Tupac’s all-too-short career is legendary, but it’s a few precise moments that made him into the extraordinary rapper, actor and personality that he was.
1. Despite becoming a West Coast legend, Tupac wasn’t even born there…
Tupac was actually born in East Harlem, New York City. This may seem surprising as he later helped to fuel a deadly feud between the East Coast and West Coast, with Pac choosing to rep the latter. He moved to California in 1988.
2. Tupac had some harsh words for Donald Trump back in 1992.
In a unreleased interview with MTV Pac said: “Everybody’s taught that. You wanna be successful? You wanna be like Trump? Gimme gimme gimme, push push push push, step step step, crush crush crush. That’s how it all is… It’s too much money here. Nobody should be hitting the lotto for 36 million and we’ve got people starving in the streets. That’s not idealistic, that’s just real. That’s just stupid… There’s no way that these people should own planes and there are people who don’t have houses.”
3. Believe it or not, studying Shakespeare would define Pac’s entire career.
It certainly doesn’t sound like a conventional start for a rapper, but one of Tupac’s biggest influences was in fact Shakespeare. He studied the English writer when he attending the Baltimore School for the Arts and said: “I love Shakespeare. He wrote some of the rawest stories, man. I mean look at Romeo and Juliet. That’s some serious ghetto s**t.”
4. Before he was a famous rapper, Tupac was in ‘Digital Underground’.
He went on to become possibly the most famous rapper in the world, but like most people Tupac has to work his way up the top spot. His career kicked off as a backup dancer and MC in the hip-hop group Digital Underground before he became a solo artist.
5. The beginning of Pac’s notorious fall-out with Biggie.
Tupac and Biggie were the main agents in the notorious East Coast – West Coast beef. But before it started they were actually friends. The issues started when Biggie released ‘Who Shot Ya?’ – a song that Tupac interpreted as a dis song towards him. The track was the beginning of what went on to become the infamous hip-hop coastal war and shaped the music Tupac made from that moment on.
6. Tupac predicted: “I will spark the brain that will change the world.”
In one of his most extraordinary interviews Tupac ever gave, with MTV in 1994, the rapper came out with the line that would go on to be the most quoted Tupac statement of all time: “I’m not saying I’m going to rule the world or I’m going to change the world. But I guarantee I will spark the brain that will change the world. That’s our job – to spark somebody else watching us.”
7. Tupac was arrested for sexually assaulting a woman.
The victim alleged that Shakur and his entourage raped her in a hotel room. Pac denied the charges, but was sentenced to 1.5 to 4.5 years in prison. He served nine months in total from February 14, 1995 at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York
8. Swapping talent for freedom in 2Pac’s legendary deal with Suge Knight.
When Tupac was in prison in 1995 it was music producer Suge Knight and Jimmy Iovine who paid the hefty $1.4 million bail to get him released, as Tupac couldn’t afford to pay it himself. In return Tupac contractually agreed to make three albums under Death Row Records.
9. The controversy surrounding Tupac’s song lyrics.
Tupac often wrote lyrics about issues including racism, police brutality, poverty and politics. His album ‘2Pacalypse Now’ was one of his most political works and a defining moment in his career came as a result of it when it was claimed the album influenced a youth in Texas to shoot a state trooper. Then US Vice President Dan Quayle publicly criticised Tupac at the time, saying: “There’s no reason for a record like this to be released. It has no place in our society.”
10. The release of his first album ‘2Pacalypse Now’.
In ’91 Tupac released his first album 2Pacalypse now. The album didn’t generate any top 10 hits and didn’t find the success that many think it did. Nonetheless, it was a defining moment of 2Pac’s career and proved influential in the creation of the next generation of rappers including Nas, Eminem and Game, who all said it inspired their music.
11. Tupac broke into the mainstream with the release of his second album in ’93.
Tupac may not have found the success he hoped for with his first album but his second studio album Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z broke him into the mainstream when it was released in 1993. The album spawned singles ‘Keep Ya Hear Up’ and ‘I Get Around’ and eventually reached platinum status.
12. “We need to shock the people, so let’s shock the people!”
That’s what Tupac told the Grammys crowd in 1996 before being joined on stage by the reunited Kiss, who were in full costume for the first time in 15 years.
13. Forming the group ‘Thug Life.’
In 1994 Tupac formed the hip-hop group ‘Thug Life‘ consisting of Syke, Stretch, Mopreme Shakur, The Rated R, Macadoshis. The group only released one album ‘Thug Life: Volume 1’ – which sold gold. To mark the formation of the band Tupac had the infamous ‘Thug Life’ tattoo inked across his stomach.
14. Tupac had a very close friendship with Jada Pinkett (now Jada Pinkett Smith).
In the documentary Tupac: Resurrection, Shakur says, “Jada is my heart. She will be my friend for my whole life.” Jada also 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.” Jada has since denied there was any romance between the pair.
15. The release of ‘All Eyez On Me’.
Tupac’s 1996 album All Eyez On Me, the first double CD in rap music is released featuring some of his most populars singles including ‘How Do U Want It’ and ‘California Love’ went on to become one of the most acclaimed albums in 90’s rap. It was 5x certified platinum after just two months and 9x platinum after just two years.
16. Getting a name on the big screen in his breakout film ‘Juice.’
Tupac had been acting since he was a kid but his breakout-acting role was in the 1992 American Crime Drama ‘Juice.’ Tupac played Roland Bishop, a troubled teen that turns into a murderous sociopath. Two years later Tupac starred in ‘Above The Rim,’ for which he also contributed to the soundtrack with ‘Pour Out A Little Liqour.’
17. More music has been released since Tupac’s death than when he was alive.
Shakur has sold over 75 million records worldwide, with the bulk of that coming after his death; seven of his 11 platinum albums were released posthumously.
18. Snoop Dogg and Tupac’s on off relationship.
Snoop and Tupac were often seen out together, they were close. But Snoop recently confirmed that his last encounter with Pac wasn’t a good one. After being asked in an interview how he felt about Biggie and Puff, Snoop called them his ‘Homeboys.’ Tupac clearly felt betrayed by this, as the next time he saw Snoop he totally ignored him. That was the pair’s last encounter before Tupac died.
19. The release of California Love.
The first single 2Pac released, as a part of his deal with Death Row Records was ‘California Love.’ Note the Dr Dre produced track hears Tupac rap “Out on bail, fresh out of jail, California dreamin”. The track went on to become his most successful and probably his most loved.
20. The moment Snoop Dogg was joined by a Tupac hologram at Coachella.
In 2012 the Coachella audience didn’t know how to react when Tupac was presented right before their eyes in a hologram form. He performed alongside Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg, making history even after his death.
21. Meeting Joshua and creating ‘Joshua’s Dream.’
In 1993 Tupac received a letter from the parents of a dying boy named Joshua. They said it was Joshua’s dying wish to meet Tupac. Tupac flew to Maryland to meet Joshua and took him to a basketball game. The boy obviously made a huge impact on Tupac, as soon after Joshua’s death Tupac renamed his publishing company from Ghetto Gospel Music to Joshua’s Dream.
22. Fuelling the fire in the infamous East Coast/ West Coast beef.
Tupac was not happy with Biggie and he made it known on 1996 single ‘Hit ‘Em Up,’ when he took shots at his former friend and a ton of other East Coast rappers including Puff Daddy. The most notorious lyric was Tupac claiming that he had slept with Biggie’s wife, Faith Evans. Tupac was killed three months after its release.