Tupac Shakur, known by his stage names 2Pac, was an American rapper. Shakur has sold over 75 million albums worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists in the world. Most of Tupac's songs are about growing up amid violence and hardship in ghettos, racism, other social problems, and conflicts with other rappers during the East Coast-West Coast hip hop rivalry.
Tupac Amaru Shakur was born June 16,1971 in Brooklyn, NY. He was born with the name Lesane Parish Crooks, but while still a small child his mother, Afeni Shakur, changed his name to Tupac Amaru. The name is from an Inca Indian tribe and means "shining serpent", and his last name, Shakur, means "thankful to God". His mother made this name change after she married a political activist named Mutulu Shakur. Mutulu Shakur was a part of the Black Panther activist group, which was a fierce group campaigning for equal rights for African-Americans. The Black Panthers believed that the peaceful, non-violent stance of Martin Luther King, Jr. had failed as a means to bring about societal change, and they sought to bring equality through more radical or violent means.
During his childhood, Tupac Shakur witnessed both the positive and negative sides of his parents’ activism. While his parents’ involvement with the Black Panthers meant that he grew up around many powerful adults who taught him to believe in himself despite the disadvantages of growing up as a poor minority, he also saw his role models take their desire for racial equality to some violent extremes. Shakur’s family was often on the move, running from the police after staging a protest or political move that had become violent. The family’s history also made it difficult for Shakur’s parents to secure a job, which meant that Tupac and his brother and sister often lived in impoverished areas.
In his teen years, Shakur’s family settled in Baltimore, Maryland, where, Shakur attended the Baltimore School for the Arts. There, he took acting and dance classes, including ballet. While living in Baltimore, he discovered rap and began performing as MC New York. In the late 1980s, Shakur and his family moved to the West Coast, where he joined the Oakland, California-based hip-hop group Digital Underground.
Debut as 2Pac
In 1991, Shakur emerged as a solo artist - using the name 2Pac - with his debut album 2Pacalypse Now. The track "Brenda's Got a Baby" reached as high as number three on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart. His second album crossed over to the pop charts, with singles "I Get Around" and "Keep Ya Head Up." The album went platinum, selling more than a million copies. Around this time, Shakur also appeared in several films, including Poetic Justice (1993) opposite Janet Jackson.
2Pac became quite a sensation, earning praise for his musical and acting talent as well as condemnation for his explicit, violent lyrics. Many of his songs told of fights, gangs, and sex. He appeared to be living up to his aggressive gangster rap persona, with several arrests for violent offenses in the 1990s. In 1994, he spent several days in jail for assaulting director Allen Hughes, and was later convicted of sexual assault in another case. Eventually, Shakur himself fell victim to violence, getting shot five times in the lobby of a recording studio during a mugging.
The next year, after recovering from his injuries, Shakur was sentenced to four and a half years in prison in the sexual assault case. His third solo album, Me Against the World (1995), started out in the number one spot on the album charts. Many critics praised the work, noting that tracks like "Dear Mama" showed a more genuine, reflective side to the rapper. The possibility of an early death runs through several songs on this recordings - something that many have seen as a chilling moment of foretelling.
After serving eight months in prison, Shakur returned to music with the album All Eyez on Me (1996). In this album, Shakur as the defiant street thug was back in full force on this recording. The song "California Love" featured a guest appearance by famed rapper-producer Dr. Dre and made a strong showing on the pop charts. "How Do You Want It" also was another smash success for Shakur. It appeared to be a golden time for Shakur. Besides his hit album, he tackled several film roles.
During his career, Shakur had become embroiled in a feud between East Coast and West Coast rappers. He was known to insult his enemies on his tracks. On a trip to Las Vegas to attend a boxing match, Shakur was shot while riding in a car driven by Knight on September 7, 1996. He died six days later on September 13 from his injuries. His killer has never been caught. Since his death, numerous albums of his work have been released, selling millions of copies.