Backstage with Tupac (2Pac) Shakur, rapper, actor & activist

No Lies Radio Music – By Teri Perticone – Saturday July 17, 2021

Tupac Amaru Shakur – TOO-pahk sh?-KOOR; born Lesane Parish Crooks, June 16, 1971 – September 13, 1996), 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. Much of Shakur’s work has been noted for addressing contemporary social issues that plagued inner cities, and he has often been considered a symbol of activism against inequality.

Shakur was born in Manhattan, a borough of New York City, but relocated to Baltimore, Maryland in 1984 and then the San Francisco Bay Area in 1988. In 1984, Shakur’s family moved from New York City to Baltimore, Maryland.[26] He attended eighth grade at Roland Park Middle School, then two years at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School. On transfer to the Baltimore School for the Arts, he studied acting, poetry, jazz, and ballet.[27][28] He performed in Shakespeare’s plays—depicting timeless themes, now seen in gang warfare, he would recall[29]—and as the Mouse King role in The Nutcracker ballet.[23] With his friend Dana “Mouse” Smith as beatbox, he won competitions as reputedly the school’s best rapper.[30] Also known for his humor, he could mix with all crowds.[31] As a teen, he listened to musicians including Kate Bush, Culture Club, Sinéad O’Connor, and U2.[32]

At Baltimore’s arts high school, Shakur befriended Jada Pinkett, who would become a subject of some of his poems.[33] After his death, she would call him “one of my best friends. He was like a brother. It was beyond friendship for us. The type of relationship we had, you only get that once in a lifetime.”[34][35] Upon connecting with the Baltimore Young Communist League USA,[36][37][38] Shakur dated the daughter of the director of the local chapter of the Communist Party USA.[39] In 1988, Shakur moved to Marin City, California, a small, impoverished community,[40] about 5 miles (8.0 km) north of San Francisco.[41] In nearby Mill Valley, he attended Tamalpais High School,[42] where he performed in several theater productions.[43] He moved to Los Angeles in 1993 to further pursue his music career. By the time he released his debut album 2Pacalypse Now in 1991, he had become a central figure in West Coast hip hop, introducing social issues to the genre at a time when gangsta rap was dominant in the mainstream.[3][4] Shakur achieved further critical and commercial success with his follow-up albums Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z… (1993) and Me Against the World (1995).[5]

Music career

In January 1991, Shakur debuted under the stage name 2Pac on rap group Digital Underground’s single “Same Song.” The song was featured on the soundtrack of the 1991 film Nothing but Trouble. His first two solo albums, 2Pacalypse Now (1991) and Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z… (1993), preceded Thug Life: Volume 1 (1994), the only album with his side group Thug Life.[57] Rapper/producer Stretch guests on the three albums.

Shakur’s third solo album, Me Against the World (1995), features rap clique Dramacydal, reshaping as Outlawz on Shakur’s fourth solo album, and last in his lifetime, All Eyez on Me (1996). At the time of his death, another solo album was already finished. The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory (1996), under the stage name Makaveli, was recorded in one week in August 1996, whereas later posthumous albums are archival productions. Later posthumous albums are R U Still Down? (1997), Greatest Hits (1998), Still I Rise (1999), Until the End of Time (2001), Better Dayz (2002), Loyal to the Game (2004), Pac’s Life (2006).[58]

Beginnings: 1989–1991

Shakur began recording using the stage name MC New York in 1989. That year, he began attending the poetry classes of Leila Steinberg, and she soon became his manager.[59][40] Steinberg organized a concert for Shakur and his rap group Strictly Dope. Steinberg managed to get Shakur signed by Atron Gregory, manager of the rap group Digital Underground.[40] In 1990, Gregory placed him with the Underground as a roadie and backup dancer.[40][60] Under the stage name 2Pac, he debuted on the group’s January 1991 single “Same Song,” leading the group’s January 1991 EP titled This Is an EP Release,[40] while Shakur appeared in the music video. It also went on the soundtrack of the February 1991 movie Nothing but Trouble, starring Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, Chevy Chase, and Demi Moore.[40]

Rising star: 1992–1993

Shakur’s debut album, 2Pacalypse Now—alluding to the 1979 film Apocalypse Now—arriving in November 1991, would bear three singles. Some prominent rappers—like Nas, Eminem, Game, and Talib Kweli—cite it as an inspiration.[61] Aside from “If My Homie Calls,” the singles “Trapped” and “Brenda’s Got a Baby” poetically depict individual struggles under socioeconomic disadvantage.[62]

US Vice President Dan Quayle partially reacted, “There’s no reason for a record like this to be released. It has no place in our society.” Tupac, finding himself misunderstood,[29] explained, in part, “I just wanted to rap about things that affected young Black males. When I said that, I didn’t know that I was gonna tie myself down to just take all the blunts and hits for all the young Black males, to be the media’s kicking post for young Black males.”[63][64] In any case, 2Pacalypse Now was certified Gold, half a million copies sold. The album addresses urban Black concerns said to remain relevant to the present day.[40]

Shakur’s second album, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z…, arrived in February 1993. A critical and commercial advance, it debuted at No. 24 on the pop albums chart, the Billboard 200.[65] An overall more hardcore album, it emphasizes Tupac’s sociopolitical views, and has a metallic production quality. It features Ice Cube, the famed primary creator of N.W.A’s “Fuck tha Police,” who, in his own solo albums, had newly gone militantly political, along with L.A.’s original gangsta rapper, Ice-T, who in June 1992 had sparked controversy with his band Body Count’s track “Cop Killer”.

In fact, in its vinyl release, side A, tracks 1 to 8, is labeled the “Black Side,” while side B, tracks 9 to 16, is the “Dark Side.” Nonetheless, the album carries the single “I Get Around,” a party anthem featuring Digital Underground’s Shock G and Money-B, which would render Shakur’s popular breakthrough, reaching No. 11 on the pop singles chart, the Billboard Hot 100. And it carries the optimistic compassion of another hit, “Keep Ya Head Up,” an anthem for women empowerment. This album would be certified Platinum, with a million copies sold. As of 2004, among Shakur albums, including of posthumous and compilation albums, the Strictly album would be 10th in sales, about 1 366 000 copies.[66]

Stardom: 1994–1995

The test pressing single for “Dear Mama”: the Platinum single is among the top ranked songs in hip-hop history.

In late 1993, Shakur formed the group Thug Life with Tyrus “Big Syke” Himes, Diron “Macadoshis” Rivers, his stepbrother Mopreme Shakur, and Walter “Rated R” Burns. Thug Life released its only album, Thug Life: Volume 1, on October 11, 1994, which is certified Gold. It carries the single “Pour Out a Little Liquor”, produced by Johnny “J” Jackson, who would also produce much of Shakur’s album All Eyez on Me. Usually, Thug Life performed live without Tupac.[67] The track also appears on the 1994 film Above the Rim’s soundtrack. But due to gangsta rap being under heavy criticism at the time, the album’s original version was scrapped, and the album redone with mostly new tracks. Still, along with Stretch, Tupac would perform the first planned single, “Out on Bail,” which was never released, at the 1994 Source Awards.[68]

Shakur’s third album, arriving in March 1995 as Me Against the World, is now hailed as his magnum opus, and commonly ranks among the greatest, most influential rap albums. The album sold 240,000 copies in its first week, setting a then record for highest first-week sales for a solo male rapper.[69] The lead single, “Dear Mama,” arrived in February with the B side “Old School.”[70] The album’s most successful single, it topping the Hot Rap Singles chart, and peaked at No. 9 on the pop singles chart, the Billboard Hot 100.[7] In July, it was certified Platinum.[71] It ranked No. 51 on the year-end charts. The second single, “So Many Tears,” released in June,[72] reached No. 6 on the Hot Rap Singles chart and No. 44 on Hot 100.[7] August brought the final single, “Temptations,”[73] reaching No. 68 on the Hot 100, No. 35 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks, and No. 13 on the Hot Rap Singles.[7] At the 1996 Soul Train Music Awards, Shakur won for best rap album.[74] In 2001, it ranked 4th among his total albums in sales, with about 3 million copies sold in the US.[75]

Superstardom: 1995–1996

While imprisoned February to October 1995, Shakur wrote only one song, he would say.[76] Rather, he took to political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli’s treatise The Prince and military strategist Sun Tzu’s treatise The Art of War.[77] And on Shakur’s behalf, his wife Keisha Morris communicated to Suge Knight of Death Row Records that Shakur, in dire straits financially, needed help, his mother about to lose her house.[78] In August, after sending $15,000 for her, Suge began visiting Shakur in prison.[78] In one of his letters to Nina Bhadreshwar, recently hired to edit a planned magazine, Death Row Uncut,[79] Shakur discusses plans to start a “new chapter.”[80] Eventually, music journalist Kevin Powell would say that Shakur, once released, became more aggressive, and “seemed like a completely transformed person.”[81]

Shakur’s fourth album, All Eyez on Me, arrived on February 13, 1996. Of two discs, it basically was rap’s first double album—meeting two of the three albums due in Shakur’s contract with Death Row—and bore five singles while perhaps marking the peak of 1990s rap.[82] The album shows Shakur rapping about the gangsta lifestyle, leaving behind his previous political messages. With standout production, the album has more party tracks and often a triumphant tone.[7] As Shakur’s second album to hit No. 1 on both the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Album the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and the pop albums chart, the Billboard 200,[7] it sold 566,000 copies in its first week and was it was certified 5× Multi-Platinum in April.[83] “How Do U Want It” as well as “California Love” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. At the 1997 Soul Train Awards, it won in R&B/Soul or Rap Album of the Year.[84] At the 24th American Music Awards, Shakur won Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist.[85] The album was certified 9× Multi-Platinum in June 1998,[86] and 10× in July 2014.[87]

Shakur’s fifth and final studio album, The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, commonly called simply The 7 Day Theory, was released under a newer stage name, Makaveli.[88] The album had been created in seven days total during August 1996.[89] The lyrics were written and recorded in three days, and mixing took another four days. In 2005, MTV.com ranked The 7 Day Theory at No. 9 among hip hop’s greatest albums ever,[90] and by 2006 a classic album.[91] Its singular poignance, through hurt and rage, contemplation and vendetta, resonate with many fans.[92] But according to George “Papa G” Pryce, Death Row Records’ then director of public relations, the album was meant to be “underground,” and “was not really to come out,” but, “after Tupac was murdered, it did come out.”[93] It peaked at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and on the Billboard 200,[94] with the second-highest debut-week sales total of any album that year.[95] On June 15, 1999, it was certified 4× Multi-Platinum.[96]

Shootings
November 1994

On November 30, 1994, while in New York recording verses for a mixtape of Ron G, Shakur was repeatedly distracted by his beeper.[122] Music manager James “Jimmy Henchman” Rosemond, reportedly offered Shakur $7,000 to stop by Quad Studios, in Times Square, that night to record a verse for his client Little Shawn.[78][122] Shakur was unsure, but agreed to the session as he needed the cash to offset legal costs. He arrived with Stretch and one or two others. In the lobby, three men robbed and beat him at gunpoint; Shakur resisted and was shot.[63][126] Shakur speculated that the shooting had been a set-up.[63][126][127]

Three hours after surgery, against doctor’s advice, Shakur checked out of Bellevue Hospital Center. The next day, in a Manhattan courtroom bandaged in a wheelchair, he received the jury’s verdict in his ongoing criminal trial for a November 1993 sexual assault in his hotel room. Convicted of three counts of sexual assault, he was acquitted of six other charges, including sodomy and gun charges.[128]

In a 1995 interview with Vibe magazine, Shakur accused Sean Combs,[129] Jimmy Henchman,[126] and Biggie, among others, of setting up or being privy to the November 1994 robbery and shooting. Vibe alerted the names of the accused.[130] The accusations were significant to the East-West Coast rivalry in hip-hop, the accusation was because Sean Combs and Christopher Wallace were at Quad Studios at the time and in 1995, months later, Combs and Wallace releasing song “Who Shot Ya?”, whereas the song made no direct reference or naming of Shakur, Shakur took it as a mockery of his shooting and thought they could be responsible, so he released a (direct) diss song called “Hit ‘Em Up”, where he targeted Wallace, Combs, their record label, Junior M.A.F.I.A., and at the end of “Hit ‘Em Up”, he mentions rivals Mobb Deep and Chino XL.[131][132][133][134][135]

In March 2008, Chuck Philips, in the Los Angeles Times, reported on the 1994 ambush and shooting.[136] The newspaper later retracted the article since it relied partially on FBI documents later discovered forged, supplied by a man convicted of fraud.[137] In June 2011, convicted murderer Dexter Isaac, incarcerated in Brookyn, issued a confession that he had been one of the gunmen who had robbed and shot Shakur at Henchman’s order.[138][139][140] Philips then named Isaac as one of his own, retracted article’s unnamed sources.[141]

Death Row signs Shakur

During 1995, imprisoned, impoverished, and his mother about to lose her house, Shakur had his wife Keisha Morris get word to Marion “Suge” Knight, in Los Angeles, boss of Death Row Records.[78] Reportedly, Shakur’s mother promptly received $15,000.[78] After an August visit to Clinton Correctional Facility in northern New York state, Suge traveled southward to New York City to join Death Row’s entourage to the 2nd Annual Source Awards ceremony.[78] Already reputed for strongarm tactics on the Los Angeles rap scene, Suge used his brief stage time mainly to belittle Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, boss of Bad Boy Entertainment, the label then leading New York rap scene, who routinely performed with his own artists.[119][142] Before closing with a brief comment of support for Shakur,[143] Suge invited artists seeking the spotlight for themselves to join Death Row.[119][142] Eventually, Puff recalled that to preempt severe retaliation from his Bad Boy orbit, he had promptly confronted Suge, whose reply—that he had meant Jermaine Dupri, of So So Def Recordings, in Atlanta—was politic enough to deescalate the conflict.[144]

Still, among the fans, the previously diffuse rivalry between America’s two mainstream rap scenes had instantly flared already.[119][143][142] And while in New York, Suge visited Uptown Records, where Puff, under its founder Andre Harrell, had started in the music business through an internship.[145] Apparently without paying Uptown, Suge obtained the releases of Puff’s prime Uptown recruits Jodeci, its producer DeVante Swing, and Mary J. Blige, all then signing with Suge’s management company.[145] On September 24, 1995, at a party for Dupri in Atlanta at the Platinum House nightclub, a Bad Boy circle entered a heated dispute with Suge and Suge’s friend Jai Hassan-Jamal “Big Jake” Robles, a Bloods gang member and Death Row bodyguard.[119][146] According to eyewitnesses, including a Fulton County sheriff, working there as a nightclub bouncer, Puff had heatedly disputed with Suge inside the club,[119] whereas several minutes later, outside the club, it was Puff’s childhood friend and own bodyguard, Anthony “Wolf” Jones, who had aimed a gun at Big Jake, fatally shot while entering Suge’s car.[119][147][148]

The attorneys of Puff and his bodyguard both denied any involvement by their clients, while Puff’s added that Puff had not even been with his bodyguard that night.[149] Over 20 years later, the case remains officially unresolved. Yet immediately and persistently, Suge blamed Puff, cementing the enmity between the two bosses, whose two record labels dominated the rap genre’s two mainstream centers.[119][150] In the late 1990s, Southern rap’s growth into the mainstream would dispel the East–West paradigm.[143] But in the meantime, in October 1995, violating his probation, Suge visited Shakur in prison again.[119] Suge posted $1.4 million bond. And with appeal of his December 1994 conviction pending, Shakur returned to Los Angeles and joined Death Row.[119] On June 4, 1996, it released the Shakur B side “Hit ‘Em Up.” In this venonmous tirade, the proclaimed “Bad Boy killer” threatens violent payback on all things Bad Boy—Biggie, Puffy, Junior M.A.F.I.A., the company—and on any in New York’s rap scene, like rap duo Mobb Deep and obscure rapper Chino XL, who allegedly had commented against Shakur about the dispute.

Death
Main article: Murder of Tupac Shakur
East Flamingo Road and Koval Lane, where the murder occurred

On the night of September 7, 1996, Shakur was in Las Vegas, Nevada, to celebrate his business partner Tracy Danielle Robinson’s birthday[151] and attended the Bruce Seldon vs. Mike Tyson boxing match with Suge Knight at the MGM Grand. Afterward in the lobby, someone in their group spotted Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson, an alleged Southside Compton Crip, whom the individual accused of having recently in a shopping mall tried to snatch his neck chain with a Death Row Records medallion. The hotel’s surveillance footage shows the ensuing assault on Anderson. Shakur soon stopped by his hotel room and then headed with Knight to his Death Row nightclub, Club 662, in a black BMW 750iL sedan, part of a larger convoy.[152]

At about 11 pm on Las Vegas Boulevard, bicycle-mounted police stopped the car for its loud music and lack of license plates. The plates were found in the trunk and the car was released without a ticket.[153] At about 11:15 pm at a stop light, a white, four-door, late-model Cadillac sedan pulled up to the passenger side and an occupant rapidly fired into the car. Shakur was struck four times: once in the arm, once in the thigh, and twice in the chest[154] with one bullet entering his right lung.[155] Shards hit Knight’s head. Frank Alexander, Shakur’s bodyguard, was not in the car at the time. He would say he had been tasked to drive the car of Shakur’s girlfriend, Kidada Jones.[156]

Shakur was taken to the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada where he was heavily sedated and put on life support.[9] In the intensive-care unit on the afternoon of September 13, 1996, Shakur died from internal bleeding.[9] He was pronounced dead at 4:03 pm.[9] The official causes of death are respiratory failure and cardiopulmonary arrest associated with multiple gunshot wounds.[9] Shakur’s body was cremated the next day. Members of the Outlawz, recalling a line in his song “Black Jesus,” (although uncertain of the artist’s attempt at a literal meaning chose to interpret the request seriously) smoked some of his body’s ashes after mixing them with marijuana.[157][158]

In 2002, investigative journalist Chuck Philips,[159][160] after a year of work, reported in the Los Angeles Times that Anderson, a Southside Compton Crip, having been attacked by Suge and Shakur’s entourage at the MGM Hotel after the boxing match, had fired the fatal gunshots, but that Las Vegas police had interviewed him only once, briefly, before his death in an unrelated shooting. Philips’s 2002 article also alleges the involvement of Christopher “Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace and several within New York City’s criminal underworld. Both Anderson and Wallace denied involvement, while Wallace offered a confirmed alibi.[161] Music journalist John Leland, in the New York Times, called the evidence “inconclusive.”[162]

Afeni Shakur

In 1997, Shakur’s mother founded the Shakur Family Foundation. Later renamed the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation, or TASF, it launched with a stated mission to “provide training and support for students who aspire to enhance their creative talents.” The TASF sponsors essay contests, charity events, a performing arts day camp for teenagers, and undergraduate scholarships. In June 2005, the TASF opened the Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts, or TASCA, in Stone Mountain, Georgia. Afeni also narrates the documentary Tupac: Resurrection, released in November 2003, and nominated for Best Documentary at the 2005 Academy Awards. Meanwhile, with Forbes ranking Shakur at 10th among top-earning dead celebrities in 2002,[177] Afeni Shakur launched Makaveli Branded Clothing in 2003.

Academic appraisal

In 1997, the University of California, Berkeley, offered a course led by a student titled “History 98: Poetry and History of Tupac Shakur”.[178] In April 2003, Harvard University cosponsored the symposium “All Eyez on Me: Tupac Shakur and the Search for the Modern Folk Hero.”[179] The papers presented cover his ranging influence from entertainment to sociology.[179] Calling him a “Thug Nigga Intellectual,” an “organic intellectual,”[180] English scholar Mark Anthony Neal assessed his death as leaving a “leadership void amongst hip-hop artists,”[181] as this “walking contradiction” helps, Neal explained, “make being an intellectual accessible to ordinary people.”[182] Tracing Shakur’s mythical status, Murray Forman discussed him as “O.G.,” or “Ostensibly Gone,” with fans, using digital mediums, “resurrecting Tupac as an ethereal life force.”[183] Music scholar Emmett Price, calling him a “Black folk hero,” traced his persona to Black American folklore’s tricksters, which, after abolition, evolved into the urban “bad-man.” Yet in Shakur’s “terrible sense of urgency,” Price identified instead a quest to “unify mind, body, and spirit.”[184]

Share

Comments are closed.

Archives

August 2021
S M T W T F S
« Jul    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  

User Login