Are you a big 2pac fan? Do you want to know if you know all the facts about Tupac Shakur? Then read on to see if you can find something You didn’t know yet.
It’s been well over two decades since Tupac Shakur was tragically killed on the strip of Las Vegas. Yet, his memory will always live on through his music.
It’s the way he was able to touch people with his simple, yet powerful lyrics about life and love, in general, that attracts people to his music.
His life was a rollercoaster, that’s for sure. Marked with huge ups and downs, while at the same time always staying real to himself.
2pac had an extraordinary life, and in this post, we’ll dig up some facts about Tupac Shakur that you might not know yet.
Related: Check out some of Tupac’s best movies!
1. Mother in jail
When Tupac’s mother Afeni was pregnant with him, she was actually in jail at the time. She was only acquitted one month before she gave birth to him. She had over 150 charges against her as being a member of the “Black Panther Party”, which was deemed guilty of conspiracy against the United States.
In the trial that was referred to as the “Panther 21 trials, “all members including his mother Afeni were acquitted of all 156 charges against them.
Both his parents, Afeni Shakur (born Alice Faye Williams) and Billy Garland (Tupac’s biological father) were members of the Black Panther Party.
2. Tupac Shakur’s birth
Tupac was born on June 16, 1971, in East Harlem in Manhattan, New York City. His name at birth was actually “Lesane Parish Crooks” but was changed when he was one year old to “Tupac Amaru Shakur.”
In one of Tupac’s songs called “Dear Mama,” You can hear Afeni mention the fact that she was in jail and was afraid she wouldn’t be able to keep her baby with her and was feeling blessed when she was acquitted for her baby.
3. Origin of Tupac’s name
Tupac was given the name of Peru’s revolutionary leader against the Spanish called “José Gabriel Túpac Amaru” or simply referred to as “Túpac Amaru II.”
When asked why Afeni gave her son this name, she replied:
I wanted him to have the name of revolutionary, indigenous people in the world. I wanted him to know he was part of a world culture and not just from a neighborhood …
4. Jailed family members
Growing up, Tupac had to witness a lot of his family members and friends go to jail. A lot of them were jailed for their involvement in the “Black Liberation Army,” a splinter group of black panthers involved in criminal activity.
His stepfather, Mutulu Shakur, even was on the run for 4 years and put on the FBI’s 10 most wanted list until he got caught in 1986.
He got sentenced to 60 years in jail for an armed robbery during which two police officers and a guard were killed. This long sentence is something Tupac sometimes refers to in some of his songs such as “Life Goes On.”
5. Tupac moved a lot
Normal and stable life wasn’t possible for Tupac when growing up. The family moved often due to financial problems.
In 1984 Tupac moved to Baltimore, and despite the situation, Tupac was a good student. After successfully finishing the second year of high school, he enrolled in the “Baltimore School for the Arts” where his talent allowed him to excel further.
6. Tupac was an actor early on
When Tupac Shakur was just 12 years old, he played in a play called “A raisin in the sun.” This was performed in the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York.
A raisin in the sun is a famous play that debuted on broadway back in 1959. The title comes from the fitting poem”Harlem” by Langston Hughes.
An important fact regarding this: The play was a fundraiser for Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaign.
7. Tupac studied poetry and ballet
Unlike his peers living in rough areas of the city, Tupac was actually exposed to poetry and believe it or not, performed ballet.
His exposure to Shakespeare and other poetry really influenced him as he was able to link seeing rap as poetry, something he refers to a lot after he became famous selling millions of albums.
Tupac played the role of the Mouse King in the ballet “The Nutcracker” and performed in Shakespeare’s plays.
8. He met one of his best friends in art school
In Baltimore’s art school, he met a girl who would become one of his closest friends in life, Jada Pinkett (now Jada Pinkett Smith).
In Tupac’s poetry collection called “The rose that grew from the concrete,” he dedicated two poems to his friend called “Jada” and “The Tears in Cupid’s eyes.”
Jada recalls her relationship with Tupac as:
One of my best friends. He was like a brother. It was beyond friendship for us. The type of relationship we had, you only get that once in a lifetime.
9. Rap Competitions in high school
Tupac was considered to be one of the most popular kids in school because of his epic sense of humor and easygoing nature.
During his time in school, he also competed in many rap competitions and was considered one of the best rappers.
One of his friends during this time called Dana “Mouse” Smith served as his beatbox while Tupac was laying down the rhymes. This marked the start of an amazing career.
10. Tupac went by the name of MC New York
Clearly proud of coming from the East Coast, and more specifically New York, he went by the name of MC New York in his younger days.
We all know that he changed that to simply “2pac”, a reference to his first name the moment he started releasing solo albums.
This was still during his days in Baltimore.
11. Tupac the communist?
One of the more surprising facts about Tupac Shakur is that he actually became a member of the “Young Communist League USA.”
A communist, seriously?
Apparently, he started dating the daughter of the local director of the communist party shortly after.
That explains it all, doesn’t it? 🙂
12. Tupac had a humble start
While Tupac was achieving a lot of things already and had great rap skills, this didn’t translate into a great success.
At least not at the beginning of his career.
How did he start? As a backup dancer!
In 1990 Tupac had the opportunity to tour with the hip-hop group digital underground and was used as a backup dancer.
13. Tupac’s first breakthrough: Nothing but trouble
Tupac actually started recording in 1989, but his first major success didn’t come before the 90s.
His performances with Digital Underground allowed him to get his debut on the soundtrack of the movie “Nothing but Trouble.”
Tupac and the group didn’t just do the soundtrack to it called “Same Song,” they also starred in the movie.
14. His first album
Things seemed to be going very fast for Tupac at this time. Not even a year later he released his first own album called “2Pacalypse Now.”
The album is considered to be one of the best albums in hip-hop ever, even though it didn’t generate any hit singles.
Other artists like Nas, Eminem, Game, and Talib Kweli have admitted it inspired them for their own careers.
15. 2Pacalypse Now was very controversial
In 1992, a Texas Texas Highway Patrol Trooper named Bill Davidson was murdered by Ronald Ray Howard. The defense claimed that the defendant was being influenced by Tupac’s album 2Pacalypse Now.
Nobody else than the Vice-President of the United States at that time, Dan Quayle, raised concerns about the album.
Here’s what he said:
There’s no reason for a record like this to be released. It has no place in our society.
The album went on to sell nearly a million copies anyways.
16. Tupac’s second album was even more popular
Controversy never stopped Tupac from achieving great things. In fact, it probably made the fire burn even stronger.
His second album came out in February 1993 and was even more successful than his debut album. It’s called “Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.”
Two songs on the album, “Keep Ya Head Up” and “I Get Around” even reached platinum status.
It’s generally considered to be Tupac’s “Breakout album.”
17. Tupac loved Irish music
We all know that Tupac was a kaleidoscopic character. There were simply so many surprising aspects to him.
One of those interesting facts about Tupac is that he really enjoyed Irish music.
Ever since he was a teenager, he enjoyed listening to Irish pop musicians like Kate Bush, Sinead O’Connor, Culture Club, and U2.
18. Shakespeare inspired Tupac a lot
While his peers were hanging out on the street of Baltimore or Marin City, Tupac was actually studying Shakespeare.
He mentioned that this exposure to English literature and poetry inspired him a lot in his career.
Obviously, Tupac interpreted everything still according to his street upbringing. This clearly showed in a statement he made during a Q&A in the early 90s in the Latimes when asked about Romeo and Juliet:
That’s some serious ghetto shit. You got this guy Romeo from the Bloods who falls for Juliet, a female from the Crips, and everybody in both gangs is against them. So they have to sneak out and they end up dead for nothing. Real tragic stuff.”
19. Tupac lived in Marin City
So Tupac was born in New York, lived in Baltimore, and even called himself MC New York for a while.
How did Tupac become the most famous West Coast rapper then?
Just before he got famous, his family moved to Marin City, a ghetto-type neighborhood just above San Francisco.
20. An angry letter from Rashida Jones
Tupac was known for his big mouth. Whenever he disagreed with someone, this became very obvious.
Apparently, he had one with Quincy Jones, the famous record producer. Tupac called him out for having relationships with white women.
Not so much to the liking of Quincy Jones’s daughter Rashida, who wrote an angry, open letter to Tupac as she felt insulted.
Obviously, Tupac was charming enough to make things up with her and they ended up becoming good friends.
21. Tupac was engaged to Rashida’s sister
To emphasize that things weren’t all that bad, it’s a fact that Tupac had a relationship with Quincy Jones’ other daughter Kidada.
So this is the sister of Rashida who apparently was very mad at Tupac for his remarks about her father.
Tupac and Kidada were actually engaged the moment he died, and she referred to him as “the love of my life.”
22. Tupac and Biggie were friends
Tupac Shakur and The Notorious BIG (Christopher Wallace) are known to be the main figures in the East Coast, and West Coast beef.
But before that, they were actually good friends, hanging out together.
Unfortunately, that didn’t last long with a lifelong feud between the both of them as a result.
23. Tupac had a golden heart
This fact about Tupac Shakur is clear in numerous things he did. One of them that really stands out is what happened when he received a letter back in 1993.
The letter he received was from Joshua, a young boy who was terminally ill and has one last wish, to meet his idol, Tupac Shakur.
Tupac instantly flew all the way to Maryland to meet the boy and fulfill his wish. He took the boy to a basketball game as well.
Shortly after, the boy passed away.
The whole experience must have seriously touched Tupac because he actually renamed his publishing company from Ghetto Gospel Music to Joshua’s Dream.
24. Tupac’s third album was a real hit
Tupac Shakur’s third album is called “Me Against The World,” and is widely considered to be one of the most influential hip-hop albums of all time.
In February 1995, one of his most popular songs, an ode to his mother called “Dear mama,” was released as the first song on the album.
A total of over 3.5 million copies of the album have been sold in the United States alone.
Tupac Shakur’s album Me Against The World: Hit number one on the Billboard 200 while he was serving a prison sentence. This made him the first person ever to achieve this dubious record.
25. Tupac heard his sentence from a wheelchair
Legal trouble marked the life of Tupac Shakur. Ever since his rise to fame, he got caught up with all sorts of legal issues.
His most infamous trouble came in 1994 when he was accused of sexual assault.
The night before he would hear the verdict, he got shot 5 times in a robbery. Strangely enough, his Rolex watch was not stolen.
3 hours after undergoing surgery, he checked out of the hospital against the doctor’s advice as he was fearing for his life.
The next day, he went to the courthouse in a wheelchair to hear the verdict.
26. Tupac’s acting career got a false start
Tupac got a great opportunity to launch a glamorous acting career when he was cast as Sharif in the crime drama “Menace II Society.”
Unfortunately, he was fired by co-director Allen Hughes for causing trouble on the set. That didn’t go too well with Tupac.
Tupac and his entourage got into a fight with Allen and were sentenced to 15 days in jail for the incident.
27. Tupac Shakur’s first big movie
The incident on the set of Menace II Society was just a minor setback for Tupac’s acting career.
In 1992 he got his first big role, playing the psychopathic “Roland Bishop” in the movie “Juice.”
The role he got to play was perhaps not the best. he commented that things seriously changed when the movie was finished and people thought he was the cold-hearted thug he portrayed in Juice.
Luckily we know Tupac was actually a very nice guy (if you didn’t cross him) with a golden heart. 🙂
28. Dexter Isaac confessed to the 1994 shooting
On November 30, 1994, Tupac Shakur was shot 5 times and robbed in the Quad Records Studios in Manhattan, New York.
For a long time, Tupac thought that Biggie, his former friend was involved in the shooting as he was in the same building.
In 2011, Dexter Isaac, serving a lifelong sentence for unrelated crimes, gave an interview to Gully TV about the incident.
In this interview he claimed two things:
- Tupac was broke and owed money to Jimmy Henchman.
- Tupac’s friend Stretch set up the whole robbery and told the perpetrators, including Dexter Isaac, what to do.
Tupac probably knew and referred to the incident in one of his tracks “Holla At Me.” It refers to Stretch being reluctant to help Tupac as a friend should do (Stretch was also in the building during the shooting).
These are the lyrics:
How could you do me like that? I took your family in… I put some cash in your pocket… Made you a man again and now you let the fear put your ass in a place… Complicated to escape, it’s a fools fate… Without your word, you’re a shell of a man… I lost respect for you… We can never be friends.
29. Tupac read about Niccolò Machiavelli in Prison
When Tupac came out of prison, he was heavily influenced by what he read about the Italian political philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli.
So much so that he changed his artist name from 2pac to Makaveli, referring to the Italian philosopher.
The most important book he read was “The Prince” which talks about the idea of how to form your own nation-state.
If you wonder what it’s all about and how you can see the influence in Tupac’s songs, you can check out this short video:
30. Tupac loved women!
Tupac appeared to have an easygoing way to approach women, and they would in return easily fall for him.
One could say he was a real casanova. He also referred to this saying “I love women with a lot of passion.”
What was his most famous “catch?”
He actually dated Madonna!
31. Tupac was insulted by Janet Jackson
Contrary to his role as a cold-hearted psychopath Bishop in the movie Juice, was his role as the good-hearted Lucky in the romcom “Poetic Justice.”
The co-star in this movie was Janet Jackson, the late Michael’s sister.
It seems that during the shooting of the movie, Janet (or her entourage) wanted Tupac to be tested for HIV. His reputation as a casanova conquering woman probably got Janet scared or something, who knows…
Tupac refused and had 2 funny anecdotes about the whole thing:
- He stated that if he could really make love with Janet Jackson (which obviously wasn’t the case for the shoot), he was willing to take 4 HIV tests.
- A few weeks after the movie was shot, Janet changed her phone number and he never heard of her again.
He did claim though that they were good friends the time they worked together.
32. Dear mama is recognized forever
The National Recording Registry is a list of songs that are “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important, and/or inform or reflect life in the United States.”
In 2010, Tupac’s song “Dear Mama” was added to the registry.
Afeni Shakur, Tupac’s mother and the person for whom the song was written in the first place stated about this recognition:
It could have been any song, but I’m honored they chose “Dear Mama” in particular. It is a song that spoke not just to me, but every mother that has been in that situation, and there have been millions of us. Tupac recognized our struggle, and he is still our hero.
33. Tupac got rejected for a great role
Who can forget the movie, Forest Gump?
It’s one of the most epic feel-good movies of all time starring Tom Hanks as the slightly retarded Forest as he goes through his many adventures in life.
Tupac actually auditioned for a role in the movie.
Which role was that?
According to his ex-wife Keisha Morris, Tupac auditioned for the role of Forest’s best friend during the Vietnam war Bubba.
He didn’t get the role and it was given to Mykelti Williamson instead.
34. Tupac shot two police officers
In a bid to help his friends, Tupac would have done anything. That’s just the way he was.
According to a NY Times article, Tupac actually shot at two off-duty police officers.
The charges were dropped however when it was discovered that the police officers were drunk, in possession of stolen weapons, and lied to their colleagues.
35. Another Tupac anecdote
Tupac’s ex-wife Keisha Morris was asked to describe a particular moment she experienced with the rapper.
She came up with an anecdote about what happened when their hotel room caught fire and she rushed out to get to safety.
Tupac, calm as ever…
No wait, he was actually furious at his wife for running away and not helping her. It showed she couldn’t be trusted.
perhaps he overreacted a little bit, no?
Then again, this could be related to the 1994 shooting and his friends not helping him when in need.
36. All Eyes on Me Album
This was the last album that got released while Tupac was still alive, and it would become his most successful.
It became a certified diamond, one of the very few hip-hop albums to ever achieve this.
It not only topped the billboard 200 chart, it actually sold over 560,000 copies the very first week it was released.
37. The Outlawz smoked Tupac
Or didn’t they?
It’s a fact that Tupac Shakur was cremated the day after he died.
In one of our posts about the strangest traditions around the world, we refer to a tribe that pulverizes the ashes of the deceased to eat them as a token of respect.
Well, that’s kinda what the Outlawz did. They mixed Tupac’s ashes with some Marihuana and smoked them.
One of the Outlawz E.D.I. Mean later said that he learned that it wasn’t actually Tupac’s ashes they smoked.
They are still unclear who they smoked that day…
38. Tupac is Immortalized
I’m sure that every Tupac fan knows about his hologram appearance, performing as if he was really there.
But did you know that he is immortalized in Las Vegas as well?
His wax statue can be seen in Madame Tussauds in Las Vegas.