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In the nineties, if there was one man who gave voice to the violence and poverty running rampant in America’s ghettos, it was Tupac Shakur. He was a soulful wordsmith who grew up in some of America’s toughest neighborhoods and rose to become perhaps the most celebrated rapper in the history of the form. Of course, calling Tupac a rapper is a disservice to the poet, philosopher, and activist who helped define a generation of musicians. His legacy is so profound that Tupac is headed toward the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Before he was gunned down (or not, depending on your worldview), Tupac made an indelible impact on music and the world. In the years since his death, that hasn’t changed. Of course, there’s more to the man than just the legend surrounding his incredible body of music. Here’s some stuff you might not know about the iconic hip hop artist.

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1. He Grew Up Surrounded By Political Activists

Both of Tupac’s parents were Black Panthers, as was his grandfather, who was convicted of murdering a man during a failed 1968 robbery before the sentence was overturned.

Activists
cnn.com

2. His Stepfather, Mutulu Shakur, Actually Spent Four Years on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List

In 1973, Mutulu’s sister, Assata, was imprisoned for the murder of a New Jersey state trooper. In 1982, Mutulu helped her escape from a federal penitentiary and spent four years being hunted by the FBI for his trouble.

Mutulu
nydailynews.com

3. Shakur Pursued Arts From an Early Age

At the age of 12, he appeared in A Raisin in the Sun at the Apollo Theater, and he transferred to the Baltimore School for the Arts at the age of 15 (after his family left New York). While there, he took ballet classes.

Baltimore
baltimoresun.com

4. Tupac Was Incredibly Popular in High School

Sure, he was valued for his ability to rap, but Tupac was also revered for his sense of humor and his ability to communicate with anyone.

High
tvsmacktalk.com

5. Tupac Was Friends With Future Star Jada Pinkett Smith Since High School

He was once quoted saying, “Jada is my heart. She will be my friend for my whole life.” He’s even written poems about the actress.

JPS
madamenoire.com

6. Tupac Began His Career as a Roadie and Backup Dancer For Early 90s Hip Hop Group Digital Underground

DU
pinterest.com

7. In 1991, Tupac Made His Screen Debut in ‘Nothing But Trouble’

Digital Underground performed a song for the movie’s soundtrack, on which Tupac appeared. The oddball (and totally underrated) comedy saw Chevy Chase and Demi Moore get roped into a super strange small town run by Dan Aykroyd and John Candy. Digital Underground appears in the film briefly, and they brought a 19-year-old Tupac Shakur along with them.

Nothing But Trouble
bet.com

8. In the Final Year of His Life, Tupac Recorded About 150 Songs

What’s more, the rapper often completed his verses on the first take, which allowed him to record as many as three songs a day. As a result of this recording sprint, more of Tupac’s music has been released after his death than before it.

LEDE
cbsnews.com

9. Tupac Was Briefly Considered For the Role of Bubba in ‘Forrest Gump’

Bubba
movieclips.com

10. All Ten of Tupac’s Posthumous Albums Have Gone Platinum

That’s a million copies. His greatest hits album has sold more than ten million copies.

Lives
screenplay.biz

11. Tupac Was Offered a Record Contract at the Age of 13, But His Mother Refused to Let Him Sign It

She felt he had a lot of growing up to do.

Young
thefamouspeople.com

12. He Was the First Rapper to Release a Double Album, ‘All Eyez On Me’

He recorded it in just two weeks in sessions that began mere hours after he was released from jail for sexual assault.

All Eyes on Me
cleveland.com

13. He’s ALSO the First Rap Artist to Have a Wax Statue in Madame Tussauds

Wax
dopemag.net

14. Tupac Is the Only Rapper in History to Have an Album at Number One While In Jail- ‘Me Against the World’ in 1995

Me
likesuccess.com

15. Tupac’s Last Words Were ‘F—K You’

He was talking to the Vegas police. After he was shot four times by unknown assailants, he refused to speak to the police and doctors around him. He was put into a medically-induced coma after trying to get out of the bed repeatedly and died from internal bleeding shortly after.

Performing
laweekly.com

16. Tupac’s Mom, Afeni, Was Acquitted of More than 150 Counts of ‘Conspiracy Against the United States Government and New York Landmarks’ a Month Before Tupac Was Born

Afeni
vibe.com

17. Shakur’s First Handle Was MC New York

But he was kid, so you can’t blame him too much.

MC
rebloggy.com

18. The First Album Released After Tupac’s Death, ‘The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory’ Was Created Entirely in Seven Days

From writing to recording to editing. The whole process took just a week.

Killuminati
beatdust.com

19. Before His Death, Tupac Was Supposed to Play a Role in Disney’s ‘Cool Runnings’

Cool Runnings
bustle.com

20. Tupac Was Supposed to Play a Role in ‘Menace II Society’ But He Got Into a Fight With One of the Hughes Brothers (the Film’s Directors) and Was Promptly Fired

Menace
epsilonreviews.com

21. He Was a Big Fan of Shakespeare

He once said of Romeo and Juliet, “That’s some serious ghetto sh-t. You got this guy Romeo from the Bloods who falls for Juliet, a female from the Crips, and everybody in both gangs are against them. So they have to sneak out and they end up dead for nothing. Real tragic stuff.”

Shakespeare
minnesotaplaylist.com

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