Happy Birthday to probably the most influential artist to ever walk this Earth, and arguably top 5 rapper of all time, Tupac Shakur!

Tupac Amaru Shakur, born Lesane Parish Crooks, was born June 16th, 1971 in East Harlem, New York. His mother renamed him a year later after Tupac Amaru II. His parents and many family members were active members in the Black Panther Party which explains why his music has the content that it did. He was educated at an early age about social issues in the black community.

Tupac began recording in 1987 but didn’t see really any benefits until the early ’90s. His break came when he was featured on Digital Underground’s “Same Song” from the soundtrack Nothing But Trouble, which he also appeared in the film. He then dropped his debut album 2Pacalypse Now. It wasn’t the biggest commercial success, but was very critically acclaimed.

That album sparked controversy because it had a poetic style which tackled unjust social policies. The two songs that really stood out because of those reasons were “Trapped” and “Brenda’s Got a Baby”.

He then released his second album Strictly for my N.I.G.G.A.Z which commercially did better than his first album, debuting at #24 on the Billboard 200. That album was produced way better than his last effort, and was littered with more of his political views. Regardless of that, it still was responsible for creating the two hit singles “Keep Ya Head Up” and “I Get Around”, both reaching platinum status. That relationship with Digital Underground’s Shock G and Money-B was put to good use as they were featured on the second hit single.

In 1993, he formed the group “Thug Life” (which he noticeably has tattooed on his stomach) with his friends Big Syke, Macadoshis, Rated R, and his step brother Mopreme Shakur. They dropped their only album Thug Life: Volume 1 in September of 1994 which went Gold. The single “Pour Out a Little Liquor” was produced by Johnny “J” Jackson. He would become an intricate part of 2Pac’s career because he went on to produce a large part of 2Pac’s best known album All Eyez On Me. That album featured the diss song “Hit Em Up” which was a diss to the legendary Biggie Smalls, his most successful song ever “California Love” featuring Dr. Dre, “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted” featuring Snoop Dogg, and “How Do You Want It?”.

By his third album, Me Against The World, he was considered the best in the rap game.  Using his poetic style to tackle conscious issues while still having the lyrical ability and the flow to make songs sonically amazing.  That album produced the greatest Mother’s day tune ever, Dear Mama.

As we all should know, 2Pac was also an amazing thespian. He appeared in three movies that are extremely popular to this day in our culture; Juice, Above the Rim, and Poetic Justice whom he played the love interest of some actor by the name of Janet Jackson. (Just kidding, she’s an icon.)

2Pac’s biopic is also in theaters everywhere and is a really great movie. I urge everyone to go check that out as soon as you can!

Happy Birthday 2Pac, your legacy will live on forever!