Rapper Tupac Amaru Shakur was just 25 years old when he was shot and killed after leaving a Las Vegas boxing match in 1996. Given his legacy, it’s startling to realise his first proper release had come just five years earlier, in 1991. In the intervening five years, Shakur had: released four seminal albums, including rap’s first double album; starred in films alongside actors like Dennis Quaid and Tim Roth; dated Jada Pinkett and Madonna; been shot five times in the lobby of a New York recording studio; served eight months in prison on sexual abuse charges; befriended then fell out with the Notorious B.I.G.; and become the socially conscious leading figure in West Coast hip hop that he is remembered as today.
Born in East Harlem to former Black Panthers in 1971, Shakur was as known for his social conscience as he was his gangster rap image. “I just wanted to rap about things that affected young black males,” he said.
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