Tupac Shakur was the third name of Lesane Parish Crooks, a young man born in Brooklyn, New York. He didn't change his name himself, rather his mother chose to rename him after an Incan revolutionary named Tupac Amaru which meant "Shining Serpent". Tupac later adopted the surname Shakur from his mother Afeni Shakur, and stepfather Mutula Shakur AKA, Jeral Wayne Williams.
Growing up, Tupac found he was interested in the arts. He wrote poetry
and found that he enjoyed acting. When he was 12 he studied acting and Ballet
at the Baltimore School for Performing Arts. His education there was cut short when his family had to move from Baltimore to Oakland, California
. The family had been suffering hard times ever since Tupac was 2 years old when his stepfather had been sentenced to 60 years in prison for his involvement in an armored car robbery.
According to interviews with Tupac it was around age 15 when he started to hang around with, as he put it, "the wrong crowd". This is about the time he got involved in gangs.
By the time he was twenty years old he had been arrested eight times and had served eight months in prison on charges of sexual assault.
When he released his first album, "2pacalypse now
" he gained enough attention to find his way into movies. He appeared in Juice
in 1992. and with the release of his second album "Strictly for my N.I.G.G.A.Z." he gained even more attention, plus another movie role, this time alongside Janet Jackson in Poetic Justice
a year later.
A year after that Tupac was robbed. Thieves took approximately $40,000 worth of his jewelry and shot him 5 times. He survived this attack to make another album the next year called "Me Against the world".
he was found guilty of sexual assault charges brought up by a woman he had met in a nightclub. Hours before he was convicted he was robbed at gunpoint again.
To this he answered with the album "All eyes on me
". This was a double album
and was incredibly successful for a double album of rap currently marked as selling over 6 million copies.
On September 7th, 1996, Tupac was shot by unknown assailants in his car in Las Vegas, Nevada
. He died 6 days later.
Tupac died, in part, as a result of an East versus West gang war. This was the same conflict that lead to The Notorious B.I.G
Tupac starred in 6 major motion pictures, recorded so many songs that he was still having albums released after his death, made positive, uplifting words out of the harshness of his life and the regret he felt for some of his own mistakes and yet, he is remembered by many as just some guy who recorded a lot of this strange, unrespectable thing called rap
. How strange that he still has albums come out after his death. Nevermind
the dozens of rock groups that still put music out after their members die and the bands break up, i.e. Nirvana
, Led Zeppelin
, tons of Lynard Skynard
stuff and even a 2001 Bob Marley
"My music is not for everyone. It's only for the stong-willed, the street soldier
s music. It's not like party music- I mean, you could gig to it, but it's spiritual. My music is spiritual. It's like Negro spirituals
, except for the fact that I'm not saying 'We shall Overcome.' I'm saying that we are overcome." - Tupac on his music.
"It's time to fight back that's what Huey
2 shots in the dark now Huey's dead,
I got love for my brother but we can never go nowhere
unless we share with each other,
We gotta start makin' changes,
learn to see me as a brother
instead of 2 distant strangers,
and that's how it's supposed to be.
How can the Devil take a brother if he's close to me?
I'd love to go back to when we played as kids,
but things changed, and that's the way it is."
It surprises me that people feel so qualified to talk about Tupac when they've seen or heard so little of what he's done. For all the hope and inspiration
Tupac has given so many there are still entire cultures that could never regard him as anything more than a purveyor of that "annoying non-music" called rap.
"If you walked by a street and you was walking on concrete and you saw a rose growing from concrete, even if it had messed up petals and it was a little to the side you would marvel at just seeing a rose grow through concrete. So why is it that when you see some ghetto kid grow out of the dirtiest circumstances and he can talk and he can sit across the room and make you cry, make you laugh, all you can talk about is my dirty rose, my dirty stems and how am leaning crooked to the side, you can't even see that I've come up from out of that."
And now the metaphorical rose is gone and so many people couldn't care less.
"My only fear of death is reincarnation." - Tupac Shakur.