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Tupac Amaru Shakur (born Lesane Parish Crooks; June 16, 1971 – September 13, 1996), also known by his stage names 2Pac and Makaveli, was an American rapper, poet and actor. Shakur sold over 75 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. His double disc albums All Eyez on Me (1996) and his Greatest Hits (1998) are among the best-selling albums in the United States. Shakur is consistently ranked as one of the greatest and most influential rappers of all time and he has been listed and ranked as one of the greatest artists of any genre by many publications, including Rolling Stone, which ranked him 86th on its list of The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. On April 7, 2017, Shakur was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
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Shakur was born on June 16, 1971, in the East Harlem section of Manhattan in New York City. His birth name was Lesane Parish Crooks, but in 1972, he was renamed after Túpac Amaru II, the 18th-century Peruvian revolutionary who was executed after leading an indigenous uprising against Spanish rule. Shakur was African American.
His mother Afeni Shakur (born Alice Faye Williams in North Carolina) and his father Billy Garland were active members of the Black Panther Party in New York in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Lesane was born a month after his mother was acquitted of more than 150 charges of "Conspiracy against the United States government and New York landmarks" in the New York Panther 21 trial.
Many people in Shakur's life were involved with the Black Liberation Army; some were convicted of serious criminal offenses and imprisoned, including his mother. His godfather, Elmer "Geronimo" Pratt, a high-ranking Black Panther, was convicted of murdering a school teacher during a 1968 robbery, although his sentence was later overturned. His stepfather, Mutulu Shakur, spent four years at large on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list beginning in 1982. Mutulu was wanted for having helped his friend (no relation) Assata Shakur (also known as Joanne Chesimard), Tupac's godmother, to escape from a penitentiary in New Jersey in 1979. She had been imprisoned since 1977 for killing a state trooper in 1973. She lived as a fugitive for several years before gaining asylum in Cuba in 1985. Mutulu was caught in 1986 and eventually imprisoned for the 1981 robbery of a Brinks armored truck in which two police officers and a guard were killed.
Shakur had an older stepbrother, Mopreme "Komani" Shakur, and a half-sister, Sekyiwa, two years his junior. Mopreme performed in many of his recordings. In 1986, his family moved to Baltimore, Maryland. After completing his second year at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, he transferred to the Baltimore School for the Arts. There he studied acting, poetry, jazz, and ballet. He performed in Shakespeare plays and in the role of the Mouse King in the ballet The Nutcracker. Shakur, accompanied by one of his friends, Dana "Mouse" Smith, as his beatbox, won many rap competitions and was considered to be the best rapper in his school. He was remembered as one of the most popular kids in his school because of his sense of humor, superior rapping skills, and ability to mix with all crowds.
Shakur developed a close friendship with Jada Pinkett (later Jada Pinkett Smith) that lasted until his death. In the documentary Tupac: Resurrection, Shakur says, "Jada is my heart. She will be my friend for my whole life." Pinkett Smith calls him "one of my best friends. He was like a brother. It was beyond friendship for us. The type of relationship we had, you only get that once in a lifetime." A poem written by Shakur titled "Jada" appears in his book, The Rose That Grew from Concrete, which also includes a poem dedicated to Pinkett Smith called "The Tears in Cupid's Eyes." During his time in art school, Shakur became affiliated with the Baltimore Young Communist League USA. He began dating the daughter of the director of the local chapter of the Communist Party USA.
In 1988, Shakur and his family moved to Marin City, California, a suburban community located 5 miles (8 km) north of San Francisco. He attended Tamalpais High School in nearby Mill Valley. Shakur contributed to the school's drama department by performing in several productions. In an English class, Shakur wrote a paper, "Conquering All Obstacles," in which he said: "our raps, not the sorry story raps everyone is so tired of. They are about what happens in the real world. Our goal is [to] have people relate to our raps, making it easier to see what really is happening out there. Even more important, what we may do to better our world." He began attending the poetry classes of Leila Steinberg in 1989. That same year, Steinberg organized a concert with a former group of Shakur's, "Strictly Dope"; the concert led to him being signed with Atron Gregory. He set him up as a roadie and backup dancer with the hip hop group Digital Underground in 1990.