Tupac Shakur: All Eyez on Him




Artist: Tupac Shakur

Born: Tupac Amaru Shakur on June 16th, 1971, in East Harlem, New York City, New York

Died: September 13, 1996, in Las Vegas, Nevada

Music Career: 1987-1996

Genre: Hip-hop/Rap

Breakout Song/Album:Keep Ya Head Up”, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z… (1993)

Rating: 5/5

Quite possibly the greatest rapper that has ever dropped a mic, Tupac is one of the most noted rappers in a time where the genre was learning to walk. Hailing from Harlem, New York City, Tupac was surrounded by African-American activists and bouts of racism and segregation. His parents were both members of the Black Panther Party, and many of his relatives have been arrested and imprisoned, leading to a hardened life as a child.

Tupac found his tune when he moved to Baltimore and went to art school. He studied poetry, acting, jazz, and ballet. He performed in many Shakespeare plays and performed rap battles with his friends and classmates. He was extremely popular among all the crowds in school, known for his superior rapping skills and sense of humor.

Though Tupac’s career began in Baltimore, Maryland, the famous West Side rapper came into the scene in California. From the time he began his career to his tragic death, he sold over 75 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time, and #3 on the Top 10 Highest Selling Rappers chart, behind only Jay-Z and Eminem.

Obviously, there are several influences that Tupac tapped into to make his amazing and heartfelt music. The number one reason is his childhood. Likewise for most African-Americans in this time period, life was hard and the ability to make a positive impact was harder. In his breakout song, “Keep Ya Head Up,” Tupac sings the story of Latasha Harlins, a 15-year-old African-American girl who was shot and killed by a store owner who accused her of stealing a bottle of orange juice. Latasha was posthumously proven innocent, but that didn’t stop Tupac from using the tragedy as a building block for an emotional yet upbeat song about the troubles of race.

His mother was also a heavy inspiration to his works, as she was a major part of his upbringing and storytelling. In his song, “Dear Mama”, he sings about his love for his mother and thanks her for raising him, even though the opening lines are “When I was young, me and mama had beef…Seventeen years old kicked out on the streets.” His mother was truly an inspiration.

Sadly, on the night of September 7th, 1996, as Tupac was leaving a boxing match in Las Vegas, he was shot four times in a drive-by shooting by unknown assailants. He was taken to the hospital, where he died six days later of internal bleeding from his wounds.

Despite his early passing, Tupac’s music would leave a legacy beyond any other in the rap community. His words, beats, and messages inspired the likes of Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Rihanna, and Lil Wayne. Numerous memorials, murals, movies, and television shows have been made about both his life and the shooting investigation. There was even a hologram performance by Tupac alongside Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre at the 2012 Coachella Music Festival. It became the single most talked about performance of that year’s celebration.

Tupac Shakur is a true rapper, and his spirit and heart will never be forgotten.