Tupac Amaru Shakur was one of the most celebrated yet controversial rappers in Hip-hop history. If he were still with us today, the prolific MC would’ve celebrated his 51st birthday.
On June 16, 1971, 2Pac, born Lesane Parish Crooks, was brought into the world by his mother Afeni Shakur (fka Alice Faye Williams) and his biological father Billy Garland in East Harlem, N.Y.. Both of his parents were active members of the Black Panther Party. A few months after his birth, Afeni changed her infant son’s name to Tupac Amaru Shakur. “Tupac Amaru” stemmed from the descendant of the last Incan ruler in Peru while his last name “Shakur” came from her husband and Tupac’s stepfather, Mutulu Shakur.
Two years before the rapper was born, his mother was arrested with other Black Panther members for conspiracy against the United States government, which spearheaded the creation of the “New York Panther 21” case. After serving 11 months in jail, his mother became pregnant while out on bail. She eventually was placed back in jail when her bail was revoked out of fear of her becoming a flight risk. Shakur decided to represent herself in court and was successfully acquitted of over 150 charges. The victory in court happened just a month and three days before she gave birth to the rapper.
2Pac went on to have a tough upbringing, in New York and later in Baltimore where he grew up, due to his mother’s struggles with drug addiction. He later moved to California where he officially began his music career. After joining Digital Underground as a backup dancer, Shakur would later debut his stage name 2Pac on the group’s 1991 track “Same Song.” Later that year, he dropped his debut album 2Pacalypse Now, which features prominent songs like “Brenda’s Got A Baby,” “Trapped” and more.
Of course, 2Pac followed up with other classic albums like Strictly 4 My N.*.*.*.A.Z… (1993), Me Against The World (1995), and All Eyez On Me (1996) before his untimely death in 1996. He also established a decent acting career by starring in classic films like Juice (1992), Poetic Justice (1993), and Above The Rim (1994). After his death, numerous posthumous albums were released like The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory (1996) as his alias Makaveli, R U Still Down? (Remember Me) (1997), Still I Rise (1999), Until The End of Time (2001), Better Dayz (2002), Loyal To The Game (2004), and Pac’s Life (2006). He also posthumously appeared in films like Bullet (1996), Gridlock’d (1997), and Gang Related (1997).
Happy birthday 2Pac and may he rest in peace.
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