“I know I’m gonna die. They have to kill me. Society, the system, the status quo, the evil empire, they have to kill me because of who I am and what I represent. Because I’m a Shakur. My only choice is how I’m gonna die.” – 2pac
Two decades ago Tuesday, on September 13, 1996, rap icon Tupac Amaru Shakur, also known as Makaveli, was pronounced dead at the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada. The official causes of death were noted as respiratory failure and cardiopulmonary arrest in connection with multiple gunshot wounds he sustained on September 7, 1996 after leaving the Tyson/Seldon heavyweight championship bout. Tupac Shakur was 25 years old, and the biggest rap star in America. The sudden tragic news of his death sent shockwaves throughout the hip-hop universe. A plethora of fans greeted the loss with disbelief and a hint of hopelessness. It became arguably the darkest day of the rap world.
In urban neighborhoods across America, fans held vigils for Tupac Shakur. Many of them recited the lyrics to “Keep Ya Head Up” and “Dear Mama”. It really felt like the whole world was mourning the death of Tupac.
“It is a big loss,” rap pioneer Russell Simmons felt. “He was one of the best poets of our time. He was very insightful and added a level of sophistication to rap that was unmatched. It doesn’t matter what type of education he had. Tupac communicated such an honest and diverse range of feelings in his music.”
Investigative reporter Chuck Philips wrote in the LA Times that “the slaying silenced one of modern music’s most eloquent voices—a ghetto poet whose tales of urban alienation captivated young people of all races and backgrounds. The 25-year-old Shakur had helped elevate rap from a crude street fad to a complex art form, setting the stage for the current global hip-hop phenomenon.”
I remembered waking up the next day on September 14, 1996 to the cover of the Daily News paper and the headline read:
“Tupac Shakur dies of gunshot wounds. RAP REQUIEM”
I still could not believe that 2Pac was gone. My favorite rapper was dead. Based on his history of getting shot, I assumed Tupac was going to survive and soon bragged about being immortal on his new album, but it was not going to be. Instead of mourning his death, I decided to celebrate his life. I brought all his rap albums and listened to them. 2Pac’s music reached me emotionally like no other. I knew that rap music will not be the same without him and there weren’t any rappers in the game that could filled his void.
Personally, I felt it was the end of an era in rap music.
Today, Tupac Shakur is still one of the most beloved hip-hop figures in the genre. Considered the “Hip-Hop James Dean” because of his untimely death at young age made him a bigger star than he had been while alive, Tupac Shakur has become not only a cultural icon, but also an international martyr, a symbol on the level of reggae legend Bob Marley. His life has inspired Tupacistas on the streets of Brazil, memorial murals in the Bronx and Spain, and bandanna-wearing youth gangs in South Africa.
Tupac Shakur is consistently ranked as one of the greatest rappers ever, as well as one of the most influential rappers of all time. He has sold over 80 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling artists ever.
On the 20th anniversary of his death, Tupac’s planned cafe called ‘Powamekka Cafe’ opened as a pop-up in Fresno, California.
Demetrius Shipp Jr. has been cast to star as Shakur in an upcoming biopic titled All Eyez on Me, which is schedule for release this November.
2Pac 4 Ever!!!
By Shamarie Knight, 13th Sep 2016