After selling over 75 million albums worldwide, Tupac Shakur has gone down in history as one of the top selling music artists in the world. In 2006, MTV ranked Shakur as number two on the list of The Greatest MC’s of All Time, behind Jay-Z.
Born Lesane Parish Crooks to Billy Garland and Afeni Shakur, the New York City native was raised by devout Black Panther activists. His mother was pregnant with the future star while incarcerated. She had been arrested under suspicion of a bombing. Afeni Shakur was later acquitted of the charges. She changed her son’s name to Tupac Amaru Shakur.
Growing up in the Bronx and Harlem neighborhoods of New York, Tupac Shakur was trained in fine arts as a child, landing his first role at age 13 at the historic Apollo Theater. The production was to benefit the 1984 campaign of the Rev. Jesse Jackson. He continued to study ballet and acting when he and his mother moved to Baltimore, Md. While attending the Baltimore School for Fine Arts, he met a lifelong friend named Jada Pinkett (Smith).
By age 17, Tupac and his mother lived in the Bay Area of California. He pursued a career in entertainment, landing a spot as a backup dancer for the group Digital Underground in 1990. Shortly after, Tupac Shakur went solo with Interscope Records and released “2pacalypse Now” featuring the hit single “Brenda’s Got a Baby.”
Shakur’s acting career took off with a new major acting role in 1992 with the film “Juice”. Two years later, he starred in the John Singleton film “Poetic Justice” opposite Janet Jackson. then “Above the Rim” in 1994.
Despite a budding acting career, Tupac Shakur was in and out of jail for affiliations with various crimes committed. In 1992, he was arrested on suspicion of the shooting death of a six-year old boy. Then, in Atlanta, Shakur was charged with shooting two off-duty police officers. He was also brought up on charges in connection with sexual abuse in a New York City hotel. All charges involving the first cases were dismissed accordingly, but the charges with the sexual assault solidified on the same day that the rapper was shot five times by muggers in a New York recording studio. He survived his injuries.