“I am not a gangster and never have been. I’m not the thief who grabs your purse. I’m not the guy who jacks your car. I’m not down with people who steal and hurt others. I’m just a brother who fights back. I’m not some violent closet psycho. I’ve got a job. I’m an artist.”
When I think of the late Tupac Shakur, my immediate description that comes to mind is “tortured soul.” Tupac Amaru Shakur born Lesane Parish Crooks; June 16, 1971, also known by his stage names 2Pac and Makaveli, was born in East Harlem, New York City. During the first 17 years of his life, he was raised by his Black revolutionary mother, Afeni. Both of his parents and several other people in his family were members of the Black Panther Party, whose ideals were later reflected in his songs. In his early youth, Shakur became involved in the performing arts as a theater actor and rapper. Aesthetically-driven by the arts, he moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to gain greater opportunities. Shakur received his big break as a roadie, backup dancer and MC for the alternative hip hop group Digital Underground, thanks to group leader Shock G.
As evident, Shakur ended up branching off as a solo artist. He released his first solo album “2pacalypse Now,” in which the theme of the album depicted a young black man dealing with violence, poverty, racism and other social problems in America. As of 2007, Shakur has sold over 75 million records worldwide. His double disc albums All Eyez On Me and his Greatest Hits are among the best selling albums in the United States. Whenever a list of the “greatest rappers ever” or the “most influential rappers of all time” is presented, Shakur is consistently high on the top of the list. If you ask me, he’s definitely in my top five hip hop artists of all time. His immense body work ranges from prophetic and brutally realistic to deeply passionate and poetically moving.
On September 7, 1996, Shakur was fatally shot in a drive-by shooting at the intersection Flamingo Road and Koval Lane in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was taken to the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, where he died six days later. There’s been so much mystery, conspiracy talk and contradictions surrounding Shakur’s tragic murder. 20 years after his death, he has truly become a worldwide icon and almost a myth-like figure. On his birthday, let’s best remember him for his fearlessness, his resiliency, his powerful lyricism and his cultural influence over the masses.
Happy 45th birthday Tupac Amaru Shakur. Rest in power.
What were your fondest memories of Tupac Shakur? Will you be seeing the new biopic, “All Eyes On Me” this weekend? If so, what are your thoughts on the film? I’d love to read some of your thoughts.