Remembering 2Pac Shakur 25 Years After His Passing

2PAC Shakur
(Photo by Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

It was September 7, 1996. After spending almost three years in prison, one of the biggest fighters in the world, Mike Tyson was regaining the traction in his career with three straight wins including two knockouts. He was one knockout away from finally getting a chance to fight Evander Holyfield after years of fans begging for the matchup.

All he had to do was get through Bruce Seldon. The fight was at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada and there was one of his new best friends. 2Pac Shakur. The two first met at in 1991 at a party after Tyson allowed him in after security tried to keep them out. The two did not really connect until 1995, while Tyson was sitting in prison after being convicted for rape.

“The next time I saw [Tupac] I didn’t even know who he was,” Tyson said. “I knew he was ‘2Pac.’ But his mother had wrote me a letter in prison … I remembered that night. He came to prison to see me. We spoke. He was so much more confident than when I had met him the other time, probably a year or two prior to that. He had gone from being shy guy to very strong-willed and confident and independent. He was tremendously feeling himself. He had so much confidence. He was bursting off the air. –MTV

2Pac had brought Tyson in the ring with a brand new track. Tyson ultimately knocked Seldon out in 1:49. And just like that the fight is over. He along with Suge Knight and a bunch of associates saw a Crip by the name of Orlando Anderson in the lobby who was accused of robbing a member of Death Row months before. The group jumped him then dashed towards the exits, jumped into their vehicles, and began to head towards Knight’s owned venue, Club 662.

2Pac hopped in the BMW on the passenger side as Suge Knight drove. At about 11:45 pm PDT, a Cadillac stopped beside their vehicle hitting 2Pac four times. He would lie in the hospital fighting for his life until September 13.

That was 25 years ago today. A quarter of a century later, the legacy of the man named 2Pac Shakur still rings strong. He was an artist, a poet, an actor, an activist.

At the time of his death, the East coast/West coast war was in full swing with 2Pac and New York’s very own Notorious B.I.G. at the forefront of the battle. The two were once best friends, but things changed on November 30, 1994 when he was ambushed in an elevator at Quad Studios and shot five times. As a friend 2Pac claimed Biggie knew who did it, and didn’t help him find them.

He had big plans for this genre we call hip hop. Wanted to bring back to the community. Not just himself, but the big players in the genre. Plans to link back with members of the East Coast and have one nation of rap.

The East coast/West coast wars have long washed away. Both Biggie and 2Pac have now passed away, and most likely the men who pulled the triggers as well. Since that time, hip hop turned into a billion dollar business. We went through the bubble jacket era, the Def Jam 2000 explosion, the southern takeover, and the trap era. Music has changed so much over the years.

2Pac’s legacy still lives on today. Songs such as “Changes”, “Brenda’s Got A Baby,” “Dear Mama,”  “So Many Tears,” still relate to many today, while tracks like 1996’s “California Love” and “I Get Around” continues to play on radio stations across the nation forever.

One can only wonder what he would say if he was alive today. Would he be supporting today’s music, and help mentoring other artists of today? Would he hop on a song with Kendrick Lamar or J. Cole? Would he even still be in music?

Would he be leading the Black Lives Matter movement we have today, and been a leading voice during last year’s protests, and last month’s Million Man March. Out on the streets teaching the younger generation on how to make themselves better, marching with the people, and fighting for the rights of Black and Brown people in America and around the world? Would he be wearing a Colin Kaepernick jersey with the red bandana tied around his head? Before he had passed, he was planning to connect the two coasts with a record label that included artists from both coasts. Hoping to set up softball leagues with artists sponsoring teams from the inner cities helping them become better people.

Maybe he’d be a big movie star. Before his passing, he had starred in roles such as Gridlock’d, Poetic Justice, Juice, Bullet and Above The Rim.

While the debate continues on who the best rapper is, his legacy is bigger than that. At 26, he had accomplished more than most human beings at that age. If it’s one thing we should take away from 2Pac today, is that we’re all not perfect, but to try and help each other bring a better nation. One nation.

“My mama always used to tell me: ‘If you can’t find somethin’ to live for, you best find somethin’ to die for.”

Celebrate his music below.