Tupac Shakur
2Pac - House of Blues

Birth name

Lesane Parish Crooks

Also known as

2Pac, Makaveli, MC New York


16 June 1971
East Harlem, Manhattan, New York, United States


Marin City, California, United States


13 September 1996 (aged 25)
Las Vegas, Nevada, United States


Hip hop


Rapper, record producer, actor, poet

Years active



Interscope (1991-1996)
Death Row (1995-1996)

Associated acts

Digital Underground, Dr. Dre, Johnny "J", The Notorious B.I.G., Outlawz, Mopreme Shakur, Shock G, Snoop Dogg, Stretch, Thug Life, Treach

Tupac Amaru Shakur (16 June 1971 - 13 September 1996), also known by his stage names 2Pac and briefly Makaveli, was an American rapper, record producer, actor and poet. Shakur has sold over 75,000,000 records worldwide as of 2010, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. His double disc album All Eyez on Me is one of the best-selling hip hop albums ever, and achieved Diamond record status on 23 July 2014. Despite only a five-year span of releasing music commercially, Shakur was known for his prolific output and arduous work ethic. Shakur is widely considered to be one of the greatest rappers of all time,[1][2][3] with his legacy still prevalent in the hip hop industry to this day.

Shakur began his career as a roadie, backup dancer, and MC for the alternative hip hop group Digital Underground before beginning his solo career in 1991. Shakur's themes often include: violence and hardship in inner cities, racism and other social problems. Both of his parents and several other of his relatives were members of the Black Panther Party, and their ideals were reflected in his music. 

During the latter part of his career, Shakur was heavily involved in the East Coast-West Coast rivalry after a major feud with East Coast rappers, producers and record-label staff members, most notably The Notorious B.I.G. and his label Bad Boy Records. On 7 September 1996, Shakur was shot multiple times in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was taken to the Southern Nevada University Medical Center, where he died six days later.

Early life

Lesane Parish Crooks was born on the 16th of June 1971 in the East Harlem section of Manhattan in New York City. His mother renamed him "Tupac Amaru Shakur" after the eighteenth century South American revolutionary Túpac Amaru when he was one year old. Shakur was born a month after his mother was acquitted of more than 150 charges of "Conspiracy against the United States government and New York landmarks" in the New York "Panther 21" court case.

His mother, Alice Faye Williams, and his biological father, Billy Garland, were active members of the Black Panther Party in New York during the late-1960s and early-1970s. When Williams married Mutulu Shakur, she changed her name to "Afeni Shakur" and renamed her son.

Tupac lived from an early age with people who were convicted of serious criminal offences and who were imprisoned. His godfather, Elmer "Geronimo" Pratt, a high-ranked Black Panther, was convicted of murdering a school teacher during a 1968 robbery, although the sentence was later overturned. His stepfather, Mutulu Shakur, spent four years at large on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list beginning in 1982. He was wanted for having helped his sister Assata Shakur (also known as Joanne Chesimard) to escape from a state penitentiary in New Jersey. She had been imprisoned for killing a state trooper in 1973. Mutulu was captured in 1986 and imprisoned for the robbery of a Brinks armoured truck in which two police officers and a security guard were killed. Tupac had a younger half-sister, Sekyiwa, and an older step-brother, Mopreme Shakur, who appeared in many of Tupac's recordings.

At the age of twelve, Tupac enrolled in Harlem's 127th Street Repertory Ensemble and was cast as Travis Younger in the play "A Raisin in the Sun"; which was performed at the Apollo Theatre. In 1986, his family relocated to 3955 Greenmount Avenue in Baltimore, Maryland. There, Shakur was disliked because of his looks, name, and lack of trendy clothing. He attended Roland Park Middle School, then spent his freshman year at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School. For his sophomore year, he was accepted into the Baltimore School for the Arts; where he studied acting, poetry, jazz, and ballet. It was at this school that he became close friends with Jada Pinkett. He performed in Shakespeare plays, and in the role of the Mouse King in the ballet The Nutcracker. Shakur wrote his first rap under the name "MC New York". The rap was about gun control and was inspired by the shooting of one of his close friends.[4] Shakur, accompanied by his friend Dana "Mouse" Smith as his beatboxer, won many rap competitions and was considered to be the best rapper at his school. He was remembered as one of the most popular students at his school because of his sense of humour, superior rapping skills, and ability to mix with all crowds. During his time at art school, he became affiliated with the Baltimore Young Communist League USA, and began dating the daughter of the director of the local Communist Party USA.

In June 1988, Shakur and his family moved to Marin City, California, a residential community located 8 kilometres north of San Francisco. He attended Tamalpais High School in nearby Mill Valley. Tupac described the move from Baltimore to Marin City as "where I got off track". He showed contempt for law enforcement, getting hassled occasionally for playing music loudly. Having conflicts with his mother, Tupac moved in with a neighbour and started selling drugs. Around this time, he met Ray Luv, and with a mutual friend named DJ Dize, they started a rap group called Strictly Dope. He began attending the poetry classes of Leila Steinberg in 1989. Steinberg organised a concert for Shakur's group Strictly Dope, and the concert led him to being signed with Atron Gregory. Gregory set Shakur up with an audition with Shock G, and Shakur joined Shock G's group Digital Underground as a backup dancer and roadie.


1991-1992: Beginnings


Shakur during his Digital Underground days.

Shakur's professional entertainment career began through his membership of Digital Underground, and made his debut on the song "Same Song" from their 1991 EP This Is an EP Release and the soundtrack of Nothing but Trouble, of which he also made an appearance in. He performed with Digital Underground again on their 1991 album Sons of the P.

Working with many Digital Underground artists and associates, 2Pac released his debut album 2Pacalypse Now to mild acclaim and commercial success. On the album, he address contemporary social issues facing American society, such as racism, police brutality, poverty and teenage pregnancy, and is his most overtly political work. It generated significant controversy after a man in Texas shot a state trooper while listening to the album. Then-Vice President Dan Quayle stated that "There's no reason for a record like this to be published. It has no place in our society." 2Pacalypse Now featured three singles: "Brenda's Got a Baby", "Trapped" and "If My Homie Calls". Three months later, he made his first starring role in the 1992 film Juice, in which he portrays Roland Bishop, a violent youth who becomes enthralled by a life of crime.

1993: Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z..., sexual assault and rise to success

His second album, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z..., was released in February 1993. The album features many tracks emphasising Shakur's political and social views. It did better commercially than his previous album, debuting at #24 on the Billboard 200, and is viewed as his breakthrough album. It spawned the hits "Keep Ya Head Up" and "I Get Around", and reached platinum status. His attention in the spotlight prevailed when he appeared as a main character in the 1993 romance film Poetic Justice.

In November 1993, Shakur and others were charged with sexually assaulting a woman in a hotel room. Shakur denied the charges, and claimed that he had prior relations with the woman days earlier that were consensual. The complainant claimed sexual assault was committed after her second visit to Shakur's hotel room; she alleged that Shakur and his entourage raped her. In the ensuing trial, Shakur was found innocent of seven counts of sodomy and other charges, however he was found guilty of sexual abuse for the "unwanted touching of the buttocks".

1994: Thug Life and November shooting

In late 1993, Shakur formed the group Thug Life with a number of his friends, including Big Syke, Macadoshis, The Rated R, and his stepbrother Mopreme Shakur. The group released their only album, Thug Life: Volume 1, in September 1994, although much of the original album was scrapped and heavily re-recorded due to the criticism of gangsta rap at the time. Shakur performed the planned first single from the album, "Out on Bail", at the 1994 Source Awards as he bumrushed A Tribe Called Quest while they were performing.

On the night of 30 November 1994, the day before the verdict in his sexual abuse trial was to be announced, Shakur was robbed and shot five times by three men in the lobby of Quad Recording Studios in Manhattan. Shakur stated that he believed the robbery to be a setup for the attack, wondering why they would take jewellery and leave his Rolex watch. In a 1995 interview with Vibe magazine, Shakur accused Sean Combs, an associate of Combs named Jimmy Henchman, and The Notorious B.I.G. among others of setting up the studio shooting. Vibe changed the names of the accused assailants upon publication. Later evidence did not implicate Biggie in the studio assault. When Biggie's entourage went downstairs to check on the incident, Shakur was being taken out on a stretcher, giving the finger to those around. Henchman admitted in 2014 to being the mastermind of the shooting, but he was not charged for the shooting because the maximum time allowed to prosecute a suspect for robbery expired seven years after the shooting.[5]

Shakur checked out of the Bellevue Hospital Center against doctor's orders, three hours after surgery. In the day that followed, he entered the courthouse in a wheelchair and was found guilty of three counts of molestation and not guilty of six others, including sodomy, stemming from his 1993 arrest for sexual assault. On 6 February 1995, he was sentenced to one-and-a-half to four-and-a-half years in prison on the sexual assault charge.

1995: Imprisonment, Me Against the World and signing to Death Row Records

Shakur began serving his prison sentence at Clinton Correctional Facility on 14 February 1995. Shortly afterward, his multi-platinum album Me Against the World was released. Shakur became the first artist to have an album at number one on the Billboard 200 while serving a prison sentence. The album sold 240,000 copies in its first week, setting a record for highest first week sales for a solo male rap artist at the time. While serving his sentence, he married his longtime girlfriend, Keisha Morris, on 4 April 1995; the couple divorced in 1996, with Shakur later stating that he married her "for the wrong reasons". While imprisoned, Shakur read many books by Niccolò Machiavelli, Sun Tzu's The Art of War and other works of political philosophy and strategy.

Big Syke & 2Pac

Big Syke and Shakur leaving prison

In October 1995, Shakur's case was on appeal but due to his considerable legal fees he could not raise the $1.4 million bail. After serving nine months of his sentence, Shakur was released from prison due in large part to the help and influence of Suge Knight, the CEO of Death Row Records, who posted the bail pending appeal of the conviction in exchange for Shakur to release three albums under the Death Row label. Upon his release, Shakur immediately went back to recording music.

1996: Final recordings

On 13 February 1996, Shakur released his fourth studio album, All Eyez on Me, which was recorded over a two week period in October 1995. The album is frequently recognised as one of the crowning achievements of 1990s hip hop music. The album featured the Billboard Hot 100 number one singles "How Do U Want It" and "California Love". All Eyez on Me became the first double-full-length hip hop solo studio album released commercially, and was issued on two compact disc and four LPs. Chartwise, All Eyez on Me was the second album from 2Pac to hit the number one position on both the Billboard 200 and the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts. The album went on to sell over nine million copies. The record was a general departure from the introspective subject matter of Me Against the World, being more oriented toward a thug and gangsta mentality.

On 4 June 1996, Shakur and Outlawz released the diss track "Hit 'Em Up", a scathing lyrical assault on Biggie, his label Bad Boy and others associated with him. In the track, Shakur claimed to have had sexual intercourse with Faith Evans, Biggie's wife, and attacked Bad Boy's street credibility. Death Row were already bitter towards Bad Boy, as Knight claimed that Combs had an involvement in the fatal shooting of his friend and bodyguard Robles. "Hit 'Em Up", which also included disses to East Coast artists Mobb Deep, Junior M.A.F.I.A. and Chino XL, was influential in increasing the East Coast-West Coast hip hop rivalry.

Shakur continued his recordings at Death Row despite increasing problems at the label. Dr. Dre left his post as house producer to form his own label, Aftermath Entertainment. Shakur recorded hundreds of songs during this period, most of which would be released on his posthumous albums.


Main article: Death of Tupac Shakur

On the night of 7 September 1996, Shakur attended the Bruce Seldon vs. Mike Tyson boxing match at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada with Suge Knight, some members of Outlawz and other Death Row Records associates. After leaving the match, one of Knight's associates spotted Orlando "Baby Lane" Anderson, an alleged Crips gang member from Compton, in the MGM Grand lobby. Earlier that year, Anderson and a group of Crips had robbed a member of Death Row's entourage in a Foot Locker store. Knight's associate told Shakur, who attacked Anderson. Shakur's entourage, as well as Knight and his followers, assisted in assaulting Anderson in a fight that was recorded on the hotel's video surveillance. After the brawl, Shakur went with Knight to go to Death Row-owned Club 662. He rode in Knight's black 1996 BMW 750iL as part of a larger convoy, including many in Shakur's entourage. Shakur's bodyguard, Frank Alexander, was asked by Shakur to drive the car of Shakur's fiancée Kidada Jones instead of accompanying him, in case they needed additional vehicles from Club 662 back to their hotel.

2Pac death

The BMW that Shakur was shot in

At about 11:10 pm (PDT), while they were stopped at a red light at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Koval Lane in front of the Maxim Hotel, a vehicle occupied by two women pulled up on their left side. Shakur, who was standing up through the sunroof, exchanged words with the two women and invited them to Club 662. At approximately 11:15 pm (PDT), a white, four-door, late-model Cadillac with an unknown number of occupants pulled up to the sedan's right side, rolled down a window, and rapidly fired seven shots at the BMW. Shakur was hit in the chest, pelvis, right hand, and thigh. One of the rounds went into Shakur's right lung. Knight was hit in the head by fragmentation. One of the convoy's cars drove off after the Cadillac, but they never caught up to the occupants.

After arriving at the scene, police and paramedics took Shakur and Knight to the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada. At the hospital, Shakur was heavily sedated, was placed on life support machines, and was ultimately put under a barbiturate-induced coma after repeatedly trying to get out of his bed. While in the critical care unit, on the afternoon of Friday 13 September 1996, Shakur died of internal bleeding. Doctors attempted to revive him but could not stop the hemorrhaging, and Shakur's mother Afeni made the decision to tell the doctors to stop. He was pronounced dead at 4:03 pm (PDT). The official cause of death was noted as respirator failure and cardiopulmonary arrest in connection with multiple gunshot wounds. Shakur's body was cremated the next day, and some of his ashes were allegedly mixed with marijuana and smoked by members of the Outlawz. However, eighteen years later, in 2014; they revealed the ashes they smoked weren't his, leading many speculate whether the rapper is actually still alive.

His fifth album, The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, was released two months later.


Main article: Tupac Shakur discography
Studio albums

Posthumous solo albums

Collaboration albums

Posthumous collaboration albums

Compilation albums