Ryan is a poet, article writer, screen writer, sportswriter, copywriter, and song writer.
On June 16, 1971, Afeni Shakur and Billy Garner of Manhattan, New York, gave the world their gift. Tupac Amaro Shakur. The neighborhood he was born into was called East Harlem. His birth name was Lesane Parish Crooks. From birth, Shakur had revolutionary roots. His parents were both apart of the black panther party in New York. Not only was it his parents, but many family members that were involved with the Black Liberation Army. Many of them also faced hefty charges, but little Tupac was chasing something different. He and his siblings were performing recordings daily. He spent most of his childhood in Manhattan. During his late teenaged years, he and his family moved to Baltimore, Maryland. While there, he developed a close friendship with an up and coming actress named Jada Pinkett. Shakur said Pinkett was his lifelong friend. The two just had a connection. He saw Pinkett as his sister, and she saw him the same way. While in Baltimore, he started studying the art of all kind. He studied poetry, acting, jazz, and ballet. He took his talents to the small stage. He was performing in plays and talent shows around the city. In some of them, he was rapping. He fell in love with rapping. In 1988, the family relocated to the west side. They were in California, where he began to shine in all areas. Two years after that, Shakur became a backup dancer for a group called Digital Underground. There, he started to become one of the most iconic rappers the industry has ever seen. It was also where he should’ve stayed.
Coming from Underground
Shakur was famous before Digital Underground, but he was about to become global. His debut was on Digital Underground’s song entitled Same Song. The song was the theme on the soundtrack of the movie Nothing but Trouble. He appeared with the group in the film as well. He started dancing and rapping with the group. By 1991, he accomplished what he dreamed he would come as a teen. He released his first solo album, 2Pacalyspe Now. The name came from the 1979 film Apocalypse now. Despite being inspired by prominent named rappers, there were no hit singles. The album was said to have an underground feel to it. Interscope Records released it. The rights to its distribution went to Amaru Entertainment. The album has generated much controversy. It was said to promote violence in societies all over the world. It inspired people positively, but the negative seems to outweigh it. Now, it is a theme of police brutality. Shakur wanted to rap about what affected young black males because he too went through it himself. Sadly, it took a turn he did not expect, but the turn didn’t stop it from being a classic. He later released his second solo album entitled Strictly for my Niggaz. The entire album was a hit. This album was considered his breakout album. He displayed that he is not just another black man with little talent, and it only took him two solo albums.
Above the Music
Shakur was a man of many talents. While making his music, he had successful auditions to play significant roles in films. In 1992's movie Juice, Roland Bishop sold himself just like he did in his rapping. A violent member of a group of four young men growing up in the streets of Harlem. In 1993 he starred alongside Janet Jackson in Poetic Justice. In 1994 he was Birdie in the iconic Basketball Drama Above the Rim. They could not get enough of the star. The Hughes brothers directed a movie titled Menace 2 Society. Shakur was there in its early stages, but a dispute had him released from being involved. Later, Allan Hughes of the Hughes brothers revealed what everyone all knew. Shakur had an I AM BIGGER THAN THE MOVIE type attitude. In each role he had in movies, he displayed it. Shakur put his heart and soul behind the mic and his acting. As a response, he outshined the others. He later starred in the 1996 thriller Bullet Gridlocked and Gang related in 1997.
A Young Life Gone
Tupac was famous in the music industry and the movies, but one area he seemed to regret being popular in was the legal system. During his adolescent years, he lived life like he did not care. Once he matured, a lot of things changed. You often heard it in his music. In songs like Dear Mama or I Aint mad atcha. It seemed like he was slowly making that shift to be a better person, but the change did not eliminate his consequences. Shakur went jail for assaulting Allen Hughes in 1994. He got out on bail, and in 1995. He served more time for a sexual assault case. The assault was two years before. After nine months, he was bailed out of jail by the C.E.O. of Death Row Records Suge Knight. Shakur joined the label. His time with the Death Row Records was monumental, but it was also trouble. Tupac seemed to shift backward and not forward, like many thought he was going. He re-ignited the feud he had with a former friend and Bad Boy Label Mogul Notorious B.I.G. The diss track Hit Em Up proved the feud was alive and well. As time went on, the rivalry became huge. On September 7, 1996, Tupac was with other artists in Las Vegas, Nevada. That same night an unknown suspect killed him. He was just 25 when he was shot and killed. Another young life went to senseless violence.
As time went by, you could see he was trying to display a more positive image to his fans. Kids grew up listening to this guy and seeing him in iconic movies. Today, he is one of the greats, but he was just another statistic. He promoted a lifestyle he did not have to for success. He could’ve been a poet. He could’ve been an activist. With his following and influence, those lives that he changed for the worse, he could have changed for the better by now. Tupac Shakur is undoubtedly one of the greats. It’s been years since this icon left us. The shockwaves are still around the industry, but they were more when it happened. His death caused much to speculate. Rumors were saying it was Sean Combs boys, or that it was Suge Knight who shot him in the car and many more. A lot of them are still floating around now. There are people always saying Tupac is alive without any proof. Just pure speculation. Tupac showed us he had more talents than music, but he also showed us he was in pain. He needed help, but the industry showed no interest in his internal problem. What it produced for them was all that matters. Tupac informed one in an interview that he loved poetry. He loved Shakespeare. He was active in American, world entities. The guy was a gangster that loved what most gangsters do not. Or could it be that he was not the thug he portrayed in his music? Could it be that he was just playing a role? We will never know. The sky is not the limit for these artists. It’s only the limit these labels want them to reach.
© 2019 Ryan Jarvis Cornelius