Born June 16, 1971, Tupac Amaru Shakur became perhaps the most legendary Hip-Hop artist of all time.
Famous for his hit records, radical political views, unabashed comments, beefs, controversies and an often overlooked positivity and compassion for underserved people and communities, Tupac may be one of the most widely recognized American celebrities of the late 20th century.
Before passing in 1996, Tupac foreshadowed his death in many instances and prior to passing changed his name to Makaveli, a reference to 16th century Italian political strategist Niccolo Machiavelli, author of “The Prince,” who faked his own death. This fact, along with a host of rumors and conspiracy theories have kept Tupac alive in spirit until this day.
Shakur wasn’t Tupac’s birth name, but the last name assumed by his adopted stepfather, Mutulu Shakur, a Black Panther who spent four years on the FBI’s Most Wanted List for helping his sister Joanne Chesimard, aka Assata Shakur, who fled to Cuba rather than face prosecution. [sfweekly.com]
Despite Tupac’s west coast affiliations at the time of his death, Tupac was was born in the East Harlem section of Manhattan in New York City. He also lived in Baltimore, Marin City, Oakland, Los Angeles, and Atlanta.
8. Early Career
At the outset of his career, it didn’t appear that he would emerge as one of the definitive rappers of the ’90s — he started out as a second-string rapper and dancer for Oakland rap group Digital Underground, joining only after they had already landed their biggest hit. Tupac’s first appearance as a rapper was on Digital Underground’s “Same Song” from the 1991 film Nothing But Trouble, a movie in which Tupac and Digital Underground also appeared. [billboard.com]
The name Tupac Amaru is a reference to the last indigenous Inca ruler of Peru, who died in 1572. Amaru’s name was later adopted by Tupac Amaru II , the leader of an 18th-century uprising against Spanish colonialists and by the Tupac Amaru rebels, a Communist anti-government group which formed in 1984. [sfweekly.com]
Tupac’s “Dear Mama” was added to the National Recording Registry in 2010, making Shakur the third rapper behind Grandmaster Flash and Public Enemy to have a song inducted into the Library of Congress. [cbsnews.com]
According to a 2008 Los Angeles Times article, Notorious B.I.G. (born Christopher Wallace) and Sean “Diddy” Combs were aware, a week in advance, that Tupac would be ambushed in the 1994 shooting at New York’s Quad Recording Studios, two years before he was shot and killed in Las Vegas. The story was later retracted after the Times concluded that the FBI reports were fabricated. [mtv.com]
4. Love Life
In 1994, Tupac briefly dated Madonna, who reportedly wanted to have his baby. Tupac apparently dumped her after his homegirls began questioning why he was going out with a white girl. [nydailynews.com]
Tupac’s alter-ego Makaveli is a reference to 16th century Italian political strategist Niccolo Machiavelli, author of “The Prince.” The fact that Machiavelli faked his own death gave rise to numerous theories alleging that Tupac is still alive. [sfweekly.com]
Shakur has sold over 75 million records worldwide, with the bulk of that coming after his death; seven of his 11 platinum albums were released posthumously. As recently as 2007 Shakur’s estate banked $9 million–more than Eminem or 50 Cent made last year. [forbes.com]
According to the Outlawz, a hip-hop group formed by Tupac, they mixed the cremated remains of Tupac Shakur with marijuana and smoked the concoction at a memorial service for the slain rapper. Apparently, the impetus for sparking the ‘Pac-blunt came from the Tupac song, ‘Black Jesus,’ in which the rapper said “Last wishes n****s, smoke my ashes.” [thefw.com]