2Pac (Tupac Amaru Shakur): June 16, 1971 - September 13, 1996
2Pac was born in New York City, the son of Black Panther member, Afeni Shakur who was pregnant with 2Pac while in jail on bombing charges. When 2Pac was 15, his family moved to Baltimore where 2Pac wrote his first rap under the name MC New York. Three years later, 2Pac's family would move to California and 2Pac began selling drugs. By the time 2Pac was 25 years old, he had been arrested, jailed, shot, involved with gangs, and become one of the biggest rap stars ever. 2Pac wrote, sang and rapped about what he knew about, what he experienced, and what he felt. Before a shooting incident in Las Vegas that eventually took his life, 2Pac had perfected the combination of gansta rap music and poetic messages. His music brought the despair and hard life of the ghetto to the mainstream. Ironically, 2Pac's gansta rap image has now become a symbol of the results of hardcore rap.
2Pac was originally a member of the rap act Digital Underground in the late 80s as a combination roadie, dancer, and rapper. The group hit it big in 1990 with the hit "Humpty Dance," but 2Pac left the group in 1991 to strike out on his own. In 1991, 2Pac released 2pacolypse, which showed more of 2Pac's gangsta rap persona. The LP was a moderate hit for 2Pac, especially with fans of rap music. 2Pac also began his acting career with a starring role in Juice released in 1992.
In 1993, 2Pac released strictly for my N.I.G.G.A.Z and found himself with 2 Top 10 pop hits: "I Get Around" and "Keep Ya Head Up." 2Pac also found trouble with the law with accusations of sexual battery and assault. Critical acclaim with acting continued for 2Pac with the release of John Singleton's Poetic Justice (playing opposite Janet Jackson). In 1994, 2Pac released thug life. The same year, 2Pac is robbed and shot several times outside a music studio in New York. Although his wounds were severe, 2Pac recovered and returned to finish his next LP. 2Pac also could be seen in the film, Thug Life.
In 1995, 2Pac is sentenced to 4+ years in prison for sexual abuse. Eight months later, 2Pac is released on bail awaiting appeal. Meanwhile, his next LP is released: me against the world - 2Pac's first Number 1 LP. From this LP, 2Pac rapped an ode to his mother, with "dear mama," a song he wrote while in prison. If any song epitomizes the words of 2Pac and separates him from other rappers, "Dear Mama" accomplishes this. 2Pac wrote or co-wrote a majority of the songs on the LP. 2Pac received two Grammy Award nominations in 1996 for Best Rap Album and Best Rap Solo Performance for "Dear Mama."
In 1996, 2Pac's double-LP, all eyez on me debuted at Number 1, and gave us the teaming with Dr. Dre, "California Love" and "How Do U Want It." The LP also had appearances by Snoop Doggy Dogg, George Clinton, Method Man, Michel'le, Roger, and Redman.The LP sold over 7million copies in the U.S., and 2Pac could be seen the same year in the crime thriller, Gang Related. As legal problems continued, 2Pac was also noted for his rivalry with other rappers, especially TheNotorius B.I.G All Eyez On Me was nominated for Best Rap Album at the 1997 Grammy Awards and "California Love" and "How Do U Want It" were nominated for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.
On September 7, 1996, 2Pac was shot in Las Vegas in a drive-by shooting after leaving a Mike Tyson fight. 2Pac's right lung was removed during surgery and 2Pac was left in a medical coma. Six days later, 2Pac succumbed to his wounds at the age of 25. The shooting still remains unsolved. Some fans contend that 2Pac might still be alive.
In 1996, a posthumous LP by 2Pac under the pseudonym "Makaveli" was released, Don Killuminaty , seven day theory, and became 2Pac's third Number 1 LP. Videos released after 2Pac's death ironically show 2Pac focusing on the hardcore lifestyle he lived in, and the deadly results. Tracks such as "White Man'z World" and "Krazy" kept 2Pac's music on radio airways into 1997.
When my heart can beat no more
I hope I die for a principle or a belief that I have lived for
I will die before my time because I already feel the shadow's depth
So much I wanted to accomplish before I reached my death
I have come to grips with possibility and wiped the last I loved all who were positive in the event of my demise
- an unpublished poem by 2Pac (1992)
that he requested to be shared after his death
In 1997, Gridlock'd starring 2Pac was released. Most critics felt 2Pac's performance as a drug addict demonstrated a seriously talented actor had been lost.
Also in 1997, 2Pac's voice was still heard on many collaborations and unreleased tracks, his persona was still expressed in a few films, and his estate was challenged numerous times in court. A woman who was paralyzed in Arkansas at a club where 2Pac was performing in 1993, won a $16.6 million judgment from 2Pac's estate. 2Pac's biological parents are battling in court to decide who should claim his estate. The latest estate challenge occurred when 2Pac's estate was sued by C. DeLores Tucker, who is claiming that 2Pac's LP All Eyez On Me has ruined her sex life. Tucker is a member of the National Political Congress of Black Women and is known for her outspoken protests of what she calls "gangsta porno rap." The $10 million suit contends that the LP's lyrics has caused her "great humiliation, mental pain, and suffering" with songs such as "Wonda Why They Call U Bytch" and the hit "How Do U Want It." In September, '97, Vibe magazine released a hard-cover collection of essay and photo portraits (Tupac Shakur) of 2pac to commemorate the first anniversary of the rapper's death. The profiles looks at 2Pac's life, career achievements, and controversial death.
Also in 1997, 2Pac's name was involved with many lawsuits. The estate of 2Pac and Suge Knight (head of Death Row Records) is being sued by a man claiming to be a victim in the Las Vegas casino attack on the evening 2Pac was shot. The alleged victim, who is also said to be a suspect in 2Pac's murder, claimed he was beaten by 2Pac, Knight, and others in the MGM Grand Hotel. The man is also believed to be a member of the Los Angeles Southside Crips street gang. Knight is currently serving a nine-year jail sentence from a previous assault case. Also, 2Pac's mother, Afeni Shakur, won her court case against Death Row Record to receive 150 unreleased songs by her son. In September, 1997, Afeni Shakur, filed a wrongful-death suit against a man suspected to be involved with death of the rap artist. The suit claims that Orlando Anderson was the gunman involved in the Las Vegas shooting that left 2Pac critically injured.
A new double CD with 24 tracks by 2Pac called R U still down? (remember me) was released in '97 and the first single should be "I Wonder If Heaven Got A Ghetto." The LP is the first release from the record company started by 2Pac's mother, Afeni Shakur. The tracks were recorded between 1991 and 1994 when 2Pac was with Interscope (prior to his involvement with Death Row Records).
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