Tupac Shakur was an American musician, writer, and actor who, during his short and eventful life, became one of the most legendary and important figures in the history of hip-hop. With his vividly poetic lyrics and outspoken, charismatic personality, Shakur drew portraits of black life in America in all its sad, messy, and problematic glory, mourning the struggles of black women while celebrating what he called the "thug life." While his life was defined by violence and conflict as one of the figureheads in the East Coast vs. West Coast rap wars of the 1990s, and his death was a cautionary tale, his influence and legacy continues to live on long after him. Born Lesane Parish Crooks in New York, NY, Shakur was the son of two highly active Black Panthers, Afeni Shakur and Billy Garland. A month before Lesane's birth, Afeni was acquitted of more than 150 charges of "Conspiracy against the United States government and New York landmarks" as part of the New York Panther 21 trial. Afeni and Billy Garland split up not long after Lesane's birth, and Afeni later married Mutulu Shakur. When he was one year old, Lesane was renamed Tupac Amaru Shakur, after Tupac Amaru II, an 18th century Peruvian revolutionary. After Mutulu was arrested in 1986 in connection with a number of crimes, including a 1981 armored car robbery, Afeni and the children, including Tupac, his stepbrother Mopreme, and half-sister Sekyiwa, moved to Baltimore, MD. In Baltimore, Shakur first became interested in the arts. After a stint at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, he transferred to the Baltimore School for the Arts during his junior year, where he studied acting, poetry, jazz, and ballet. He also started rapping during this time, and quickly gained a reputation as the best rapper at BSA. Shakur also developed an interest in revolutionary politics during this time, joining up with the Baltimore Young Communist League USA and dating the daughter of the director of the local Communist Party. In 1988, Shakur and his family moved to the Bay Area of California. While attending Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, Shakur enrolled in poetry classes under the tutelage of Leila Steinberg. It was through Steinberg that Shakur met record exec Altron Gregory, who was impressed with the young man's skills, and hired him to be a roadie and a backup dancer with the Bay Area hip-hop group Digital Underground. Using the alias MC New York, Shakur made his recording debut on the Digital Underground track "Same Song," which was featured on the soundtrack to the comedy "Nothing But Trouble" (1991). Shakur also made his screen debut in the film, as part of a performance scene alongside Digital Underground. Before long, however, Shakur was staking out his own territory in the hip-hop scene. After signing to Interscope Records in 1991, he changed his name to 2Pac, and released his debut solo album, "2Pacalypse Now" (Interscope, 1991) in November of that year. Though the record would eventually go gold, at first its singles failed to chart. At the time, Shakur was just another socially conscious rapper spinning tales of the hard knock life on poetic yarns like "Trapped" and "Brenda's Got a Baby." Dan Quayle, of all people, condemned the record, and Shakur's problems with the law, which would overshadow the last five years of his life, began with a $10 million civil suit against Oakland PD, alleging police brutality. Shakur was eventually awarded a $43,000 settlement, most of which went to his legal team. Over the next few years, Shakur would be hit with a wrongful death lawsuit following the accidental shooting death of 6-year-old Qa'id Walker-Teal (which he settled with the family out of court), and three assault cases, two of which he was convicted on (the other was dropped by prosecutors). In all of these cases, Shakur managed to avoid major jail time, but his anti-authoritarian streak only grew wider. For his second album, "Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z " (Interscope, 1993), released in February of 1993, Shakur upped his game considerably, with more polished beats and stronger lyrics, it was his first album to go platinum. Soon he was one of the most in-demand rappers in the game, and making friends with some up and coming MCs back in his hometown of New York, in particular a gifted young rapper from Brooklyn named Biggie Smalls, aka the Notorious BIG. That same year, he followed up his first leading role in the ghetto drama "Juice" (1992), with an acclaimed co-starring role alongside Janet Jackson in John Singleton's "Poetic Justice" (1993). As his star in music was on the rise, Shakur put together a group, Thug Life. Their debut album, "Thug Life: Volume 1" (Interscope, 1994), was released in October of 1994, during a particularly dark time in Shakur's personal life. The previous year, Shakur and others had been charged in New York with sexually assaulting a woman in a hotel room, a charge which he vehemently denied. On November 30, 1994, Shakur and some friends stopped by Quad Recording Studios in Manhattan to visit with Biggie and his crew, who were in a recording session. While waiting in the lobby, some masked men with guns burst in, and Shakur was shot five times. Because he was not robbed, Shakur would come to believe that he was lured there by Biggie, his Bad Boy records co-founder Sean "Puffy" Combs, and Bad Boy CEO Jimmy Henchman, among others, in a conspiracy to have him killed. Miraculously, Shakur survived the shooting. The next day, however, he appeared in court in a wheelchair, and was found guilty of sexual assault. Shakur was sentenced to 1 and a half to four and a half years in prison, and began serving his sentence at Clinton Correctional Facility on February 14, 1995. The following month, Shakur's third album, "Me Against the World" (Interscope, 1995) was released to rave reviews and strong sales, eventually selling nearly 4 million copies. Today, it is considered one of the most influential hip-hop albums of all time. But it also marked the end of an era for Shakur. In prison, he bided his time, reading books on philosophy and military strategy by the likes of Machiavelli and Sun Tzu, and plotting his next move. He was even more angered when his former friend Biggie Smalls released the single "Who Shot Ya?", which Shakur saw as an implicit admission of guilt in his shooting. Meanwhile, on the outside, the East Coast vs. West Coast hip-hop feud was reaching its match point. During that year's Source Awards at Madison Square Garden, Suge Knight, the controversial founder of west coast imprint Death Row Records, gave Shakur a shoutout from the stage, and made a number of not-so-veiled insults at Biggie and Sean Combs on their own home turf. Upon hearing of Knight's statements, Shakur contacted Death Row associate Nina Bhadreshwar, and soon a deal was reached: Knight would put up $1.4 million in bail for Shakur's release, pending his appeal, in exchange for Shakur recording three albums for Death Row. On October 12, 1995, Shakur was a free man, and almost immediately began making good on that three-album deal. His first release for the label was the rollicking g-funk single "California Love," which featured production and a guest verse from Dr. Dre. By the end of 1995, Shakur had recorded enough material for a double album. Released in February of 1996, "All Eyez on Me" (Death Row, 1996), a two-disc collection which eschewed the social consciousness of Shakur's earlier work for a trunk-rattling celebration of the west coast gangsta lifestyle, proved to be an instant classic. It would go on to sell nine million copies. But he wasn't done there: despite Dr. Dre leaving Death Row that year to form his own label, Aftermath, Shakur would spend 1996 producing hundreds of tracks for Death Row, and in June of 1996, he released "Hit 'Em Up," a blisteringly angry diss track aimed at the Notorious BIG, on which Shakur claimed, amongst other things, that he had slept with Biggie's wife, R&B singer Faith Evans. By that fall, Shakur was prepping yet another album, "The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory" (Death Row, 1996) for release. Unfortunately, he would not live to see it. On September 6, 1996, Shakur, Suge Knight, and a number of other Death Row associates went to Las Vegas to celebrate the birthday of Knight's business parter Tracy Danielle Robinson, and attend the Mike Tyson fight at the MGM Grand. After the fight, Shakur instigated a brawl with Orlando "Baby Lane" Anderson, an alleged Crips gang member from Compton, who happened to be at the fight as well. The brawl was eventually broken up, and Shakur and Knight sped off in Knight's black 1996 BMW sedan onto the strip. At approx. 11:15pm, while stopped at a stop light, a white four-door Cadillac pulled up on their right side, and someone inside the vehicle fired at Shakur, hitting him four times. He was then transported by police and paramedics to University Medical Center, where he was sedated, placed on life support, and eventually put into a barbiturate-induced coma when he repeatedly tried to leave the hospital. A week later, on September 13, 1996, Tupac Shakur died from internal bleeding. He was 25 years old. But while his life was over, the second chapter of his career was only beginning. Shakur's death, followed by the shooting death of Biggie Smalls in Los Angeles the following March, marked the grim conclusion of the East Coast vs. West Coast feud. Two months after his passing, "The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory" was finally released to acclaim and big sales. Eventually, Shakur's posthumous output would come to outnumber the albums he released during his lifetime. 1997 saw the release of "R U Still Down? (Remember Me)" (Death Row, 1997), followed by a greatest hits compilation the following year, and then "Until the End of Time" (Death Row, 2001), and "Better Dayz" (Death Row, 2002). That same year, the Los Angeles Times published a massive two-part investigation into Shakur's murder, which determined that Orlando Anderson had pulled the trigger on behalf of Biggie Smalls and a syndicate of New York gangsters. Before his own death, Biggie had vehemently denied any involvement in Shakur's murder, and Anderson was ruled out as a suspect by Las Vegas PD, before being killed in an unrelated gang murder. In addition to these theories about his murder were the claims that Shakur, like Elvis, was still alive: many claimed to have seen him in locations all across the globe, the most popular theory claimed that he had moved to Cuba after faking his own death. Needless to say, this theory was not included in 2003's Oscar nominated documentary, "Tupac: Resurrection" (2003). With Suge Knight and Death Row in dire financial straights, on the verge of bankruptcy, two more posthumous 2Pac albums were released, "Loyal to the Game" (Death Row, 2004), and "Pac's Life" (Death Row, 2006), before a suit was brought by his mother, Afeni Shakur, barring the release of any further material. She eventually bought the rights to all of his unreleased material, and started a holding company, Amaru Entertainment, to preserve it. In 2012, Shakur received a strange popularity bump after he "performed" alongside Coachella with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, albeit in "hologram" form. Following his holographic resurrection, his albums returned to the Billboard 200 for the first time since 2000. In 2014, a Broadway play inspired by Shakur's lyrics, "Holler If Ya Hear Me" (2014), was a massive flop. 2016 saw Shakur being inducted into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Game in his first year of eligibility. After many years in development, an official biopic called "All Eyes on Me" (2017) was released in 2017. Sadly, in 2019, it was reported that Shakur's master tapes were amongst those destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.