, he related to Vibe. It fed me up. I started blocking her out of my mind. Afenis battle with crack addiction would try their relationship sorely.

By the end of the year he had released his solo debut, 2Pacalypse Now, on the Interscope label. He paved the way for his solo career while touring with D.U. Everybody knew me even though my album wasnt out yet, he told Vibe. I never went to bed. I was working it like a job. That was my number-one thing when I first got in the business. Everybodys gonna know me. Soon everyone would, though perhaps not as he might have hoped; his albums tough stancein the increasingly popular gansta modecreated his first major controversy. In April, 1992, a Texas state trooper was shot to death by a young man who later claimed to have been listening to the album and cited the track Souljas Story as the impetus for his violent act. The song narrates a fugitive with cops on my tail; pulled over, he decides to blast [the officers] punk ass/ Now I got a murder case.

This incident, along with other descriptions of copmurdering, led a number of politicians, including then Vice-President Dan Quayle, to call for the records removal from stores. He changed the direction of hip-hop hijacked it, some would say and ceremonialized its status as the art politicians love to hate, declared RJ Smith in Spin. Of course, such controversy ended up boosting sales of 2Pacalypse. Tupac himself, mean-while, had filed suit against the Oakland police department, alleging brutality in a jaywalking arrest.

Film Stardom, More Controversy

Even as his rap career was heating up, Tupac broke out as a film star in Ernest Dickersons 1992 film Juice, portraying Bishop, a kid who becomes addicted to the high of violence. Though reviews of the film were mixed, his performance received uniform raves. Soon, however, his name was making headlines attached to another tragedy, an armed confrontation in Marin City; a six-year-old boy was killed in the crossfire between Tupacs posse and their antagonists. Spin reported that many in the rapper-actors adopted hometown began to refer to him as Tu-faced.

But controversy sells records, and Tupacs 1993 effort Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z... went gold in a matter of months, thanks in part to the hit track I Get Around. Ironically, given later developments, one of the albums other hit singles was the upbeat Keep Ya Head Up, a paean to the strength and survival of black women. Mean-while, his other rap sheetlisting his run-ins with the lawcontinued to pile up: he was arrested after allegedly beating a limo driver, served ten days in jail after attacking another rapper with a baseball bat, and was busted for allegedly shooting two off-duty police officers shortly after relocating to Atlanta. He was acquitted of the latter charge.

He co-starred with pop singer Janet Jackson in John Singletons 1993 film Poetic Justice, once again receiving accolades even though the film was poorly received at the box office. In November of that year, a young woman with whom Tupac had been involved claimed that he and three of his friends had sodomized and sexually abused her. His troubles continued into 1994; in March he spent 15 days in jail for hitting filmmaker Allen Hughes. But he scored again with critics in the movie Above the Rim; Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly called Tupac perhaps the most dynamic young actor since Sean Penn, adding that he gives each of his characters a unique spiritual temper. With his group Thug Life, Tupac also contributed to the films soundtrack, which sold 2 million copies.

Pitfalls of Thug Life

Thug Lifethe words were tattooed on the rappers stomach then released its own album, Volume One, which Entertainment Weekly described as a 10-song meditation about life under the gun. Where [Tupacs] solo releases have often dragged, One crackles with kinetic energy. Yet the Thug Life that he advocated Thuggin against society. Thuggin against the system that made me, as he put it to Rolling Stonewas taking its toll. Out on bail on the previous sexual abuse and sodomy charges, he was shot several times on the ground floor of a building that housed an acquaintances recording studio. He was ambushed as he prepared to rap on another rappers record, shot and robbed. Although he sustained multiple injuries, he survived.

Over the strenuous objections of his doctors, Tupac appeared in court shortly before sentence was passed. Despite whatever mitigating effect the sight of the wheel-chair-bound Tupac could have had on the jury, he was found guilty of sexual abuse. Although this was the lesser charge against him, he was sentenced to 1 1/2 to 4 1/2 years in prison. Though hed previously said that jail would destroy his spirit, he told Vibe s Powell that he now saw his incarceration as a giftstraight up. This is Gods will. Adding that getting clean after years of incessant marijuana smoking had cleared his head, he claimed a new perspective on his work. If we really are saying rap is an art form, he declared, then we got to be true to it and be more responsible for our lyrics. If you see everybody dying because of what you saying, it dont matter that you didnt make them die, it just matters that you didnt save them.

Saw Chart Success From Prison

Meanwhile, his new album, Me Against the World, began moving up the charts. The first single, Dear Mama, praised his mother for her strength. Tupac couldnt appear in the video, obviously, but Afeni is featured in the clip, watching clips of her son on television. Having recovered from her addiction, the rappers mother had been working for Tupacs production company. Though some may have found the sentimental single an attempt to drum up sympathy for its jailed author, Interscope executive Tom Whalley said otherwise. It wasnt like, Well, Tupacs in jail, lets find the most sympathetic song on the record and put it out so that the audience will be sympathetic to him, he asserted to Jerry Crowe of the Los Angeles Times. I just thought it was a great song, an emotional song.

Me Against the World climbed to the top of the Billboard magazine sales chart, selling half a million copies within weeks. Dear Mama also reached the top ten singles chart. Actress Jada Pinketta steadfast friend and supporter whod allegedly helped, along with superstar singer-actress Madonna and actor Mickey Rourke, to pay Tupacs bailwas slated to direct the video for the albums subsequent single, Can U Get Away. Shakur had just completed filming with Rourke on the film Bullet.

Writing in the Village Voice, critic and pop-culture analyst Toure limned what she called massive distance between Tupacs fame and the quality of his work so far. While she praised his acting talent, Toure disliked most of the films Tupac appeared in, and argued that though he remains along with Snoop [Doggy Dogg] one of the two most famous rappers in the world, he is merely an average vocalist and lyricist, and has yet to record one aesthetically important song. Yet, Toure insisted, Tupacs experiences on the public stage have been remarkable performances in their own right, and have lent an air of importance to his otherwise unimpressive records. The Source, however, praised Me Against the World as the rappers best so far, while Jon Pareles of the New York Times admired its fatalistic calm, in a commercial mold.

From prison, Shakur alleged that he had changed his ways, The addict in Tupac is dead, he vowed to Vibe. The excuse maker in Tupac is dead. The vengeful Tupac is dead. The Tupac that would stand by and let dishonorable things happen is dead. God let me live for me to do something extraordinary, and thats what I have to do. Even if they give me the maximum sentence, thats still my job. Yet after his release from prison, the rapper-actor showed little sign of change. He threw himself into the East Coast vs. West Coast feud in which his new boss, Death Row Records chief Suge Knight, was embroiled. In typically contradictory fashion, Shakur publicly taunted Knights rivals, including Bad Boy Records head Sean Puffy Combs. This conflict may or may not have led to Shakurs shooting in September, 1996, as he and Knight drove through Las Vegas after a boxing match. Shakur died of his wounds a week later.

An aura of mystery surrounded the shooting; no suspects were ever caught, one alleged witness was apparently murdered a few days after the shooting, and Knight who was barely wounded by the hail of bullets refused to tell the press anything substantive about the incident. He did, however, release Shakurs first posthumous album. Appearing in stores under the name Makaveli suggesting a reference to Niccolo Macchiavelli, a Renaissance Italian who is largely considered the father of political maneuvering The Don Killuminati: Seven Day Theory debuted at the number one on the charts and was immediately a huge success. This commercial success in the immediate wake of Shakurs demise led some to speculate that he had faked his own death to boost his and Knights careers. The 7 days between his shooting and his death, his many predictions of his own death, and his use of Makaveli only added credence to such theories.

In the meantime, the handful of unreleased recordings and films that remained in the vaults suggested that even if Shakurs life had really ended, his career had not. Yet the possibility remained that it was his death that would leave the strongest mark on pop culture; his murder sparked considerable debate about the end of the Gangsta era and the futility of the Thug Life.

Selected discography

Digital Underground, This Is an EP Release, Tommy Boy, 1991.

Digital Underground, Sons of the P, Tommy Boy, 1991.

2Pacalypse Now (includes Souljas Story), Interscope, 1991.

Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z (includes I Get Around and Keep Ya Head Up), Interscope, 1993.

Various, Above the Rim soundtrack (Thug Life appears on Pour Out A Little Liquor), Death Row/Interscope, 1994.

Thug Life, Volume One, Out Da Gutta/Interscope, 1994.

Me Against the World (includes Dear Mama and Can U Get Away), Interscope, 1995.

The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory (released posthumously under the name Makaveli), Death Row, 1996.

Sources

Entertainment Weekly, April 8, 1994, pp. 2526, 39; October 14, 1994, p. 60.

Los Angeles Daily News, June 26, 1993, p. L17.

Los Angeles Times, April 4, 1995, p. F1; September 22, 1996, p. M1; November 12, 1996, p. F1.

New York Times, December 1, 1994, pp. B1, B3; February 8, 1995, pp. B1, B3; April 9, 1995, p. H34.

Newsweek, December 12, 1994, pp. 6263; March 27, 1995, p. 66.

People, December 6, 1993, pp. 8990.

Request, January 1997, pp. 23-29.

Rolling Stone, October 28, 1993, p. 22; June 16, 1994, p. 30.

Spin, April 1994, pp. 4347; December 1996, pp. 57-60.

The Source, February 1995, p. 19; April 1995, pp. 27, 79.

Time, December 30, 1996, p. 135.

USA Today, September 16, 1996, p. ID.

Vibe, February 1994, pp. 35-37; February 1995, pp. 22-25; April 1995, pp. 5155.

Village Voice, December 13, 1994, pp. 75, 85.

Additional information was provided by Interscope Records publicity materials, 1995.

Simon Glickman

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2Pac

2Pac

Rap artist, actor

Bit by Acting Bug

Everybodys Gonna Know Me

Film Stardom, More Controversy

The End of a Thug Life

Selected discography

Sources

Despite having achieved success as both a rapper and film actor, Tupac Shakurs notoriety among mainstream audiences had more to do with his outlaw image, which derived in large part from his frequent and high-profile scrapes with the law. Yet despite being sentenced to a prison term in 1995, he remained a presence on the music scene with a the hit album Me Against the World. In an interview he gave from behind bars, Shakur disavowed the Thug Life that had previously been his slogan of choice. Im going to show people my true intentions, and my true heart, he swore to Vibe. Im going to show them the man that my mother raised. Im going to make them all proud. Tragically, not long after his release from prison and of his double album, All Eyez on Me, Shakur died on September 13, 1996, of complications from gunshot wounds he received in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas.

He was in prison, Shakur often reminded interviewers, before he was born. His mother, Afeni Shakur, was a member of the militant Black Panther movement; in 1969 she and 20 others in the organization were arrested in connection with an alleged conspiracy to blow up several buildings in New York City. By 1971 she was pregnant and living in the Womens House of Detention in Greenwich Village. Though she was acquitted, she soon found herself raising her newborn son, Tupac Amaru Shakurnamed for an Inca princeby herself. My mother was hella real with me, Tupac noted to Vibe interviewer Kevin Powell. She just told me, I dont know who your daddy is. It wasnt like she was a slut or nothin. It was just some rough times.

Bit by Acting Bug

Afeni and Tupac struggled to get by during those rough times, living in the Bronx and Harlem, at times sleeping in homeless shelters. They moved repeatedly, the rapper recalled, and each time I had to reinvent myself. People think just because you born in the ghetto you gonna fit in. A little twist in your life and you dont fit in no matter what. He admitted to feeling like my life could be destroyed at any moment. He took refuge in writing poetry; his mother tried to bolster his creative side by enrolling him in Harlems 127th Street Ensemble, which was the site of Tupacs acting debut, as Travis in the play A Raisin in the Sun. It was here that the acting bug bit him. I remember thinking, This is the best shit in the world! he remembered.

After he and Afeni moved to Baltimore, Tupac attended that citys School for the Arts, studying acting and dance. He also wrote his first rap there and felt himself beginning to fit in, at long last. But by his junior year he was packing up again, moving this time to Marin City, a

For the Record

Born Tupac Amaru Shakur, June 16, 1971 in New York, NY; died of complications from gunshot wounds, September 13, 1996, in Las Vegas, NE; son of Afeni Shakur (born Alice Faye Williams), a political activist. Education: Attended Baltimore School for the Arts.

Rapper and film actor. Appeared in play A Raisin in the Sun, c. 1983, with 127th Street Ensemble; joined rap group Digital Underground, 1990, and appeared on recording This Is an EP Release, 1991; signed with Interscope Records and released solo debut 2Pacalypse Now, 1991; appeared in films Juice, 1992, Poetic Justice, 1993, and Above the Rim, 1994; formed group Thug Life and contributed to Above the Rim soundtrack as well as releasing the bands debut, Volume One, 1994; established own recording label, Out Da Gutta, affiliated with Interscope Records; established own production company.

Awards: Platinum records for Above the Rim soundtrack and 1993S Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z; gold record for 2Pacalypse Now.

desolate stretch of northern California known locally as the Jungle. Moving out of his mothers home, he began selling drugs and establishing himself on the streets of his adopted town. It was like a hood and I wanted to be a part of it, he explained to Powell. If I could just fit in here, Im cool. And I thought I did.

Everybodys Gonna Know Me

At the same time, Shakur began to entertain thoughts of a music career. In 1990 he auditioned for the Bay Area rap group Digital Underground, and was hired as a dancer and roadie. He joined the ensembles Sex Packets tour of the U.S. and Japan, and made his recording debut on their 1991 This Is an EP Release. His newfound success, however, was tainted by some unwelcome news: I was on the road with D.U. and called my homies just to say whassup, and they told me my moms was buying dope from somebody, he related to Vibe. It fed me up. I started blocking her out of my mind. Afenis battle with crack addiction would try their relationship sorely.

By the end of the year he had released his solo debut, 2Pacalypse Now, on the Interscope label. He paved the way for his solo career while touring with D.U. Everybody knew me even though my album wasnt out yet, he told Vibe. I never went to bed. I was working it like a job. That was my number-one thing when I first got in the business. Everybodys gonna know me. Soon everyone would, though perhaps not as he might have hoped; his albums tough stancein the increasingly popular gansta modecreated his first major controversy. In April of 1992 a Texas state trooper was shot to death by a young man who later claimed to have been listening to Tupacs album and cited the track Souljas Story as the impetus for his violent act. The song narrates a fugitive with cops on my tail ; pulled over, he decides to blast [the officers] punk ass/Now I got a murder case.

This incident, along with other descriptions of cop-murdering, led a number of politicians, including then Vice-President Dan Quayle, to call for the records removal from stores. Of course, such controversy ended up boosting sales of 2Pacalypse Now. Tupac himself, meanwhile, had filed suit against the Oakland police department, alleging brutality in a jaywalking arrest.

Film Stardom, More Controversy

Even as his rap career was heating up, Tupac broke out as a film star in Ernest Dickersons 1992 film Juice, portraying Bishop, a kid who becomes addicted to the high of violence. Though reviews of the film were mixed, his performance received uniform raves. Soon, however, his name was making headlines attached to another tragedy, an armed confrontation in Marin City; a six-year-old boy was killed in the crossfire between Tupacs posse and their antagonists. Spin reported that many in the rapper-actors adopted hometown began to call him Tu-faced.

But controversy sells records, and Tupacs 1993 effort Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z went gold in a matter of months, thanks in part to the hit track I Get Around. I ronically, given later developments, one of the albums other hit singles was the upbeat Keep Ya Head Up, a paean to the strength and survival of black women. Meanwhile, his other rap sheetlisting his run-ins with the lawcontinued to pile up: he was arrested after alleging beating a limo driver, served ten days in jail after pursuing another rapper with a baseball bat, and was busted for allegedly shooting two off-duty police officers shortly after relocating to Atlanta. He was acquitted of the latter charge.

Shakur co-starred with pop singer Janet Jackson in John Singletons 1993 film Poetic Justice, once again collecting raves in the generally poor reviews. In November of that year, a young woman with whom Tupac had been involved claimed that he and three of his friends had sodomized and sexually abused her. His troubles continued into 1994; in March he spent 15 days in jail for hitting filmmaker Allen Hughes. But he scored again with critics in the movie Above the Rim; Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly called him perhaps the most dynamic young actor since Sean Penn, adding that he gives each of his characters a unique spiritual temper. With his group Thug Life, Tupac also contributed to the films soundtrack, which sold 2 million copies.

Thug Lifethe words were tattooed on the rappers stomachthen released its own album, Volume One, which Entertainment Weekly described as a 10-song meditation about life under the gun. Where [Tupacs] solo releases have often dragged, One crackles with kinetic energy. Yet the Thug Life that he advocated Thuggin1against society. Thuggin against the system that made me, as he put it to Rolling Stone was taking its toll. Out on bail on the previous sexual abuse and sodomy charges, he was shot several times on the ground floor of a building that housed an acquaintances recording studio. He was ambushed as he prepared to rap on another artists record, shot, and robbed. Although he sustained multiple injuries, he survived.

Over the strenuous objections of his doctors, Tupac appeared in court shortly before sentence was passed. Despite whatever mitigating effect the sight of the wheelchair-bound defendant could have had on the jury, he was found guilty of sexual abuse; though this was the lesser charge against him, he was sentenced to one-and-a-half to four-and-a-half years in prison. Though hed previously said that jail would destroy his spirit, he told Vibes Powell that he saw his incarceration as a giftstraight up. This is Gods will. Adding that getting clean after years of incessant marijuana smoking had cleared his head, he claimed a new perspective on his work. If we really are saying rap is an art form, he declared, then we got to be true to it and be more responsible for our lyrics. If you see everybody dying because of what you saying, it dont matter that you didnt make them die, it just matters that you didnt save them.

Meanwhile, his new album, Me Against the World, began moving up the charts. The first single, Dear Mama, praised his mother for her strength. Tupac couldnt appear in the video, obviously, but Afeni is featured in the clip, watching clips of her son on television. Having recovered from her addiction, the rappers mother was working for his production company. Though some may have found the sentimental single an attempt to drum up sympathy for its jailed author, Interscope executive Tom Whalley said otherwise. It wasnt like, Well, Tupacs in jail, lets find the most sympathetic song on the record and put it out so that the audience will be sympathetic to him, he asserted to Jerry Crowe of the Los Angeles Times. I just thought it was a great song, an emotional song.

The End of a Thug Life

Me Again the World climbed to the top of the Billboard magazine sales chart, selling half a million copies within weeks. Dear Mama reached the Top Ten singles chart. Actress Jada Pinketta steadfast friend and supporter whod allegedly helped, along with superstar singer-actress Madonna and actor Mickey Rourke, to pay Tupacs bailwas slated to direct the video for the albums subsequent single, Can U Get Away. Shakur had completed filming with Rourke on the film Bullet.

Writing in the Village Voice, critic and pop-culture analyst Touré pointed out what she called massive distance between Tupacs fame and the quality of his work so far. She praised his acting talent but dismissed most of the films hed appeared in, and argued that though he remains along with Snoop [Doggy Dogg] one of the two most famous rappers in the world, he is merely an average vocalist and lyricist, and has yet to record one aesthetically important song. Yet, Tour6 insisted, Tupacs experiences on the public stage have been remarkable performances in their own right, and have lent an air of importance to his otherwise unimpressive records. The Source, however, praised Me Against the World as the rappers best so far, while Jon Pareles of the New York Times admired its fatalistic calm, in a commercial mold.

Shakur was released from his eight-month prison sentence in 1995 and shortly after put out the double album AII Eyezon Me, which features a guest appearance by Snoop Doggy Dogg and Shakurs characteristic hardcore rap lyrics. Ironically, he bragged on the album about surviving his 1994 shooting with the line Five shots and they still couldnt kill me. On September 7, 1996, while All Eyez on Me was still a presence on the pop charts, Shakur was in Las Vegas to attend a boxing match between Mike Tyson and Bruce Sheldon. En route to Death Row Records head Suge Knights nightclub, Shakur was shot four times; Knight was grazed with a bullet and sustained minor injuries. Tupac remained hospitalized in critical condition for a week before dying on September 13 at the age of 25.

The death of Tupac sent a wave of controversy through the music industry as some felt the rapper, by his words and actions, brought on his own violent end, and others, including the Reverend Jesse Jackson, saw him as a symbol of the inability of a talented, successful artist to escape a past of drugs and crime. This is so sad, commented Jackson to the Los Angeles Times. Sometimes the lure of violent culture is so magnetic that even when one overcomes it with material success, it continues to call. He couldnt break the cycle. Fans mourned Shakurs death by blaring his music from parked cars in Las Vegas near the hospital where he died. A friend of the rappers from Marin City told the New York Times, Success killed [Tupac]. It made him feel like he was invincible, and nobody is invincible.

Selected discography

(With Digital Underground) This Is an EP Release, Tommy Boy, 1991.

(With Digital Underground) Sons of the P, Tommy Boy, 1991.

2Pacalypse Now(includes Souljas Story), Interscope, 1991.

Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z (includes I Get Around and Keep Ya Head Up), Interscope, 1993.

(With other artists) Above the Rim soundtrack (Thug Life appears on Pour Out A Little Liquor), Death Row/lnterscope, 1994.

(With Thug Life) Volume One, Out Da Gutta/lnterscope, 1994. Me Against the World (includes Dear Mama and Can U Get Away), Interscope, 1995.

All Eyez on Me, Death Row, 1996.

Sources

Detroit Free Press, September 14, 1996, p. 9A.

Entertainment Weekly, April 8, 1994, pp. 25-26, 39; October 14, 1994, p. 60.

Los Angeles Daily News, June 26, 1993, p. L 17.

Los Angeles Times, April 4, 1995, p. F1; September 14, 1996, p. F-1 and p. A-1.

Newsweek, December 12, 1994, pp. 62-63; March 27, 1995, p. 66.

New York Times, December 1, 1994, pp. B1, B3; February 8, 1995, pp. B1, B3; April 9, 1995, p. H34; September 14, 1996; September 16, 1996.

People, December 6, 1993, pp. 89-90.

Rolling Stone, October 28, 1993, p. 22; June 16, 1994, p. 30.

The Source, February 1995, p. 19; April 1995, pp. 27, 79.

Spin, April 1994, pp. 43-47.

Vibe, February 1995; April 1995, pp. 51-55.

Village Voice, December 13, 1994, pp. 75, 85.

Additional information was provided by Interscope Records publicity materials, 1995.

Simon Glickman

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"2Pac." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"2Pac." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved October 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/2pac

2pac

2PAC

Born: Lesane Parish Crooks, changed to Tupac Amaru Shakur; Brooklyn, New York, 16 June 1971; died Las Vegas, Nevada, 13 September 1996

Genre: Rap

Best-selling album since 1990: All Eyez on Me (1996)


Tupac Shakur was perhaps the definitive rap star of the 1990s. His controversial life and music made him hip-hop's first international icon. Unlike other rap stars who talk about the thug life without having lived it, Shakur had a history of legal troubles and time served in prison, which gave him a credibility his peers could not match. His tough lyrics, misogyny, and thug lifestyle were matched with a more sensitive persona, leading him to dedicate songs to his mother and the poor. Shakur was an acclaimed actor who appeared in some of the most well-received films about black urban life of the 1990s. His murder in 1996 further increased his notoriety, turning him into a pop martyr along the lines of Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain and 1960s rock icons Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison.

Shakur was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of two members of the Black Panther Party. His mother was pregnant with Shakur while serving time in a New York prison. Raised primarily by his mother, Shakur grew up in poverty, moving between radical and sometimes criminal circles. From an early age, he showed an interest in the arts, earning a place as a teen in the Baltimore School of the Arts. His family moved to California when he was seventeen and settled in Marin City. Much has been made of Shakur's subsequent years hustling on the streets of Oakland as a formative learning experience. Reassessments of Shakur's education in Baltimore, Maryland, and California, however, have revealed the depth of his formal influences. He was an avid reader who would later quote
Machiavelli and other intellectuals in raps about his experiences on the streets.

His first hip-hop gig was with Oakland-based Digital Underground as a dancer and roadie. His short-lived stint with the group ended with the release of his first album, 2Pacalypse Now (1991). The recording gained notice for its explicit lyrics but failed to launch Shakur into stardom. Songs about street life such as "Crooked Ass Nigga" fit the profile of typical West Coast gangsta style rap. A few tracks, notably the single "Brenda's Got a Baby," reveal Shakur's gifts as a social critic and storyteller. 2Pacalypse Now attracted the notice of then U.S. vice president Dan Quayle, who attacked the album's explicit lyrics during the failed reelection bid of President George H.W. Bush.

Shakur's success as an actor propelled his rap career. His acclaimed performance in Ernest Dickerson's Juice (1992) led to a role in John Singleton's Poetic Justice (1993) alongside pop music icon Janet Jackson. The films appeared shortly after the release of Shakur's second album, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. (1993). The album contains Shakur's first crossover hits "I Get Around" and "Keep Ya Head Up," and went platinum months after its release. Despite the accessibility of the album's hits, most of the record portrays the violent world Shakur defined as "thug life" (a phrase he had tattooed across his knuckles). Some of Shakur's critics and friends have commented that if Shakur had lived he would have matured into rap's first poetic spokesperson, but, as with the material on the album, he preferred reveling in his thug persona.

More than any rap artist of the decade, Shakur lived the troubled life his lyrics portrayed. In 1992 he was arrested after a six-year-old boy was killed by a stray bullet as Shakur and two other men fought. The suit was later settled out of court. In October 1993 he was arrested for shooting two off-duty police officers in Atlanta, Georgia. The case was later dismissed, but Shakur was arrested a month later in New York City. Already on bail for an outstanding charge of hitting a woman who wanted his autograph, he was charged and later convicted of sexual abuse of a young woman in a Manhattan hotel. Sentenced to one and one-half to four years in prison, he served eight months.

While he served time for sexual abuse, Me Against the World (1995), his third album, entered the charts at number one. The album captures almost all aspects of Shakur's sometimes contradictory stances. The single "Dear Mama," a loving tribute to motherhood, won him both acclaim and sympathy from critics and listeners. Tracks such as "F*** the World" maintain his darker side and kept his critics wary.

The day after his sentence was announced Shakur was almost murdered in the lobby of a New York City recording studio, apparently by muggers. From prison, Shakur accused the Notorious B.I.G. (alternately known as Biggie Smalls), Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs, Andre Harrell, and one of his own friends, Randy "Stretch" Walker, of planning a murder plot against him. Whether there was ever such a plot remains unknown, but the accusation fueled already growing tensions between East and West Coast rap artists. The tensions between these groupsmost notably the Notorious B.I.G. and Combs representing the East Coast, and Shakur, Suge Knight, and Snoop (Doggy) Dogg representing the Westwas based more on standing and personality than on music. The rivalry mimicked gang rivalries and thug aggression in urban America, made all the players notorious and famous, and attracted the attention of numerous critics.

Shakur was paroled from prison after Knight, the president of Death Row Records, posted a $1.4 million bail for Shakur's release. Shakur then started working with Death Row Records, whose stable of artists included Dr. Dre and Snoop (Doggy) Dogg. Shakur's first release with Death Row, All Eyez on Me (1996), a double album, debuted at number one and went platinum shortly thereafter. The album is a showcase of Shakur's talents as well as an excellent sampling of rap producers such as Dr. Dre, Roger Troutman, Dat Nigga Daz, and DJ Pooh. "California Love," produced by Dre and Troutman, was a smash hit: It not only contains Dre's famous G-funk sound, but it also captures Shakur's rougher edges and penchant for sentimental tributes. "How Do You Want It," another single from the album, reached number one on the pop and R&B charts.

All Eyez on Me contains songs that refer to Shakur's stay in prison, his rivalry with East Coast rappers, and his love/hate relationship with women. The infamous "Hit 'Em Up" epitomizes the uglier side of All Eyez on Me. In the song, Shakur brags that he has sexual relations with the Notorious B.I.G.'s spouse, singer Faith Evans. The album also reveals Shakur's morbid musings about his death on tracks such as "Heaven Ain't Hard to Find."

Although there were rumors that Shakur was considering leaving rap and thug culture behind to pursue an acting career, he never had the chance. Accusations that he was involved in the murder of Walker, one year to the day after Shakur was shot, plagued him. On September 7, 1996, Shakur was shot while driving with Knight in Las Vegas, Nevada. The two had attended the Mike TysonBruce Seldon fight at the MGM Grand Hotel earlier in the evening and had been involved in a scuffle. Knight would later serve time for the fight, but no connection was ever made between it and the later shooting. Shakur survived for almost a week, before dying on September 13.

No one has ever been charged with Shakur's murder. Rumors about the reasons for the murder swirled for years after his death. Some people believe Shakur was shot by associates of the man he scuffled with at the MGM Grand. Others believe he was the victim of an execution-style murder orchestrated by the Notorious B.I.G., who himself would be shot and killed six months later. Another popular rumor is that Knight was displeased with Shakur's alleged decision to leave Death Row Records and quit the music business. There were also persistent rumors that Shakur was still alive.

In the years following his death, Shakur became a global hip-hop icon. His now-famous face appears on T-shirts, pennants, flags, and street mosaics as a martyr for rap and the underclass alongside the likes of historical figures Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Che Guevara. Posthumous releases appeared almost immediately and struggles over rights to his large catalog of unreleased raps made their way to the courts. The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory (1996) was released under his alias Makaveli. It contains two memorable tracks, the now prophetic "To Live and Die in L.A." and "Toss It Up."

Compilations, some laced with new material, followed The Don Killuminati. Greatest Hits (1998), a two-disc set, contains his signature tracks and is the best of the Shakur collection. Although the tracks are not arranged in chronological order, the set still captures Shakur's thug persona and his more generous and tender moments.

Spot Light: 2Pac Lives


Within days of his death in Las Vegas, Nevada, stories and Internet rumors proclaimed that Tupac Shakur was, in fact, still alive and had staged his death. Anyone wishing to find evidence that he lived need only listen to his raps about his death and ability to survive, believers claimed. Predictions Shakur made about his own death on songs such as "Until the End of Time" were strung together by other theorists with statements he made in interviews and to friends that he wished to leave the rap scene behind. Shakur's remains were cremated a day after his death, sparking rumors that there never would be a dead body to confirm the death. Conspiracy theorists posited that Suge Knight had a hand in the staging of Shakur's "murder" because he knew the death would bring his Death Row record label profits. Knight drove the car Shakur was murdered in and was only grazed by a spray of bullets that riddled Shakur. The fact that police never resolved the shooting, the only likely suspect was later killed, and key players still refuse to speak to police only serves to further suspicions. The legend that Shakur survived the shooting places him alongside other popular musicians like Elvis Presley whose deaths are shrouded in similar myths. In the African-American community, rumors that Shakur is alive have turned him into a ghetto saint who survived his enemies and the callous social conditions that shaped his psyche and those of his generation.

Shakur's contribution to rap music and African-American culture has generated a number of books, scholarly articles, and conference papers. However Shakur is remembered by critics and cultural historians, his place in hip-hop culture remains secure. For millions of people his life epitomized the plight of young black males in the United States. His tough boyish looks and his lucid angry raps place him in the company of legends like Elvis Presley, Jim Morrison, and Kurt Cobain.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

2Pacalypse Now (Inter-scope, 1991); Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. (Inter-scope, 1993); Me Against the World (Interscope, 1995); All Eyez on Me (Death Row, 1996); The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory (Death Row, 1996); R U Still Down? (Remember Me) (Amaru/Jive, 1997); In His Own Words (Mecca, 1998); Greatest Hits (Interscope, 1998); Until the End of Time (Interscope, 2001).

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

H. Farkos, Tupac Shakur (They Died Too Young) (New York, 1998); Q. Jones, Tupac Shakur, 19711996 (New York, 1998); E. M. Dyson, Holler if You Can Hear Me (New York, 2001).

WEBSITE:

www.2paclegacy.com.

shawn gillen

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"2pac." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"2pac." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Retrieved October 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/2pac