The Life and Career of Tupac

Born June 16th, 1971 in East Harlem, New York City. Tupac Shakur made a name for himself in both the realms of rap music and films in a very short amount of time. Though his lyrics were sometimes violent, his songs did contain strong messages that resonated with his fans. He collaborated with other rappers and also landed roles in roles in major motion pictures. He began to have personal troubles at the peak of his success, including numerous arrests and feuding with rival hip hop acts. A drive-by shooting would lead to his untimely death at the young age of 25. In this video, takes a look at the life and career of infamous rapper, Tupac Shakur.

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Early Rapping Skills

Tupac Amaru Shakur was born on June 16th, 1971 in East Harlem, New York City. From an early age, he became familiar with conflict and imprisonment due to the activities of family members who part of the revolutionary Black Panther Party. Though he often lived in conditions of poverty, Tupac was able to study the arts in high school and develop his extraordinary his rapping skills.

Musical Debut

In the early 1990’s, he made his musical debut by rapping on the track “Same Song,” with the rap crew Digital Underground. Tupac made his solo debut in 1991, a politically-minded album called 2Pacalypse Now. Its graphic and violent lyrics were the cause of some media controversy during this time.

Acting Debut and Commercial Breakthrough

The next year, he had his first starring role in the crime drama, “Juice” and dropped his sophomore effort, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. in 1993. The socio-politically charged record was his commercial breakthrough, charting within the top twenty-five on the Billboard 200 chart. It also generated his first top-twenty singles: “Keep Ya Head Up” and “I Get Around”.

More Acting and Thug Life

That same year, Tupac shared screen time with Janet Jackson in the romantic drama, “Poetic Justice”. He followed this up by forming the group Thug Life, which released only one record in its existence: 1994’s Thug Life: Volume 1. Prior to the release of that album, Tupac acted in the film, “Above the Rim”.

Arrests and Hip Hop Feuds

Professionally, Tupac was selling records and landing acting roles. His personal life, however, was rife with police altercations and assault allegations. And then, right before being sentenced to prison on charges of sexual abuse, he was shot and robbed in 1994. Tupac accused The Notorious B.I.G. and Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs from Bad Boy Records of being involved and this sparked the East-Coast West-Coast hip hop rivalry that played out in the next few years.

Me Against the World"

Tupac released his third studio album, Me Against the World, in 1995. Featuring more personal lyrics, the critically acclaimed opus is often regarded as one of the most significant hip hop albums in history. Me Against the World generated the successful single, “Dear Mama” and made him the first artist to ever have a disc premiere at the top of the Billboard 200 chart while in jail.

Death Row Records

Thanks mostly to the bail posted by Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight, Tupac was released less than a year after his incarceration. He formed the hip hop group Outlaw Immortalz and made his comeback with the first double album in hip hop, All Eyez on Me, in 1996 via Death Row Records. Touching upon gangsta themes, it is considered one of the best albums to come out of ‘90’s rap music. All Eyez on Me also spawned two number-one singles: “How Do U Want It” and “California Love”.

East-Coast West-Coast Hip Hop Rivalry Continues

The rivalry between the hip hop scenes had not yet ended at this point. In fact, the artists continued to release diss tracks insulting each other. One of the most vicious and controversial songs was Tupac’s “Hit ‘Em Up,” in which he claimed to have slept with Biggie’s wife, Faith Evans.


While returning from a boxing match on the night of September 7th, 1996, Tupac was shot multiple times in a drive-by. He died while in the hospital six days later. The murder case was never solved and this gave rise to many theories for the cause of the shooting. For instance, some think the East-Coast West-Coast rivalry was to blame, while others believe Suge Knight may have been involved.

Posthumous Releases

Many posthumous albums have been released since Tupac’s death. During the latter half of the 1990’s, these included The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory under the stage name Makaveli and R U Still Down? (Remember Me). During the next decade, the most successful releases included Until the End of Time and Loyal to the Game. Movies, such as “Bullet” and documentaries, namely “Biggie & Tupac,” and “Tupac: Resurrection” were also released posthumously.

Musical Legacy

Though both his life and career were cut short, Tupac Shakur’s overwhelming talent enabled him to profoundly shape the landscape of music forever. And today, he remains one of the world’s best-selling and most respected artists.

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