Considered one of the greatest rappers of all time, Tupac’s music continues to have a massive influence on the genre of hip hop today. Born in East Harlem, N.Y. on June 16, 1971, Tupac Shakur, known on stage as 2Pac, embodied the 1990s gangsta-rap genre. Take a look back at the life and career of the iconic rapper, tragically cut short on Sept. 13, 1996, when he was assassinated in Las Vegas.
In this famous photo of Tupac, the rapper spits at reporters as he left the Supreme Court in New York on July 5, 1994.
Prior to his 1996 murder, rapper Tupac Shakur enjoyed a celebrated, albeit short music and acting career, thanks to the release of albums like “All Eyez on Me” and “Me Against the World,” and roles in movies including “Juice” and “Poetic Justice”. He was also a key figure in the East Coast, West Coast hip-hop rivalry. Here, Tupac, inked with his famous “Thug Life” tattoo, performs in 1994 during a concert in Chicago.
Tupac Shakur posed with rappers Notorious B.I.G. and Redman backstage at his show at the Palladium on July 23, 1993, in New York City. Although they seem friendly here, Tupac and Notorious B.I.G. later had an ongoing rivalry, which began when Biggie released the song “Who Shot Ya?,” which Tupac assumed was about him.
Jada Pinkett was Tupac’s best friend throughout his life. The two met in high school in Baltimore and quickly became friends, maintaining their close relationship up until his death.
Tupac wrote the 1995 song “Dear Mama,” which detailed his rebellious childhood and admiration for his mother Afeni Shakur (left). “You are appreciated,” he tells her. “Ain’t a woman alive that could take my mama’s place.” Here, the mother-son pair are pictured in the 2003 documentary “Tupac: Resurrection.”
Tupac was signed to Death Row Records, Suge Knight’s record label. The two are pictured here at a Tyson vs. Bruno fight at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas on March 16, 1996.
In addition to his hip-hop career, Tupac was also an actor. He is pictured here in a scene from the movie “Gang Related” with James Belushi, which was released after his death in 1997.
Tupac Shakur in a scene from the film “Gridlock’d” in 1997.
In 1993, Tupac Shakur was charged with sexually assaulting a woman, although he denied it. Here, he is led from the Manhattan North police precinct after being arrested in an alleged sexual attack on Nov. 19, 1993.
Tupac accompanied Rosie Perez to the Soul Train Music Awards on March 9, 1993. In a 2015 interview with Howard Stern, Perez shared that Tupac took her to the award show after he learned that her original date stood her up.
On Nov. 30, 1994, Tupac was on his way to Quad Studios in New York City to record a rap when he was ambushed, robbed and shot five times. He is pictured here in a wheelchair on Dec. 1, 1994, arriving at the Manhattan Supreme Court after miraculously surviving the attack.
Rapper Tupac Shakur posed for a mug shot for the New York State Department of Corrections after his conviction for the sexual abuse of a female fan on March 8, 1995, in New York, New York. He was sentenced to 1.5 to 4.5 years in prison but only served nine months.
Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur were not only friends, they were also musical collaborators. The duo released the song “2 Of Amerikaz Most Wanted” in 1996. They are pictured here at the MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City in New York City the same year.
Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur were pictured leaving the 23rd Annual American Music Awards on Jan. 29, 1996.
Despite his major contribution to the world of music, Tupac surprisingly never won a Grammy. He is pictured here at the 1996 Grammys with Kiss, where he was nominated for Best Rap Solo Performance for his hit “Dear Mama” and Best Rap Album for “Me Against the World.”
Tupac Shakur speaks as fellow rap artist Snoop Dogg listens during a voter registration rally in South Central Los Angeles on Aug. 15, 1996.
Rappers Tupac Shakur, Snoop Doggy Dogg and Hammer joined the black activist group Brotherhood Crusade on Aug. 15, 1996, in Los Angeles to kick off a campaign against the “three-strikes” law and to oppose the California Civil Rights Initiative, the anti-affirmative action measure.
On Sept. 7, 1996, Tupac was fatally shot in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas, where he was attending a boxing match with Suge Knight. The rapper succumbed to his injuries six days later, and the front page of the Daily News on Sept. 14, 1996, read, “Rap Requiem: Tupac Shakur dies of gunshot wounds.”
The black car in which Tupac was fatally shot is seen behind police tape at the crime scene in Las Vegas, Nevada. Suge Knight was also in the car with Tupac, but he survived the shooting.
This photo shows the intersection of Harmon and Las Vegas Blvd. in Las Vegas on Sept. 8, 1996, the day after Tupac Shakur was shot in a drive-by while riding with Suge Knight.
A black BMW, riddled with bullet holes, is seen in a Las Vegas police impound lot in a file photo from Sept. 8, 1996. Rapper Tupac Shakur was shot while riding in the car driven by Death Row Records Chairman Marion “Suge” Knight on Sept. 7, 1996, and died a week later.
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Duane Davis, accused of fatally shooting rapper Tupac Shakur in 1996, appears in court during his arraignment at the Regional Justice Center on Oct. 4, 2023, in Las Vegas, Nevada. A Nevada grand jury indicted Davis in Shakur’s death charging him with murder and with the use of a deadly weapon in connection to the 1996 killing of the rapper.