A 90s Hip Hop Legend
There are few hip hop artists who have had as large of an impact on the music world as Tupac Shakur. The West Coast rapper was actually born in New York City, and he would break into the music business thanks to a guest spot on a Digital Underground track in 1991. From his collaborations with that group it was a short step to Interscope Records, where he would drop another two solo albums before launching into fame and fortune with the group Thug Life.
Shakur’s career would be defined by controversy, legal problems and escalating violence. He was in and out of
prison during the majority of his time in the spotlight for a variety of charges including assault and sexual abuse. He also dealt with harsh public reaction to some of his lyrical content, particularly from the law enforcement community and parents concerned about the misogynistic and aggressive messages that his albums seemed to embody.
Even as he achieved fantastic success on the charts, 2Pac’s life seemed to enter a dangerous spiral that saw the rapper living out the scenarios he described in his songs. In 1994 while visiting a recording studio in New York he was shot no less than five times during a robbery that would leave him shaken and lead him to channel his aggression into what would become the most lasting and saddest aspect of his legacy – the East Coast / West Coast hip hop feud. Shakur became convinced that industry heavyweights Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs and The Notorious B.I.G. were behind the attack which had put him in the hospital. The media caught whiff of the feud and blew it up beyond all reason, further sucking in players on both sides of the beef until there was no way to avoid the escalation. This rivalry would culminate into one of the bloodiest explosions of rap-related violence in the history of the genre.
In September of 1996, 2Pac left the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in the company of Death Row Records owner and friend Suge Knight. Their BMW was ambushed in a drive-by shooting that would see Shakur fatally wounded, dying in hospital shortly after the attack. His death would shock fans around the world, and it was made even worse by the murder of rival The Notorious B.I.G. in a revenge killing only a few months later.
Tupac Shakur’s label continued to release a number of albums after his death, sparking rumors that he might have faked the entire incident and chosen to live a new life in hiding. While conspiracy theories abound, in reality 2Pac lives on only in the hearts of the millions of people who loved his music, as well as the news reports that chronicled his short life and violent times.