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Biography of Tupac Shakur

Tupac Amaru Shakur (June 16, 1971 September 13, 1996) was an influential, best-selling hip hop artist. Some of his aliases include 2Pac, Pac, and Makaveli. The aliases ´Tupac Amaru´ and ´Shakur´ mean Shining Serpent in Quechua and Thankful to God in Arabic, respectively. Tupac Shakur adopted the alias ´Tupac´ from Tupac Amaru, the last Inca royal heir in the captured Inca Empire in western South America, which resisted Spanish imperialism in what is now Peru. Tupac Amaru´s great-grandson was also called Túpac Amaru II, and spearheaded the first major anti-Spanish military campaign after colonization. Tupac Shakur is believed to have read about the aforementioned individuals, adopting Tupac or 2Pac as his aliases for which he later became hugely popular among his fans. Early life
Tupac Shakur was born Lesane Parish Crooks in Brooklyn, New York City on June 16, 1971 to Afeni Shakur, a member of the Black Panthers. Serving jail time on bombing charges while pregnant with Tupac, she faced a possible sentence of up to three hundred years in prison. Acting as her own attorney, she beat the charges and was released one month before Tupac was born.

Shakur said, "I never knew where my father was or who my father was for sure." His godfather, Geronimo Pratt, was also a high-ranking Panther. His step-father, Mutulu, was a drug dealer who, according to Shakur, was not always around to give him the discipline he needed. Much of Tupac´s upbringing revolved around the Black Panther philosophy. Impoverished during most of his childhood, Tupac, with his mother and half-sister, Sekyiwa (pronounced Setchua), moved around to homeless shelters and various places around New York City. As a result, he retained few friends and relied on writing poetry and diary entries to keep himself busy. At the age of 12, Shakur joined a Harlem theatre group and acted as Travis in Lorraine Hansberry´s A Raisin in the Sun.

In 1984 Tupac´s mother brought him and his sister to live in Baltimore, Maryland. The Shakurs lived on Greenmount Ave., in East Baltimore where Tupac was intensely despised because of his looks, name, and lack of trendy fashionwear of the 80s. However, he made a few friends while staying there. Tupac attended Roland Park Middle School. The following year he spent his freshman year at Paul Lawrence Dunbar High. For his sophomore year Tupac was accepted to the Baltimore School for the Arts. And it was there he "loved [his] classes" and had the opportunity to study theater, ballet, and other arts. Even at this age, Shakur was outspoken on the subject of racial equality. His teachers remembered him as being a very gifted student. He was an avid reader, delving into books about eastern religions, and even entire encyclopedia sets. Shielding his love of literature from his peers, he gained the respect of Baltimore kids by acting like a tough guy. Shakur composed his first rap in Baltimore under the name "MC New York". The song was about gun control and was inspired by the killing of one of his close friends. Two years later, a drug-addicted Afeni was having significant trouble finding work. Tupac later claimed it was because of her Black Panther history, but it was probably more a result of her drug use. She uprooted the family again and brought Tupac and Sekyiwa to live with a family friend in Marin City, California. Tupac described this move away from Baltimore and the arts school as "where I got off track". He displayed a strong contempt for law enforcement and was hassled occasionally for playing music loudly. Shakur´s discontent with law officials clearly was rooted in his Black Panther/revolutionary upbringing. In August of 1988, Shakur´s stepfather Mutulu was sentenced to sixty years in prison for armed robbery after being on the FBI´s Ten Most Wanted list for several years. Shakur soon moved in with a neighbor and started selling drugs and hustling on the street, but he also made friends who helped spark his interest in rap music. He made friends with Ray Luv, and with a mutual friend named DJ Dize (Dizz-ee), they started a rap group called Strictly Dope. Their recordings were later released in 2001 under the name Tupac Shakur: The Lost Tapes. Their neighborhood performances brought Tupac enough acclaim to land an audition with Shock G of Digital Underground. In 1990, Shakur joined as a roadie and dancer for Digital Underground. His early lyrics were unremarkable, and he was viewed ambivalently for his tendency to act like a diva and for his occasionally violent personality. On a song for the Nothing But Trouble movie soundtrack, Same Song, Tupac was given his first opportunity to rap on a big-time record. In the song, Shock G leads into Tupac´s verse by advising Shakur to "Go ahead and rock this." Rise to fame
As a child, Tupac had dreams of becoming a Shakespearean actor. While never achieving that particular dream, Shakur did become a talented actor, drawing from his theatre roots. He starred in Juice in 1991, to much critical acclaim. He was hailed by Rolling Stone´s Peter Travers as "The film´s most magnetic figure." Shakur went on to star in Poetic Justice, Above the Rim, Gridlock´d, Bullet, and Gang Related.In 1991, Tupac had trouble shopping his solo-debut, 2Pacalypse Now. Eventually, Interscope records agreed to distribute the record; one can credit executives Ted Field and Tom Whally for giving Tupac the chance. Although produced with the help of his Digital Underground crew, the intent of the album was to showcase his individual talent. While Shakur claimed ( his album was aimed at the problems facing young black males, it was also filled with images of violence by and against police. 2Pacalypse Now quickly attracted public criticism, especially after a young man who killed a Texas Trooper claimed he was inspired by the album. Former Vice President Dan Quayle, as part of his zealous push for morals, publicly denounced the album as having "no place in our society". The album did not do as well as Tupac had hoped on the charts, sparking no number one hits. In confidence, Shakur told Shock G that he wanted Shock to pick the beats. Shakur was a talented rapper; producing was not his forte.

His second CD, Strictly 4 My NIGGAZ.., was heavily produced by Shock G, and spurred two number one hits: the emotional Keep Ya Head Up and the playful I Get Around. Shock G would go on to produce the Shakur hits So Many Tears and Temptations. Along with Shakur´s rise to fame came a series of altercations with the law that further complicated his public image. Before he started his recording career, Tupac had no criminal record. In Oakland in October of 1991, Tupac was stopped by two officers for allegedly jaywalking. When he told the police "fuck y´all," he was choked, beaten, and had his head smashed on the pavement. He subsequently raised a ten million dollar lawsuit against the Oakland police department, which was eventually settled for $42000. In October 1993, Shakur came upon two off-duty police officers whom he perceived as harassing a black motorist on the side of the road in Atlanta. Shakur got into a fight with them and shot both officers (one in the leg, one in the buttocks). He faced serious charges until it was discovered that both officers were intoxicated during the incident and were using weapons stolen out of an evidence locker. The charges against Shakur were dismissed.

In 1994, he formed the group Thug Life with a few of his friends, including Big Syke, Macadoshis, his half-brother Mopreme, and Rated R. The group released their first album Thug Life: Volume 1 on Interscope in 1994 with moderate success. The group´s lyrical strength undoubtedly lay primarily with Tupac, as the group has had little success after his death.

A troubled end In December, Tupac Shakur was charged with sexually abusing a woman in his hotel room. According to his account, he met a female fan at a club, Nell´s, who was described to him as wanting to "more than meet [him]". She allegedly gave him oral sex on the dance floor before Shakur took her back to his hotel room. The next night, she visited him before he was set to do a show and was giving him a massage in a hotel room. Some friends who were with him that night interrupted the couple, wanting to enjoy the woman´s attentions themselves. Shakur claimed to have left the room disgusted and went to take a nap. The girl, disagreeing with his account, accused him of encouraging the three men, pulling her hair, and sodomy. On February 7, 1995, Shakur was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for "forcibly touching the buttocks", though he vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

Shot five times in a robbery
Shortly before his verdict was announced, in an apparent robbery attempt outside a music studio in New York, Shakur was shot five times. Tupac recalled the circumstances in an interview shortly afterwards with Vibe. He was with his close friend Stretch, manager Freddie Moore, and one other friend on the night of November 30, 1994. They arrived at a studio so Shakur could do some recordings for an acquaintance, Booker, whom he didn´t quite trust. When they got to the studio, Tupac was suspicious of two black men in their thirties, both dressed in army fatigues, because neither of them seemed to acknowledge his presence. He noted that he was less wary of them than he should have been because he "had just finished smoking chronic". Shakur simply assumed they must be security for The Notorious BIG (aka Biggie), whom he was still friends with at the time. The two men, who Shakur described as looking like they were from New York, came at him with identical 9mm handguns, and forced him and his friends to the floor. Their aggression was focused almost exclusively on Tupac, although they did threaten to shoot Stretch as well. Tupac alone was shot a total of five times while he played dead on the ground and also robbed of thousands of dollars of gold jewelry he was wearing.

He was dragged into an elevator and taken upstairs to safety, where his then-friends Biggie, Puffy, Little Caesar, and others were waiting. Shakur described his friends as acting very strange, almost surprised at his being alive. His first words after realizing how severe his wounds were, having been shot in the head and testicles, were "Oh, shit. Roll me some weed." He survived, and left the hospital a day after, against doctor´s orders because he was feeling harassed by phone calls and the doctors. He showed up in court soon afterwards in a wheelchair to face his verdict in the sexual assault case.

Prison sentence
Shakur began serving his prison sentence later that February. Soon after, his multi-platinum album, Me Against the World, was released. Shakur has the distinction of being the only artist with an album at number one on the charts while serving a prison sentence. From jail, he married his long-time girlfriend, Keisha Morris. He also had time to pursue reading, delving into the works of Niccolò Machiavelli, and even wrote a screenplay titled Live 2 Tell while incarcerated. In October, after almost eight months in prison, Shakur was released on parole largely due to ...

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