How old would Tupac be today

In September 1996 Tupac Shakur was the most successful rapper in the world. For his fans already the King of Rap back then, he cast the role as an equal counterpart to Elvis as King of Rock ’n‘ Roll. The ultimate gangster rapper. With the angry voice of black and urban America, he spoke for the left of the black population. “Yes, I would say that I am a gangster. Simply because I come out of the gutter "he said of himself. He was venerated as a savior, a saint and an icon. But not everyone shared this opinion. In addition to his rivals in rap, he saw state authority as a threat. "You know, America eats its children and no matter what you think of me, I am still one of your children"he replied to the concerned parents and moralists.

He knew himself that he was living dangerously. He often spoke of his dying, and he hoped that he would leave with drums and trumpets. How quickly this assumption would be fulfilled might not have been entirely clear to him after all.

Duty calls

The day before his death, he shot his last music video at Lacy Studios in Los Angeles. He was completely at the top, underpinned by numerous top 10 hits and two number one albums in a row. A status that could not be sustained for much longer. Little did he know when he left filming on the late evening of September 6, 1996 that he had less than twenty-four hours to live. He drove straight to his property in the posh suburb of Calabasas, where he went to bed immediately after his arrival. His cousin Jamala Lesane woke him the next morning. Together they wanted to go to Las Vegas to watch a boxing match and later do an agreed-upon club appearance. Visiting the club was a chore for Tupac that day, but it was part of his business. Also there was his girlfriend Kidada Jones, daughter of Quincy Jones.

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Instead of going to Las Vegas, Tupac wanted to go to Atlanta. A few family matters had to be sorted out and the trip to the desert city turned out to be inappropriate. He almost didn't show up on the Strip, but his manager, Suge Knight, urged him to keep the contracts he signed.

The climb

In 1991, five years before his death, he was still on the starting line in the competition for the throne of rap. “2Pacalypse Now”, his first album, made high demands and set an example against the other competitors. The ability to put the everyday reality of the American ghettos into texts and his stage presence quickly opened many doors for him. He put all his observations and feelings into his lyrics, so that the audience couldn't help but listen intently. He did it in a way that only Kendrick Lamar may have done after him.

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Tupac was the much-talked about mouthpiece of the forgotten and the poor, the disadvantaged and the discriminated. He wanted to make it clear that the dregs of society ultimately concern everyone. “Thug Life” must therefore be understood as a political commitment and not just as a hollow glorification of a dangerous lifestyle. "The hate you give little infants fucks everyone" was the credo and "Thug Life" the acronym.

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For his way of mincing words, the fans loved him from the first moment. But not only the mostly black quarters of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and the other American metropolises reflected Tupac's attraction. The image of the menacing gangster from the ghetto fascinated millions of white suburban kids. Ray Luv, an old colleague from his early days, attested Tupac after his death that he had always refused to do anything just for money. The main condition in everything he did was always to be able to remain true to himself. That way he was sure to always stay connected to his fans.

Unshakable conviction

In order to be able to communicate with as many people as possible, Tupac Shakur was primarily concerned with attention. It was not something he discovered for himself after drawing the attention of many people to his music. It was the other way around. But despite all the self-confirmation by the massive popularity, the attention was not always as Tupac had wished. He was convinced of his cause down to the last pore and was not embarrassed to bask in the glow of his success in front of the competition. With this attitude he quickly made enemies.

E.D.I. Mean, also from Tupac's circle, put it in a nutshell:

“Hip Hop is always about competition. According to the motto: 'I'm better than you. I have more girls and also the fatter car.' It's almost like sport. If such giant egos collide, that's a recipe for destruction. "

In Tupac's case, it happened on the evening of September 7, 1996. The pent-up energy discharged.

The political roots of Tupac Shakur

Back in Las Vegas. After arriving at the hotel, Tupac looked for luck at the one-armed bandits and blackjack tables. His bodyguard Frank Alexander didn't move a meter from his side, because Tupac didn't just want to keep pushy fans at bay. He knew exactly what dangers lay in wait for him. Tupac won a few thousand dollars rolling the dice at MGM Casino while his entourage kept him company. They constantly circled around him like planets, always anxious to get as much of the sun's shine as possible. The stakes were high, as were the testosterone levels.

Tupac Shakur first grew up in East Harlem, New York City in the 1970s. The likelihood of being able to throw money around in a casino was still negligible for him at the time. At least legally. As the son of the Black Panthers supporter Afeni Shakur, he came into contact early on with radical political views that left their mark on the intelligent boy. Afeni Shakur was in custody until shortly before the birth of her son on suspicion of a planned bomb attack. She was enthusiastic about the way the Black Panthers performed, how they thought and how they stood up for the interests of the colored population. “For me, the Black Panthers were a way to express my anger properly lend ”, she said looking back.

Tupac Amaru

After Afeni Shakur was acquitted of the charges, she gave birth to her son on June 16, 1971. She baptized him Tupac Amaru, just like the Inca rebel and freedom fighter against the Spaniards in the 18th century. The future rapper was born with resistance and outrage against social grievances. Afeni Shakur hoped to give Tupac the name Kraft that a child in the social housing district could use. Power that he did not get from his father, William Garland, because it simply did not exist in Tupac's life. There was a lack of a father figure, as is the case with so many children who grew up in Harlem. Even homeless at times, Afeni Shakur managed to move Tupac to Baltimore in 1986 to give him a better life there.

In fact, it got easier at first. Tupac went to the Baltimore School of the Arts, where he surrounded himself exclusively with artistically gifted classmates. It was something he had never seen before in this form. He was used to poverty, violence and constant worry. Here he could live freely and develop interests that had nothing to do with drugs or robbery. In particular, he discovered acting for himself - and hip hop, which was still young at the time.

Big potential

Many of his fellow men and teachers saw that Tupac had great talent. They encouraged him to continue on the artistic path and keep expressing himself about it. At the same time, he didn't need much encouragement anymore. He was sure of his cause and brimming with confidence. A kind that was often interpreted as arrogance. Despite the positive development at school, the experiences at home quickly caught up with him. Afeni Shakur was beaten up by an affair and Tupac had to watch, completely helpless in the face of a situation that he had to endure too often at a young age. To save her son this life from now on, Afeni Shakur sent him far away to the west coast of the USA. He was supposed to be living with a friend in the San Francisco Bay Area.

In Marin City, however, the only sixteen-year-old Tupac Shakur ended up in the next misery. The social conditions were no different from those on the east coast and Tupac got into more and more trouble on the streets. His mother soon followed him without really being able to take care of Tupac because she was too busy with herself. “The relationship between me and my children was based on trust and honesty. I shattered that relationship through my life's lie that I was using drugs but claiming that I was in control“, Says Afeni Shakur.

Tupac hated his mother's consumption, and yet dealt in crack himself for a short time. He didn't last long. According to his childhood friend from Marin City, Ray Luv, because his heart was too soft. If someone wanted to trade their wedding ring for a few grams, it was going too far. At seventeen it was already clear to Tupac that he had to put everything on one card. Either the music worked or he ended up on the street for good. That's why he founded his first crew, Strictly Dope, with Ray Luv.

Targeted provocation

The afternoon of September 7, 1996 passed quickly. There was a relaxed atmosphere among the followers of Tupac Shakur and the anticipation of the evening boxing match. The challenger in the much discussed heavyweight fight was Mike Tyson, a good friend of the rapper. Tupac's girlfriend and his cousin were not wanted, wondering why they had come to Las Vegas in the first place. In front of the MGM Grand Hotel, where the fight took place, the superstar was greeted by a huge crowd. For bodyguard Frank Alexander, this was a situation he wanted to avoid at all costs. The intrusive fans were a minor threat.

The song "Hit 'em Up" was released shortly before. A reckoning with his greatest competitor and former friend, The Notorious B.I.G, full of insults and provocations. To this day, “Hit 'em Up” is considered to be one of the most highly regarded disstracks, against which other musical revenge campaigns have to measure themselves. What drew Tupac even more attention was a nightmare for his security guards. In confusing situations like the one in front of the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Tupac Shakur was an easy potential victim.

First steps in the music business

Strictly Dope was not going well in the early 1990s, but Tupac's encounter with rapper Shock G changed direction. Tupac was offered a job as a dancer on Shock G's Crew Digital Underground and soon toured the world with them. He was not satisfied with the position as a dancer and insisted on being able to take the microphone himself. He got his chance and took it. Just a year later he got his first record deal and made his debut "2Pacalypse Now". The album was a martial script and a single contradiction. Political activism, ghetto romance, empowerment of colored culture, peppered with deeply misogynistic lyrics, which were followed in the next moment by homage to black women. Tupac's songs mixed his political home with the reality of the street, united by an artist who was always his biggest fan.

However, Tupac did not make the final leap into the limelight with the music, but on the screen. The film "Juice" was released in 1992 and manifested Tupac Shakur's pop star status. In addition to the financial aspects, the huge success was mainly due to his ego. Although his mother Afeni Shakur stepped back into his life after a successful drug withdrawal, Tupac's own problems grew.

On a collision course

More and more often he drew attention to himself through criminal offenses. In 1993 he assaulted a chauffeur and a few weeks later he beat another rapper with a baseball bat. After being kicked out of the cast of the film "Menace to Society" a year later, he threatened director Allen Hughes with a gun and was sent to prison for fifteen days. While drunk he shot two decommissioned police officers with a stolen pistol and was only released again by paying a large bail. The image as a gangster rapper and the private life of Tupac Shakur moved closer and closer together. The pressure to always be seen as a gangster from the outside finally overwhelmed the artist 2Pac.

In Las Vegas, Mike Tyson won the heavyweight boxing match against Bruce Sheldon in just two minutes. Together with manager and Death Row Records boss Suge Knight as well as bodyguard Frank Alexander, Tupac wanted to congratulate his friend Tyson in the backstage area, while he himself was still full of adrenaline due to the victory. On the way, however, one of Knight's employees whispered to him that there was an alleged member of the Crips running around in the lobby who had robbed him a few days ago. Death Row Records, on the other hand, was said to have connections to the Bloods gang, who maintain a bitter hostility to the Crips to this day. Spurred on by the boxing match, Tupac ran into the lobby and beat up Crip and his entourage. The victim: a certain Orlando Anderson.

Shots in New York

On November 30, 1994, two years before the trip to Las Vegas, Tupac Shakur himself was the target of an attack. In the lobby of a recording studio, two strangers robbed him and seriously injured him with five shots, including two hits in the head. Up until that point, he felt invulnerable and too big for anyone to harm him. He saw himself as an icon of the colorful world of music and culture, which he undoubtedly also was, but in his own splendor he overlooked the enemies he had raised over the years. In addition, it is still unclear what motives the perpetrators carried out their crime with. He had certainly stoked hate and envy in his texts in abundance.

Tupac, on the other hand, was immediately certain: he had become the victim of a targeted campaign of revenge from the rap scene. He suspected that Christopher Wallace, alias The Notorious B.I.G., and his surroundings were the initiators of the attack. The future beef between the rap greats of the east and west coast escalated.

After recovering, Tupac realized his own vulnerability. In interviews he talked about the fact that the artist 2Pac maintains an image that has nothing to do with his real life. This was countered by the indictment of a nineteen-year-old who accused him of raping her. He vehemently denied it, but was sentenced to several years in prison for sexual harassment. In custody he gave up the cleansed and publicly swore from "Thug Life", although he was repeatedly accused of having done it only as an argument for his early release. The salvation was finally Suge Knight with his label Death Row Records. Tupac signed a contract for three albums and Knight placed a $ 1.4 million bail in return.

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No bulletproof vest

What looked like a blessing on the surface turned out to be additional tinder for Tupac's fire against all who opposed him. Suge Knight was notorious himself for his fiery temper, which has landed him in jail several times over the years. He is currently serving a 28-year prison sentence for manslaughter. Tupac's closest confidante watched after his release, how the two egos clashed and discharged in more and more drastic forms. Against rivals from the rap business and against the state.

Still full of adrenaline, Tupac returned to his hotel room in Las Vegas at around 9:00 pm on the evening of September 7, 1996. In front of his girlfriend and cousin, he bragged about what he had done in the hotel lobby. In the feeling of supposed invincibility, he even gave up his bulletproof vest, which he normally always wore in public. It was too hot outside, so the reason given to his followers. Before the planned club appearance, Tupac, Suge Knight and the rest of their crew drove once more to an estate that belonged to the very rich record boss. Through him the closeness to the Bloods arose, which Knight constantly demonstrated by wearing the color red, the color of the Bloods, offensive. The new record deal with Death Row automatically made Tupac a target in the eyes of the warring Crips, although his bodyguard did not believe that his protégé had anything to do with gangs.

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An unusual instruction

When Tupac and Suge Knight left the villa again, the bodyguard Frank Alexander was not supposed to continue driving with them in the car in order to be able to drive the later drunk crew members as a chauffeur. Alexander thought it was unusual and suspected that Knight was using this pretext to speak to the rapper in private. Rumors surfaced that Tupac was dissatisfied with the profit sharing of his Death Row debut and number one album "All Eyez On Me". An argument that had been preprogrammed under the sign of the huge egos. In addition, shortly before his death, Tupac launched the verbal attacks on The Notorious B.I.G. intensified and with "Hit 'em Up" set a high point in the conflict between East Coast and West Coast.

In short: the list of enemies had become completely confusing. Tupac became increasingly offensive to his own people himself and never thought of giving in to a confrontation that he himself usually provoked. It was the way of dealing with existing circumstances and existing problems for him that he had taken over from his mother at a young age.

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Flamingo Road and Koval Lane

Tupac's entourage was back on the road towards the club. On Flamingo Road, the cars turned right onto Koval Lane, where they again came to a stop at a set of traffic lights. Frank Alexander watched carefully as the people in the other cars discovered the superstar in the black BMW 750i. Nothing unusual. From one moment to the next, a white Cadillac appeared next to Tupac's car. Still rolling, an arm stuck a gun out of the window and shot several times into the passenger side of the BMW, where Tupac was sitting next to Suge Knight. Tupac was hit in the chest, pelvis and right arm, with a bullet piercing his right lung. Suge Knight was grazed in the head.

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Immediately after the attack, Knight turned the car 180 degrees and drove back in the direction they had come from. Frank Alexander could only watch helplessly what was happening around him. However, as a few bullets hit the tires of the BMW, it soon came to a stop. An ambulance drove the two injured to Las Vegas University Medical Center, where two emergency operations were immediately initiated. Tupac Shakur's lung was removed and he himself was placed in an artificial coma. His family and friends were sure that he would wake up soon, after all, he had already considered the attack in New York. But they hoped in vain. On September 13, 1996, Tupac Amaru Shakur died in Las Vegas hospital at the age of only twenty-five.

Who is killer?

The search for Tupac's murderer then turned out to be extremely difficult. Nobody had seen anything - or it was decided not to have seen anything. As a result, various theories arose as to who could be responsible for the crime, which has not yet been clarified beyond doubt. Suspects include The Notorious B.I.G. and those around him who are said to have commissioned the murder as revenge for the song "Hit 'em Up". Christopher Wallace, the real name of B.I.G, was shot himself a few months later. Others suspect that Suge Knight acted as a puller, as Tupac wanted to leave Death Row Records again.

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The main suspect, however, is Orlando Anderson, the Crips member who was beaten up in the lobby by Tupac and his crew. Anderson's uncle, Keefe D (real name Duane Keith Davis), accused him of the crime many years later. Meanwhile, Davis sat in the car himself. Orlando Anderson was shot dead in Los Angeles on May 29, 1998.

Numerous other 2Pac albums were released posthumously, making him the world's most successful rapper of all time. Afeni Shakur managed her son's inheritance until her death in 2016.