September 13, 1996
Web posted at: 8:50 p.m. EDT
September 13, 1996 Web posted at: 10:45 p.m. EDT
LAS VEGAS (CNN) -- Tupac Shakur, the rapper whose raw lyrics seemed a blueprint of his own violent life, died Friday from wounds suffered in a drive-by shooting. He was 25.
Shakur, his mother at his bedside, was pronounced dead at 7:03 p.m. EDT at the University Medical Center in Las Vegas, according to hospital spokeswoman Nancy Collins.
Collins said doctors determined Shakur died from respiratory failure and cardiopulmonary arrest. The rapper had been in a medical-induced coma after having his right lung removed earlier this week.
Shakur was hit by four bullets September 7 as he rode near the Las Vegas Strip in a car driven by the head of Death Row Records, Marion "Suge" Knight, who was slightly wounded. It was the second time in less than two years that the rapper was gunned down.
The Las Vegas attackers got away, and no arrests have been made.
Known simply as 2Pac, with "Thug Life" tattooed across his stomach, Shakur embodied the extremes of pop culture. Fans loved him, buying millions of his records, while politicians and others denounced both him and his lyrics for glorifying violence and drugs and degrading women.
He was born Tupac Amaru Shakur in 1971 in New York City. His mother, Afeni Shakur, is a former Black Panther activist and the inspiration for the touching song "Dear Mama" on his Grammy-nominated album "Me Against The World."
As a member of the Grammy-nominated group Digital Underground, he appeared in 1991 on the track "Same Song" from "This is an EP Release" and on the album "Sons Of The P."
That same year, Shakur achieved individual recognition with the album "2Pacalypse Now," which spawned the successful singles "Trapped" and "Brenda's Got A Baby."
The album, with references to police officers being killed, drew notoriety when a slain police officer's family claimed Shakur's music drove the killer to action. By that time, Shakur had made his first film appearance in Earnest Dickerson's "Juice."
In the 1992 John Singleton film, "Poetic Justice," Shakur co- starred opposite pop singer Janet Jackson. But Shakur seemed to spend as much time in courtrooms and jail cells than he did on movie sets.
A 1993 confrontation with two off-duty Atlanta police officers led to charges that were later dropped.
In 1994, he was sentenced to 15 days in jail for assault and battery on a music video producer.
Then, in November 1994, he was shot five times and robbed of $40,000 worth of jewelry in the lobby of a New York recording studio.
In 1995, Shakur was found guilty of sexually assaulting a female fan in a New York hotel room. He served eight months before winning release pending his appeal. In 1996, a judge ordered him to serve 120 days in jail for probation violations. An appeal was pending, and he had recently completed filming a role as a detective for the Orion picture "Gang Related."
'Soldiers are out there'
When the rapper appeared at the MTV Video Awards three days before the Las Vegas shooting, he explained why he stayed in touch with members of his "posse" by two-way radio.
"Well today, every young black man needs to be physically inclined and military-minded," he said. "And this (two-way radio) is part of the military mind. The soldiers are out there.
"I'm not the same guy that would come to the awards, have a problem with somebody and whup their ass in front of everybody," Shakur continued. "So now I got the radio. I see a problem, we quelch it. It's out. No big fires, just small, tiny little sparks that can be put out."
"That shows my growth," he said. "That shows our brain power. That shows the organization and not just Tupac, but Death Row as a whole."
Still there was trouble.
Police were called into the awards show to break up a confrontation between Shakur's entourage and six other men.
The night he was hit by four bullets, Shakur and his entourage had been involved in a fight outside their Las Vegas hotel.
Yet Shakur was not just the fury, expletives and anger of songs like "F--- the World." He could be poignant ("It was hell hugging on my mama from a jail cell") and both sympathetic and critical of young black men trying to become "gangstas."
He even admitted to being tired of the gangsta lifestyle.
"Thug Life to me is dead. If it's real, let somebody else represent it, because I'm tired of it," Shakur told Vibe magazine. "I represented it too much. I was Thug Life."
Still, there were forebodings of a violent ending.
When Shakur talked to Details magazine earlier this year, he said: "All good niggers, all the niggers who change the world, die in violence. They don't die in regular ways."
Not six months after Tupac's death, another singer Christopher Wallace, a.k.a. The Notorious B.I.G., who parlayed a rough life as a crack dealer into a platinum-selling career as a "gangsta rapper" was murdered. Mr. B.I.G. was gunned down in a drive-by shooting only minutes after leaving the 11th Annual Soul Train Music Awards in Los Angeles on March 1, 1997. Does anyone need more dramatic evidence of the small and shrinking gap between violent rhetoric and violent action in the volatile world of gangsta rap?
Another Rapper Murdered!
"As you sow, so shall you reap."
What a mess!