... he died September 13, 1996.
Tupac Amaru Shakur has sold over 75 million albums worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists in the world. In the U.S. he has sold 37.5 million records. Rolling Stone named him the 86th Greatest Artist of All Time.
-----Tupac Amaru Shakur was born in the East Harlem section of New York City. He was named after Túpac Amaru II, a Peruvian revolutionary who led an indigenous uprising against Spain and was subsequently executed.
His mother, Afeni Shakur, and his father, Billy Garland, were active members of the Black Panther Party in New York in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Several sources list his birth name as "Lesane Parish Crooks." This name was supposedly entered on the birth certificate because his mother was afraid for his safety. She changed it later, following her marriage to Mutulu Shakur. (Shakur had a younger half-sister, Sekyiwa, and an older stepbrother, Mopreme "Komani" Shakur, who appeared on many of his records.)
Struggle and incarceration surrounded Shakur from an early age. Still, when he was twelve, Shakur enrolled in Harlem's 127th Street Repertory Ensemble and was cast as the Travis Younger character in the play A Raisin in the Sun, performed at the Apollo Theater. In 1986, the family relocated to Baltimore, Maryland. After completing his second year at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School he transferred to the Baltimore School for the Arts, where he studied acting, poetry, jazz, and ballet.
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He performed in Shakespearean plays, and in the role of the Mouse King in The Nutcracker. Shakur, accompanied by one of his friends, Dana "Mouse" Smith, as his beatbox, won most of the many rap competitions that he participated in and was considered to be the best rapper in his school. He was remembered at his school because of his sense of humor, superior rapping skills, and ability to mix in with all crowds.
He developed a close friendship with a young Jada Pinkett (later Jada Pinkett Smith) that lasted until his death. A poem written by Shakur titled "Jada" appears in his book, The Rose That Grew From Concrete, which also includes a poem dedicated to Pinkett Smith called "The Tears in Cupid's Eyes."
In June 1988, his family moved to Marin City, California, Tupac enrolled at Tamalpais High School. He began attending the poetry classes of Leila Steinberg in 1989. That same year, Steinberg organized a concert with a former group of Shakur's, Strictly Dope. The concert led to his signing with Atron Gregory who set him up as a roadie and backup dancer with the young rap group Digital Underground in 1990.
Shakur's professional career began in the early 1990s, when he debuted his rapping skills in a vocal turn in Digital Underground's "Same Song" from the soundtrack to the 1991 film Nothing but Trouble and also appeared with the group in the film of the same name. The song was later released as the lead song of the Digital Underground EP; the follow-up to their debut hit album Sex Packets. Shakur appeared in the accompanying music video.
After his rap debut, he performed with Digital Underground again on the album Sons of the P. Later, he released his first solo album, 2Pacalypse Now.
2Pacalypse Now did not do as well on the charts as future albums. His second record, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z., was released in 1993.
In late 1993, Shakur formed the group Thug Life with a his friends, including Big Syke, Macadoshis, his stepbrother Mopreme Shakur, and Rated R. The group released their only record album Thug Life: Volume 1 in September 1994. It went gold.
The album featured the single "Pour Out a Little Liquor" produced by Johnny "J" Jackson, who went on to produce a large part of Shakur's album All Eyez on Me. The group usually performed their concerts without Shakur.
On his second record, Shakur continued to rap about the social ills facing African-Americans, with songs like "The Streetz R Deathrow" and "Last Wordz." He also showed his compassionate side with the anthem "Keep Ya Head Up," while simultaneously putting his legendary aggressiveness on display with the title track from the album Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.
While in the critical care unit on the afternoon of September 13, 1996, Shakur died of internal bleeding.