Tupac Shakur: Things You Didn't Know About The Pop Culture Icon

By Jacob Shelton
(Interscope Records)

Tupac Shakur is most famous as the king of West Coast '90s hip-hop, rapping alongside fellow Death Row Records luminaries like Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg until his young life came to a sudden and violent end in Las Vegas, but Pac was a much more complex man than his gangsta image let on. He had a background in classical dance, grew up under the tutelage of a member of the Black Panther Party, and dated Madonna, just to name a few fascinating facts. His life was a myriad of contradictions, many that we'll never understand.

Tupac And The Black Panthers

Born Lesane Parish Crooks on June 16, 1971, he was renamed Túpac Amaru II when he was only one year old. Both of his parents were active members in the Black Panther movement during the '60s and '70s, and his mother, Afeni, was even criminally charged as a part of the Panther 21 trial for more than 100 crimes, including coordinated bombings throughout New York City. She was acquitted of a truly impressive number of charges at the end of the trial.

Shakur's mother wasn't the only member of his family who found themselves in hot water over their political work. His godfather, Elmer "Geronimo" Pratt, was targeted by the FBI, who sought to neutralize him "as an effective (Panther) functionary." Coincidentally, he was convicted of murdering a schoolteacher during a 1968 robbery. After 27 years in prison, his sentence was overturned, and he moved to a village in Tanzania.

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