On this day in 1996, the iconic hip hop artist brilliant poet, a highly trained and skilled actor, advocate, free-thinker and actor Tupac Amaru Shakur, who was born as Lesane Parish Crooks with the stage name of 2Pac and Makaveli was shot in Las Vegas, Nevada while waiting in a car at a red light.
While the case remains unsolved, it’s alleged that the drive-by shooting was carried out by the members of Los Angeles’s South Side Compton Crips. There were also reports and speculations that claim he actually survived the attack and faked his death to flee the spotlight.
Born in 1971, Tupac Amaru Shakur began recording his songs in 1988. In early 1990, he debuted in Digital Underground’s Same Song from the soundtrack to the 1991 film Nothing but Trouble. Before using his first name as his rap name, Shakur went by the alias MC New York when starting his career.
Tupac released his debut solo album in 1992, 2Pacalypse Now. The album did not generate any hit singles then, but 2Pacalypse Now has been acclaimed by many critics and fans for its underground feel, with many rappers such as Nas, Eminem, Game, and Talib Kweli having pointed to it as inspiration. In 1993, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z the second album was released which did much better than its predecessor, both commercially and critically, debuting at No 24 on the Billboard 200.
Tupac formed the group ‘Thug Life’ with a number of his friends, including Big Syke (Tyruss Himes), Macadoshis (Diron Rivers), his stepbrother Mopreme Shakur, and the Rated R (Walter Burns). Thug Life released their only album Thug Life: Volume 1 in 1994, which went gold.
In 1995, Shakur was imprisoned for sexual offence.
He was released after serving in jail for nine months and formed a new group called ‘Outlaw Immortalz’. He joined the Death Row label, under which he released the single California Love. The song Dear Mama is a tribute to his mother, and was released as the album’s first single in 1995, along with the track Old School as the B-side which became the album’s most successful single, which topped the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart for five weeks and also peaked at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100.
In addition to his endeavours and the contribution to the music industry, Shakur acted in films, and made his first film appearance in Nothing but Trouble (1991), as part of a cameo by the Digital Underground.
Following the shooting, after six days in the intensive-care unit, in 1996, Shakur was said to have died due to internal bleeding. The official causes of death were noted as respiratory failure and cardiopulmonary arrest in connection with multiple gunshot wound.
Tupac was widely regarded and was a hero of the hip-hop era and in 2003, MTV’s ’22 Greatest MCs’ countdown listed Shakur as the ‘Number 1 MC’, as voted by the viewers. Shakur was honored the VH1 Hip Hop Honors and the Vibe magazine poll in 2004 rated Shakur ‘the greatest rapper of all time’.