.:: Tupac Shakur Biography - Bio
.:: 2pac Shakur's Biography
Tupac grew up around
nothing but self-delusion. His mother, Alice Faye Williams, thought she
was a "revolutionary." She called herself "Afeni Shakur" and associated
with members of the ill-fated Black Panther Party, a movement that
wanted to feed school kids breakfast and earn civil rights for African
Americans. During her youth she dropped out of high school, partied with
North Carolina gang members, then moved to Brooklyn: After an affair
with one of Malcolm X's bodyguards, she became political. When the
mostly white United Federation of Teachers went on strike in 1968, she
crossed the picket line and taught the children herself. After this she
joined a New York chapter of the Black Panther Party and fell in with an
organizer named Lumumba. She took to ranting about killing "the pigs"
and overthrowing the government, which eventually led to her arrest and
that of twenty comrades for conspiring to set off a race war. Pregnant,
she made bail and told her husband, Lummuba, it wasn't his child. Behind
his back she had been carrying on with Legs (a small-time associate of
Harlem drug baron Nicky Barnes) and Billy Garland (a member of the
Party). Lumumba immediately divorced her.
Things went downhill for Afeni: Bail revoked, she was imprisoned in the
Women's House of Detention in Greenwich Village. In her cell she patted
her belly and said, "This is my prince. He is going to save the black
By the time Tupac Amaru Shakur was born on June 16, 1971, Afeni had already defended
herself in court and been acquitted on 156 counts. Living in the Bronx,
she found steady work as a paralegal and tried to raise her son to
respect the value of an education.
From childhood, everyone called him the "Black Prince." For misbehaving,
he had to read an entire edition of The New York Times. But she had no
answer when he asked about his daddy. "She just told me, 'I don't know
who your daddy is.' It wasn't like she was a slut or nothing'. It was
just some rough times. "When he was two, his sister, Sekyiwa, was born.
This child's father, Mutulu, was a Black Panther who, a few months
before her birth, had been sentenced to sixty years for a fatal armoured
With Mutulu away, the family experienced hard times. No matter where
they moved-the Bronx, Harlem, homeless shelters Tupac was distressed. "I
remember crying all the time. My major thing growing up was I couldn't
fit in. Because I was from everywhere. I didn't have no buddies that I
grew up with."
As time passed, the issue of his father tormented him. He felt
"unmanly," he said. Then his cousins started saying he had an effeminate
face. "I don't know. I just didn't feel hard. I could do all the things
my mother could give me, but she couldn't give me nothing else."
The loneliness began to wear on him. He retreated into writing love
songs and poetry. "I remember I had a book like a diary. And in that
book I said I was going to be famous." He wanted to be an actor. Acting
was an escape from his dismal life. He was good at it, eager to leave
his crummy family behind. "The reason why I could get into acting was
because it takes nothing' to get out of who I am and go into somebody
His mother enrolled him in the 127th Street Ensemble, a theatre group in
the impoverished Harlem section of Manhattan, where he landed his first
role at age twelve, that of Travis in A Raisin in the Sun. "I lay on a
couch and played sleep for the first scene. Then I woke up and I was the
only person onstage. I can remember thinking, "This is the best shit in
the world!" That got me real high. I was getting' a secret: This is what
my cousins can't do."
In Baltimore, at age fifteen, he fell into rap; he started writing
lyrics, walking with a swagger, and milking his background in New York
for all it was worth. People in small towns feared the Big Apple's
reputation; he called himself MC New York and made people think he was a
He enrolled in the illustrious Baltimore School for the Arts, where he
studied acting and ballet with white kids and finally felt "in touch"
with himself. "Them white kids had things we never seen," he said. "That
was the first time I saw there was white people who you could get along
with. Before that, I just believed what everyone else said: They was
devils. But I loved it. I loved going to school. It taught me a lot. I
was starting to feel like I really wanted to be an artist.
By the time he was twenty, Tupac Amaru Shakur had been arrested eight times, even
serving eight months in prison after being convicted of sexual abuse. In
addition, he was the subject of two wrongful-death lawsuits, one
involving a six-year-old boy who was killed after getting caught in
gang-war crossfire between Shakur's gang and a rival group.
In the late eighties, Shakur teamed up with Humpty-Hump (a.k.a. Eddie
Humphrey, a.k.a. Gregory "Shock-G" Jacobs) and other Oakland-based
rappers to create Digital Underground, a band intent on massive bass
beats and frenetic, Parliament-Funkadelic-style rhythms. In 1990, the
group released its debut and best album, Sex Packets, a pulsating
testament to the boogie power of hip-hop, featuring two classic tracks,
"Humpty Dance" and "Doowutchyalike." After an EP of re-mixes in 1991,
D.U. released Sons of the P and, the following year, The Body-Hat
Syndrome, all on Tommy Boy Records.
In 1992, Shakur entered a most fruitful five-year period. He broke free
of D.U. and made his solo debut, 2Pacalypse Now, a gangsta rap document
that put him in the notorious, high-speed lane to stardom. That same
year he starred in Juice, an acclaimed low-budget film about gangs which
saw some Hollywood success. In 1993, he recorded and released Strictly 4
My N.I.G.G.A.Z., an album that found Shakur crossing over to the pop
charts. Unfortunately, he also found himself on police blotters, when
allegations of a violent attack on an off-duty police officer and sexual
misconduct arose. The same year, Shakur played a single father and Janet
Jackson's love interest in the John Singleton film Poetic Justice.
In November of 1994, he was shot five times during a robbery in which
thieves made off with $40,000 worth of his jewellery. Shakur miraculously
recovered from his injuries to produce his most impressive artistic
accomplishments, including 1995's Me Against the World, which sold two
million copies, and the double-CD All Eyez on Me, which sold nearly
three million & was released during 1996. As his career arc began a steep rise toward fame and
fortune, Shakur was shot (most say suspiciously) and killed after
watching a Mike Tyson fight with Death Row Records president Marion
"Suge" Knight. Though his death was a jolt to his fans and the music
community, Shakur himself often said that he expected he'd die by the
sword before he reached thirty.
Following his passing, Shakur's label released an album, The Don
Killuminati, under the pseudonym "Makaveli." The cover depicted Shakur
nailed to a cross under a crown of thorns, with a map of the country's
major gang areas superimposed on it. In January of 1997, Gramercy
pictures released Gridlock'd, a film in which Shakur played the role of
a drug addict to mostly good reviews. His final film, Gang Related, was
released in 1997, and Death Row is said to have several unreleased
recordings in the vaults for potential future release.