(Tupac Amaru Shakur; New York, 1971 -1996) American rapper, probably the most influential in the history of the genre. Murdered in his youth in circumstances that have not yet been clarified, his premature death cut short a rising career and helped elevate him to the category of rap legend.
His parents, members of the Black Panthers group, separated shortly after his birth. She spent a large part of her childhood in continuous trips throughout the country, in the company of her brothers and her mother. Despite living in poverty, she managed to get into the prestigious Baltimore School of Fine Arts, where, rapping and performing live, she began to develop her creativity. Before her graduation she had to move with her family to Marin City, California.
The year was 1988, and from then on he would live on the streets. He meets G-Shock, leader of Digital Underground, and soon joins the band as a dancer and roadie . In 1991 he made his first recording appearance on Digital Underground ‘s This is an EP release . 2Pac’s first album came in 1992: it was titled 2Pacalypse Now and it became a gold record with the single Brenda’s got a baby . This first album already caused a stir due to its lyrics; even Vice President Dan Quayle attacked him on the campaign trail.
2Pac’s popularity skyrocketed with his appearances in a couple of movies, Juice and Poetic Justice , the latter from famed color director John Singleton. In 1993, Stricly 4 my NIGGAZ was released , the rapper’s second album, with which he managed to place a couple of singles in the US top 15.
His career was on an ascending line, but several incidents altered it. Before dedicating himself to music, 2Pac had no police record. In 1992 he was arrested for his involvement in a fight that ended in the accidental death (by a stray bullet) of a six-year-old boy, although he was released shortly after. When he was in the middle of filming Menace II Society , he assaulted the film’s director, for which he spent fifteen days in the shade.
In 1993 he was arrested on charges of shooting two off-duty police officers. The case was dismissed, but a month later members of his tour were accused of sexually abusing a female fan and, in 1994, 2Pac himself was found guilty of a similar charge. The day before the sentence was made public, he was shot by a couple of individuals in a studio in New York. This did not prevent him from being sentenced to four and a half years in prison in February 1995.
He was in jail when his third album, Me against the world , was released, which went to number one. From jail he accused the Notorious BIG, Puffy Combs, Andre Harrell and Randy Stretch Walker of being behind the shooting of which he had been a victim. Before the year was out, Suge Knight, president of Death Row Records, posted $1.4 million bail and 2Pac was out on the street.
As expected, 2Pac signed with the production company Death Row Records and debuted on the label with All eyez on me (1996), a double album that quickly reached number one, achieving the fifth platinum disc after a few months. In the summer of 1996 he also acted in two films, Bullet and Gridlock .
Coming out of a Mike Tyson fight in Las Vegas in September of that year, he was shot while riding in the passenger seat of Suge Knight’s car. Seriously injured, he was admitted to a hospital, where he died six days later. Several theories arose about the incident, from the most banal, for revenge (2Pac could have had a fight with a stranger before the boxing match), to more consistent ones, in which the rapper’s death was related to pending accounts of the mob with Suge Knight; 2Pac would have been an innocent victim in such a case.
It was also said that Notorious BIG had taken revenge on him, after some comments from 2Pac about Notorious’s wife, who 2Pac said he was sleeping with. The truth is that the truth was never clarified, and Notorious BIG was murdered six months later in similar circumstances.
-Reality is wrong. Dreams are for real.
-A coward dies a thousand deaths. A soldier dies but once.
-There’s gonna be some stuff you gonna see thats gonna make it hard to smile in the future, but through whatever you see, through all the rain and the pain you gotta keep your sense of humor. You gotta be able to smile through all this bullshit… remember that.
-I don’t see myself being special; I just see myself having more responsibilities than the next man. People look to me to do things for them, to have answers.
-I think I’m a natural-born leader. I know how to bow down to authority if it’s authority that I respect.
-It’s the game of life. Do I win or do I lose? One day they’re gonna shut the game down. I gotta have as much fun and go around the board as many times as I can before it’s my turn to leave.
-I know it seems hard sometimes but remember one thing. Through every dark night, theres a bright day after that. So no matter how hard it get, stick your chest out, keep ya head up and handle it.
-It’s a struggle for every young Black man. You know how it is, only God can judge us.
-I just don’t know how to deal with so many people giving me that much affection. I never had that in my life.
-All I’m trying to do is survive and make good out of the dirty, nasty, unbelievable lifestyle that they gave me.
-When you do rap albums, you got to train yourself. You got to constantly be in character.
-Somebody help me, tell me where to go from here cause even thugs cry, but do the Lord care?
-Life’s a wheel of fortune and it’s my chance to spin it.
-We wouldn’t ask why a rose that grew from the concrete for having damaged petals; in turn, we would all celebrate its tenacity, we would 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.
-Everybody’s at war with different things. I’m at war with my own heart sometimes.
-Let the Lord judge the criminals.
-I would rather have been shot straight-up in cold blood-but to be set up? By people who you trusted? That’s bad.
-The only thing that comes to a sleeping man is dreams.
-What I learned in jail is that I can’t change. I can’t live a different lifestyle – this is it. This is the life that they gave and this is the life that I made.
-We all gonna die, we bleed from similar veins.
-I feel like role models today are not meant to be put on a pedestal. But more like angels with broken wings.
-My mama always used to tell me: ‘if you can’t find somethin’ to live for, you best find somethin’ to die for.’
-If God wanted me to be quiet he would’ve never showed me what he does.
-I’ll probably be punished for hard living.
-I am society’s child. This is how they made me and now I’m sayin’ what’s on my mind and they don’t want that. This is what you made me, America.
-I don’t have no fear of death. My only fear is coming back reincarnated.
-I’m 23 years old. I might just be my mother’s child, but in all reality, I’m everybody’s child. Nobody raised me; I was raised in this society.
-There’s nobody in the business strong enough to scare me.
-In my mind I’m a blind man doin’ time.
-With all my fans I got a family again.
-I believe that everything that you do bad comes back to you. So everything that I do that’s bad, I’m going to suffer from it. But in my mind, I believe what I’m doing is right. So I feel like I’m going to heaven.
-It seems like every time you come up something happens to bring you back down.
-Of course I’m going to say ‘I’m a thug,’ that’s because I came from the gutter and I’m still here!
-I’ve been shot five times but I’m still breathing, living proof there a God if you need a reason.
-I don’t want to be a role model. I just want to be someone who says, this is who I am, this is what I do, I say what’s on my mind.
-If we really are saying that rap is an art form, then we got to be more responsible for our lyrics. If you see everybody dying because of what you are saying, it don’t matter that you didn’t make them die. It just matters that you didn’t save them.
-Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside while still alive. Never surrender.
-That which does not kill me can only make me stronger. I don’t see why everybody feel as though that they gotta tell me how to live my life.
-Forgive but don’t forget, girl keep your head up. And when he tells you you ain’t nothing, don’t believe him. And if he can’t learn to love you, you should leave him.
-I’m not sayin’ I’m gonna rule the world, or that I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.
-Can’t close my eyes cause all I see is terror. I hate the man in the mirror cause his reflection makes the pain turn realer.
-Fear is stronger than love, remember that. Fear is stronger than love. All that love I gave didn’t mean nothing when it came to fear.
-One day I’m gonna bust, blow up on this society. Why did you lie to me? I couldn’t find a trace of equality.
-Every day, I’m standing outside trying to sing my way in: We are hungry, please let us in We are hungry, please let us in. After about a week that song is gonna change to: We hungry, we needsome food. After two, three weeks, it’s like: Give me the food Or I’m breaking down the door. After a year you’re just like: I’m picking the lock. Coming through the door blasting.
-I have not brought violence to you. I have not brought ‘thug life’ to America. I didn’t create ‘thug life;’ I diagnosed it.
-If I was white, I would be like John Wayne. I feel like a tragic hero in a Shakespeare play. Somebody who pulled himself up by his bootstraps, from poverty.
-Behind every sweet smile, there is a bitter sadness that no one can see and feel.
-I said, I’m gonna write a song about the women like my mom, women like my sister, who I think represent the strong black women, and I did that. Now I’mma write about the women I see everyday and that was ‘[I] Get Around.’ If I just write songs like ‘Keep Ya Head Up’ it would make me seem more than what I am, but I’m just a normal man.
-What makes me saying ‘I don’t give a f***,’ different from Patrick Henry saying ‘Give me liberty or give me death?’ What makes my freedom any different than Bosnians or who ever [America] wants to fight for this year? They should give money to the ghetto.
-Hip Hop when it started it was supposed to be this new thing that had no boundaries and was so different to everyday music. Now it seems like I was starting to get caught up in the mode of what made hip hop come about. As long as the music has the true to the heart soul it can be hip hop. As long it has soul to it, hip hop can live on.
-Why can’t [the President] take some of those people off the street and put them in his White House? Then he’ll have people from the street to help him with his ideas. They haven’t been homeless forever; they’ve done things for society.
-Until it happened, I really did believe that no Black person would ever shoot me. I believed that I didn’t have to fear my own community, You know, I was like I represent them. I’m their ambassador to the world, they will never do me wrong.
-I want to grow. I want to be better. You grow. We all grow. We’re made to grow. You either evolve or you disappear.
-Every time I speak I want the truth to come out. Every time I speak I want a shiver. I don’t want them to be like they know what I’m gonna say because it’s polite. I’m not saying I’m gonna rule the world or I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee you that I will spark the brain that will change the world.
-I set goals, take control, drink out my own bottle. I make mistakes but learn from every one. And when it’s said and done, I bet this brother be a better one. If I upset you don’t stress; never forget, that God isn’t finished with me yet.
-If you let a person talk long enough you’ll hear their true intentions! Listen twice, speak once.
-We can never go nowhere unless we share with each other.
-You can spend minutes, hours, days, weeks, or months over-analyzing a situation; trying to put the pieces together, justifying what could’ve, would’ve happened…or you can just leave the pieces on the floor and move the f*** on.
-Never surrender, it’s all about the faith you got; don’t ever stop, just push it ‘till you hit the top and if you drop, at least you know you gave your all to be true to you, that way you can never fail.
-The same crime element that white people are scared of black people are scared of. While they waiting for legislation to pass, we next door to the killer. All them killers they let out, they’re in that building. Just because we black, we get along with the killers? What is that?
-I shall not fear man but God, though I walk through the valley of death.
-I am not a perfectionist, but still I seek perfection. I am not a great romantic, but yet I yearn for affection.
-Even warriors put their spears down on Sundays.
-There’s no way I could pay you back but my plan is to show you that I understand, you are appreciated.
-You just can’t be calling us fakers and pretenders and non-creative and say we can’t freestyle.
-No matter who committed the crime, they all yell at me. And the media is greedier than most. You could sell ‘em your soul and they’ll be on ya till a nigga’s a ghost.
-I feel like Black Jesus got his hands on me and guides me through life to put me where I’m supposed to be.
-You can never ‘just be friends’ with someone you fall in love with.
-It takes skill to be real. Time to heal each other.
-Out of anger comes controversy, out of controversy comes conversation, out of conversation comes action.
-I didn’t choose the thug life, the thug life chose me.
-I worked hard all my life as far as this music business. I dreamed of the day when I could go to New York and feel comfortable and they could come out here and be comfortable.
-The only time I have problems is when I sleep.
-If you could walk a mile in my shoes you’d be crazy too.
-America wants its respect.
-No matter what these people say about me, my music doesn’t glorify any image. My music is spiritual when you listen to it. It’s all about emotion, I tell my innermost, darkest secrets.
-Don’t change on me. Don’t extort me unless you intend to do it forever.
-They got money for the war but can’t feed the poor.
-What people do for the struggle of power is madness.
-Imperfection is inherited, therefore we all sin, but fighting the war of sin is the greatest war of all because we all die in the end, no matter how hard we fight.
-I know death follows me, but I murder him first.
-Ain’t a woman alive that can take my momma’s place.
-This fast life soon shatters, cause after all the lights and screams, nothing but my dreams matter.
-Unconditional love. Talking bout the stuff that don’t wear off, it don’t fade. It’ll last for all these crazy days, these crazy nights. Whether you wrong or you right, I’ma still love you, still feel you, still there for you. No matter what, you will always be in my heart with unconditional love.
-I know what good morals are, but you’re supposed to disregard good morals when you’re living in a crazy, bad world. If you’re in hell, how can you live like an angel? You’re surrounded by devils,trying to be an angel? That’s like suicide.
-I don’t want it if it’s that easy.
-It don’t stop ’til the casket drop.
-I am a hard person to love but when I love, I love really hard.
-I did not wanted to become the victim, so became the bully.
-Don’t believe everything you hear. Real eyes, realize, real lies.
-We was young and we was dumb, but we had heart.
-Many dreams are what we had and plenty wishes.