The music industry have created some of the most influential people around the world such as Britney Spears, Madonna, Beyoncé Knowles, David Bowie, Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z, Christina Aguilera, Metallica, Missy Elliott, Janet Jackson, Alicia Keys, Sean “Diddy” Combs, and many more. But aside from these people, there is a man that despite his popularity with the law, he became the voice for those that experienced violence and hardship in ghettos, racism, and problems in society. This man is popularly known by his stage names as 2Pac and makaveli.
Tupac Amaru Shakur, also known by his stage names 2Pac and makaveli, was an American rapper popular for producing some of the most popular yet controversial albums such as 2Pacalypse Now, Thug Life: Volume 1, and All Eyez on Me. Hailed by Guinness Book of World Records as the highest-selling hip hop artist with over seventy five million albums sold worldwide, including over fifty million in the United States.
Tupac gained popularity for his music which is known for advocating political, economic, social and racial equality, as well as his raw descriptions of violence, drug and alcohol abuse and conflicts with the law.
Though he is lost, his memories still lived on in our hearts and in our music. This article will again dive into the life of a man that once influenced the life of the urban community and are still seen throughout the world.
Vol. 1: Beginning of Life
Tupac’s professional entertainment life started when he was recruited as a backup dancer by the alternative hip hop group called the Digital Underground in the 1990s. It was then that the group gave him a chance to show his rapping skills when the group released their album “This is an EP Release”. From there, the group had seen Tupac’s huge potential in the world of rapping and signed him again on another album called “Sons Of The P”.
After sometime, seeing that he has the talent for this industry, Tupac tried to do solo and released his first album called “2Pacalypse Now”. Initially he had trouble marketing his solo debut, but Interscope Records’ executives Ted Field and Tom Whalley eventually agreed to distribute the record.
“2Pacalypse Now” is the first album that seen Tupac’s true nature, a rebel. Tupac claimed himself that the album was aimed at the problems facing young black males, which in-turn was publicly criticized for its graphic language and images of violence by and against law enforcement. It was also when the former vice president, Dan Quayle, denounced the album as having “no place in our society”. This was the reason why the album did not do as well on the charts as future albums, spawning no top ten hits
His second record, “Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.”, was released in 1993. The album, mostly produced by Randy “Stretch” Walker and the Live Squad, generated two hits, “Keep Ya Head Up” and “I Get Around”, the latter featuring guest appearances by Shock G and Money-B of the Digital Underground.
Vol. 2: A Thug’s Life
After his second album “Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.”, Tupac then pursued to form his own group in which he called Thug Life. In late 1993, Tupac formed the group Thug Life with a number of his friends, including Big Syke, Macadoshis, his stepbrother Mopreme Shakur, and Rated R.
The group’s first and only album, “Thug Life: Volume 1”, was Tupac’s first album that scored a gold on an awarding night in September 26, 1994.
Thug Life was viewed by Tupac as a philosophy for life and not as being a rogue or criminal. He developed the word into a backronym standing for “The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody”. He used the term Thug not as being a criminal, but rather he meant someone who came from oppressive or squalid background and little opportunity but still made a life for himself and was proud.
Thug Life was his life, in which he became more popular than ever. But even though Tupac received much attention as a rapper and an actor, he also gained notoriety for his conflicts with the law and the government.
Vol. 3: Thug Life’s Life
Though his life was all but success in his industry, Tupac also suffered conflicts with the law. It was in October 1993 when Tupac was accused in a shooting where the prosecutors decided to drop all charges against all parties.
In December of the same year, Tupac was again under fire of accusations, in which this time involved a rape case. Tupac was convicted of sexual abuse. In sentencing Tupac to one-and-a-half years in a correctional facility, the judge described the crime as “an act of brutal violence against a helpless woman”.
In 1994, he was convicted again of attacking a former employer while on a music video set. He was sentenced to 15 days in jail with additional days on a highway work crew, community service, and a $2000 fine.
In 1995, a wrongful death was brought against Tupac for a 1992 shooting that killed Qa’id Walker-Teal, a six-year old of Marin City, California. The child had been the victim of a stray bullet in a shootout between Tupac’s entourage and a rival group, though the tests proved the bullet was not from Tupac or any members of his entourage’s guns. Criminal charges were not sought, and Tupac settled with the family for an amount estimated between $300,000 and $500,000.
Vol. 4: An Artist Prisoner
Though serving his prison sentence at Clinton Correctional Facility on February 14, 1995, Tupac still released an album from which he called “Me Against the World”.
Tupac was the only artist to ever release an album that scored the top place on the Billboard 200 while serving a prison sentence. The album stayed at the top of the charts for five consecutive weeks. At the same time, the album sold 240,000 copies in its first week, which set the record for highest first week sales for a solo male rap artist at the time.
Tupac also wrote a screenplay titled Live 2 Tell while incarcerated, a story about an adolescent who becomes a drug baron.
In October 1995, Tupac’s case was on appeal but due to all of his legal fees he could not raise the $1.4 million bail. After serving eleven months of his one-and-a-half year to four-and-a-half year sentence, Tupac was released from the penitentiary because of a man named Suge. Suge posted the $1.4 million bail pending appeal of the conviction, in exchange to release three albums for the last recording label that Tupac will ever be in, the Death Row records.
Vol. 5: Death at Death Row
After his release, Tupac immediately went back to song recording where he begun a new group called Outlaw Immortalz.
Tupac began recording his first album with Death Row and released the single “California Love” soon after. In 1996, Tupac then released his second album for Death Row and his fourth solo album called “All Eyez on Me” where it sold over nine million copies.
While incarcerated in Clinton Correctional Facility, Tupac also read many books particularly by Niccolò Machiavelli, Sun Tzu’s The Art of War and other works of political philosophy and strategy. Inspired by Niccolò Machiavelli, Tupac created his 2nd pseudonym he called “makaveli” under which he released the record album The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory.
This album showed who makaveli is and what he really feels. This particular album presented a harsh contrast to his previous works. Throughout the album, makaveli continues to focus on the themes of pain and aggression, making this album one of the emotionally darker works of his career.
Tupac wrote and recorded all the lyrics in only three days and the production took another four days, combining for a total of seven days to complete the album, hence the name of the album. The record debuted at number one and sold 663,000 copies in the first week.
Because of the success of the album, makaveli even planned of starting his own recording label that he called makaveli records from which he planned to include Outlawz, Wu-Tang Clan, Big Daddy Kane, Big Syke, and Gang Starr. But this plan never took place, for this marked the start of a legacy that influenced the whole of the world.
Vol. 6: A Night of Legacy
On the night of September 7, 1996, at approximately 11:15 p.m., makaveli was riding in Suge’s 1996 black BMW 750iL sedan along with some of Tupac’s friends, Outlawz, and bodyguards when a white, four-door, late-model, Cadillac driven by unknown person(s) pulled up to the sedan’s right side, rolled down one of the windows, and rapidly fired around twelve to thirteen shots at Shakur.
Makaveli was struck by four rounds; one hit him in the chest, the pelvis, and his right hand and thigh, and one of the rounds apparently ricocheted into makaveli’s right lung.
After arriving on the scene, police and paramedics took Suge and a fatally wounded makaveli to the University Medical Center. At the hospital, makaveli was in and out of consciousness, was heavily sedated, was breathing through a ventilator and respirator, was placed on life support machines, and was ultimately put under a barbiturate-induced coma after repeatedly trying to get out of the bed.
While in Critical Care Unit on the afternoon of September 13, 1996, makaveli died of internal bleeding; doctors attempted to revive him but could not impede his hemorrhaging. His mother, Afeni, made the decision to tell the doctors to stop. He was pronounced dead at 4:03 p.m. The official cause of death was noted as respiratory failure and cardiopulmonary arrest in connection with multiple gunshot wounds.
At a Mobb Deep concert following the death of makaveli and release of The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, in an interview from Cormega, he stated that the fans were all shouting “makaveli”, and emphasized the influence of the The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory and of makaveli himself even in New York at the height of the media-dubbed ‘intercoastal rivalry’.
To preserve makaveli’s legacy, his mother founded the Shakur Family Foundation (later re-named the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation or TASF) in 1997. The TASF’s stated mission is 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. The Foundation officially opened the Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts (TASCA) in Stone Mountain, Georgia, on June 11, 2005.
His mother also launched their first branded clothing called the Makaveli Branded Clothing. It was launched in late 2003, 7 years after the death of her son. The brand’s purpose is keeping the legacy of Tupac Shakur alive through fashion. A portion of each sale from Makaveli Branded is donated to the TASF and Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts in Stone Mountain, Georgia.
Makaveli is still hailed as one of the most popular artists in the music industry as of 2006.