Tupac: Celebrating 25 Years Frozen In Time - VOFO
by Rapjoint Lagos
Tupac Amaru Shakur (/ˈtuːpɑːk ʃəˈkʊər/ TOO-pahk shə-KOOR; born Lesane Parish Crooks, June 16, 1971 – September 13, 1996), better known by his stage name 2Pac and, later, by his alias Makaveli, was an American rapper, songwriter, and actor.
Shakur was born in Manhattan, New York City, but relocated to Baltimore, Maryland in 1984 and then the San Francisco Bay Area in 1988. 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.
A month before Shakur's birth, his mother Afeni was tried in New York City as part of the Panther 21 criminal trial. She was acquitted of over 150 charges.
Other family members who were involved in the Black Panthers' Black Liberation Army were convicted of serious crimes and imprisoned, including Shakur's stepfather, Mutulu Shakur, who spent four years among the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives. Mutulu Shakur was apprehended in 1986 and subsequently convicted for a 1981 robbery of a Brinks armored truck, during which police officers and a guard were killed.
Shakur's godfather, Elmer "Geronimo" Pratt, a high-ranking Black Panther, was convicted of murdering a school teacher during a 1968 robbery. His sentence was overturned when it was revealed that the prosecution had hidden evidence that he was in a meeting 400 mi (640 km) away at the time of the murders.
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.
In 1995, Shakur served eight months in prison on sexual assault charges, but was released after agreeing to sign with Marion "Suge" Knight's label Death Row Records in exchange for Knight posting his bail. Following his release, Shakur became heavily involved in the growing East Coast–West Coast hip hop rivalry.
On the night of September 7, 1996, Shakur was in Las Vegas, Nevada, to celebrate his business partner Tracy Danielle Robinson's birthday 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.
He was fatally shot in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada at 25 years old. The shooting occurred at 11:15 p.m. (PDT), when the car carrying Shakur was stopped at a red light at East Flamingo Road and Koval Lane. Shakur was struck by four .40 caliber rounds fired from a Glock: two in the chest, one in the arm, and one in the thigh. He died from his wounds six days later.
Shakur is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold over 75 million records worldwide. In 2002, he was inducted into the Hip-Hop Hall of Fame. In 2017, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Rolling Stone named Shakur in its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Outside music, Shakur also found considerable success as an actor, with his starring roles as Bishop in Juice (1992), Lucky in Poetic Justice (1993) where he starred alongside Janet Jackson, Ezekiel in Gridlock'd (1997), and Jake in Gang Related (1997), all of which garnered praise from critics.
He is widely considered 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 is considered a symbol of activism against inequality.
Tupac Shakur’s recording career lasted just five years before he was murdered in 1996, but it is the rapper’s influence from beyond the grave that will be celebrated. Arguably bigger in death than he was in life, Shakur will be only the sixth rap act to be voted into the Hall of Fame in its year history. The Hall of Fame described him as “an international symbol of resistance and outlaw spirit, an irresistible contradiction, a definitive rap anti-hero.”
Shakur’s “appearance” in a hologram at the Coachella music festival in 2012 sent sales of his music soaring. He has also been the subject of several documentaries, a Broadway play, a June movie release “All Eyez on Me” and an upcoming TV series on Shakur and his friend-turned-rival Biggie Smalls.
''It's really unfortunate that the violent perception that the world has of that young man may be exacerbated by the way he died: art is being confused with real life,'' Mr. Shakur's lawyer, Shawn S. Chapman, said in Los Angeles. ''There was this wonderful, charming, bright, talented, funny person that no one is going to get to know; they are just going to know this other side.”
Gangsta-rap star Tupac Shakur, had so much to live for: the fans who sent four of his albums platinum, his dreams of a baby with his fiancée, Quincy Jones’s daughter Kidada, his plans to help needy kids from backgrounds like his own. But the violent world that gave him riches also led him into drug dealing, a prison term, and the dangerous embrace of Death Row Records C.E.O. “Suge” Knight. The chronicles of a death foretold.
Afeni said she had always known this call was coming. “From the moment he was born,” she says, “I measured his life in five-year periods. When he was five, I was so grateful. When he was 10, I thanked God he was 10. Fifteen, 20, 25, I was always amazed he’d survived. He was a gift.”
Despite his short career, Tupac is still remembered as one of the greatest rappers ever.
What he brought to hip hop was a level of rawness and a poetic drive in the way he delivered his words.
He had a level of self-empowerment that made people want to listen to what he had to say.
Even today, you could fly anywhere and surely there'd be someone who knows of Tupac. Here's why;
Tupac took a lot of early inspiration from the politically-charged music of Public Enemy and Ice Cube. He also studied theatre as a teenager at the Baltimore School of Performing Arts, and was inspired by Shakespeare.
"[Shakespeare] wrote some of the rawest stories, man," he told the LA Times in 1995.
Tupac sampled a range of artists on his records, such as Herbie Hancock, Pink Floyd, Parliament, Joe Cocker, Public Enemy and Stevie Wonder.
Hornsby's 1986 track addressed issues of poverty, classism, and racial segregation, all things that Tupac experienced firsthand growing up.
The upbeat sound of the chorus is at odds with Hornsby's somewhat defeatist lyrics, claiming "that's just the way it is, things'll never be the same".
But with Tupac's verses calling out racism, war, violence, drugs and police brutality thrust in between, Hornsby's words, re-sung by Talent, start to sound more authentic.
Tupac took inspiration from powerful speakers like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.
You can hear and feel the weight and the power of his voice, which made him sound 10 feet tall, when in real life he wasn't that big of a person.
Another technique Tupac was known for was stacking or layering his vocals, which added another dimension of warmth and rawness to his voice. This technique is often used by rappers to emphasise certain rhythms, words and phrases. Tupac does it on the track Dear Mama, from his 1995 album Me Against the World.
He was snatched away just as his music predicted: gangsta-style, in a hail of heavy-caliber metal, fired, fittingly, from a late-model Cadillac.
Months before, he had filmed his own death in a video. “It’s just a fun little game . . . the game of life,” Tupac said while working on the piece which showed him expiring, bulletriddled, in an ambulance. “I know one day they’re gonna shut the game down, but I gotta go around the board as many times as I can before it’s my turn to leave.”
Rest In Power ‘Pac.