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By Sebastian Garcia
Teen Pulse Staff Writer
“Tupac Shakur: The Life and Times of an American Icon,” by Tayannah Lee Mcquiller and Fred L. Johnson III, PhD (2010) follows Lesane Parish Crooks’ life, beginning with his birth in New York on June 16, 1971 to Black Panther member Alice Faye Williams and ending with the rapper’s death in 1996.
Because of her association with the Black Panthers, Williams renamed herself Afeni Shakur. She then later changed Crooks’ name to Tupac Amaru Shakur, after the South American emperor.
Shakur didn’t have an ordinary life. His mother was addicted to drugs and she had people coming in and out of their house all the time and his father was not involved in Shakur’s life. Although his life at home was hectic, Shakur was enrolled in the Baltimore School of Fine Arts, where he excelled in his classes and had an interest in drama and acting.
The book details Shakur’s having to leave his Baltimore school to move to California in 1991 with his sister. His mother Afeni sent him and his sister to California by themselves, where they were to live with her friend.
As luck would have it, Afeni’s friend was anything but nice to Shakur and his little sister. The friend would lash out at the both of them and she took out her frustrations on Shakur.
Though he felt out of place in California, he quickly adapted to his new surroundings and looked to the streets for comfort. He befriended gang members so he would be respected, then worked to perfect his gangster image. Through this image, Shakur commanded fear and respect.
In 1991, he released his first album “2pacalypse Now” on Interscope records.
With the release of this album, Shakur got a taste of fame and fortune. During his illustrious rap career, he released six albums from1991-1996. With his newfound fortune, he bought jewelry, cars and houses. He also sent money to his mother and sister.
However, with fame came problems. The media and public constantly scrutinized Shakur. The media fed off the East Coast/West Coast rap war and his rift with former friend, Biggie Smalls.
The frenzy was fueled by his brief stints in jail. It didn’t help matters that he spent six months in jail for a rape charge, though there was no evidence suggesting he committed the crime.
When Shakur got out of jail, he teamed up with fellow rap artist and producer Dr. Dre of “Death Row Records.” He then started releasing records climbing the music charts again, but was shot to death on Sept. 13, 1996 in Las Vegas, Nev.
The book is well written and illustrates the rocky road that Shakur traveled throughout his life.