Tupac Shakur, better known by his stage name 2Pac, was a highly successful rapper and actor known for his violent and shocking lyrics that earned him many fans as well as critics. Born into a family notorious for their brushes with law, he had no contact with his biological father until he was an adult. Violence was nothing new to the youngster whose mother was imprisoned while pregnant with him. It is no surprise that his music was replete with references to ghettos, street violence, sex, gangs and other social problems he faced while growing up.
At the beginning of his career he worked for the alternative hip hop group Digital Underground as a roadie and backup dancer. Eventually the talented young man released his solo debut ‘2Pacalypse Now’ which generated considerable controversy due to the violent nature of its lyrics and became very popular primarily due to this very reason. Even though professionally he was becoming successful, his life became entangled in violence and he had frequent rifts with the police. In addition to his music career, he had also acted in some films. He was a voracious reader and a big fan of Shakespeare. His blooming career was cut short by his brutal death in a drive-by shooting.
Childhood & Early Life
Tupac Amaru Shakur was born on June 16, 1971, to Black Panther activist parents in New York City. His mother, Afeni Shakur, was imprisoned while she was pregnant with him. Tupac got acquainted with his biological father, Billy Garland, only after he became an adult.
He had a difficult childhood, as he grew up in the company of criminals. He had been exposed to violence from an early age.
His first acting stint was in 1983 with the Harlem’s 127th Street Repertory Ensemble when he performed in a play ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ at the Apollo Theater.
He studied poetry, jazz, acting, and ballet at the Baltimore School for the Arts. He was a talented rapper and won many competitions during his school days.
He attended Tamalpais High School, and poetry classes with Leila Steinberg.
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He began his career as a roadie and backup dancer with the alternative hip hop group Digital Underground in 1990. He performed with the band for the soundtrack of the movie ‘Nothing but Trouble’ and also appeared in the film in 1991.
He released his debut solo album ‘2Pacalypse Now’ by the end of 1991. It featured content on racism, poverty, violence, and teenage pregnancy. It generated considerable controversy, and made the rapper very popular.
His second album, ‘Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z’ was out in 1993. It was more successful than its predecessor and contained the hits ‘Keep Ya Head Up’ and ‘I Get Around’.
He formed a group Thug Life along with musicians Big Syke, Mopreme Shakur, Rated R and others. They released one album ‘Thug Life: Volume 1’ in 1994. The album was certified Gold in the U.S.
Around this time he had several brushes with the law and was shot in an armed robbery case. After recovering from the shooting, he was sent to prison on a sexual assault charge. He read a lot of books during imprisonment and also continued working on his music.
He released the album ‘Me Against the World’ in 1995 while serving his prison term. The album was an immediate hit and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. It is considered one of the most influential hip hop albums of all-time.
The album ‘All Eyez on Me’ released in 1996 was the last one released during his lifetime. It featured five singles and went multi Platinum just months after its release. It featured the hits ‘How Do U Want It’ and ‘California Love’.
Tupac was killed in a drive-by shooting in September 1996. Several albums containing previously recorded material were released posthumously. All of his posthumous albums were also super hits.
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His album, ‘Me Against the World’ released while he was imprisoned was one of his most successful albums. It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and is regarded as the magnum opus of his career. It went on to become double Platinum in the U.S.
‘All Eyez on Me’, the last album released before his untimely death was his bestselling album. It peaked at number one of the Billboard 200 and was accredited multi Platinum within months of its release.
Awards & Achievements
He won the Soul Train Music Award for Best Rap Album in 1996 for ‘Me Against the World’.
He received the American Music Award for the Favorite Rap/Hip Hop artist posthumously in 1997.
Family & Personal Life
He married his longtime girlfriend, Keisha Morris, in April 1995, but the marriage ended in March 1996.
His personal life was plagued by violence. He had been involved in criminal offences and got imprisoned. He was tragically killed in a drive-by shooting in September 1996 when he was just 25 years of age.
Shakur was in a live-in relationship with his girlfriend Kidada Jones, daughter of Quincy Jones, until his death. Jones was waiting for him in their Las Vegas hotel room when she came to know that Sakur was shot. She remained with him in the hospital until he succumbed to his injuries on September 13, 1996.
He was friends with Mike Tyson, Marlon Wayans, Jim Carrey, Chuck D, and Rosie Perez. He collaborated with fellow rappers Snoop Dogg and Freddie Foxxx.
Jada Pinkett was a former classmate and a very close friend of his.
He was serving a prison sentence when his album ‘Me Against the World’ peaked at number one on the Billboard 200.
Several member of his family, including his step-father, his step-aunt, his biological father, and his mother, were members of the Black Panthers.