tupac shakur a brief orview joe tafolla On June 17, 1971 Tupac Amaru Shakur was born in East Harlem public hospital New York. His mother Afeni Shakur spent part of her pregnancy with Tupac in New York Women’s Correctional Facility due to the many charges brought against her and twenty other Black Panther members, one of which included a conspiracy to bomb many public buildings in New York (Powell 22). The case against her dragged on for twenty-five months. While on bail she courted ” .. two men-Legs, a straight up gangster who did whatever necessary to make money and Billy a member of the Black Panther party” (Powell 22). Afeni says that “Tupac Amaru is the name of an Inca chief meaning ‘Shinning serpent, while Shakur is Arabic meaning ‘Thankful to god'”(qtd in Shakur 22).
Afeni states that this name was the only one fitting enough for her ‘miracle baby’. By this she means that she thought that it was a miracle that she not only got to keep him but the fact that he survived while inside her. She states that while in prison she had to fight for an extra egg and a glass of milk each day (some of the basic nutrients needed to deliver a strong healthy baby). In 1986 Tupac and Afeni move to Baltimore where Tupac enrolled himself into the Baltimore school For The Performing Arts (Marriott NYT). It is here that Tupac first finds his sense of identity.
Tupac states in Vibe magazine that since he and his mother did so much moving around, he was never really able to find friends that he had ties to, he states that he felt like he never really fit in anywhere because he was from everywhere. It is in Baltimore that Tupac is finally exposed to white people. He says that it is at his school that he finally got to interact with white people and “‘ .. they were not half bad’, that not all of them ‘were out to fuck a nigga over'”(Powell 23). It is at the Baltimore school where he first learns to write his first raps, under the name MC New York.
At the end of his sophomore year his mother moved again, this time all the way to Marin City California. Tupac says that he still has not gotten over the fact that he had to move. Afeni leaving numerous messages back on the east coast trying to inform Legs of her recent move, so he will know where to find her when he gets out of prison dies shortly after he is released due to a heart attack caused by over dosing on crack cocaine. Tupac was never able to say good-bye to the only father that he ever knew. Marine City is across the bay from Oakland.
Nicknamed ” .. the jungle because niggas there like to kick up dust” (Powell 27). Afeni states that Marin City is essentially one giant housing complex. She states when he got to the west coast Tupac was taught the streets, or more so he started to learn the hard lessons of manhood that she couldn’t teach him (Powell 27). It is in 1988 that Tupac drops out of high school stating, “I just couldn’t fit in” and starts selling drugs for a near by neighborhood gang (qtd in Times March 10).
Tupac says that he could cook, sew and clean house, but he just didn’t feel hard. His mother did everything that she could do, but Afeni couldn’t give him what he yearned for most, to be tuff (Pareles March 30). Tupac credits the loss of his manly figures throughout his life to his strong yearning to be accepted by the gangsters and feared by average citizen. Shortly after Tupac drops out of high school he moved in with a neighbor. Tupac would have to sell drugs to be able to stay in the house.
Tupac states, “I was in the streets before but only as my mothers son”(Times Sept. 23). Tupac felt that he was old enough to make it on his own. Tupac says that his mother was always moving and he remembers promising himself that when he got old enough he would move out and find his own roots, a place for him to call home. Tupac further shows his anger towards the life given to him by saying, “niggas that wasn’t shit ..
use to dis [make fun of] me, but I didn’t have no money and that’s what used to fuck me up”(Powell 27). While in Marin City Tupac tried to be friends with everyone, and became the running joke in the area. Tupac states that he was never taken seriously, that he “got love but it was the kind that you would give a dog or a neighborhood crack fiend not the type that you would give to someone you respected or feared”(Powell 27). He states that they liked him because he was at the bottom and they knew that he was going to stay there. Nevertheless Tupac says that he would rather be patronized but accepted than not be accepted at all.
In August of 1988 Tupac’s new stepfather was sentenced to 60 years in prison without parole for his involvement in an armed car robbery, further fueling Tupac’s need to be accepted in the black male community. In 1990 Tupac joins Digital Underground as a roadie/dancer/rapper. This is Tupac’s fist big break in the music industry. Later on in 1991 Tupac achieves individual recognition in his first album entitled “2pacalypse now”, it highlighted Tupac’s passionate political and thug life side. Songs like “Trapped while politically on point” stirred up much controversy when it depicted an Oakland police officer being shot at the end of the video. This particular song caught the attention of Dan Quayle who expressed his outrage and started a short-lived campaign against Hollywood and its beliefs but mainly focusing on hip-hop and its violent lyrics (Terry CSM).
Tupac in return released a C.D. single entitled “Letter to the president” this song entailed provocative lyrics asking why the president was allowing black babies to die from malnutrition but willing to imprison black males for selling narcotics to make money for his family. Other songs like “Brenda’s got a baby” brought attention to the emotional and heartfelt side of the rising star with the lyrics depicting a young 14 year old girl being kidnapped and raped on her way home from school by four local gang members. “Brenda’s got a baby” focused on Tupac’s thoughts to what is happening in his surroundings and how his conscience is starting to affect his need to be accepted by gangsters. In 1991 Tupac got his first real taste of trouble when he was stopped for Jaywalking in down town Oakland.
According to Pac (Tupac) the police officers didn’t take a liking to his name so they said some unfavorable things. Pac in return responded, and the result was him being arrested and brutalized. This incident led to him filing a 10 million dollar lawsuit against the city of Oakland and later dropping the charges due to an out of court settlement for an undisclosed amount to the public (Shakur interview). Tupac gained national fame when he played the role of Rollan Bishop; a violent, insecure, short tempered, psychotic individual in the Block Buster movie “Juice”. Initially director Ernest Dickerson had invited Digital Undergrounds Money B to audition for the movie.
Tupac went along for the ride; once there he read the part cold turkey and was hired to play Rollan Bishop, which left many wondering if he was acting or just being himself. Tupac states that acting came exceptionally easy to him because every time he had to move he had to take on the role of someone that he wasn’t in order to try and fit in. He says it is an attribute that every one should have in order to survive in the real world. Tupac says, “acting is the same damn thing as lying one is just excepted by white people and if they want to pay me to lie and not get in trouble for it than fuck ya I’ll do that, it aint shit its just accepted by whites”(Hirschberg 14 Jan.). As Tupac’s popularity began to soar so did his troubles.
In the summer of 1992 while attending Merits cities fiftieth anniversary Tupac and his entourage had a confrontation with some old acquaintances, during the ensuing fight a gun was drawn, a shot was fired and a six-year-old boy lay dead as an innocent bystander. Tupac’s brother Mercedes who at the time raped for the group “Tony Tony Tony” and later for “Thug Life” was arrested and charged. Mercedes was eventually let go due to lack of evidence. Tupac later found himself embroiled in more controversy when a Texas officer was shot and killed by a young teenage boy. The widow of the slain officer filed a multi million-dollar civil lawsuit against Tupac claiming that it was his lyrics that influenced the young perpetrator to kill (Terry CSM).
The charges were later dropped and Tupac issued a public statement saying, “If we really are saying rap is an art form, then we got to be more responsible for our lyrics. If you see everybody dying because of what you saying, it don’t matter that you didn’t make them die, it just matters that you didn’t save them”(qtd in S …