Today, September 13, 2016 is twenty years since the talented and controversial rapper and actor Tupac Shakur transitioned in Las Vegas at the age of 25 a few days after sustaining 4 bullet wounds.
Shakur was originally named Lesane Parish Crooks, but his moniker was soon changed to Tupac Amaru Shakur.
According to The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, Shakur was born on June 16, 1971, in the East Harlem section of Manhattan in New York City. His birth name was Lesane Parish Crooks, but in 1972, he was renamed after the last Incan emperor. He was named after Túpac Amaru II ("Tupac Amaru" means "shining serpent."), the 18th-century Peruvian revolutionary who was executed after leading an indigenous uprising against Spanish rule. Shakur was of African-American, European and Tuareg (Berber) descent.
His mother, Afeni Shakur (born Alice Faye Williams), and his father, Billy Garland, were active members of the Black Panther Party in New York in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The infant was born a month after his mother was acquitted of more than 150 charges of "Conspiracy against the United States government and New York landmarks" in the New York Panther 21 court case.
He had a difficult childhood, moving frequently around in the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and the Bronx. Shakur received an education in radical politics from his mother, but he also saw some of life's hardships through her struggles with substance abuse. In his youth, he explored acting by becoming a member of the 127th Street Ensemble, a Harlem-based theater company.
As a teenager, Shakur attended the Baltimore School for the Arts, where he took acting and dance classes, including ballet. While living in Baltimore, he discovered rap and began performing as MC New York. In the late 1980s, Shakur and his family moved to the West Coast. He joined the Oakland, California-based hip-hop group Digital Underground, which earlier had scored a hit with the song "The Humpty Dance." Shakur appeared on two of the group's recordings—1990's This Is an EP and Sons of the P before going solo.
Shakur began his career as a roadie, backup dancer, and MC for the alternative hip hop group Digital Underground, eventually branching off as a solo artist. The themes of most of Shakur's songs revolved around the violence and hardship in inner cities, racism, and other social problems. Not only were both of his parents members of the Black Panther Party, several other people in his family were, these ideals were reflected in his songs. During the latter part of his career, Shakur was a vocal participant during the East Coast–West Coast hip hop rivalry, becoming involved in conflicts with other rappers, producers, and record-label staff members, most notably The Notorious B.I.G. and the label Bad Boy Records.
On September 7, 1996, Shakur was fatally shot in a drive-by shooting at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Koval Lane in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was taken to the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, where he died six days later On This Day in 1996.