The Life & Death of Tupac Amaru Shakur: Hip-Hop’s Most Iconic Figure


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Tupac Amaru Shakur, better known by his stage name 2Pac and by his alias Makaveli, was an American rapper, songwriter, and actor. He is widely considered to be one of the most influential rappers of all time

Early Life

On June 16th, 1971, Afeni Shakur gave birth to the Hip-Hop icon we all know and love, Tupac Amaru Shakur. Tupac’s mother was a political activist (a member of the Black Panther Party) and was his biggest role model.

Before getting into his story, I just wanted to say that without Afeni Shakur, Tupac would never have become 2Pac.

Young Tupac Amaru Shakur

Ever since Tupac was a child, he loved to perform in plays and shows. When he was 12 years old, he performed Lorraine Hansberry’s, A Raisin in the Sun and later attended a prestigious school of arts in Baltimore. Pac loved to read and write. Some of his favorite books included The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger and Moby Dick by Herman Melville. There is no surprise that Pac had a love literature and artistic expression, as we can clearly tell from the beauty of his own writing and poetry.

Rise to Stardom

At the age of 17, Pac and his family moved to Marin City, California, where he studied theatre and the performing arts. Tupac wrote poems and raps from as early as he started to read.

In 1991, he signed a deal with Interscope Records. Being a label that didn’t know much about Hip-Hop, Interscope executives wanted Pac to remove “Brenda’s Got A Baby” (which is known for being one of the most notable storytelling songs in all of Hip-Hop) from the tracklist because of the intense subject matter and obscene imagery. Being as persistent as he was, Tupac explained why the track was important to him and why the message was one that needed to be heard. Later that year, 2Pac released his debut album, 2Pacalypse Now under Interscope Records, with no songs left out. 2 years later, still with Interscope, his sophomore album was released, titled Strictly 4 My N*****.

The Turning Point

In the same year, 1993, Tupac received a sexual assault conviction after Ayanna Jackson reported that him and 2 other men were responsible for sexually assaulting her. Pac denied these charges and to this day most people believe that he was innocent, and that it was done by his associates who were in the hotel room with him at the time. He cut ties with them and was furious that everyone wanted to see his demise just because of the name he built for himself, instead of holding the real perpetrators responsible.

Not long after, Tupac was headed to the building on 7th Avenue in Manhattan to record a few verses as his label (Interscope Records) refused to pay him what they owed. As he was approaching the elevator, 3 men held him at gunpoint, wanting to rob him of his jewelry. The other men complied, but Pac escalated the situation, which resulted in him getting shot 5 times.

Against doctor’s orders, Pac checked himself out of the hospital soon after being admitted and went to court for his sexual assault charges, where he was found guilty by the jury.

While Pac was in prison, The Notorious B.I.G’s album, Ready To Die was released and it featured the track, “Who Shot Ya?”. Pac assumed that this was a diss track about him, which is where the infamous Biggie Smalls vs 2Pac feud all began. After being released, Pac dropped the most iconic diss track of all time, “Hit ’Em Up”, which was a shot at Biggie, Bad Boy Records, and Puffy (better known as Diddy).

2pac with the Notorious B.I.G

While still in prison, Tupac’s album Me Against the World was released under Interscope Records. Pac was the first artist to have an album go #1 while being incarcerated. This record, featuring tracks like “Dear Mama”, “F**k the World”, “So Many Tears”, and more, has gone down as one of the greatest Hip-Hop albums ever released and was Pac’s best, most personal work.


Suge Knight & Death Row Records

Before getting released from prison, Pac had no money to post his bail after Interscope Records didn’t compensate. That’s when Suge Knight, the CEO of Death Row Records, helped pay and signed Pac to his label.

His later albums, All Eyez On Me and The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory (under the alias of ‘Makaveli’) were both released under Suge Knight and Death Row. Both of these records added to the incredible catalog that Pac had already curated.

The Death of Tupac Shakur

Every detail about the events leading up to Tupac’s death may not be fully accurate, but this is how I know the story from what I’ve watched and read.

On September 7th, 1996, Tupac was at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for the Mike Tyson vs Bruce Seldon fight. After it concluded, being the hot head he is, Pac confronted a man at the casino, Orlando Anderson, because of a previous altercation involving him and Suge Knight’s crew. As a result, Keefe D, a member of the southside crips, put a hit on Pac (Keefe has admitted to having involvement in the murder of Tupac Shakur). Pac was in the passenger seat when Suge was driving and that is when another car rolled up and a person inside fired shots at Tupac’s side, who was hit 4 times. This person is believed to be Orlando Anderson. Six days after being shot, Tupac passed away at a Las Vegas hospital.

There are many theories and conspiracies revolving around his death and about him faking it, but to our knowledge, Tupac was pronounced dead at the hospital after almost a week of fighting for his life.


I could write an entire book about Tupac and his life, but this article highlights some of the most important parts of his come up and success. Tupac Amaru Shakur is the most important figure in Hip-Hop history. From touching the hearts of millions with his music to his overall influence in the culture today, there is no doubt that Pac is a legend. In my eyes, Tupac is the biggest “what if?” story and everyday I think about how the world would be today if it wasn’t for his tragic passing.

To the man who changed the world in just a few short years, thank you.

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