Music / Tupac Shakur

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THUG LIFE.
Influences:Kate Bush, Culture Club, Don McLean, Sinéad O'Connor, U2
"We shouldn't ask why does a rose that grew from the concrete have damaged petals, instead we should all celebrate its tenacity, we should all love its will to reach the sun, well, we are the roses, this is the concrete and these are my damaged petals, don't ask me why, thank god, and ask me how?"
Tupac Shakur

"A lot of people think that it was about Biggie on the East Coast and 2Pac on the West Coast. It wasn't like that. Big ran New York. 2Pac ran America."
Cormega

Tupac Amaru Shakur (June 16, 1971 - September 13, 1996), also known by his stage names 2Pac (or simply Pac) and Makaveli, was an American rapper. In addition to his status as a top-selling recording artist, Shakur was a promising actor, a poet and a social activist. Most of Shakur's songs are about growing up amid violence and hardship in ghettos, racism, problems in society and conflicts with other rappers. Shakur's work is known for advocating political, economic, social and racial equality. Shakur was initially a roadie and backup dancer for the alternative hip hop group Digital Underground, before forming his own group Thug Life then going solo.note 

Shakur became the target of lawsuits and experienced other legal problems. He was later shot five times and robbed in the lobby of a recording studio in New York City. Following the event, Shakur grew suspicious that other figures in the rap industry had prior knowledge of the incident and did not warn him; the controversy helped spark the East Coast-West Coast hip hop rivalry. Shakur was later convicted for rape, but he insisted all relations were consensual.

After serving eleven months of his sentence he was released from prison on an appeal financed by Marion "Suge" Knight, the CEO of Death Row Records. In exchange for Suge's assistance, Shakur agreed to release three albums under the Death Row label. The first of such was All Eyez on Me, Shakur's first double album (as well as the only double album released during his lifetime) as well as one of the earliest double albums in hip-hop.

In addition to his music, Shakur was also one of the first rappers to have a successful acting career. What separates him from the others (and what many people didn't realize), is that he actually went to school for acting and would have seriously pursued it had he not gotten into music. As a child, he played Travis in A Raisin in the Sun during a run at the Apollo Theater. As an adult, his best-known movies include Poetic Justice with Janet Jackson and Above The Rim.

On the night of September 7, 1996, Shakur was shot four times in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas. He died six days later of respiratory failure and cardiac arrest at the University Medical Center. For a few years, Tupac was just as prolific in death as in life. Rabid fans and conspiracy theorists have speculated that he staged his murder to escape his enemies, though this urban myth has largely died down.

Shakur has sold over 75 million albums worldwide. A wealth of posthumous material continues to be released as of 2010, but cynical listeners have always seen it as a way of cashing in on his legacy, especially since most of the songs were remixed with current musical trends and artists, which sometimes clash with Shakur's style. Nonetheless, he was one of the defining musicians of The '90s.

Songs of note:

  • "Only God Can Judge Me"
  • "Shorty Wanna Be A Thug"
  • “Keep Ya Head Up”
  • “I Get Around”
  • “Pour Out A Little Liquor” (with Thug Life)
  • “Dear Mama”
  • “California Love”
  • “Ghetto Gospel”
  • “How Do U Want It”
  • “To Live & Die In LA” (as Makaveli)
  • “So Many Tears”
  • “Temptations”
  • “Me Against the World”
  • “Brenda's Got a Baby”
  • “All Eyez On Me”
  • “Hit 'Em Up“
  • “I Don't Give a Fuck”
  • “Changes”
  • “Do For Love”
  • “I Wonder If Heaven Got A Ghetto”
  • “Hail Mary” (as Makaveli)
  • “Definition of a Thug Nigga”
  • “Pain”
  • “Loyal To The Game”
  • “Toss it Up” (as Makaveli)
  • “How Long Will They Mourn Me?” (with Thug Life)
  • “Me And My Girlfriend”
  • “Thug Luv” (with Bone Thugs-n-Harmony)
  • "Staring At The World Through My Rear View"
  • "Lost Souls"
  • "Ghetto Gospel" (with Elton John)


Albums of Note

Released Posthumously:
  • 1997 R U Still Down? (Remember Me), Probably the most popular of the posthumous releases.
  • 1998 Greatest Hits (Notable in that it included the original version of California Love (the one released on AEOM was a remix), a new mix of Toss It Up, and four previously unreleased tracks, including the popular Changes)
  • 1999 Still I Rise (With the Outlawz)
  • 2001 Until the End of Time
  • 2002 Better Dayz
  • 2004 Loyal to the Game
  • 2006 Pac's Life

Music Videos:


Tropes found in his music include:

  • Animated Music Video: "Do For Love".
  • Angry Black Man:He fulfills this trope in the song Changes also in the song Trapped and you can hear a little of this in the song Ballad of a dead Soldier . Also, "Holla If Ya Hear Me."
  • The Apunkalypse: The first half of the "California Love" video.
  • Attack Backfire: As he pointed out in Rebel Of The Underground, not only did the people who kicked up a fuss over his earlier albums help draw attention to them, they also inadvertently gave him ideas for material to use in future albums.
    They say they hate me; they wanna hold me down.
    I guess they're scared of the rebel; the rebel of the underground!
    But I never let it get me.
    I just make another record 'bout the punks trying to sweat me!
  • Bad Ass Family: Afeni Shakur, Assata Shakur, Mutulu Shakur, Geronimo Pratt, the latter being a highly decorated Vietnam vet.
  • Byronic Hero
  • The Cameo: The music video for "Temptations" had the following: Ice-T, Coolio, Salt-N-Pepa, Jasmine Guy, Jada Pinkett Smith, Marcus Chong, Treach, Bill Bellamy, Yo-Yo, B-Real, Isaac Hayes, Warren G, Adina Howard, Crystal Waters, Shock G, Kenya Moore and Joe Torre.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Tupac's The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory album.
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!
  • Dead Artists Are Better: In a rather blatant example, Rolling Stone revisited All Eyez on Me in 2004 and gave it five stars, as opposed to the three it received in 1996.
  • Deal with the Devil: Invoked by Tupac to his childhood friend Watani Tyehimba, who begged him not to sign with Death Row Records and its notoriously violent CEO Suge Knight. Tupac said he knew what he was getting into, but was caught between a rock and a hard place due to financial troubles.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: The eponymous Brenda in "Brenda's Got a Baby".
  • Downer Ending: "Ghetto Gospel", thanks to the flashbacks of the day. It doesn't get better knowing how it ended.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: "Dear Mama".
    • "Keep Ya Head Up" also has shades of this, with Tupac proclaiming that men shouldn't hate women because, when you get down to it, all men came from women.
  • Fat and Skinny: Him and B.I.G. when they were still friends.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Nigga: Never Ignorant Getting Goals Accomplished.
    • Also "Thug Life"= The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody.
  • Gangsta Rap: One of the greats. In case you didn't notice.
  • Glorified Sperm Donor: Deconstructed in "Papa's Song".
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Snoop Dogg.
  • Hardcore Hip Hop: "Hit 'Em Up" is one of the most infamous examples of the genre.
  • Horrorcore: "Hail Mary" has shades of this.
  • I Call It "Vera": "Me And My Girlfriend", which is often misinterpreted as a romanticized outlaw tale ala Bonnie and Clyde. However, the "girlfriend" of the title is really his gun. The misinterpretation has been aided in no small part by Jay-Z's version, which turned it into a duet with Beyoncé.
  • Iconic Outfit: His bandanna and "Thug Life" stomach tattoo.
  • Intercourse with You: "How Do U Want It?"
  • Justified Criminal: His songs overlap with this a lot and occasionally so did his life. In one notable incident, he avoided charges in Atlanta for shooting two off-duty cops in the asses after seeing them harass a black driver. (The case was dropped due to insufficient evidence)
    I didn't choose the thug life; the thug life chose me.
  • Minimalism: The beat to "Hail Mary".
  • Meaningful Name / Named After Somebody Famous: He was named after José Gabriel Túpac Amaru, the leader of a Peruvian indigenous uprising against the Spanish. This is reflective of his family's Black Panther background.
  • Mob War
  • Mood Whiplash: His albums tend to be this, from the somber and reflective (Dear Mama), to the angry and defiant (Only God Can Judge Me) to the lighthearted and humorous (All About You).
  • Morality Ballad: "Brenda's Got a Baby". All that tragedy could arguably have been prevented if Brenda's parents and teachers were looking out for her.
  • Mr. Fanservice: The man was a former dancer, so his ripped and often displayed physique is justified.
  • Political Rap: Especially before his Death Row stuff. His debut album 2Pacalypse Now is quite a bit different than All Eyez on Me in terms of subject matter.
  • Profane Last Words: According to the officer that arrived to the scene of Tupac's drive-by shooting, his last words were "fuck you" (to the cop).
  • Properly Paranoid: After he got shot the first time...
  • Really Gets Around: "I Get Around" lampshades this.
    • Also, he had sex with all the women who appear in the video for "How Do U Want It?" within such a short period of time that he wound up in the emergency room for "exhaustion."
  • Real Men Wear Pink: He did ballet in school.
  • Stage Names: Averted until the formation of the Outlawz, then... hoo boy. The group was originally called Dramacydal; Pac got the idea for the change after reading Machiavelli in prison. Nearly every member of the group took a stage name inspired by a famous dictator: Hussein "Fatal", Napoleon, Idi Amin E.D.I. Mean, Khomeni Komani, Yaki Qaddafi Kadafi, Big Syke aka Mussolini, Castro Kastro... pretty much every one but the one you're thinking of.
  • The '90s: When he was alive and in his prime.
  • Take That!: The infamous "Hit 'Em Up", primarily aimed at his friend turned rival The Notorious B.I.G.. Others have felt his wrath as well mainly...
    • Mobb Deep - The duo featured on Capone N Noreaga's "L.A, L.A" remix, which dissed the West Coast, and 2Pac felt it dissed him, so he took a few potshots at them - most notably on "Hit Em Up", in which he mocked Prodigy's sickle-cell anemia (which many felt went too far). Mobb Deep replied with "Drop a Gem on Em".
    • Jay-Z - Jay-Z never dissed 2Pac, but due to being a prominent East Coast rapper who was good friends with Biggie, he still fell into 2Pac's crosshairs. Most infamously, the song "Fuck Friendz" had the line "Ain't no nigga like me / Fuck Jay-Z!", which Nas would later sample on his own Jay-Z diss "Ether". "Hit Em Up" also originally had a line aimed at Jay-Z, but the Outlawz felt that he didn't really have anything to do with the beef and talked Pac into taking it out. On his end, Jay had his own diss aimed at 2Pac, but when Pac died, he opted not to release it out of respect.
    • Chino XL - Chino's style involves dissing pretty much everyone, and his song "Riiiot!" has a line poking fun at the theory that 2Pac was raped in jail. Pac didn't take too kindly to this, and included a quick diss on "Hit Em Up" ("Chino XL, fuck you too!"). Amusingly, the song also dissed Biggie, with a line poking fun at "Biggie's stretch marks".
    • Nas - 2Pac felt that one of Nas' lines on "The Message" ("Fake thug, no love, you get the slug, CB4 Gusto) was aimed at him, and took shots at Nas on a few tracks on The 7 Day Theory. Interestingly, 2Pac and Nas had a chat face-to-face where they squashed the beef, and 2Pac promised to remove the disses against Nas from the album, but died before he could.
    • All of Junior M.A.F.I.A. - This is really no surprise, what with them basically being Biggie's answer to the Outlawz.
    • LL Cool J - 2Pac felt that the song "I Shot Ya" (not to be confused with Biggie's song "Who Shot Ya?") was aimed at him, and approached Keith Murray about it, but they were luckily able to diffuse tensions before a beef could really start.
    • Even Dr. Dre on his last album, after Dre had left Death Row. Pac mistakenly thought Dre had abandoned him in prison, when he'd really just realized that Suge Knight was a godawful manager. Obviously Tupac wasn't going to feel the same way about the man who'd just bailed him out of jail.
      • Adding on to the Dr. Dre entry, listen to the original beat of "Toss It Up", which was produced by him. When Dre left Death Row, he took the beat with him and tweaked it with Teddy Riley to create Blackstreet's hit song "No Diggity", which forced Tupac to alter his song's beat, and led to him dissing Dre and Blackstreet in turn.
  • Tempting Fate: Pac taunted the people who shot him that first time.
  • True Companions: The Outlaw Immortalz.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Pac was a short, skinny man with a deep, booming voice. It's jarring for those who only listened to him to see what he looked like.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz
  • Warrior Poet: An iconic example.


Alternative Title(s): Tupac

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