Tupac Amaru Shakur was born June 16, 1971, in Brooklyn, New York. His birth name was originally Lesane Parish Crooks, but was changed when he was still a small child. The name Tupac Amaru comes from an Inca Indian tribe and means “shining serpent” and his last name, Shakur, means “thankful to God.” Tupac’s mother is Afeni Shakur, AKA Alice Fayne Walker, and his father was William “Billy” Garland. He has a half sister named Sekyiwa Shakur, and a half brother named Maurice Harding. Maurice is the Mopreme of Thug Life. Though Tupac’s real father was never around, his step-father Jeral Wayne Williams AKA Mutulu Shakur was.
Tupac’s mother, Afeni Shakur, and step-father were a part of a New York chapter of the Black Panther Party. Afeni and twenty comrades were arrested in 1970 for conspiring to set off a race war. Pregnant with Tupac at the time, she made bail and told Lumumba Abdul Shakur, her then husband, that this wasn’t his child. Afeni had been carrying on with a guy named Legs (a small-time associate of the Harlem drug baron, Nicky Barnes) and William “Billy” Garland (a member of the Party). Lumumba then immediately divorced Afeni. She later
Afeni’s bail revoked and she found herself imprisoned in the Women’s House of detention in Greenwich Village. While imprisoned, she would rub her stomach and say: This is my Prince, and he is going to save the black nation.” Little did she know, the impact her son would make in his shortly lived life. By the time Tupac was born, Afeni was acquitted on 156 counts and found steady work as a paralegal. Her goal was to raise her son to respect the value of an education.
Since he was a child, Tupac was referred to by people as the “Black Prince.” When he would misbehave he would have to read a whole edition of The New York Times. When Tupac was two years old, his sister Sekyiwa was born. A few months before her birth Mutulu, her father, was sentenced to 60 years for a fatal armored car robbery. With Mutulu away in prison, the family went through some rough times. No matter where they went Tupac was distressed, and as time passed by, the issue about his father tormented him. As the loneliness began to wear on him, he started writing poetry and love songs. Tupac decided that he wanted to be an actor. He was good at it, and anxious to leave his scrubby family behind. Afeni enrolled Tupac in the 127th street Ensemble where he got his first role as Travis in “A Raisin in the Sun.”
As a young adolescence, his mother moved the family to Baltimore, Maryland. It was there, at the age of fifteen, where he fell into the world of rap music. He started writing rap lyrics and walking with a “limp” and using his background in New York for everything it was worth. He called himself “MC New York” and made himself seem tough. Tupac enrolled himself in the Baltimore School for the Performing Arts, where he studied acting and ballet. Tupac made an eternal impression on his teachers and they all believed he had great promise in the arts.
By the age of twenty, Tupac had been arrested eight times and been convicted once for sexual abuse and served eight months in prison. Tupac was the subject of two wrongful death cases. One including a six year old boy, who was killed when caught up in gang crossfire between Shakur’s gang and a rival group. In the late 80’s, Tupac hooked up with Humpty-Hump (Eddie Humphrey, Gregory “Shock-G” Jacobs) and some other Oakland rappers to come up with Digital Underground. In 1990, they released their debut album “Sex Packets”, featuring the classic songs “Humpty Dance” and “Doowutchyalike.” In 1991, Digital Underground released “Sons of the P” and in 1992 released “The Body-Hat Syndrome.”
Tupac left Digital Underground and made his first solo album debut “2Pacalypse Now.” The very same year he starred in the low-budget film “Juice.” In 1993, he released his album “Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.” The album had Tupac climbing the pop charts. The same year, Tupac starred as opposite Janet Jackson in the movie “Poetic Justice”, where he played a single father and Jackson’s love interest. In November of 1994, Tupac was shot five times while being robbed, which the criminals made off with jewelry worth forty thousand dollars. Tupac recovered from his injuries and went off to make his two greatest albums, “Me Against the World” (released in 1995, and sold two million copies) and the two disc album “All Eyez on Me” (released in 1996, and sold nearly three million copies.)
On September 13, 1996, after watching the Mike Tyson vs. Bruce Seldon fight in Las Vegas with Death Row president Marion “Suge” Knight, Tupac was gunned down in his car and died. His death was a travesty, and we have lost a great artist and entertainer. Though, Tupac expected he would die before the age of thirty. After his death, Tupac’s label released the album “The Don Killuminati” under the alias “Makaveli.” in 1997, they released “R U Still Down? (Remember Me)”; in 1999 “Still I Rise” and “Greatest Hits”; in 2001, “Until the End of Time” and “Better Dayz” in 2002. In 2003, the film “Tupac: Resolution” was released along with a soundtrack. It is said that Death Row has several unreleased recordings in the vaults for future releases.