Tupac Amaru Shakur (June 16, 1971 – September 13, 1996), also known by his stage names 2Pac and briefly as Makaveli, was an American rapper and actor. Shakur has sold over 75 million albums worldwide as of 2010, making him one of the best-selling music artists in the world. His double disc album All Eyez on Me is one of the best selling hip hop albums of all time.
Tupac began his career as a roadie, backup dancer, and MC for the alternative hip hop group Digital Underground. The themes of most of Tupac's songs revolved around the violence and hardship in inner cities, racism and other social problems. Both of his parents and several other of his family were members of the Black Panther Party, whose ideals were reflected in his songs. Tupac has only one son by the name of Romeo Hart.
On September 7, 1996, Tupac was shot multiple times in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was taken to the Southern Nevada University Medical Center, where he died six days later.
In 2002, the LA Times published a story by Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Chuck Philips, titled "Who Killed Tupac Shakur", based on a yearlong investigation that reconstructed the crime and the events leading up to it. Evidence gathered by the paper indicated that: "the shooting was carried out by a Compton gang called the Southside Crips to avenge the beating of one of its members by Shakur a few hours earlier. Orlando Anderson, the Crip whom Shakur had attacked, fired the fatal shots. Las Vegas police discounted Anderson as a suspect and interviewed him only once, briefly. He was later killed in an unrelated gang shooting." Philips's article also included East Coast rappers including Biggie, Tupac's rival at the time, and several New York criminals.
Before they died, The Notorious B.I.G. and Anderson denied their role in the murder. In support of their claims, Biggie's family produced computerized invoices suggesting that Biggie 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 role in the crime and claimed further that they were both with him in the recording studio during the night of the event. Philips' article, however, was based on police affidavits and court documents as well as interviews with investigators, witnesses to the crime and members of the Southside Crips who had never before discussed the killing outside the gang. The main thrust of Philips' article, implicating Anderson and the Crips, remains the best supported theory of the murder of Tupac to date.
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.
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 suggest he believed in God. This means many analysts currently describe him as a deist. He believed in Karma, but rejected a literal afterlife and organized religion.
Tupac has had several family members who were members of the Black Panthers; Mutulu Shakur, the step-father of Tupac, Assata Shakur, his step-aunt, Billy Garland the biological father of Tupac and Afeni Shakur his mother.
At a Mobb Deep concert following the death of Tupac and the 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 Tupac himself even in New York at the height of the media-dubbed 'intercoastal rivalry'. Tupac Tupac 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.
Tupac is held in high esteem by other MCs – in the book How to Rap, Bishop Lamont notes that Tupac “mastered every element, every aspect” of rapping and Fredro Starr of Onyx says Tupac, "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 for their part named Tupac the most influential rapper ever.
To preserve Tupac's legacy, his mother founded the Tupac Family Foundation (later renamed the Tupac Amaru Tupac 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 Tupac Center for the Arts (TASCA) in Stone Mountain, Georgia, on June 11, 2005. On November 14, 2003, a documentary about Tupac 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 Tupac'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 Tupac's impact on everything from entertainment to sociology.
Many of the speakers discussed Tupac'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 Tupac 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 Tupac 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 Tupac's life and death. He addressed the symbolism and mythology surrounding Tupac's death in his talk entitled "Tupac Shakur: O.G. (Ostensibly Gone)". Among his findings were that Tupac'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 Tupac'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 Tupac as a "prolific artist" who was "driven by a terrible sense of urgency" in a quest to "unify mind, body, and spirit".
In Holler If You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur, Michael Eric Dyson 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 Tupac'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 Tupac'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. Tupac's sixth posthumous studio album, Pac's Life, was released on November 21, 2006. It commemorates the 10th anniversary of Tupac's death. He is still considered one of the most popular artists in the music industry as of 2006. According to Forbes, in 2008 Tupac's estate made $15 million. In 2002, they recognized him as a Top Earning Dead celebrity coming in on number ten on their list.
On April 15, 2012, a "hologram" of Tupac Shakur performed his songs "Hail Mary" and "2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted" with Snoop Dogg at the Coachella Music Festival, the effect was created using an optical illusion called Pepper's ghost. The video footage was created by visual effects company Digital Domain. The Wall Street Journal reported Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg were in talks of a possible tour involving the two rappers and the hologram version of Tupac, which was later turned down by Dr. Dre.
- In a 2005 Rolling Stone magazine vote, Tupac was named No.86 of the '100 immortal artists of all time' behind the likes of Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, and John Lennon.
- MTV ranked him at No. 2 on their list of The Greatest MCs of All Time.
- Tupac was inducted into the Hip-Hop Hall of Fame in 2002.
- Ranked No. 3 on VH1's 50 Greatest Hip Hop Artists.
- In 2003, MTV's "22 Greatest MCs" countdown listed Tupac as the "Number 1 MC", as voted by the viewers.
- In 2004, at the VH1 Hip Hop Honors Tupac was honored along with DJ Hollywood, Kool DJ Herc, KRS-One, Public Enemy, Run-D.M.C., Rock Steady Crew, and Sugarhill Gang.
- A Vibe magazine poll in 2004 rated Tupac "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, Tupac 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, Tupac 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 Tupac's song "Changes", which was released two years after his shooting death on a greatest hits album in 1998.
- 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 the RIAA.
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