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Tupac Amatu Shakur

The character of Tupac Amaru Shakur suited this theme perfectly. A barrel full of contradictions, he was a brilliant artist who was unafraid to speak his mind. He was born on 6th June 1972 in Brooklyn, New York. His mother named him Lesane Parish Crooks, but later on she changed it to Tupac Amaru, after a revolutionary Inca Indian. Tupac adopted her maiden name of Shakur as his stage name.

The family moved frequently. In Baltimore Tupac studied dance and acting at the Baltimore School for the Performing Arts. But things went wrong when the family moved to Oakland (California). He became involved with ‘the wrong guys’. He found work as a dancer with a Rap group, Digital Underground, but he was soon allowed to show his talents as a rapper. He had already written poetry as a child, but now he was given the chance to fully develop his talent. His first album, 2pacalypse Now was the first of a long line of successes. Tupac had his own special style of language, with its own vocabulary and rules of grammar that went far beyond ordinary poetic licence. His poems exuded mature wisdom and cynicism, as well as a touching beauty and a sarcastic view of the world. They are tragic, destructive, fatalistic, sneering and at times almost moralising in their optimism.

He was also a talented actor. His greatest film success was Poetic Justice with Janet Jackson.

Tupac earned an absolute fortune and could buy whatever he liked. But he did not want to leave the environment in which he had grown up: a world that was poor (in opportunity) and where crime was rife. He attempted to create more opportunity through organising a number of projects. He sponsored centres for ‘At Risk Kids’: a place they could call ‘home’, where they would find guidance, and where they received love and affection, care and food. Tupac felt that young people should educate themselves and one another. That was his ideal. He also founded a Celebrity Youth League with sports stars, each of whom sponsored a youth group for a period of one year to buy clothes, hire a coach and finally helping to found their own league. But the world of crime would not release him. There were five attempts to shoot him. The fifth shooting was fatal. This was what the newspapers wrote. But there are numerous stories and a great deal of speculation – supported by evidence that is as charming as it is dubious – claiming that Tupac had staged his own death. Many of his fans are convinced that he will reappear one day.

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