Tupac has always been and always will be an iconic character, a legend who marked, inspired and guided many generations. On top of being one of the best rappers in history, he was an artist of many talents and a committed man. Besides being an MC, he was also an actor, a poet, a philosopher, a lyricist and a political activist. All of this before leaving us prematurely at the age of 25, on the 13th of September 1996 in Las Vegas.
He was born under the name of Lesane Parish Crooks on the June 16 of 1971, in Brooklyn, New York. His mother, Afeni Shakur, was a member of the Black Panthers, an African-American revolutionary movement. Some time after the birth of her child, she renamed him Tupac Amaru Shakur, after the South American leader Tupac Amaru.
Tupac spent his childhood with his mother and his two half-siblings, always seeking shelter, in extreme poverty, as he tells in the following video. As he puts it:
“I had the feeling that I was handicapped. If I wanted to have any success in the future, I had to get myself one.”
He goes on to say:
“And if you only got two kids, can you just keep it to two rooms? I mean, why have 52 rooms when you know there’s somebody with no room? It just don’t make sense to me. And then these people celebrate Christmas — they got big trees, huge trees, all the little trimmings. Everybody got gifts, and there’s somebody starving. And they’re having a white Christmas. They’re having a great Christmas, eggnog and the whole nine. That’s not fair to me.
I had the feeling that I was handicapped. Instead of surviving to my future, I had to get a future. And it’s an ordeal when you 21 and have no references. It’s an ordeal to build an empire for your family, mostly when you know that some many others have it all from the moment they are born, they have a car by the time they’re 16, they have money to go to college…”
And Pac got himself a future by fighting hard to become the bestselling artist in hip-hop history, with 75 million albums sold (of which dozens of millions of copies were sold after his death in the form of posthumous albums). A solid empire built from the West Coast, after leaving New York with his mother.
Tupac is an institution where music was only one of the features. He spoke on behalf of a whole community, becoming an activist for social equality. Tupac was also committed to women’s rights, and the rights of mothers, disabled people, and the ill.
There’s no need for words to understand this legend; his work says it all.