Tupac Shakur was one of the most legendary hip hop artists of all time, and his influence helped a generation of black youth find their voice. Eighteen years have passed since his senseless and tragic murder, but the imprint he left on American culture and black conscious is still visible.
Born in Manhattan, New York, he was named after Tupac Amarau, an 18th century South American revolutionary who was executed for leading an indigenous uprising against Spanish rule. He spent his short life living up to the name and creating controversy along the way. Shakur’s upbringing exposed him to an eclectic array of experiences. His parents were members of the Black Panther Party, and he studied acting, poetry, jazz, and ballet at the Baltimore School for the Arts.
Shakur’s music career began in the early 1990s with the release of 2Pacalypse Now. The album instigated controversy that would follow Shakur for the rest of his career with Dan Quayle publicizing the claim that the album’s strong theme of police brutality was an impetus behind the shooting of a Texas state trooper. Shakur went on to release Me Against the World, All Eyez on Me and The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory. all of which are listed on as “certified classic” albums on MTV’s Greatest Rappers of All Time list.
His acting career included appearnces in Poetic Justice and Above the Rim, and three other films that were released after his death. Despite facing his own share of legal issues and violence, Shakur’s songs about the violence and hardship of life in the inner city and the political statements he also made in his music were major influences in the coming of age of hip-hop and his fans.
In the following 1994 interview, Shakur discusses what he thinks he is most known for as well what he thinks the reasons are that black people have to be angry. Take a look back at what he has to say in his own words.