Lesane Parish Crooks was better known as Tupac Shakur or 2Pac. He was born on June 16, 1971, and passed away on Sept. 13, 1996. He was a man with many names, but he was also a man who left a legacy of having lived through his music. The rapper told his fans in his music about the struggles he had with crime throughout his life, and refused to pull any punches – even going as far as “dissing” other musicians in the process.
Shakur was not known only for rapping. According to Biography.com, before his rapping career even began, he enrolled in Harlem’s 127th Street Repertory Ensemble. He also performed as the Mouse King in “The Nutcracker” at the Baltimore School for the Arts. His first album came out on Nov. 12, 1991. He also lent his acting talents to the movies, some of which included “Poetic Justice” (1993), “Above the Rim” (1994), and “Gang Related” in 1997.
Shakur’s mother, Afeni Shakur, whose given name was Alice Faye Williams, gave birth to him after she was acquitted of more than 150 charges filed against her regarding her alleged involvement with the Black Panther Party. Her charges included “conspiracy against the United States Government and New York landmarks in New York.” According to encyclopedia.com, the case was known as the “Panther 21” case. His father Billy Garland was a Black Panther during the late 60s and early 70s. Garland left Shakur and his mother when the rapper was a child. The rapper once said, “My momma left my dad because he was kickin’ her a**.”
The family’s involvement with the law didn’t stop with 2Pac and his parents, according to Biography.com. It also branched out to his stepfather, Matulu Shakur, who spent over four years on the FBI’s Most Wanted list for helping his sister, Assata Shakur, escape a New Jersey prison, to which she had been sentenced after being convicted for killing a state trooper in 1973. He also landed on the notorious list due to his participation in a 1981 armored truck robbery, which resulted in the death of a guard. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison in 1987.
It is easy to see why his music, and even his legacy, as well as many of the films in which he acted, were focused on his life experiences with crime, as many of his family had spent time in jail. Shakur himself spent time in jail for various charges, including, but not limited to, assault and sexual assault.
“US Weekly” quotes Jada Pinkett Smith describing the rapper: “You know, I love him. You know what? He left a very strong and powerful mark. People are still inspired by him. So he did his work.” Their bond is evident both within her words and inside a book written by the rap star called “The Rose That Grew From Concrete.” Inside can be found two poems written about Smith, one called, “Jada” and the other called “‘The Tears in Cupid’s Eyes.”
After his death, 2Pac was mourned worldwide. Some still hold the belief that he is not really dead, which may partly be due to the release of posthumous records by the rapper. According to “Rolling Stone Magazine,” his mother began working with Jam Inc. in 2013, allowing them access to the entirety of her collection of her son’s work.
“Daily News” has reported that Shakur’s mother died on May 2, 2016, of a suspected heart attack at the age of 69. Her death stirred up grief over the loss of her son all over again. The legacy of Shakur is far more than that of a life touched so heavily by crime; he continues to stay alive in the heart of his fans through his music.
By Tracy Blake
US Weekly: Jada Pinkett Smith Reflects on her Friendship With Tupac Shakur: what Tore Them Apart
Biography.com: Mutulu Shakur – Criminal Activist
Biography.com: Tupac Shakur
Encyclopedia.com: Tupac Shaker
Rolling Stone: New Music From the Vaults Headed for Release
Daily News: Afeni Shakur, Mother of Hip Hop Legend Dead at 69
Image Cropped for Size Courtesy of marysalome’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License