Tupac Amaru Shakur, was born in the Manhattan Borough of New York City but relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1988 when he later moved to Los Angeles in 1993 to further pursue his music career. By the time he released his debut album 2Pacalypse Now in 1991, he had become a central figure in West Coast hip hop, introducing social issues in the genre at a time when gangsta rap was dominant in the mainstream.
Shakur wasn’t just a rapper, actor, model or entrepreneur, he was a game-changing icon of music, poetry and street life. He was the first gangster rapper to come equipped with a message, a heart, and the emotional foresight to see it wouldn’t last forever. Tupac’s music speaks about injustices and police brutality in his songs in the 90's, which still ring true today. These revolutionary roots instilled in him by his mother Afeni Shakur. Afeni Shakur was an activist and very involved in racial justice with the Black Panther Party. She spent most of her first pregnancy behind bars.
As the world protests police brutality and racism, Tupac’s 1998 hit 'Changes' which addresses these same issues, has become the anthem. Tupac recorded over 713 songs and starred in 7 films from 1991-1996. He sold over 75m records, had 9 Platinum albums, and 7 albums worth of music ready to go for when he died. All by the age of 25. Unlike any other rapper, Tupac was able to be at once vulnerable and armoured, at once throwing a punch while showing his scars, and the below songs all reflect this duality, the fallibility and humanity of an artist gone far too soon.
Less than four years into his solo career, 2Pac already felt like an icon by the time he dropped "Me Against the World," which was the first US No. 1 album released by someone in prison (the rapper was still serving a sentence for sexual assault), was the most fully formed, relatable iteration of 2Pac. Tupac appeared to be a magnet for high drama. There wasn’t a week that went by without the controversial rapper appearing in court if not high crimes and misdemeanors but he balanced this notoriety with being a fervent defender of black America’s most poor and vulnerable citizens. He resonated not only with the gangsters, but also the people looking to escape from that lifestyle and find inner peace.
2Pac was shot in a drive - by shooting with his friend, Knight. Knight was driving with Tupac in the front seat when an unknown gunman pulled up alongside the pair and opened fire. Knight survived the shooting but 2Pac who was struck by four bullets died six days after the shooting. He was a man possessed by boundless energy, a person defined by his Faustian hunger for more than mere existence, one who clearly knew he had so little time in this world.
RIP to the GOAT. One thing about Pac is that he represents the real black experience - poor, ghetto, hood, hustling, struggle, success, power, discrimination, racism, police brutality, addiction, All of it. He may be gone but Tupac Shakur remains one of those considered by many as one of the most significant rappers of all time.
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