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Happy Birthday Tupac Shakur
It is hard to get a balanced view of Tupac Amaru Shakur (or Lesane Parish Crooks as he was known as a child). His reputation is vividly coloured by the viewpoint of those who write about him. To some he was an ignorant criminal, antisocial and semi-literate, to others he was a great poet and musician, to others he was a worker for peace and integration. In truth there was something of all these aspects in the person most people know as simply "Pac"
He was born on the 16th of June 1971 in Brooklyn, New York. He was raised in hard times in a hard location. His mother struggling to raise both Tupac and his younger sister, Sekyiwa, on her own. Tupac did not have a settled background since poverty forced the family to move around often. He lived in the Bronx and in Harlem in rented rooms and shelters for the homeless. With this uncertain background it is unsurprising that he was never really happy. He found it hard to make friends of his own age or to find a father figure for guidance. With the constant movement he never felt as if he could fit in anywhere.
By the time Tupac was 12 the family had moved to Baltimore and he was starting to develop into a more balanced person and his passion for acting and poetry was beginning to surface.. He attended the Baltimore School for the Performing Arts where his talents were becoming clear for all to see. Sadly family circumstances forced yet another move, this time to Oakland California where his desire for friendship led him to associate with a local gang where his background from living in the "big city", New York gave him status in the "small town" community he was now involved with.
His love of poetry had developed into rap and by the age of fifteen, he was already writing his own lyrics and had adopted his trademark "gangster" swagger which led people to fear him. He joined various groups or formed his own performing and developing his own style of music.
By the time he was 20 he had earned, rightly or wrongly, a fearsome reputation. He had been arrested often and had served time for sexual offences and was involved with two wrongful death law-suits. His debut album "2pacalypse Now" had been very well received and he had joined "Digital Underground" who became very successful in the music business, possibly due to Tupac's membership.
By the age of 22 he was widely known outside America through his music and his role in the 1993 film "Poetic Justice". He was beginning to show that he was more than just a gangster rapper and that he had many other talents. He went on to star in the film "Above The Rim" and he was rapidly developing into a true "Black Prince" a nickname he had been given by his mother when he was still a child in New York.
However his new success and fame brought problems. Disagreements with his associates, a robbery, getting shot. This seemed to spur him on and his first record after surviving the shooting is considered one of his best. He developed a different outlook to life although he was still basically the lonely person he had been as a child. Unsurprisingly having survived 5 bullets he began to develop a belief in God and in his own destiny.
Despite this or perhaps because of it Tupac's problems continued. His records were successful but he was robbed yet again and he was once more accused and convicted of sexual assault. This is perhaps the reason for the title of his record "Me Against The World" released at that time and "All Eyes On Me" produced after his early release from jail.
Possibly drawn by the title of one of his books "The Prince" Tupac became interested in the work of Machiavelli whilst in prison and he changed his name to Makaveli when he left prison.
Tupac was shot as he was heading for a party following the Mike Tyson v Bruce Sheldon boxing match in Las Vegas on 7th September 1996 and he died a week later on 13th September. His record 'The Don Kiluminati, The Seven Day Theory' was released under the name, Makaveli shortly after his death and led to claims by some of his fans that he was not actually dead! His recording company Death Row records subsequent release of earlier unreleased albums by Tupac Shakur no doubt fuelled that belief.
Since his death much good has been done in his name. Movements to bring peace and harmony within the youth culture of America. It is hard to say if this would have occurred had he lived but there is undoubted evidence within his writings that his personal beliefs were much less disruptive and more peace loving than his early life and image seem to indicate.
Why not read some of his words and make up your own mind.
The Rose That Grew From Concrete
Can You See The Pride In The Panther
Ambition Over Adversity
And of course
In The Event Of My Demise
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