Tupac Amaru Shakur (June 16, 1971 – September 13, 1996), known
by his stage names 2Pac (or simply Pac) and Makaveli, was an American
rapper. Shakur has sold over 75 million albums worldwide, making
him one of the best-selling music artists in the world. In the United
States alone he has sold 37.5 million records. Rolling Stone Magazine
named him the 86th Greatest Artist of All Time.
In addition to his career as a top-selling rap artist, he was a
promising actor, and a social activist. Most of Tupac's songs
are about growing up amid violence and hardship in ghettos, racism,
other social problems, and conflicts with other rappers during the
East Coast – West Coast hip hop rivalry. Shakur began his career
as a roadie and backup dancer for the alternative hip hop group Digital
In September 1996, Shakur was shot four times in the Las Vegas metropolitan
area of Nevada. He was taken to the University Medical Center, where
he died of respiratory failure and cardiac arrest.
Tupac Amaru Shakur was born on the East Harlem section of Manhattan
in New York City. He was named after Túpac Amaru II,
a Peruvian revolutionary who led an indigenous uprising against Spain
and was subsequently executed.
His mother, Afeni Shakur, and his father, Billy Garland, were active
members of the Black Panther Party in New York in the late 1960s
and early 1970s; he was born just one month after his mother's acquittal
on more than 150 charges of "Conspiracy against the United States
government and New York landmarks" in the New York Panther 21
Although unconfirmed by the Shakur family, several sources (including
the official coroner's report) list his birth name as "Lesane
Parish Crooks". This name was supposedly entered on the
birth certificate because Afeni feared her enemies would attack her
son, and disguised his true identity using a different last name.
She changed it later, following her separation from Garland and marriage
to Mutulu Shakur.
Struggle and incarceration surrounded Shakur from an early age.
His godfather, Elmer "Geronimo" Pratt, a high ranking Black
Panther, was convicted of murdering a school teacher during a 1968
robbery, although his sentence was later overturned. His stepfather,
Mutulu, spent four years at large on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives
list beginning in 1982, 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
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
Shakur's professional entertainment career began in the early 1990s,
when he debuted his rapping skills in a vocal turn in Digital Underground's "Same
Song" from the soundtrack to the 1991 film Nothing but Trouble
and also appeared with the group in the film of the same name. The
song was later released as the lead song of the Digital Underground
EP This is an EP Release, the follow-up to their debut hit album
Sex Packets. Shakur appeared in the accompanying music video. After
his rap debut, he performed with Digital Underground again on the
album Sons of the P. Later, he released his first solo album, 2Pacalypse
2Pacalypse Now did not do as well on the charts as future albums,
spawning no top ten hits. His second record, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.,
was released in 1993.
In late 1993, Shakur formed the group Thug Life with a number of
his friends, including Big Syke, Macadoshis, his stepbrother Mopreme
Shakur, and Rated R. The group released their only record album Thug
Life: Volume 1 on September 26, 1994, which went gold. The album
featured the single "Pour Out a Little Liquor" produced
by Johnny "J" Jackson, who went on to produce a large part
of Shakur's album All Eyez on Me. The group usually performed their
concerts without Shakur.
Even as he garnered attention as a rapper and actor, Shakur gained
notoriety for his conflicts with the law. In October 1991, he attempted
to file a $10 million civil suit against the law enforcement of the
Oakland Police Department, alleging they brutally beat him for jaywalking.
In 1992, a Texas state trooper was killed by a teenager who was
listening to 2Pacalypse Now which included songs about killing police.
This caused a swirl of media controversy. Dan Quayle, the Vice President
of the United States at the time, demanded that the album be withdrawn
from music stores and media across the country; Interscope refused.
Shakur claimed his first album was aimed at the problems facing young
black males, but it was criticized for its graphic language and images
of violence by and against law enforcement. Quayle publicly denounced
the album as having "no place in our society."
On August 22, 1992, in Marin City, California, Shakur rapped at
an outdoor festival, and stayed for an hour signing autographs and
pictures. Some earlier negative remarks made by Shakur about Marin
City had caught up and when arguments started, voices got loud; he
pulled a Colt Mustang, cocked it, fumbled and it fell. Someone picked
up the gun and a bullet discharged.[inconsistent] Though nobody in
the crowd was shot, about 100 yards away, 6-year old Qa'id Walker-Teal
rode a bicycle at a schoolyard and was hit in the forehead, the bullet
killing him. Shakur and Mopreme left in their car and were stopped
by an angry mob, by chance, in front of a sheriff's substation. The
police "rescued" and took the two into custody, who were
released without charge. In 1995, a civil case was brought up by
Qa'id's mother. Shakur's lawyer said that the festival was a "nasty
situation," and Shakur was saddened by the death of the boy.
Shakur's record company settled the lawsuit for a figure reported
between $300,000 and $500,000.
In October 1993, in Atlanta, two brothers and off-duty police officers,
Mark and Scott Whitwell, were with their wives celebrating Mrs. Whitwell's
recent passing of the state bar examination. As they crossed the
street, a car with Shakur inside passed by them or "almost struck
them," after which the Whitwells began an altercation with the
driver, Shakur and the other passengers, which was then joined by
a second passing car. Shakur shot one officer in the buttocks, and
the other in the leg, back, or abdomen, according to varying news
reports. There were no other injuries, but Mark Whitwell was charged
with firing at Shakur's car and later lying to the police during
the investigation, and Shakur with the shooting, until prosecutors
decided to drop all charges against all parties.
In November 1993, Shakur and others were charged with sexually assaulting
a woman in a hotel room. According to the complaint, Shakur sodomized
the woman and then encouraged his friends to sexually abuse her.
Shakur denied the charges. According to Shakur, he had prior relations
days earlier with the woman; she performed oral sex on him on a club
dance floor and the two later had consensual sex in his hotel room.
The complainant claimed sexual assault after her second visit to
Shakur's hotel room; she alleged that Shakur and his entourage gang
banged her, and she said to Shakur when she left, "Why you let
them do this to me?" Shakur said that he fell asleep
shortly after the woman arrived and later awoke to her accusations
and legal threats. In the ensuing trial, Shakur was convicted of
sexual abuse. In sentencing Shakur to 1½–4½ years
in prison, the judge described the crime as "an act of brutal
violence against a helpless woman." After serving
part of his sentence, Shakur was released on bail pending appeal.
On April 5, 1996, a judge sentenced him to serve 120 days in jail
for violating terms of his release on bail.
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 was the victim of a stray bullet in a shootout between
Shakur's entourage and a rival group. Ballistics tests proved the
bullet that killed the boy was not from Shakur's or any members of
his entourage's guns.[inconsistent] No criminal charges were brought.
Shakur settled with the family for an undisclosed amount, estimated
November 1994 shooting
On the night of November 30, 1994, the day before the verdict in
his sexual abuse trial was to be announced, Shakur was shot five
times and robbed after entering the lobby of Quad Recording Studios
in Manhattan by two armed men in army fatigues. He would later accuse
Sean Combs, Andre Harrell, and Biggie Smalls—whom he saw
after the shooting—of setting him up. Shakur also suspected
his close friend and associate, Randy "Stretch" Walker,
of being involved in the attempt. According to the doctors at Bellevue
Hospital, where he was admitted immediately following the incident,
Shakur had received five bullet wounds; twice in the head, twice
in the groin and once through the arm and thigh. He checked out of
the hospital, against doctor's orders, three hours after surgery.
In the day that followed, Shakur entered the courthouse in a wheelchair
and was found guilty of three counts of molestation, but innocent
of six others, including sodomy. On February 6, 1995, he was sentenced
to one-and-a-half to four-and-a-half years in prison on a sexual
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
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.
Shakur began serving his prison sentence at Clinton Correctional
Facility on February 14, 1995. Shortly afterwards, he released his
multi-platinum album Me Against the World. Shakur 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 Attica Correctional Facility
due in large part to the help and influence of Suge Knight, the CEO
of Death Row Records, who posted a $1.4 million bail pending appeal
of the conviction in exchange for Shakur to release three albums
under the Death Row label.
Death Row Records
Upon his release from Clinton Correctional Facility, Shakur immediately
went back to song recording. He began a new group called Outlaw Immortalz.
Shakur began recording his first album with Death Row and released
the single "California Love" soon after. On February 13,
1996, Shakur released his fourth solo album, All Eyez on Me. This
double album was the first and second of his three-album commitment
to Death Row Records. It sold over nine million copies. The record
was a general departure from the introspective subject matter of
Me Against the World, being more oriented toward a thug and gangsta
mentality. Shakur continued his recordings despite increasing problems
at the Death Row label. Dr. Dre left his post as house producer to
form his own label, Aftermath. Shakur continued to produce hundreds
of tracks during his time at Death Row, most of which would be released
on his posthumous albums R U Still Down? (Remember Me), Still I Rise,
Until the End of Time, Better Dayz, Loyal to the Game and Pac's Life.
He also began the process of recording an album with the Boot Camp
Clik and their label Duck Down Records, both New York–based,
entitled One Nation.
On June 4, 1996, he and Outlawz released the diss track "Hit
'Em Up", a scathing lyrical assault on Biggie and others associated
with him. In the track, Shakur claimed to have had intercourse with
Faith Evans, Biggie's wife at the time, and attacks Bad Boy's street
credibility. Though no hard evidence suggests so, Shakur was convinced
that some members associated with Bad Boy had known about the '94
attack on him beforehand due to their behavior that night and what
his sources told him. Shakur aligned himself with Suge, Death Row's
CEO, who was already bitter toward Combs over a 1995 incident at
the Platinum Club in Atlanta, Georgia, which culminated in the death
of Suge's friend and bodyguard, Jake Robles; Suge was adamant in
voicing his suspicions of Combs' involvement. Shakur's signing
with Suge and Death Row added fuel to building an East Coast-West
Coast conflict. Both sides remained bitter enemies until Shakur's
death. On July 4, 1996, he performed live at the House of Blues with
Outlawz, Tha Dogg Pound, and Snoop Doggy Dogg also headlining. This
was Shakur's very last live performance.
While incarcerated in Clinton Correctional Facility, Shakur read
and studied Niccolò Machiavelli and other published works,
which inspired his pseudonym "Makaveli" under which he
released the record album The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory.
The album presents a stark contrast to previous works. Throughout
the album, Shakur continues to focus on the themes of pain and aggression,
making this album one of the emotionally darker works of his career.
Shakur wrote and recorded all the lyrics in only three days and the
production took another four days, combining for a total of seven
days to complete the album (hence the name).
He mentioned Makaveli Records a few times before his death. This
was supposed to be a music label for up and coming artists that Shakur
had an interest in developing or potentially signing, and his own
future projects would have also been published through it as well.
September 1996 shooting and death
The famous photograph of Shakur taken just twenty minutes before
the drive-by shooting, from the cover of the book The Killing of
Tupac Shakur by Cathy Scott
On the night of September 7, 1996, Shakur attended the Mike Tyson–Bruce
Seldon boxing match at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. After leaving
the match, one of Suge's associates spotted 21-year-old Orlando "Baby
Lane" Anderson, a member of the Southside Crips, in the MGM
Grand lobby and informed Shakur, who then attacked Anderson. Shakur's
entourage, as well as Suge and his followers, assisted in assaulting
Anderson. The fight was captured on the hotel's video surveillance.
Earlier that year, Anderson and a group of Crips had robbed a member
of Death Row's entourage in a Foot Locker store, precipitating Shakur's
attack. After the brawl, Shakur went to rendezvous with Suge to go
to Death Row-owned Club 662 (now known as restaurant/club Seven).
He rode in Suge's 1996 black BMW 750iL sedan as part of a larger
convoy including many in Shakur's entourage.
At 10:55 p.m., while paused at a red light, Shakur rolled down his
window and a photographer took his photograph. At around 11:00–11:05
p.m., they were halted on Las Vegas Blvd. by Metro bicycle police
for playing the car stereo too loud and not having license plates.
The plates were then found in the trunk of Suge's car; they were
released without being fined a few minutes later. At about
11:10 p.m., while stopped at a red light at Flamingo Road near the
intersection of Koval Lane in front of the Maxim Hotel, a vehicle
occupied by two women pulled up on their 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 volley of gunshots at Shakur;
bullets hit him in the chest, pelvis, and his right hand and thigh.
One of the rounds apparently ricocheted into Shakur's right lung.
Suge was hit in the head by fragmentation, though it is thought that
a bullet grazed him. According to Suge, a bullet from the gunfire
had been lodged in his skull, but medical reports later contradicted
At the time of the drive-by Shakur's bodyguard was following behind
in a vehicle belonging to Kidada Jones, Shakur's then-fiancée.
The bodyguard, Frank Alexander, stated that when he was about to
ride along with the rapper in Suge's car, Shakur asked him to drive
Kidada Jones' car instead just in case they were too drunk and needed
additional vehicles from Club 662 back to the hotel. Shortly after
the assault, the bodyguard reported in his documentary, Before I
Wake, that one of the convoy's cars drove off after the assailant
but he never heard back from the occupants.
After arriving on the scene, police and paramedics took Suge and
a mortally wounded Shakur to the University Medical Center. According
to an interview with one of Shakur's closest friends the music video
director Gobi, while at the hospital, he received news from a Death
Row marketing employee that the shooters had called the record label
and were sending death threats aimed at Shakur, claiming that they
were going there to "finish him off". Upon hearing
this, Gobi immediately alerted the Las Vegas police, but the police
claimed they were understaffed and no one could be sent. Nonetheless,
the shooters never arrived. At the hospital, Shakur was in and
out of consciousness, was heavily sedated, breathed through a ventilator
and respirator, was placed on life support machines, and was ultimately
put under a barbiturate-induced coma after repeatedly trying to get
out of the bed.
Despite having been resuscitated in a trauma center and surviving
a multitude of surgeries (as well as the removal of a failed right
lung), Shakur had gotten through the critical phase of the medical
therapy and was given a 50% chance of pulling through. Gobi left
the medical center after being informed that Shakur made a 13% recovery
on the sixth night. While in the critical care unit on the afternoon
of September 13, 1996, Shakur died of internal bleeding; doctors
attempted to revive him but could not impede his hemorrhaging.
His mother, Afeni, made the decision to tell the doctors to stop.
He was pronounced dead at 4:03 p.m. (PDT) The official cause of
death was noted as respiratory failure and cardiopulmonary arrest
in connection with multiple gunshot wounds. Shakur's body was
cremated and some of his ashes were later mixed with marijuana and
smoked by members of Outlawz.
Due largely to a perceived lack of progress by law enforcement in
the investigation of Shakur's murder, many independent investigations
and theories emerged. Because of the acrimony between Shakur and
Biggie (who was murdered in March 1997), there was speculation
from the outset about the possibility of Biggie's involvement. Biggie,
as well as his family, relatives, and associates, vehemently denied
all such accusations. In 2002, the LA Times published a story
by Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Chuck Philips, who
claimed to have uncovered evidence implicating Biggie, in addition
to Anderson and the Southside Crips, in the attack. Philips quoted
unnamed gang-member sources who claimed Biggie had ties to the Crips,
often hiring them for security during West Coast appearances, and
that Biggie colluded with the Crips to murder Shakur. In 2008, after
The Smoking Gun reported that the documents relied upon by Philips
for his story were fraudulent, the LA Times printed an official front-page
retraction of Philips' story. Less than five months later, Philips
accepted a buyout and left the LA Times.
In support of their claims, Biggie's family submitted documentation
to MTV suggesting that he was working in a New York recording studio
the night of the drive-by shooting. His manager Wayne Barrow and
fellow rapper James "Lil' Cease" Lloyd made public announcements
denying Biggie's partaking in the crime and claimed further that
they were both with him in the recording studio during the night
of the event.
The high profile nature of the killing and ensuing gang violence
caught the attention of English filmmaker Nick Broomfield, who made
the documentary film Biggie & Tupac which examines the lack of
progress in the case by speaking to those close to the two slain
rappers and the investigation. Shakur's close childhood friend and
member of Outlawz, Yafeu "Yaki Kadafi" Fula, was in the
convoy when the drive-by occurred and indicated to police that he
might be able to identify the assailants, however, he was shot and
killed shortly thereafter in a housing project in Irvington.
A DVD titled Tupac: Assassination was released on October 23, 2007,
more than eleven years after Shakur's murder. It explores aspects
surrounding the event and provides fresh insights into the cold case
with new details about the environment.
Shakur's music and philosophy is rooted in many American, African-American,
and World entities, including the Black Panther Party, Black nationalism,
egalitarianism, and liberty. His debut album, 2Pacalypse Now, revealed
the socially conscious side of Shakur. On this album, Shakur attacked
social injustice, poverty and police brutality on songs "Brenda's
Got a Baby", "Trapped" and "Part Time Mutha".
His style on this album was highly influenced by the social consciousness
and Afrocentrism pervading hip hop in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
On this initial release, Shakur helped extend the success of such
rap groups as Boogie Down Productions, Public Enemy, X-Clan, and
Grandmaster Flash, as he became one of the first major socially conscious
rappers from the West Coast.
On his second record, Shakur continued to rap about the social ills
facing African-Americans, with songs like "The Streetz R Deathrow" and "Last
Wordz". He also showed his compassionate side with the anthem "Keep
Ya Head Up", while simultaneously putting his legendary aggressiveness
on display with the title track from the album Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.
he added a salute to his former group Digital Underground by including
them on the playful track "I Get Around". Throughout his
career, an increasingly aggressive attitude can be seen pervading
Shakur's subsequent albums.
The contradictory themes of social inequality and injustice, unbridled
aggression, compassion, playfulness, and hope all continued to shape
Shakur's work, as witnessed with the release of his incendiary 1995
album Me Against the World. In 1996, Shakur released All Eyez on
Me. Many of these tracks are considered by many critics to be classics,
including "Ambitionz Az a Ridah", "I Ain't Mad at
Cha", "California Love", "Life Goes On" and "Picture
Me Rollin'".; All Eyez on Me was a change of style from his
earlier works. While still containing socially conscious songs and
themes, Shakur's album was heavily influenced by party tracks and
tended to have a more "feel good" vibe than his first albums.
Shakur described it as a celebration of life, and the record was
critically and commercially successful.
Shakur was a voracious reader. He was inspired by a wide variety
of writers, including William Shakespeare, Niccolò Machiavelli,
Donald Goines, Sun Tzu, Kurt Vonnegut, Mikhail Bakunin, Maya Angelou,
Alice Walker, and Khalil Gibran. In his book, Dyson describes the
experience of visiting the home of Shakur's friend and promoter Leila
Steinberg to find "the sea of books" once owned by Shakur.
Shakur never professed following a particular religion, but his
lyrics in singles such as 'Only God Can Judge Me' and poems such
as The Rose That Grew from Concrete suggests he believed in God.
This means many analysts currently describe him as a deist.
Statue of Tupac Shakur in Herford, Germany
At a Mobb Deep concert following the death of the famed icon and
release of The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, Cormega recalled
in an interview that the fans were all shouting "Makaveli,"
and emphasized the influence of The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory
and of Shakur himself even in New York at the height of the media-dubbed
'intercoastal rivalry'. Tupac Shakur was also one of the few
rappers that were paid a tribute during the Up in Smoke Tour that
featured many west coast hip-hop artists.
Shakur is held in high esteem by other MCs – in the book How
to Rap, Bishop Lamont notes that Shakur “mastered every element,
every aspect” of rapping and Fredro Starr of Onyx says
Shakur, "was a master of the flow." "Every rapper
who grew up in the Nineties owes something to Tupac," wrote
50 Cent. "He didn't sound like anyone who came before him."
About.com 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
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.
Library of Congress
Shakur's hit song "Dear Mama" is one of 25 songs that
was added to the National Recording Registry in 2010. The Library
of Congress has called "Dear Mama" "a moving and eloquent
homage to both the murdered rapper's own mother and all mothers struggling
to maintain a family in the face of addiction, poverty and societal
indifference." This honor comes seven days after his birthday,
where the rapper would have been 39. Shakur is the third rapper to
enter the library, behind Grandmaster Flash and Public Enemy.
* MTV ranked him at #2 on their list of The Greatest MCs of All
* 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
* A Vibe magazine poll in 2004 rated Shakur "the greatest rapper of all
time" as voted by fans.
* At the First Annual Turks & Caicos International Film Festival held on
Tuesday, October 17, 2006, Shakur was honored for his undeniable voice and
talent and as a performer who crossed racial, ethnic, cultural and medium lines;
his mother accepted the award on his behalf.
* In 2008, The National Association Of Recording Merchandisers in conjunction
with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame recognized him as a very influential artist
and has added him in their Definitive 200 list.
* On Wednesday, June 23, 2010, Shakur was inducted to the Library of Congress’s
National Recording Registry.
* The seat of the Catholic Church released a list of 12 songs onto the social
networking Web site's streaming music service. Among the artists included are
Mozart, Muse and Dame Shirley Bassey; the list also includes Shakur's song "Changes",
which was released two years after his shooting death on a greatest hits album
* His double album, All Eyez on Me, is one of the highest-selling rap albums
of all time, with over 5 million copies of the album sold in the United States
alone by April 1996; it was eventually certified 9x platinum in June 1998 by
Main article: Tupac Shakur discography
Year Album Peak chart positions
US US R&B US CAN
1991 2Pacalypse Now 64 13 Gold
1993 Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. 24 4 Platinum
1994 Thug Life: Volume 1 (with Thug Life) 42 6 Gold
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
Year Album Peak chart positions
US US R&B US CAN
1997 R U Still Down? (Remember Me) 2 1 4× Platinum
1998 Greatest Hits 2 1 9× Platinum
1999 Still I Rise (with the Outlawz) 6 2 Platinum Gold
2001 Until the End of Time 1 1 3× Platinum 2× Platinum
2002 Better Dayz 5 1 2× Platinum 3× Platinum
2003 Tupac Resurrection 2 3 Platinum
2004 Loyal to the Game 1 1 Platinum
2006 Pac's Life 9 3
In addition to rapping and hip hop music, Shakur acted in films.
He made his first film appearance in the motion picture Nothing But
Trouble, as part of a cameo by the Digital Underground. His first
starring role was in the movie Juice. In this story, he played the
character Bishop, a trigger happy teen, for which he was hailed by
Rolling Stone's Peter Travers as "the film's most magnetic figure."
He went on to star with Janet Jackson in Poetic Justice (for which
he was nominated outstanding actor in 1994, but did not win) and
with Duane Martin in Above the Rim. After his death, three of Shakur's
completed films, Bullet, Gridlock'd and Gang Related, were posthumously
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
Year Title Role Notes
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
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
2009 Untitled 2Pac Biopic Himself (archive footage) filming
20?? Live 2 Tell Screenwriter (Written in 1995)
Shakur's life has been recognized in big and small documentaries
each trying capture the many different events during his short lifetime,
most notably the Academy Award–nominated Tupac: Resurrection,
released in 2003.
* 1997: Tupac Shakur: Thug Immortal
* 1997: Tupac Shakur: Words Never Die (TV)
* 2001: Tupac Shakur: Before I Wake...
* 2001: Welcome to Deathrow
* 2002: Tupac Shakur: Thug Angel: 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