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28 Things You Didn’t Know About Tupac Shakur

Tupac Amaru Shakur aka Lesane Parish Crooks.

1. Although his West Coast appreciation indicated otherwise, Shakur was born in East Harlem, New York, on June 16, 1971.

He first moved to the West coast (Marin County) in 1988, at the age of 17.

2. Shakur’s real name was Lesane Parish Crooks.

Afeni Shakur, Tupac’s mother, renamed him Tupac Amaru Shakur a little under a year after Tupac was born.

3. Shakur was named after the South American revolutionary Túpac Amaru.

Túpac Amaru was a South American revolutionary who led the indigenous revolt against Spanish rule. The revolutionary would be executed by his oppressors. “Tupac Amaru” means “shining serpent.” “Shakur” means “thankful to God” in Arabic.

4. Afeni Shakur was an active member of the Black Panther party. Tupac Shakur was born one month and three days after Afeni had been acquitted of charges of “Conspiracy against the United States government and New York landmarks.”

Afeni spent time in jail while she was five months pregnant with Shakur.

5. When he was 13, he played Travis Younger in A Raisin in the Sun, which was performed at the Apollo Theater in Harlem to raise funds for Jessie Jackson’s presidential campaign.

6. He attended Baltimore School for the Arts, where he took ballet classes. He also played the role of The Mouse King in the Nutcracker.

7. Shakur first started rapping in Baltimore, going by the name MC New York.

8. Jada Pinkett had a very deep platonic relationship with Tupac.

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The poem “Tears in the Cupid’s Eyes” from his poetry book The Rose That Grew From Concrete is dedicated to her.

9. While attending school in Baltimore, he joined the Young Communist League USA.

10. In 1990, Shakur started his entertainment career as a backup dancer for The Digital Underground.

Michael Montfort/ Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

Yup. That hat.

11. Shakur, under his new stage name Makaveli, completed The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory in seven days, using three days to write and record the songs and four days to mix the album.

Interscope Records

12. Ex-wife Keisha Morris alleges Shakur auditioned for the role of Bubba in Forrest Gump, but didn’t get the part.

Paramount Pictures

13. Shakur was supposed to play a lead role in Menace II Society, but after an altercation with co-director Allen Hughes, he was replaced with Larenz Tate.

New Line Cinema

14. According to Shakur, while filming Poetic Justice, he was asked to take an HIV test before he could film a love scene with Janet Jackson.

Columbia Pictures

16. He was a Shakespeare aficionado.

Talking about Romeo and Juliet: “That’s some serious ghetto shit. You got this guy Romeo from the Bloods who falls for Juliet, a female from the Crips, and everybody in both gangs are against them. So they have to sneak out and they end up dead for nothing. Real tragic stuff.”

17. As a teenager, he enjoyed English and Irish pop musicians like Kate Bush, Sinead O’Connor, Culture Club, and U2.

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18. In 1993, Rashida Jones, then 17, wrote an angry letter to Shakur after he criticized her father, Quincy Jones, for having relationships with white women.

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At the time of his death, he was engaged to Quincy Jones’ daughter Kidada Jones.

19. Before the whole East Coast vs. West Coast beef, Tupac and Notorious B.I.G. were actually friends.

20. Me Against the World hit number one on the Billboard 200, making Shakur the first artist to accomplish this feat while serving a prison sentence.

Interscope Records

21. Tupac and Ice-T sang a duet once.

22. While in prison, Shakur was heavily influenced by the written works of Niccolò Machiavelli, especially The Prince.

Hence the change in his stage name from 2Pac to Makaveli.

23. After Shakur was cremated, members of the Outlawz mixed some of his ashes with marijuana and smoked it.

24. In 2010, “Dear Mama” was the third rap song in history to enter the National Recording Registry.

25. Shakur renamed his publishing company from Ghetto Gospel to Joshua’s Dream after 11-year-old Joshua Torres.

Joshua Torres was an 11-year-old kid, and avid Tupac fan, who was dying from complications of muscular dystrophy. As a way to lift his spirits, Joshua’s mother phoned a local radio station and inquired how she could get Tupac to phone in and talk to her son. According to the Baltimore Sun, Shakur not only phoned in, he also flew into Aberdeen, Wash., and paid a visit to Joshua Torres. Two hours after his visit, Joshua passed away.

26. Shakur shot two off-duty police officers. However, charges were dropped when it was discovered that the officers were drunk, in possession of stolen weapons, and lied to police officers.

27. He cried after having a conversation with Maya Angelou on the set of Poetic Justice.

So, yes, Tupac was a controversial figure…

But he’s also THE GREATEST RAPPER WHO EVER LIVED.

End of discussion.

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