Fifteen years ago today, the world lost one of the greatest rappers of all time.
On September 13 1996, Tupac Amaru Shakur died of respiratory failure and cardiac arrest, a result of gunshot wounds he sustained seven days earlier. He was shot several times as he was riding with Death Row Records founder Marion “Suge” Knight following a boxing match at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. He was 25 years old.
Tupac wasn’t just a rapper–he was a poet, an actor and social activist. Born on June 16, 1971 in New York City to members of the Black Panther Party, he began acting at 13 and attended the Baltimore School of the Arts before dropping out at 17.
He first entered the music scene as a back-up dancer and roadie for rap group Digital Underground. His first solo album, 2pacalypse Now, was released in 1991.
Tupac’s work earned him six Grammy nominations and he was named Favorite Hip Hop Artist at the 1997 American Music Awards. He was in several movies, with the most well-known including “Juice,” “Above The Rim” and “Poetic Justice.” A book of his early poetry, The Rose That Grew From Concrete, was also published.
More Tupac albums have been released posthumously than while he was alive. This has led to rumors and conspiracy theories that the rapper faked his own death, and throughout the years there have been several Tupac “sightings.” Recently, hip-hop group and friends of Tupac The Outlawz declared that not only was the rapper dead, but that they had put some of his ashes in a blunt and smoked it.
In 2010 the song “Dear Mama” was added to the National Recording Registry. The Library of Congress called the song “a moving and eloquent homage to both the murdered rapper’s own mother and all mothers struggling to maintain a family in the face of addiction, poverty and societal indifference.”
From September 13 through September 18, 2pac.com, the official site of the Shakur Estate, will be featuring articles about the rapper’s work, a video about his life and his music.
Listen to some of Pac’s greatest hits below (WARNING-Language in these videos may be offensive).
“Life Goes On”: