Tupac Amaru Shakur (June 16, 1971 September 13, 1996), also known by his stage names 2Pac and Makaveli, was an American rapper. In addition to his status as a top-selling recording artist, Shakur was a promising actor and a social activist. Most of Shakur’s songs are about growing up amid violence and hardship in ghettos, racism, problems in society and conflicts with other rappers. Shakur’s work is known for advocating political, economic, social and racial equality, as well as his raw descriptions of violence, drug and alcohol abuse and conflicts with the law.
At a Mobb Deep concert following the death of the famed icon and release of The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, Cormega recalled in an interview that the fans were all shouting “Makaveli”, and emphasized the influence of the The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory and of Shakur himself even in New York at the height of the media-dubbed ‘intercoastal rivalry’. About.com named Shakur the most influential rapper ever.
To preserve Shakur’s legacy, his mother founded the Shakur Family Foundation (later re-named the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation or TASF) in 1997. The TASF’s stated mission is to “provide training and support for students who aspire to enhance their creative talents.” The TASF sponsors essay contests, charity events, a performing arts day camp for teenagers and undergraduate scholarships. The Foundation officially opened the Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts (TASCA) in Stone Mountain, Georgia, on June 11, 2005. On November 14, 2003, a documentary about Shakur entitled Tupac: Resurrection was released under the supervision of his mother and narrated entirely in his voice. It was nominated for Best Documentary in the 2005 Academy Awards. Proceeds will go to a charity set up by Shakur’s mother Afeni. On April 17, 2003, Harvard University co-sponsored an academic symposium entitled “All Eyez on Me: Tupac Shakur and the Search for the Modern Folk Hero.” The speakers discussed a wide range of topics dealing with Shakur’s impact on everything from entertainment to sociology.
Many of the speakers discussed Shakur’s status and public persona, including State University of New York English professor Mark Anthony Neal who gave the talk “Thug Nigga Intellectual: Tupac as Celebrity Gramscian” in which he argued that Shakur was an example of the “organic intellectual” expressing the concerns of a larger group. Professor Neal has also indicated in his writings that the death of Shakur has left a “leadership void amongst hip-hop artists.”Neal further describes him as a “walking contradiction”, a status that allowed him to “make being an intellectual accessible to ordinary people”.