He won't die (ie stop having albums released in his name) because like most musicians and especially rappers, he is way more valuable as an idea to record companies than as a person. Who knows? If he had lived he might have gone the way of Public Enemy and abandoned the recording industry entirely. Or gotten off the whole Gangster nonsense and ended up trying to raise the consciousness of his listening public. I actually think this was pretty likely, Tupac was not a stupid person. He was a confused person who did things that were wrong certainly, but he was smart and surprisingly sensitive. He came from a background of socially progressive black activists, (his mother is a fairly famous Black Panther). He went to a performing arts highschool and while it has been said of him that he was comfortable with his gangster image one can catch glimpses of a softer and more thoughtful side in his music.

When he died he was probably in the process of breaking his contract with Death Row Records (never a good idea). All the albums being released now are just milking his status as a martyr. It's the greedy goddamn record execs that know what a blessing it was for them that he died. The strange thing about all this for me is that I hate his music, but his death is a perfect example of how awful commercial culture really is. It's kind of like how much more attention was turned on Princess Diana after she died. It was a sad thing of course, but how many people had even thought of her (including all the people that went to mourn her) before she died? Now she's just the gravy train of the collectible plate industry.
Tupac Shakur was the third name of Lesane Parish Crooks, a young man born in Brooklyn, New York. He didn't change his name himself, rather his mother chose to rename him after an Incan revolutionary named Tupac Amaru which meant "Shining Serpent". Tupac later adopted the surname Shakur from his mother Afeni Shakur, and stepfather Mutula Shakur AKA, Jeral Wayne Williams.

Growing up, Tupac found he was interested in the arts. He wrote poetry and found that he enjoyed acting. When he was 12 he studied acting and Ballet at the Baltimore School for Performing Arts. His education there was cut short when his family had to move from Baltimore to Oakland, California. The family had been suffering hard times ever since Tupac was 2 years old when his stepfather had been sentenced to 60 years in prison for his involvement in an armored car robbery.

According to interviews with Tupac it was around age 15 when he started to hang around with, as he put it, "the wrong crowd". This is about the time he got involved in gangs.

By the time he was twenty years old he had been arrested eight times and had served eight months in prison on charges of sexual assault.

When he released his first album, "2pacalypse now" he gained enough attention to find his way into movies. He appeared in Juice in 1992. and with the release of his second album "Strictly for my N.I.G.G.A.Z." he gained even more attention, plus another movie role, this time alongside Janet Jackson in Poetic Justice a year later.

A year after that Tupac was robbed. Thieves took approximately $40,000 worth of his jewelry and shot him 5 times. He survived this attack to make another album the next year called "Me Against the world".

In 1995 he was found guilty of sexual assault charges brought up by a woman he had met in a nightclub. Hours before he was convicted he was robbed at gunpoint again.

To this he answered with the album "All eyes on me". This was a double album and was incredibly successful for a double album of rap currently marked as selling over 6 million copies.

On September 7th, 1996, Tupac was shot by unknown assailants in his car in Las Vegas, Nevada. He died 6 days later.

Tupac died, in part, as a result of an East versus West gang war. This was the same conflict that lead to The Notorious B.I.G's death.

Tupac starred in 6 major motion pictures, recorded so many songs that he was still having albums released after his death, made positive, uplifting words out of the harshness of his life and the regret he felt for some of his own mistakes and yet, he is remembered by many as just some guy who recorded a lot of this strange, unrespectable thing called rap. How strange that he still has albums come out after his death. Nevermind the dozens of rock groups that still put music out after their members die and the bands break up, i.e. Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, tons of Lynard Skynard stuff and even a 2001 Bob Marley double album.

"My music is not for everyone. It's only for the stong-willed, the street soldiers music. It's not like party music- I mean, you could gig to it, but it's spiritual. My music is spiritual. It's like Negro spirituals, except for the fact that I'm not saying 'We shall Overcome.' I'm saying that we are overcome." - Tupac on his music.

"It's time to fight back that's what Huey said,
2 shots in the dark now Huey's dead,
I got love for my brother but we can never go nowhere
unless we share with each other,
We gotta start makin' changes,
learn to see me as a brother
instead of 2 distant strangers,
and that's how it's supposed to be.
How can the Devil take a brother if he's close to me?
I'd love to go back to when we played as kids,
but things changed, and that's the way it is."

It surprises me that people feel so qualified to talk about Tupac when they've seen or heard so little of what he's done. For all the hope and inspiration Tupac has given so many there are still entire cultures that could never regard him as anything more than a purveyor of that "annoying non-music" called rap.

"If you walked by a street and you was walking on concrete and you saw a rose growing from concrete, even if it had messed up petals and it was a little to the side you would marvel at just seeing a rose grow through concrete. So why is it that when you see some ghetto kid grow out of the dirtiest circumstances and he can talk and he can sit across the room and make you cry, make you laugh, all you can talk about is my dirty rose, my dirty stems and how am leaning crooked to the side, you can't even see that I've come up from out of that."

And now the metaphorical rose is gone and so many people couldn't care less.

"My only fear of death is reincarnation." - Tupac Shakur.

It really irks me to read this kind of stuff, that of course being people associating Tupac Shakur's death with gang relations or that it had something to do with an East Coast/West Coast rivalry fueled by Tupac and New York based rapper Notorious B.I.G.. Fact is, the death of Tupac Shakur was never solved. Shy of leads, the Las Vegas Police Department have pretty much given up on the case altogether. Of course there have been numerous theories created from Tupac's death, some more incredulous than others.

Here are some of the more popular theories that can be seen circling around on various Tupac fansites.

  • The first, and probably one of the most renowned theories involved with Tupac's death is that it was all staged. That's right, many believe he faked his own death. Why? There's a multitude of answers; some say he did it for the cash. Others would argue he staged his death to "throw off his adversaries." You have to remember, before his death he was recieving a large share of death threats. If you knew Tupac and his music, he didn't settle to well with a lot of people. Simply for the fact he had a big mouth, and wasn't shy of letting his opinions be heard. In an MTV interview he even commented on his mouth, laughing about how it "always seemed to get him into some trouble." After faking his death there was a supposed "seven year wait" before Tupac's resurrection where he would resurface into the public eye. Supposedly Tupac would have returned in 2003. Wouldn't he be arrested? Yeah, but it's Tupac we're talking about. It would be the L.A. Riots all over again, he would be released in no time.
  • Suge Knight had Tupac murdered. Which, looking at it from a certain aspect I could see the reasoning. But, you have to think, Suge was in the car with Tupac when he was shot. Tell me, if Suge actually put a hit out for Tupac's murder, and he knew it was going down that night would he actually be dumb enough to ride in the same car? Right beside Tupac? And the strange thing is, Suge insisted that Tupac ride with him. But, another funny element to the story, in the hotel room as they were preparing to leave for the fight in Las Vegas Suge told Tupac to leave his bullet-proof vest] (which he wore everywhere, and anywhere he went) off for that night. It's also known that Tupac was working on his last albums to put out through Death Row (Suge's label) before he could get out of his contract and start up his own record label, Makaveli Records. Tupac at the time was Death Row's main source of income, and Tupac leaving the company probably wouldn't settle too well with Suge. And known for being the jealous man Suge is, he probably figured if Death Row can't have Tupac, nobody can.
  • Finally, the gang related theory. Was Tupac's death the cause of a Blood/Crip rivalry? They're two of the biggest gangs in California, and it was publically open that Tupac had strong ties with the Bloods. Suge Knight was an open member of the Bloods, and was a major financial support for the association (if I can call it that). Something funny, a couple of months before Tupac's murder, a Death Row employee was walking in a local shopping mall when a local Crip, Orlando Anderson, snatched a Death Row medallion from the associate's neck and fled. Rumor was there was a cash-reward out for one of the medallions issued by the Crip Nation. Now fast forward to the night of the fight, the man mentioned above that had his necklace snatched spotted Orlando who was for some reason at the fight that night. After pointing the man out to Tupac, an entourage of Death Row "inmates", as they call themselves, lead by Tupac and Suge Knight, approached Orlando. A few words were exchanged, before Orlando was forced to the ground and physically stomped by several men. After minutes of enduring the brutal attack, the entourage fled to leave Orlando lying in the hotel lobby. Obviously embarassed and angered by it all, it's another rumor that Orlando left the hotel to gather a group of armed Crips who plotted revenge on Tupac. It's pretty logical, but it was never confirmed. Probably for the fact a couple of months after the death of Tupac, Orlando suffered the same fate after being found in an apartment complex with a hundred or so bullet holes in him. That murder was ruled as related to gang ties however.

The list of theories extends further, as the internet has been responsible for speculating all kinds of rumors regarding the death of Tupac Shakur. I'd suggest researching up on the matter, there's tons of bizarre information for example the entire "7" theory that has far too many coincidences if you ask me. The mystery of Tupac Shakur's death will probably never be officially solved, but he was by far one of the greatest rappers to ever grace the industry. It was a tragic loss to the hip hop community, but even more tragic is the fact that his death will probably never be complete.

Sources and recommended readings:

ed. note - reformatted and redacted by mkb

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