Tupac Shakur Essay, Research Paper
Paper 7 Revised Endnotes
When thinking of the Hip-Hop industry, one of the first names that comes to mind is Tupac Shakur. Shakur was born in the Bronx on June 16, 1971. He was reared by his mother Afeni Shakur who was an active member of the Black Panthers. Tupac’s family later relocated to Oakland, California, where he spent much of his time on the street. As a kid, he was always getting himself into trouble, and he was very lonely. He started writing songs to keep himself out of trouble. An article from VIBE magazine “Troubled Times for Tupac Shakur” quotes Tupac. “‘I was lonely, I didn’t have no big brothers, no big cousins until later. I could remember writing songs…. I remember writing poetry.’ ” 1 Tupac was talented in the areas of poetry, songwriting and acting from the beginning. He started acting at a young age, and he joined the rap group Digital Underground, performing as a dancer in 1990. In an interview with MTV, John Singelton, the writer-director of Boyz in the Hood and Poetic Justice, says that Tupac was a natural born actor; he knew how every role should be played.2 Tupac began his public acting career before his music career.
After the Digital Underground debut, Tupac signed to Interscope Records and released his first solo album, 1991’s 2pacalypse Now. The album quickly went gold thanks to the hit singles “Trapped” and “Brenda’s Got a Baby,” as well as a high-profile appearance in the hit movie Juice. Tupac’s 1993 follow-up album Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z., reached number four and went platinum, spawning the top 10 hits “I Get Around” and “Keep Ya Head Up.” Then in 1995, Tupac put out Me Against the World, which debuted at number one, went platinum and established Shakur as one of the most popular and successful rappers of the 90’s.
Throughout most of 1993 and 1994 Shakur was in and out of jail on various charges. He was arrested in Los Angeles for carrying a concealed weapon, was implicated in the shooting deaths of two undercover policemen and was convicted of sexual assault. In November 1994, in a much publicized incident, Shakur was shot four times while entering a New York recording studio and robbed of $40, 000 in jewelry. The following month he was sentenced to prison for the sexual assault conviction. After spending eight months in jail, his case was appealed and head of Death Row Records, Suge Knight, bailed Tupac out of jail. This also brought about the opportunity to sign him with Death Row Records.
In 1996, Tupac released his last album All Eyez on Me. The album was the beginning of his career with Death Row. In an MTV interview with Tupac, Kurt Loder, a journalist from the source said:
Tupac turned his troubles to a career that was bigger than ever. His double
Album… “All Eyes on Me,” sold more than five million copies, scored a
number one single and included tracks with Snoop Doggy Dogg, and Dr.
Dre. With three years past since Snoop’s last solo release…. Tupac became
Death Row’s artistic centerpiece, as well as its biggest mouthpiece. 3
Tupac loved his life with Death Row Records; during his time with the label, he was at the epitome of his career.
One thing that Death Row and Tupac had in common was animosity toward the New York based record label Bad Boy Entertainment. This label included artists such as Sean “Puffy” Combs and superstar artist, The Notorious B.I.G. Tupac joked around and taunted the company; however, he knew that conflict between the labels would mean trouble in the near future. The Death Row artists would rap about killing Bad Boy artists, and the Bad Boy artists would retaliate with a hit against Death Row. Pretty soon, Tupac was constantly surrounded by bodyguards and bulletproof glass. This is when he knew his demise was around the corner.
On September 7, 1996, at the pinnacle of his career, Tupac was shot down by unknown assailants while riding in a car in Las Vegas. He died six days later in a hospital without ever regaining consciousness. His shooting remains a mystery, its motive the subject of much speculation by fans and industry insiders. Many people feel that it was a Bad Boy rapper who shot him, but there is little evidence to support this.
Four years after his bereavement, Tupac continues to live on. The Greatest Hits album that was released after his death has sold over 4 million copies and “Changes” a new hit single from the album was the second most played video on MTV in 1999. Eric Boehlert, a writer for Rolling Stone Magazine, states, “While rock has had a host of fallen idols score hits from the afterlife, Tupac is the first rapper to sustain a career long after his death.” 4 Tupac’s strong voice and poetic lyrics keep the fans coming back. His music raps about his real life experiences and hardships as well as respect for women. Tupac’s ostentatious way of living during his top years also drew fans to him. The rapper drove around in Mercedes and chauffeured cars while wearing clothes specially designed for him by top designers such as Versace. He wore loads of diamonds and platinum and not only did he express his wealth physically, he also expressed it through his music.
The world knew Tupac Shakur as a troubled but successful performer. Sex, drugs, and violence encircled his life; however, he overcame and emerged as one of the most successful rappers of all time. Tupac was a man who loved his mother and who held great respect for women, whom he thanked and celebrated in his music. Many adults rejected his music due to the profane language and his gangster lifestyle; however, his fans will always appreciate the awesome quality of his music. His death brought renewed attention to Inner-City violence as well as corruption in the rap music industry and East Coast /West Coast feuds. It also put a dent in the music world and left a void in the hearts of his family and friends. As time goes on, Tupac’s music will continue to thrive through radio and album sales, but his legacy will live on through the hearts of everyone whom he touched.