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Tupac Shakur: Biography
Tupac was born to Afeni Shakur, June 16th 1971. His birth name, Lesane Parish Crooks, was changed shortly after his birth to Tupac Amaru Shakur. Tupac Amaru meaning ‘Shining Serpent’, and Shakur meaning ‘Thankful to God’ in Arabic. Two years after his birth, Afeni Shakur gave birth to Tupac’s half sister Sekyiwa. However, shortly before, the father of Sekyiwa - a Black Panther - was sentenced to 60 years for a fatal armoured car robbery. It was at this point Tupac’s ‘Thug Life’ really began. His mother was addicted to crack, and they were moving all the time. Tupac never got the chance to ‘fit it’. A line from Dear Mama reads, “I shed tears with my baby sister, over the years we was poorer than the other little kids.”
Growing up around such poverty without a man to guide him, Tupac had to learn to walk on his own. His childhood the was reason he became who he was. Having to deal with all his struggles by himself, seeing the things he did he had no one to sympathize - which is probably the reason he was so sensitive. Tupac existed in Solitude even as a child, until he discovered his love for acting, writing and poetry.
“When I was young, I was quiet, withdrawn. I read a lot. I wrote poetry. I kept a diary. I watched TV all the time. I stayed in front of the television. And I could see all these people out there in this pretend world. And I knew I could be part of it if I pretended too. The way Arnold looked on Diff’rent Strokes, I used to like the lifestyle, the way he used to live. So early on, I just watched and emulated. I thought if I can be an actor and act like those characters, I could have some of their joy.”
Tupac stated the above in the DVD: Tupac Resurrection. At the age of 12, he discovered rather than keeping all his thoughts and emotions to himself, he could share them through poetry, or perhaps emulate other character’s emotions through acting. Tupac’s first acting job was at the Apollo Theatre, as Travis from Raisin in the Sun. He claimed the feeling that rushed to him as the curtains were lifted was better than anything. I was like, “Whoa, this is it.”
Tupac attended The Baltimore School for the Performing Arts where he studied Acting and Ballet after his family moved to Baltimore, Maryland, as a result of his mother losing her job in new York. At the time, Baltimore had the highest rate for black killings in the country. This was when Tupac was really exposed to poverty. “I was living in the ghetto. We didn’t have lights and electricity.” At the age of 15 he discovered his love for rap music, and writing lyrics. As MC New York, he wrote his first rap.
His family moved to California to escape the violence, but was exposed to more poverty. At this point Tupac began hanging with the wrong crowd. He didn’t have enough credits to graduate, so he dropped out. He needed a way to make money, so he tried selling drugs. But instead, the drug dealers used to give him money and tell him, “Don’t get involved with this. Get out there, do your dream.”
“So they was like my sponsors. My dream was to make a living rapping. Just to make music that was coming from my heart. When I first started rapping, I needed the money, and I had to work.”
At the age of 20, Tupac joined the Rap group Digital Underground where he began his career as a dancer. Later on, Leila introduced him to Atron who was managing Digital Underground: “I’ll send you to Digital Underground. They’re in the studio. Rap for Shock G on the spot. If he like you, I’ll pick you up.”
Tupac made is first appearance in Digital Underground’s hit Same Song. From this point, Tupac went on to become the most notorious rapper in history. Now with the alias 2Pac, he released his own album ‘2Pacalypse Now’, which was a huge success. Amongst the tracks, was the hit Brenda’s Got a Baby which gave him the boost he needed. Another of the tracks featured on 2Pacalypse Now, Tupac rapped about police brutality. Ironically, shortly thereafter, he was allegedly assaulted by Oakland police following an arrest for Jaywalking - he filed a million lawsuit, but settled with thousand.
His amazing talent resulted in him being offered a role in the film Juice. From here Tupac went on to release his second solo album, ‘Strictly for my N.I.G.G.A.Z’ - another huge success. Also in 1993, Tupac featured aside Janet Jackson in the movie Poetic Justice, which revealed Tupac’s more sensitive side. Just as things seemed to be going great, a 19 year old woman- whom Tupac met just four days before - is allegedly sexually abused by the rapper.
In early 1994, Tupac played the role of Birdie in the movie Above the Rim alongside Marlon Wayans. As things seemed to be picking up again, Tupac is shot five times and robbed for thousand jewellery in a Times Square recording studio. Despite doctor’s orders, Tupac checked himself out of Bellevue Hospital just hours after surgery. The case remains unsolved; however Pac was convinced that Puffy and Biggie - members of the Bad Boy group - were responsible for the shooting. Just two months later Tupac was sentenced to up to four and a half years in prison, as a result of being found guilty of sexual abuse. Whilst serving his time in New York’s Rikers Island penitentiary, Tupac’s third album - Me Against the World - reaches #1 and goes double platinum within 7 months.
After serving 8 months in prison, Tupac was released after Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight posts a .4 million bail. In return, Tupac signed with Death Row and began recording All Eyez On Me immediately after flying to Los Angeles.
September 7th 1996, after watching the Mike Tyson vs Bruce Seldon fight in Las Vegas, Tupac was shot four times in the chest in a ‘drive-by’ shooting involving a white Cadillac. Suge Knight, the driver, was merely grazed by a bullet, and immediately rushed Tupac to the University Medical Centre. He has his right lung removed during surgery.
After six days in critical condition, on September 13th, Tupac Shakur - at the age of 25 - was pronounced dead at 4:03pm… Even in his death, Tupac continues to reach hundreds and thousands of fans…
Ten years after his death, Tupac’s murder remains unsolved. A conspiracy theory was created, and many people today believe that Tupac faked his death… That he is alive. To find out more, read my article - Is Tupac dead or alive?
About the Author: This article was written by Luke Kirk. To learn more about Tupac Shakur, visit Tupac Shrine - the home for dedicated Tupac fans!