46 years ago today, a legend was born. More than 20 years ago, a legend was taken from us. Tupac Amaru Shakur, or simply 2Pac, was (and is, to this day) one of the greatest, highly respected musicians of all time. Not only did he sell more records than any other rap/hip hop artist of his generation, and was voted as one of the 100 immortal artists by Rolling Stone, next to the likes of Elvis Presley and John Lennon, but the cultural and artistic footprints he has left, his undying legacy is indisputable and unlike any other artist’s remains.
To pay our respects to the iconic hip hop artist, we created a list of five things you (probably) didn’t know about the late rapper, but will make you love him even more. Find out for yourselves:
- First off, let’s start with his name. As many of you may already know, or at least suspect, Tupac Amaru Shakur was not 2Pac’s birth name. Born Lesane Parish Crooks, June 16, 1971 in East Harlem in New York City, it was a year later, in 1972, that his mother decided to rename him. Why, though? Well, Tupac’s mother, Afeni Shakur (born Alice Faye Williams), changed her name in reference to her political activism, with Afeni meaning “lover of people” and Shakur being Arabic for “thankful to god”. She was an active member in the Black Panther Party, an anti-fascist, pro-black organisation. Her son was named after José Gabriel Túpac Amaru, leader of “The Túpac Amaru Rebellion”, which was an Inca revival movement that sought to improve the rights of indigenous Peruvians. See the connection? Apparantly the name is Inca for “shining serpent”.
- According to IMDb, 2Pac was offered his first record deal at the age of 13. His mother, however, interfered, insisting her son see more of life and the world before commiting to a contract in the often very harsh music industry.
- Tupac’s family moved from time to time, resulting in him bascially growing up between cities. Baltimore in Maryland as young teen, Shakur attended the Baltimore School for the Arts, where he studied poetry, jazz, acting, and ballet. He performed in Shakespeare-plays and in the role of the Mouse King in the ballet The Nutcracker. As much as we love the thought of it, it’s, quite frankly, hard for us to imagine 2pac, a man that had “Thug Life” tattooed across his abdomen, being a ballet dancer. But, hey? If it’s possible, it makes this guy even more likeable than before.
- 2Pac’s favorite musician was none other than the also-legendary Prince, who sadly past away just last year. Aside from The Purple One, Shakur also loved (wait for it) Brit Pop. Aside from world-famous bands such as U2, the rapper also counted the more alternative Kate Bush, Culture Club, and Sinéad O’Connor to his favorites. Not necessarily something you’d expect, huh? Well, let’s just say this: We’d pop in that mixtape any day, too!
- Finally, to end this list with a supposed fact we don’t really know how to process: According to various sources (IMDb, HipHopDX, …), Tupac Shakur wanted to work with (selected members) of the Wu-Tang Clan. This may or may not be shocking to you, depending on how educated you are on the topic. But let’s break it down: Some of the biggest names in Hip Hop used to be distinctively divided into East Coast, and West Coast Rappers (L.A. and N.Y.C.). Due to numerous reasons, feuds between the two parties were anything but unusual. While 2Pac may have never been as involved in these feuds as, say the Wu or his friend-gone-foe Notorious B.I.G.. But still, 2Pac was a loyal West Coast rapper and collaborating with East Coast MCs as “powerful” as Wu could (and probabaly would have) caused quite the conversation. Aside from this, though, it would have been amazing, solely due to the fact that these two respective acts made some of the best music their genre had to offer. Music that still sets the bars today, and will never go out of style. Not even 20 years after Tupac Amaru Shakur’s tragic and untimely passing.