Tupac Shakur, often referred to simply as Tupac, was a legendary American rapper, actor, and poet. Known for his profound lyrics, social activism, and captivating stage presence, Tupac left an indelible mark on the music industry and popular culture. With his thought-provoking verses and commitment to addressing social issues, he continues to be revered as one of the most influential figures in hip-hop, even years after his untimely death. Let’s have some interesting facts about Tupac Shakur’s short yet influential musical life:
1. A revered and controversial icon
Tupac is considered a lyrical genius and a promising actor by many. However, others see him as a troubled young man who fell victim to his own so-called “gangsta” image.
2. Named after the last Incan ruler
Tupac Amaru Shakur was born Lesane Parish Crooks on June 16, 1971. The following year, he was renamed after Túpac Amaru II, the last Incan ruler who led a large Andean uprising against the Spanish in Peru and was executed by the Spaniards in 1572.
3. A shining serpent
Tupac Amaru means ‘shining serpent’ in the Quechuan language.
4. Tupac Shakur and the Black Panther Party
Both of Shakur’s parents, Afeni Shakur (his mother), and Billy Garland (his father), were active members of the Black Panther Party in New York in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
5. First generation immigrant
Tupac Shakur’s great-great-grandparents were the “first-generation immigrant” Sub-Saharan African-Americans.
6. Born to a controversial mother
Just before a month of Tupac’ birth, his mother, Afeni Shakur, had been acquitted of more than 150 charges of “Conspiracy against the United States government and New York landmarks” in the New York Panther 21 Trial.
7. The city that made him an artist
It’s not New York but the city of Baltimore that had instilled in him the artistic element. Tupac Shakur’s family moved from New York to Baltimore in 1986, and it was there, while studying at the Baltimore School for the Arts, that he learned acting, poetry, jazz, and ballet.
8. The best rapper in school
Shakur and Dana “Mouse” Smith, one of his school friends and beatbox, won many rap competitions. Shakur was considered the best rapper in his school.
9. The most popular Kid in school
Tupac was considered one of the most popular kids in his school for his superior rapping skills, sense of humor, and ability to mix with all crowds.
10. A friendship that lasted until his death
On the first day of high school at Baltimore School of the Arts, Tupac Shakur met Jada Pinkett (now, Jada Pinkett Smith; wife of Will Smith) who was then a drug dealer, and they became fast friends. On their relationship, Shakur once said,
Jada is my heart. She will be my friend for my whole life.” While Jada calls 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.”
11. Shakur was a Communist
During his time at Baltimore School for the Arts, Shakur was inclined towards communism and became affiliated with the Baltimore Young Communist League USA.
12. Tupac’s love letter to Madonna
In 2015, Madonna surprised the world when she revealed that she had once dated Tupac Shakur. Speaking about her relationship with Shakur, Madonna once said,
I was dating Tupac Shakur at the time, and the thing is he got me all riled up on life in general.”
A love letter (dated January 15, 1995, at 4:30 a.m.) from the rapper to the pop icon also shed light on their relationship. The letter was set to go up for auction at Gotta Have Rock and Roll with a starting bid of $100,000.
13. A backup dancer
In 1989, while attending the poetry classes of Leila Steinberg, Shakur joined Altron Gregory’s hip-hop group Digital Underground as a backup dancer.
14. First rap name
While starting his career in Baltimore, he went by the alias MC New York. It’s considered his first rap name.
15. First performance
In the early 1990s, his first professional appearance as a rapper was in Digital Underground’s “Same Song” from the soundtrack to the 1991 film “Nothing but Trouble.”
16. Debut solo album
While touring with Digital Underground’s group, Shakur also worked on his own music, and soon released his own debut album, “2Pacalypse Now,” in November 1991. However, the album failed to give any hit singles.
17. A serious artist
Tupac’s debut album, “2Pacalypse Now,” was followed by “Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.,” which went platinum in 1993 and firmly established 2Pac as a serious artist. They had many tracks emphasizing Tupac’s political and social views.
18. Tupac vs Law
In a very short span of his career, Tupac had developed serious problems with the law. In 1994, he was found guilty of sexual assault, accused of abusing a female fan, and was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison.
19. The birth of “Thug Life”
In late 1993, Tupac, along with his friends and relatives (including his stepbrother, Mopreme Shakur), formed the group “Thug Life.” Pac once said Thug Life stood for “The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody.” The group’s only album, Thug Life: Volume 1, was released on September 26, 1994, and went gold. The album’s track “How Long Will They Mourn Me?” later appeared on 2Pac’s posthumous “Greatest Hits” album.
20. The Magnum Opus of his career
In March 1995, Shakur’s third album, “Me Against The World,” was released. The album went on to become one of the greatest and most influential hip-hop albums of all time; many calling it the magnum opus of his career.
21. Tired of Rap!
Though his fourth album, “All Eyez on Me,” was certified quintuple platinum, Shakur had started getting tired of rap and started to focus on acting by this time.
22. A new name for the final album
Shakur’s fifth and final studio album, The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, commonly shortened to The 7 Day Theory, was released in August 1996. The album was released under his new stage name, “Makaveli.” The album went 4x Platinum and is recognized as one of the greatest albums in hip-hop history.
23. Tupac & Biggie: Friends-turned-deadly rivals
Tupac and Biggie first encountered each other in 1993, in Los Angeles, and they went on to become good friends but not for a long time. Tupac was more than a friend to Biggie, in fact, he was a mentor of Biggie. Tupac claimed to have directly influenced Biggie’s style. The rivalry started when Tupac declined Biggie’s offer to manage his career.
24. Sexual intercourse with Biggie’s wife
Shakur had produced hundreds of tracks during his time at Death Row. On June 4, 1996, he released the diss track “Hit ‘Em Up,” which was a scathing lyrical assault on The Notorious B.I.G. In the track, Tupac claimed to have had sexual intercourse with Faith Evans, the wife of Biggie.
25. Studied philosophy
While in prison, Tupac extensively studied the teachings of Niccoló Machiavelli, an Italian philosopher of the Renaissance period. Tupac said he learned much from reading Machiavelli’s books, particularly The Art Of War & The Prince. After his release from prison, Tupac began using the name “Makaveli” to represent his new way of thinking.
26. Tupac Shakur: The Actor
Tupac acted in a few films. His first appearance in a film was in “Nothing but Trouble (1991)” as a cameo. However, his first starring role was in the 1992 film “Juice.” Thereafter, Tupac went on to act in films such as Poetic Justice (1993) and Above the Rim (1994). After his death, three more films featuring Tupac were released, Bullet (1996), Gridlock’d (1997), and Gang Related (1997).
27. Tupac’s love for Shakespeare
While studying at the Baltimore School of Performing Arts, Tupac fell in love with Shakespeare’s literature, which also influenced his work. Tupac said he loved the way Shakespeare had depicted the inter-gang wars and inter-cultural conflict in his dramas.
28. A deist who never followed any religion
Though some of his songs point out that Tupac believed in God, there is no record of Tupac following any formal or official religion. However, many social analysts describe him as a deist.
29. Iconic style
Among Tupac Shakur’s many style choices, his bandana tied into rabbit ears is considered his most recognizable style choice.
30. Jim Carrey’s humorous letter to Tupac
Shakur was friends with Chuck D, Mike Tyson, Marlon Wayans, Rosie Parez, and Jim Carrey. Jim Carrey even wrote humorous letters to Tupac to cheer him up while Tupac was in prison.
31. A failed marriage
In April 1995, Tupac got married to Keisha Morris; a marriage that barely lasted for ten months, which was officially ended in March 1996. The two met at the Capitol nightclub in New York in the summer of 1994.
32. The Black Jesus
A self-proclaimed thug, Tupac was like a Black Jesus to the youth who found it difficult to relate to scripture and the teachings of the church.
33. A green rapper
According to sources, Tupac was very fond of the color Green. To honor his love for the color, her mother, Afeni Shakur, spread his ashes on a green hill in a part of Los Angeles.
34. Favorite drink
Tupac was very fond of soda drinks, and his favorite one was Fanta Orange Soda.
35. Only his Rolex was left
Two years before his death, an assassination attempt was made to kill Tupac Shakur. On the night of November 30, 1994, he was robbed and shot five times by three men in the lobby of Quad Recording Studios in Manhattan. Tupac said that the robbery was just propaganda to kill him as he was robbed of his jewelry but left with his Rolex watch.
36. Couldn’t survive the second assassination attempt
On the night of September 7, 1996, after attending his business partner Tracy Danielle Robinson’s birthday in Las Vegas Nevada, and Mike Tyson’s boxing match at the MGM Grand, Tupac was riding in Suge Knight’s 1996 black BMW 750iL sedan when a white late-model Cadillac came from nowhere and an unidentified person rapidly fired gunshots at Shakur. He was hit four times, twice in the chest, once in the arm, and once in the thigh. One of the bullets went into Shakur’s right lung. On September 13, 1996, he died of gunshot wounds.
37. Tupac’s ashes were smoked with marijuana
Well! It may be weird but true. After a few days after Tupac’s murder, members of his hip-hop posse, Outlaw Immortalz, mixed his cremated ashes with marijuana and smoked them.
38. Who Killed Tupac Shakur?
Well! It was the title of the Los Angeles Times’ two-part story by investigative reporter Chuck Philips. The report indicated that the shooting was carried out by a Compton gang called the Southside Crips to avenge the beating of one of its members by Tupac, a few hours before his death.
39. An international martyr
The noted culture writer Eric K Arnold, while speaking about Tupac’s legacy after his death, said,
Since his death, Tupac has become an international martyr, a symbol on the level of Bob Marley or Che Guevara, whose life has inspired Tupacistas on the streets of Brazil, memorial murals in the Bronx and Spain, and bandanna-wearing youth gangs in South Africa.”
40. Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation
In 1997, a year after Tupac’s murder, Afeni Shakur (Tupac’s mother) founded the Shakur Family Foundation, which was later renamed the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation or TASF. The foundation helps and supports the students in enhancing their creative talents.
41. Academy Award-nominated documentary
On November 14, 2003, a documentary on Tupac’s life, narrated entirely in his voice was released. The documentary “Tupac: Resurrection” was nominated for Best Documentary at the 2005 Academy Awards.
42. Tupac’s clothing line
In 2003, his mother, Afeni Shakur, launched a fashion clothing line called Makaveli Branded based on her son’s fashion sensibility.
43. Top-earning dead celebrity
In 2002, with $15 million made by Shakur’s estate, Forbes described him as a “Top-Earning Dead Celebrity.” In fact, Shakur has put out more albums dead than he was alive.
44. Alive in murals and statues
The magnitude of Tupac Shakur’s popularity across the globe can be estimated by the fact that no other rapper ever has as many murals and statues in the world as Tupac has. There are murals bearing his likeness in New York, Brazil, Sierra Leone, Bulgaria, and countless other places; he even has statues in Atlanta and Germany.
45. The greatest rapper of all time
In 2004, a poll by the Vibe magazine rated Tupac “the greatest rapper of all time.”
46. The unsolved murder
In 2018, an American crime TV series titled “Unsolved” premiered on USA Network. The 10-episode season was subtitled “The Murders of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G.” The American actor Marcc Rose played the role of Tupac in the series.
47. A precocious poet
Tupac Shakur, known for his profound lyrics and impactful poetry, began writing poetry at the tender age of 12.
48. Tragic Coincidence
Tupac’s life eerily mirrored the tragic fate of his favorite Shakespearean character, Julius Caesar, as both figures met their demise at the age of 25.
49. Thug Life Tattoo
Tupac had the acronym “T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E” tattooed across his abdomen, standing for “The Hate U Give Little Infants F**ks Everybody,” a phrase that conveyed his activism.
50. Political ambitions
Tupac aspired to make a difference beyond music and expressed interest in pursuing political office, with aspirations of becoming the President of the United States.
51. Poetic inspiration
Tupac drew inspiration from renowned poets like Maya Angelou and Langston Hughes, infusing their words with his own raw emotions and experiences.
52. East Coast vs. West Coast
Tupac found himself embroiled in the infamous East Coast-West Coast hip-hop rivalry, which ultimately led to his tragic and untimely death.