Tuesday, May 30, 2006

33 Things You Should Know About Tupac Shakur

33 Things You Should Know About Tupac ShakurPoverty, rape, drugs, depression and murder: Nothing can stop the legend of Tupac Shakur from growing and growing, as countless posthumous CDs and a new MTV documentary attest. From his first ballet lesson to his beefing with Biggie, Blender takes a ride down thug lane…By Jonah WeinerBlender, Jan/Feb 2004

1.He did jail time before he was even born.Tupac’s mother, Black Panther Afeni Shakur, was arrested in April 1969 for alleged conspiracy to bomb New York City police stations and landmarks. Temporarily out on bail in 1970, she became pregnant with Tupac but was forced to return to jail when several codefendants skipped town. At trial in May 1971, she successfully defended herself; she then gave birth to Tupac in June. “My embryo was in prison,” he later chuckled.

2.His first and middle name mean “shining serpent.”He was named Tupac Amaru, after a freedom-fighting eighteenth-century Incan chief whose body was torn apart by Spanish imperialists. Shakur means thankful to God in Arabic.

3 . He was a playa early on.“I was fucking white girls,” he recalled years later of his teen years at the Baltimore School for the Arts, a Fame-like performing arts high school. Once, he promised sex to a gay male student named Eskiah if he’d help Tupac land a hard-to-get girl named Kelly. Eskiah made it happen, but Tupac reneged: “After I bust my nut, Eskiah was like, ‘When’s my turn?…’ I told him, ‘You must be out of your fuckin’ mind.’”

4.He was an actor and ballet dancer before he was a rapper. After moving to Maryland with his mother and younger sister in 1984, Tupac was accepted into the Baltimore School for the Arts, where he majored in drama and studied dance. He began battle rhyming on the side, nicknaming himself MC New York.

5.He was very, very poor…Actress Jada Pinkett Smith, his schoolmate in Baltimore, remembers, “When I met Tupac, he owned two pairs of pants and two sweaters. He slept on a mattress with no sheets.”

6 …Which added to his youthful idealism. Tupac suggested in an early interview that President Reagan could alleviate the nation’s homeless problem by opening the doors of the White House to the homeless.

7.He got his start as a backup rapper and dancer for Digital Underground.His friend Leila Steinberg scored him an audience with MC Shock G in 1989. G remembers that Tupac’s audition was “street, it was educated, it was articulate. I was like, ‘Damn, this cat’s intense!’ ”

8 He couldn’t stand bootleggers. On a trip to New York, he spied a bootlegged copy of Digital Underground’s This Is an E.P. Release on a street merchant’s stand, and toppled the rack in a rage. “You’re robbing from me!” he yelled.

9.He hated Republicans.Democrat Michael Dukakis’s presidential defeat in 1988 dismayed him: “I don’t want George Bush in government,” he said. “I’ve spent eight of my 17 years on this earth under a Republican, Ronald Reagan, who’s an ex-actor who lies to the people, and who has done nothing for me at all.”

10.And Dan Quayle hated him.Extolling his “family values” platform in 1992, Quayle said Tupac’s debut album, 2Pacalypse Now, had “no place in our society.” The vice president castigated Time Warner, the parent company of Interscope Records, and the label was soon dropped from the Time Warner fold.

11.He had unlikely taste in music.Tupac’s record collection included CDs by Kate Bush, Sarah McLachlan and Don McLean, and the soundtrack to Les Misérables — whose theme he once called his all-time favorite song.

12.He once fired an AK-47 into his sofa.After 2Pacalypse Now was released in 1991, Shock G visited Tupac at home and was shocked to find his windows open despite the gold records on the wall. Tupac said he wasn’t scared of robbers. “He went to his closet,” Shock G recalled, “showed me his first AK and said, ‘If somebody comes up in here…’ Brrrap! He shot the floor and the sofa up and damn near killed a couple of kids who were sitting on the couch!”

13.He was a workaholic.He recorded 67 tracks in 11 months during the making of 1995’s All Eyez on Me; overall, he left some 200 unreleased tracks behind him. “Tupac Shakur was the hardest-working man in hip-hop,” Shock G declares.

14.He shot two Atlanta police officers one Halloween.Involved in a dispute between two off-duty police officers and a black motorist in 1993, Tupac wound up shooting the officers, claiming self-defense. During the trial, it was discovered that the cops had been drinking and had initiated the incident. Criminal charges against Tupac were dropped.

15.You could say he didn’t like cops much. When an interviewer asked him whether he felt remorse for police officers killed in the line of duty, he pretended to sob before barking, “No! They can all motherfuckin’ die, until they respect me as a motherfuckin’ man, and every black man out there.”

16.Janet Jackson was afraid he had HIV.Before shooting any kissing scenes for John Singleton’s 1993 film Poetic Justice — Tupac’s second star turn after Juice — he said his costar insisted he take an HIV test. He countered that he would take the test only if Jackson would sleep with him.

17.He took five bullets in 1994.Two men armed with 9-mm pistols robbed Tupac of $40,000 in jewelry in the lobby of a New York recording studio, shooting him five times, once through the head. He was rushed to a hospital but checked himself out the next evening, fearing for his safety.

18.One of the bullets had penetrated his scrotum.The night of the shooting, Tupac looked at his boxers, “saw a hole and went, ‘Oh, shit. Roll me some weed.’ ” But he swore he didn’t lose a testicle, despite rumors (and jokes that he was now only 1Pac). “My doctors are like, ‘You can have babies,’ ” he said. “It went through the skin and out the skin.”

19.He was convicted of sexual abuse the next day.Ayanna Jackson, a 19-year-old girl Tupac had met in a nightclub, told police that he and two of his friends pinned her to a hotel bed and sodomized and raped her in 1993. Tupac vigorously denied it, claiming he hadn’t even been in the room. In court in a wheelchair, he was cleared of sodomy and weapons charges but sentenced to one and a half to four and a half years in prison for sexual abuse.

20.He hadn’t really met his father until the shooting.Billy Garland, who hadn’t seen Tupac since he was 5, came to visit him in the hospital. Tupac considered his stepfather, Mutulu Shakur — a Black Panther serving a 60-year sentence for conspiracy to commit armed robbery and murder — his real father.

21.He suffered from depression.“He couldn’t function sober,” Shock G says. “There had to be some weed there, had to be some Hennessy there. He wasn’t so happy — a lot of his laughter was forced.” “All around I felt suicidal,” Tupac once said. “But I couldn’t kill myself. I just wanted somebody to kill me for me.”

22.He suspected that P. Diddy and Notorious B.I.G. had set him up.While imprisoned for sexual abuse, Tupac heard whispers that his former friends — who he had seen at the recording studio the night he was shot — had arranged the New York ambush. Biggie denied it and demanded an apology from Tupac, while Diddy said, “If I’m-a set a nigga up, which I would never do, I ain’t gonna be in the country. I’m-a be in Bolivia somewhere.”

23.Suge Knight got him out of jail. Not for free.The six-foot-four, 315-pound Death Row Records executive posted $1.4 million in bail for Tupac, springing him after 11 months while he appealed his sentence. In exchange, Tupac signed a handwritten recording contract from his cell, flew to L.A. and started recording All Eyez on Me. “A deal with the devil,” said Tupac’s onetime bodyguard Henry Fayson. Eyez, hip-hop’s first double CD, would become Tupac’s best-selling album and spawn his first number 1 single, the Dr. Dre–produced “California Love.”

24.A glass of piss fueled the growing Death Row/Bad Boy rivalry.Two months after Tupac joined Death Row, P. Diddy’s associate Mark Bell claimed that Tupac and Knight assaulted and beat him. Tupac pressed him for Diddy’s home address, Bell maintains, while Knight urinated into a cup and forced him to drink it.

25 . Tupac’s 1996 murder is still unsolved.Former Los Angeles Police detective Russell Poole and former officer Kevin Hackie told filmmaker Nick Broomfield that Suge Knight — who, they assert, owed Tupac millions in unpaid royalties — orchestrated the Las Vegas killing. Journalist Chuck Philips maintains that Biggie paid gang member Orlando Anderson to take Tupac out.

26.He was engaged to Quincy Jones’S daughter when he died.Despite having publicly chastised the legendary producer/arranger for “sticking his dick” in a white woman (Jones’s wife, Peggy Lipton), Tupac reconciled with him, started dating his daughter Kidada and soon proposed to her.

27.He and Madonna were friends. maybe more than friends…In his tell-all biography, Got Your Back, Tupac’s former bodyguard Frank Alexander suggests the two slept together: “We were watching a talk show, and they flashed a picture of [Madonna’s ex-boyfriend] Carlos Leon and Madonna walking into a New York building on the screen. ’Pac said, ‘You know, that used to be me.’ ”

28.He is Eminem’s idol.“Tupac was the greatest songwriter who ever lived,” Marshall Mathers said in 2000.

29.He suffered from premature baldness.That’s why he shaved his head.

30.He has released more Albums in death than he did in life.Of the 10 solo CDs he has released, six have come from beyond the grave — and those stand certified 23 times platinum.

31.He and Biggie recorded a song together.In August 1994, they teamed up on an Easy Mo Bee–produced song, “Runnin.” An Eminem-produced version of the song appears on the newly released Tupac: Resurrection soundtrack.

32.Funeralgoers poured cognac into the Pacific Ocean in his memory.After six days in critical condition, Tupac died on September 13, 1996. At a private funeral ceremony held in Malibu, California, his friends tossed necklaces, packs of Newports and bottles of Hennessy into the ocean.

33..His first posthumous release, in 1996, came under the pseudonym Makaveli, after the Italian theorist who suggested faking one’s death to beat one’s enemies. That, along with an Elvis-worthy host of tabloid sightings, is all the proof needed for conspiracy theorists that ’Pac never died. His longtime publicist Karen Lee waves off such speculation: “He couldn’t have been quiet this long.”


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