Tupac Amaru Shakur, also known by his stage name 2Pac, was born on June 16, 1971, in East Harlem, New York. He rose to legendary status and played a key role in the development and rise of hip-hop music. During his short but impactful career, he sold 75 million records, acted in several movies, and positioned himself as a voice for social and racial justice. On September 13, 1996, he was killed in a Las Vegas drive-by shooting at age 25. On his birthday, we honor his life and legacy, and remember his contributions to the world of hip hop.
Tupac Shakur, known by his stage names 2Pac and Pac, was a widely respected rap icon, not just in the music industry but beyond. He was known for his poetic deliverance of words, character, and outlook on life. The rawness of his lyrics and the way he rapped resonated with an entire generation and, to this day, his music deeply touches and speaks to people around the world.
Tupac became a victim of the world of gangster rap and a tragic symbol, as he was assassinated when he had so much more to share with the world, just like so many others who left us too soon. Tupac had established himself as one of the definitive rappers of the ’90s era. He started off as a second-string rapper and dancer for Digital Underground and went on to produce and release his debut album “2Pacalypse Now” in 1991. He quickly became the buzz around town, and soon entered Hollywood with his acclaimed performance in the movie “Juice,” directed by Ernest Dickerson in 1992. Tupac rose to stardom within a year but, unfortunately, also started having run-ins with the law. Still, his music career progressed, rivaling Snoop Dogg in 1994 as the most controversial figure in the rap industry due to his serving jail time.
His outlaw antics paved the way for his album “Me Against the World” in 1995. It topped the charts at number one but this also opened him up to charges of exploitation. Tupac had a sensitive side, however, and this is apparent in his lyrics and singles like ‘Dear Mama.’ Following a prison sentence, Suge Knight, CEO of Death Row Records, bailed Tupac out after nine months in exchange for a three-record deal with him. Tupac released the double-album “All Eyez on Me” in early 1996 and the record, as well as its hit single ‘California Love,’ confirmed his unparalleled superstar status.
Unfortunately, the gangster-rapper lifestyle portrayed in his music soon consumed Tupac and endangered his own life. At the peak of his career, he fought fellow rapper Notorious B.I.G, and tensions were brewing between him and Death Row Records as well. The rivalry between East Coast and West Coast hip-hop intensified, and on September 7, 1996, after attending a boxing match at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Tupac was shot multiple times in a drive-by shooting. He died in hospital a few days later on September 13.
Leaving behind an unmatched legacy, Tupac’s death shocked the world, with hundreds of mourners showing up outside the hospital where he passed away. The entire entertainment industry was shaken, especially since there were no leads in the case. Still, it was believed that Tupac’s death would end the East Coast/West Coast rivalry but, six months after his death, rapper Notorious B.I.G was also murdered in similar circumstances. A number of posthumous releases followed Tupac’s death, the biggest of them being “Don Killuminati” and “R U Still Down?” in 1996 and 1997, “Still I Rise” in 1999, “Until the End of Time” in 2001, and “Better Dayz” in 2002.
Tupac Amaru Shakur is born in East Harlem, New York.
Tupac releases “2Pacalypse Now” with Interscope Records, featuring breakout singles ‘Brenda’s Got a Baby’ and ‘Trapped.’
Tupac makes his Hollywood acting debut in the movie “Juice.”
Tupac’s group Thug Life releases their first and only album, “Thug Life, Volume 1.”
Tupac is robbed and shot multiple times in the lobby of Quad Recording Studios on 7th Avenue in Manhattan.
Tupac releases his fourth and biggest-selling record, "All Eyez On Me," which reaches quintuple-platinum status within two months and features Billboard Hot 100 #1 singles ‘How Do U Want It’ and ‘California Love.’
Tupac releases the diss track ‘Hit ’Em Up,’ aimed at Notorious B.I.G. and the Bad Boy Records crew, fueling the East Coast/West Coast rivalry.
Tupac is shot multiple times in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas.
and he dies six days later.
A laser-constructed image of Tupac performs two songs onstage at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, making headlines worldwide.
Tupac receives a post-humous nomination in his first year of eligibility — his friend Snoop Dogg represents him at the induction ceremony.
Why We Love Tupac
Tupac's tragically passed away in 1996 at the age of 25. However, nearly three decades after his death, his music continues to influence new generations of artists. He may be gone but his legacy remains.
He was incredibly versatile
Tupac wasn't just a legendary hip-hop artist. He was also an actor, poet, and writer. He displayed many talents and versatility during his short but impressive career.
Tupac was known for his activism and for openly speaking out on various social and political issues, including racial inequality, police brutality, poverty, and more. He always tried to use his platform to bring about positive change.
5 Of Tupac Shakur's Most Surprising Friends
Jada Pinkett Smith
The actress and wife of Will Smith first met Shakur when they were both students at the Baltimore School of the Arts in Maryland. "He was one of my best friends," Smith said. "He was like a brother."
Over a decade after Madonna revealed that she dated Tupac, Perez had some intriguing news about her role in their affair. The actress revealed that Tupac had taken her to the 1993 Soul Train Awards after her date stood her up, and a chance encounter with Madonna led to the hookup.
Tupac, who started out wanting to be an actor, was a big fan of Carrey's. The two became friends, and during Tupac's incarceration, Carrey wrote him humorous letters to lift his spirits.
Despite their well-known reputation as deadly rivals, Tupac and Biggie were friends for a while; in fact Biggie even wanted Tupac to be his manager at one point. Their falling-out came after the famous heist at Quad Recording Studios, in which Tupac was shot, beaten, and robbed. He believed Biggie had known about the hit in advance, which Biggie denied.
Tupac and Tyson’s friendship dates back to 1991 and during their first encounter, Tyson had no idea who Tupac was — Tyson once said that Tupac “was incredible. You knew he was a special person when he’s in your presence.”
What religion was Tupac Shakur?
Tupac believed in black Jesus. This was due to his experiences growing up in a predominantly black American ghetto.
What happened to Tupac Shakur's father?
His father, Billy, wasn’t involved in Tupac’s life and only reached out to him when he became famous. His father passed away in 1999.
Who inherited Tupac's money?
After his death, his entire estate went to his mother, Afeni Shakur.
Tupac’s birthday dates