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Tupac Shakur became the unlikely martyr of gangsta rap becoming the tragic symbol of hardcore rap At the outset of his career it didnt appear that he would emerge as one of the definitive rappers of the 90s especially since he was a second-string rapper for Digital Underground joining after they had their biggest hit But in 1992 he delivered an acclaimed debut album 2Pacalypse Now which quickly followed with a star-making performance in the urban drama Juice Over the course of one year his profile raised substantially as he became as well-known for his run-ins with the law as he did for his music By 1994 2-Pac was rivalling Snoop Doggy Dogg as the most controversial figure in rap as he was spending as much time in prison as he was in the recording studio His burgeoning outlaw mythology helped his 1995 album Me Against the World enter the charts at number one and it also opened himself up to charges of exploitation Yet as the single Dear Mama illustrated he was capable of sensitivity as well as violence Unfortunately the gangsta lifestyle he captured in his music soon overtook his own life Signing with Death Row Records in late 1995 Shakur released the double-album All Eyez on Me in the spring of 1996 and the record as well as its hit single California Love confirmed his superstar status While his celebrity was at its peak he was publicly fighting with his rival the Notorious BIG and there were tensions brewing at Death Row Even with such conflicts 2-Pacs drive-by-shooting in September 1996 was unexpected On September 13 six days after the shooting Shakur passed away leaving behind a legacy that was based as much on his lifestyle as it was his music The son of two Black Panther members Tupac Amaru Shakur was born in New York City His parents had separated before he was born and his mother moved him and his
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