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