By PAYTON LOMONACO
The Hip-Hop legend, Tupac Shakur, was a talented, yet a troubled 90’s gangster rapper who was a rebel with a cause caught in a feud between east coast and west coast rappers. Tupac was tragically killed in a drive-by shooting in 1996 at the age of 26. Tupac was born June 16, 1971 in East Harlem, New York City. Tupac came from parents that were involved in Black Panthers. His mother had her name changed from Alice Faye Williams to Afeni Shakur when she became pregnant with Tupac in 1970 while on bail for being charged with conspiring a race war, but was acquitted that same year when she defended herself successfully. Tupac’s father, Billy Garland, was also a Black Panther and had lost contact with Tupac when he was 5 years old, which left Tupac thinking that his father was dead .Tupac was reunited with his father at age 23.
In Tupac’s early life, he grew up with younger sister Sekiya and mother Afeni. Being a single mother of two children, they struggled for money and would often move homes and sometimes even stay in shelters. Tupac went to Baltimore School of Art’s where he said “It was, the freest I ever felt”, but unfortunately moved because his neighborhood was so crime ridden. Then they moved to Marin city where his mother picked up a crack addiction.Tupac started selling the same drug his mother was consuming and also sold it on the same streets his mom would buy it from. When Tupac started music it steered him away from the crime he was brought into.
His love for Hip-Hop overcame the pain and struggle he went through growing up. In 1998, at 17, Tupac met an older white woman named Leila Steinberg at a park and they struck a conversation about Winnie Mandela. She described Tupac “As a young man with fan-like eyelashes, overflowing charisma, and most infectious laugh,” When they met, Tupac was obsessively writing poetry. Though Steinfeld had no experience in the music industry, she would still later become his manager. Steinfeld had gotten a music manager named Atron Gregory in the year 1990. Atron got Tupac a gig as a roadie, and a dancer for Digital Underground. From there, Gregory took over and got Tupac a deal with interscope records, A month later Tupac drops his first album as a solo artist, and he sold 500,000 copies with his popular songs “Brenda’s got a baby”,“Soulja’s story”, and “Blasting”.
Struggles were starting to come back to Tupac in 1994, when he got arrested for assaulting the director Allen Hughes for firing him off a set, because it was said that he was “disruptive”. Tupac then served jail time for 15 days.Then, another incident occurred involving jealous youths in Marin City. They had a pistol but dropped it, and someone picked it up,and the gun fired, and a six-year-old who was passing by on the scene, Qa’id Walker-Teal, fell to the floor and died on the scene. Tupac wasn’t charged with the death of Qa’id Walker-Teal, but was reported that he was “inconsolable”. Later on in 1995, Walker- Teal’s family brought a civil case against Shakur Tupac, but he got out of it because of an unnamed record company offered compensation between $300,000-$500,000. Things soon got way worse. Tupac had shot two white police officers that were off duty, one in the stomach and the other in the butt-cheek, but the charges were dropped because the court was told that the officers had been drinking and one of the officers reportedly had threatened Tupac with a stolen gun.
The death of the hip-hop legend happened September 7th, 1996 in Las Vegas at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Koval Lane. Tupac was shot four times in a drive-by shooting. He was taken to the University Medical center where he died six days later from his injuries.When the incident happened, a police officer had ran over to Tupac and asked “ who shot you?” . Tupac was struggling to breathe and talk, but then took a deep breath to get out the words. Then the officer had asked again and Tupac said his last words that were “f*** you” to the officer. Tupac, before his death, couldn’t help but feel misunderstood. To write a good album, you have to write about the hard stuff ,the fun things ,and the caring. Some of Tupac’s most sensitive songs go unnoticed. Tupac’s music inspires people, myself included. I love everything about his music, and his death was a shame, but we cherish what we got from him.