Rapper, poet, and actor Tupac Shakur was born in Harlem in 1971. At the age of sixteen he began recording hip hop music, and in 1991 he was heard on the soundtrack for the film Nothing But Trouble as part of the group Digital Underground. Tupac’s career rose steadily through the 1990s. He recorded four studio albums and worked both with groups like ‘Thug Life’ and as a solo artist. He also began an acting career, appearing in films such as Juice, Poetic Justice, and Above the Rim and guest starring on the sitcom A Different World.
It was not an easy rise. Tupac’s life was filled with legal difficulties. He was arrested and/or charged with assault on various occasions. He once accused the police of beating him up for jaywalking. He served a few short sentences in jail, and once settled a wrongful death suit because a gun he owned went off and a child was killed as a result. He also served nine months in jail for sexual assault, a charge he always denied. He became the first artist to have a number one album on Billboard 200 while in prison. While in Las Vegas in 1996 Tupac was murdered in an apparent gang-related shooting.
And now a movie about Tupac’s life is being released. Titled All Eyez on Me after Tupac’s fourth and final studio album, the film is directed by music video director Benny Boom and stars newcomer Demetrius Shipp Jr. as Tupac, Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead) as Tupac’s mother, and Keith Robinson (Dreamgirls) and Lauren Cohan (The Walking Dead) as a few of the people who helped Tupac with his career. A new trailer for the film has been released and gives a bit of insight into who Tupac was.
The trailer largely focuses on his mother Afeni Shakur, an activist and Black Panther. Most of the trailer plays while she speaks to her son about the disadvantages he will face for being African-American, telling him that others will give him the tools he needs to destroy himself and encouraging him to be true to who he is. She quotes Hamlet to him, “To thine own self be true“, touching on Tupac’s love of William Shakespeare, which influenced his music greatly.
Tupac is considered one of the most influential rappers of all time, and more than twenty years after his death he continues to influence the genre. He will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 7, 2017. While he has appeared as a character in biopics for various other rappers, All Eyez on Me will be the first film telling Tupac’s story. It’s been a long time coming, and the trailer makes it look like the film will have been well worth that wait.
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