Today marks what would have been Tupac Shakur’s 50th birthday. 25 years after his tragic death, Shakur is still relevant within pop culture as his influence has paved the waved for the generations that followed. Born, Lesane Parish Crooks, in the East Harlem Section of Manhattan, Tupac is widely recognized as one of the most influential rap artists of all time and was even named on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of 100 Greatest Artists.
Every rapper who grew up in the Nineties owes something to Tupac. People either try to emulate him in some way, or they go in a different direction because they didn’t like what he did. But whatever you think of him, he definitely developed his own style: He didn’t sound like anyone who came before him.
— 50 Cent
Despite hailing from New York, Shakur’s ambitions were never rooted to the City, attending performing arts school in Baltimore, alongside Jada Pinkett, later moving out West in pursuit of his dreams as a rapper. Shakur would link up with hip hop group Digital Underground in 1991, going from dancer to roadie to band member. Much of his early solo work was produced by Shock G, Digital underground’s frontman.
Here we can see a young Tupac Shakur performing live on the Arsenio Hall Show alongside Shock G during the height of the group’s popularity, serving on backup dancer duty.
Shakur was placed in the center of the East Coast-West Coast hip hop rivalry in the mid-1990’s. On November 30, 1994, after arriving at the world-renowned Quad Studios for a recording session, Tupac was ambushed by a group of stick up kids looking to relieve the rapper of his jewelry. Shakur shot himself in the groin while reaching for a gun to protect himself. The Notorious B.I.G. and Puff Daddy were at Quad Studios at the time of the attack. Tupac subsequently blamed them for setting him up, and thus began the rivalry that would eventually prove fatal to both sides.
Shakur’s parents had been active Black Panther Party members in New York in the late 1960s and early 1970s. A month before Tupac’s birth, his mother Afeni was tried in New York City as part of the Panther 21 criminal trial.
Tupac’s first stage name was MC New York, in 1989. Shakur’s discography includes eleven albums, seven of which were posthumously released. Greatest Hits, a collection of Tupac’s most popular songs is currently the best selling rap-compilation album of all time
Tupac is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, selling over 75 million records worldwide. In 2002, he was inducted into the Hip-Hop Hall of Fame. In 2017, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the first year he was eligible.
During Shakur’s film career, he starred in the movie Juice, which was written and shot in NYC.
25 years after his death, Tupac and his music is still a significant impact in our society. Tupac’s birthday is celebrated by hip hop and music lovers worldwide.
On September 7, 1996, Tupac Shakur was fatally shot after leaving a boxing match at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. At approximately 11:15 pm, a white Cadillac pulled up next to the BMW sedan that was escorting Tupac and fired several shots. Shakur was hit four times and the driver — Death Row head honcho, Suge Knight — had a bullet lodged in his head. Shakur remained on life support for six days after his shooting. Eventually passing on September 13, 1996.
Whats your favorite Tupac Song? Let us know in the comments below.
Fans can celebrate Tupac’s career by listening to his music here on Spotify.