Tupac “2Pac” Shakur, who played a key role in the development of hip hop music, sold 75 million records, acted in several movies, and positioned himself as a voice of social and racial justice. He died in a Las Vegas drive-by shooting at age 25. On his June 16 birthday, we remember what this iconic artist meant, and still means, to his millions of fans worldwide.
Tupac's Birthday timeline
Tupac was born in Harlem and named after an indigenous Peruvian revolutionary who rebelled against colonial Spain in the 18th century. His parents, both Black Panthers, had long histories of radical activism and extensive criminal records.
Tupac's fourth and biggest-selling record, "All Eyez On Me" reached quintuple-platinum status within two months of release. It featured a pair of No. 1 singles: "How Do U Want It" and "California Love."
A gunman opened fire on a car carrying Tupac while it waited at a red light in a Las Vegas intersection. He died six days later. No one was ever charged with the murder. A"Los Angeles Times" investigation concluded that Orlando Anderson, a Crips gang member who had personal history with Tupac, fired the fatal shots. Anderson died in a shooting two years later.
A laser-constructed image of Tupac performed two songs onstage at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, making headlines worldwide.
Tupac had received a nomination in his first year of eligibility. His friend Snoop Dogg represented him at the induction ceremony.
How to Celebrate Tupac's Birthday
Listen to a Tupac record
Tupac made four studio albums in his lifetime, and many more were compiled after his death — including unreleased and demo material. His third album, "Me Against The World,"contains the single "Dear Mama," which was preserved in the National Recording Registry in 2010.
Have a Tupac movie night
Tupac was also an actor who starred in films such as "Juice" and "Gang Related." The Tupac biopic "All Eyez On Me" was released in 2017, and at least a dozen Tupac documentaries exist, including the Oscar-winning "Tupac: Resurrection," which he narrated himself.
Have a Tupac fashion show
Tupac became a living icon of hip-hop style; his dress was both distinctive and easily replicated. Grab your bandanas and denim vests!
4 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's Birthday dates