Makaveli Is Born
1971 –Tupac Shakur is born on the June 16th in East Harlem, New York City
On the 16th of June 1971, Tupac Amaru Shakur was born in New York City. According to Shakur’s relatives, his real name was Lesane Parish Crooks but was then given the name Tupac Shakur after the 18th century South American revolutionary.
Both Shakur’s mother Afeni Shakur and father Billy Garland were active members of the Black Panther Party. They were separated at the time of his birth. Afeni Shakur was pregnant with Tupac while serving time in prison for bombing charges.
1983 – 1988: Shakur’s Childhood
1984 - Shakur aged 13 acts in a production of A Raisin in the Sun at the Apollo Theatre
1986 - Shakur and his family relocate to Baltimore, Maryland
1988 - Shakur moves to Marin City, California
Growing up with a single mother and his sister Assata Shakur, Tupac’s early life was turbulent. His earliest years were spent in Harlem and the Bronx. Poverty was a normal for the family and they frequently moved around the country. But a young Tupac showed much potential especially when it came to acting. At the age of 12 he enrolled into the Harlem's 127th Street Repertory Ensemble and went onto play a role in the production of A Raisin in the Sun.
After relocating to Baltimore, Tupac attended Baltimore School for the Arts where he studied jazz, ballet and poetry. He was popular amongst his peers and also struck a close friendship with Jada Pinkett.
In June 1988, Shakur moved to Marin City, in California with his family and enrolled at Tamalpais High School. He performed in a group that he set up, Strictly Dope and was signed by Atron Gregory.
1990 - 1991: Shakur’s Early Music Career
1990 – Tupac joins rap group Digital Underground
1991 – Tupac debuts his rap skills on the film soundtrack Nothing But Trouble with Digital Underground’s “Same Song”. Shakur signs to Interscope Records.
Tupac was signed by Atron Gregory after he auditioned as a roadie and dancer for the Oakland based group Digital Underground. During this spell Tupac also worked on his own material. But he did have a music impact on the group appearing on two of the group’s EPs, This Is An EP and Sons Of The P. Gaining attention for his talent, in 1991, Shakur signed a deal with Interscope Records.
1991 - 1993: 2Pac Goes Solo
1991 – Tupac drops his first debut single “Brenda’s Got A Baby”
1991 – Shakur releases his first album 2Pacalypse Now
1992 – Tupac makes his acting debut in film Juice
1992 - Tupac is arrested over a stray bullet killing a young boy during a scuffle between him and others
1993 – The rapper drops his second record Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.
1993 – Shakur stars in Poetic Justice
June 1993 – 2Pac drops the single, “I Get Around”
October 1993 – Pac releases “Keep Your Head Up”
October 1993 – Shakur is charged for shooting at two police officers.
November 1993 – Tupac is charged with sexual assault
1993 – Tupac forms the group Thug Life
After signing a deal with Interscope, Tupac released his first single “Brenda’s Got A Baby”, followed by his debut album 2Pacalypse Now. The rapper did well with his debut single but did attract criticism for the nature of his controversial lyrics.
Tupac maintained his work in another of his big talents – acting. He made his film debut starting in the movie, Juice. Shortly after this, he starred in Poetic Justice alongside Janet Jackson.
In the same year, Pac also released his second record, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. which did exceptionally well, eventually achieving platinum status. Several hits were created from this album including “I Get Around” and “Keep Your Head Up”.
Throughout Tupac’s early success, he ran into much trouble with the police. Amidst dropping his debut solo work, he was involved in an altercation with some individuals that led to a 6 year-old boy getting shot. In 1993 he was then charged with shooting at two police officers, though these charges were eventually dropped. A month later, along with two other entourage members, he was charged with sexually assaulting a female fan which he would later serve time for.
1994 – 1995: Shakur Runs Into Further Trouble
1994 – Thug Life release Thug Life Volume I
Early 1994 – Shakur is found guilty of assault Allen Hughes and serves 15 days in prison.
After Tupac helped form the group, Thug Life, together they released what would be their only album, Thug Life Volume I. Shakur’s run-in with crime went from bad to worse when in the early part of 1994 he was found guilty of assaulting Allen Hughes, the co-director of the movie Menace II Society. He served 15 days in jail for this. 2Pac went on trial for the sexual assault that had occurred the previous year, and the judge sentenced him to 1 1/2 – 4 ½ years in prison.
Only a day before this, while Shakur was in the lobby of Q Recording Studios in Manhattan, he was robbed and shot five times by three men. They took his jewelry but oddly left him with his Rolex watch. Shakur was very quick to accuse Puff Daddy, Biggie Smalls and their associate Jimmy Henchman who were in the studio at the same time. They were said to have gone down to the lobby to see what had happened when Tupac gave them the middle finger while being taken out on a stretcher.
1995 – 1996: Tupac Serves Time
Feb 1995 – Shakur begins to serve time in prison for sexual assault
March 1995 - Tupac releases his album Me Against The World
Late 1995 – Tupac signs to Death Row Records
Feb 1996 – All Eyez On Me is released through Death Row Records and Interscope
June 1996 - Shakur releases “Hit Em Up” claiming to have slept with Faith Evans
Shakur began to serve his time in prison for sexual assault in February 1995 whilst he continued to recover from him injuries after being mugged and shot some months before that. The following month whilst in prison, his album, Me Against The World was released. He was the first artist to have a number one record whilst in prison, which was much more reflective than his previous work. This cultivated a number of hits such as “Dear Mama”, “Temptations” and “So Many Tears”.
Makaveli served eight months in prison after a parole arrangement was organized, and a bond of $1.4 million was paid by Suge Knight, owner of Death Row Records. When he came out, he signed a deal with Knight’s label worth $1 million, and got to work on his next album.
In February 1996, Tupac released his new record through Death Row and Interscope, All Eyez On Me. The album was noted for its violent threats on his enemies particularly his one time friend Biggie Smalls. But 2Pac also implicated the inevitability of his own death on the record. At the same time, it also produced some big tracks in Shakur’s career such as “California Love” and “How Do You Want It”. The rivalry between the West and East Coast was in full swing by this stage, with Death Row Records going up against Bad Boy Records. This was contributed to by 2Pac’s claims he had slept with Notorious B.l.G.’s wife Faith Evans in “Hit Em’ Up”.
The Death of Tupac Shakur
Sept 1996: Tupac Shakur dies after being shot in Las Vegas
In the run up to Shakur’s death there were some indications that the rapper was growing tired of hip hop and had begun to turn more to film. Suge Knight became increasingly involved in illegal activities, and Dr Dre was absent from Death Row, as was his production from Pac records.
On the day of his death, Tupac and Suge Knight were in Las Vegas to see a boxing match between Mike Tyson and Bruce Seldon at the MGM Grand. After seeing the fight, Shakur was riding in the passenger seat of Knight’s car when he was shot. Six days later in hospital, Tupac died as a result of the injuries. He was 25.
Post 1996: After Shakur’s Death
Nov 1996 - The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory is released
1998 – All Eyez On Me goes 9x platinum.
Many theories emerged about who killed Tupac Shakur. Some implicated Suge Knight’s mob enemies, while others accused Biggie Smalls-- who would later die in a similar shooting. To this day, it is unknown who was responsible for the rapper’s death.
In the run up to his death, Tupac had been recording a new album, The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, which was later released after his death. Several albums were released posthumously up until 2006 including R U Still Down in 1997 and Better Dayz in 2002.
The death of Tupac had a huge impact on the hip hop community, showing that the West-East coast rivalry was very real. He has been honored in several ways since his death, being voted MTV’s Greatest MC in 2003, and also being chosen as BET’s Most Influential Rapper of All Time in 2011. He is also cited as a huge influence by many of today’s rappers.
We take a look back at the life of Tupac Shakur on his birthday.
Today Tupac would have been 43. Tragically, Shakur's life was cut short at the age of just 25 after being shot in Las Vegas. Years on, Tupac is still treasured as a legend in hip hop for his outstanding discography clocking up 11 album and 44 singles.
Shakur remains one of the most talented, charismatic icons to represent West Coast hip hop. His abilities were not just limited to music, as he also took up a number of acting roles in films, something he was passionate about from a young age.
The rapper and actor continues to have an influence on hip hop fans as well as other rappers. Many have commented on his influence on their own music. With the longevity of his legacy, it is evident that 2Pac's stamp on hip hop will forever live on.
RIP Tupac Shakur 1971-1996