The death of legendary West Coast rapper and actor Tupac “2pac” Shakur continues to reverberate throughout the hip-hop community 16 years later. Considering that his chief rival Christopher “Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace would be murdered in a similar fashion just six months later, their deaths marked the lowest points in hip-hop history. Although the details surrounding Shakur’s death are mired in controversy and mystery, this uncertainty never diminished the fact that we lost a true superstar at the peak of his career.
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After a 1994 shooting and robbing, Tupac placed the blame squarely on the East Coast, igniting a war between the coasts. Bad Boy Records chief Sean “Diddy” Combs, who produced and managed the Notorious B.I.G., was thought to be the mastermind behind the incidents, although it was later said that beleaguered music mogul and convicted coke dealer James “Jimmy Henchman” Rosemond may have been responsible.
The beef between Biggie and Tupac would reach a fever pitch in 1996, though, after the release of 2Pac’s “Hit ‘Em Up” diss track. On the song, Tupac took aim not only at Combs and Wallace but also Queens rap duo Mobb Deep.
On September 7, after attending a Mike Tyson fight in Las Vegas, Tupac was shot several times by assailants in a drive-by. Tupac was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he reportedly resisted treatment. He would die six days later on this date during the afternoon, after Tupac’s mother, Afeni, ordered doctors to stop reviving her son.
He was just 25.
Watch Tupac perform at the House of Blues here:
Former Los Angeles Times reporter Chuck Phillips investigated the murder of Tupac with ferocity, revealing that the shooting may have been due to retaliation from a Compton Crip gang for allegedly beating up a member hours earlier. Phillips asserts that one of the Crips, Orlando Anderson, was the main shooter. Anderson would later be killed in an unrelated shooting. Most involved in the case have supported Phillips’ claims and no longer consider Combs to have been involved.
Regardless of how the incident began, it was how it ended that is most unfortunate: Tupac Shakur was a beloved, charismatic figure that couldn’t shake the violent image he portrayed in songs, which, according to others, belied his true nature. In truth, 2Pac should still be among us in the flesh and not in song, but unfortunately, that isn’t the reality of things.
With the recent murder of young Chicago rapper Joseph “Lil JoJo” Coleman and his feud with local star Chief Keef bearing an eerie resemblance to 2Pac and B.I.G., youngsters need to learn that settling disputes with gunfire often robs us of our youngest, best, and brightest.
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