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Tupac Shakur Biography | Poet

Photo of Tupac Shakur

Tupac Shakur was born in New York City, New York on June 16, 1971. He was raised by his mother, not meeting his biological father until he was an adult. The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia states his given name at birth was Lesane Parish Crooks, which was later changed to Tupac Amaru Shakur. He attended the Baltimore School of Arts, where he studied dance and acting, as well as joining a Harlem based theater company. He moved to California in the late 1980’s and began his career as a musician. He became well known for his violent lyrics, and the vicious feud with East coast rappers. He died in a Las Vegas hospital on September 13, 1996. He had been shot six days earlier while riding in a car. His killer has never been caught, but his violent death has only fueled his career helping to sell millions of records since.

Tupac Shakur's Life

Billy Garland and Afeni Shakur were activists in the Black Panther Party. Afeni Shakur was imprisoned during her pregnancy, later acquitted of the bomb charges against her. She went on to raise her son, who she called Tupac Amaru, which means “shining serpent”. When he was young, they moved around quite a bit between the Bronx and Brooklyn in New York City. In 1984, Tupac made his first acting appearance at the Apollo Theater, in a production of “A Raisin In The Sun”. The performance was part of Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaign. Tupac attended the Baltimore School of Arts until he dropped out at the age of 17 and moved to California.

Once Tupac Shakur settled in California, he auditioned to be a dancer for Digital Underground. He is featured in two of their hits, This Is an E.P in 1990 and Sons of the P the following year. During that time, he also continued to work to get a solo career up and running. He finally got that chance in 1992 after he signed with Interscope and released the album 2pocalypse Now. The single “Brenda’s Got A Baby” reached number 23 on Billboard charts. In the early 90’s, Shakur also starred in a handful of movies, including Poetic Justice with Janet Jackson in 1993. His second album was released in 1993 as well, with the single “Keep Your Head Up” reaching number 12 on the pop music charts, and number 7 on the R7B charts.

Even though he was becoming very successful in the music world, he still couldn’t seem to shake the thug life, words he had tattooed across his stomach. He was arrested in 1992 for his involvement in a shooting that resulted in the death of a small child. The boy was struck by a stray bullet, the case was settled out of court. He again found himself in trouble in 1994 when he was charged in the shootings of two police officers, all charges against him were eventually dropped. A month later he was charged with assault, and later sexual assault. In 1995, he became the first artist to reach number one on the Billboard charts while in prison. Even though he was sentenced to serve eighteen months to four years, he was released after only eight months. His bond was paid by Marion Suge Knight, the CEO of Death Row Label.

After his release, Shakur signed with Death Row in late 1995. All Eyez On Me reached number one on the charts, and had dark lyrics speaking violence to his enemies. He even thought his own death at a young age was inevitable. In one of the songs, Shakur even suggested he slept with Faith Evans, wife of East coast enemy, Notorious B.I.G.

The Death of Tupac

On September 7, 1996, after a scuffle in the lobby of the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Tupac Shakur was shot while riding with Suge Knight. The scuffle ended up costing Knight nine years in prison for a parole violation, and Shakur died from his wounds on the 13th. While no arrests have ever been made in either case, B.I.G. was killed in a similar fashion a mere 6 months later. Even after his death, his estate and record label continue to release collections every few years. In 2008 Death Row sold Shakur’s master tapes to a new owner, creating even more speculation for album releases for years to come. 

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