Tagged with "rap"
A Moment in History - Olaudah Equiano
Category: Black Men Rock!
Tags: olaudah equiano biography black

Olaudah Equiano (1745 – 1797) was an 18th century African writer and anti-slavery campaigner. From an early age, Olaudah Equiano experienced the horrors of slavery first hand. But, after gaining his freedom, he gained British citizenship and wrote about his experiences. His autobiography ‘The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano‘ played a pivotal role in turning public opinion in Britain against slavery. His accounts of slavery and its human suffering were a factor in the enactment of the Slave Trade Act of 1807.

Early life and experience as slave

Equiano writes that he was born in Nigeria in the year 1745 – a member of the Igbo tribe. Aged 11, he was kidnapped, along with sisters, by native slave-holders; after being sold to European slave traders, he was then packed into a slave ship and transferred across the Atlantic to Barbados. Equiano eventually ended up the British colony of Virginia. As a slave he was given different names, including Gustavus Vassa.

Equiano later wrote about the mistreatment of slaves on the Virginia plantations. His vivid descriptions of the various punishments and humiliations that slaves had to endure were the first published account of an autobiography of a slave. Speaking of the Virginia overseers.

These overseers are indeed for the most part persons of the worst character of any denomination of men in the West Indies. Unfortunately, many humane gentlemen, by not residing on their estates, are obliged to leave the management of them in the hands of these human butchers, who cut and mangle the slaves in a shocking manner on the most trifling occasions, and altogether treat them in every respect like brutes. – p.105 ‘The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano‘

Equiano wrote that he was so shocked by his experience that he tried to wash the colour out of his face in an attempt to escape his position as a slave.

Equiano was bought by Michael Pascal a sailor in the Royal Navy; therefore Equiano was taught the art of seamanship and had to follow his master into battle during Britain’s Seven Years War with France. Equiano served during battles bringing gunpowder into position.

Equiano gained a certain respect from his master and after travelling extensively, he was sent to England where he gained a basic education. Pascal later wrote that Equiano was ‘a very deserving boy’. During this time, in 1759, he also converted to Christianity. His Christian beliefs were increasingly important in his life. He used the Christian message of the Golden Rule ‘do unto others, as you would have done to you’ as a way to shape attitudes on slavery. However, he was still denied the freedom that Pascal had once promised. Instead, he was sold on to Captain James Doran in the Caribbean and then onto Robert King, a Quaker merchant from Philadelphia.

A Free man

Doran furthered the education of Equiano and taught Equiano to assist him in trading. In his early 20s, Doran helped Equiano to purchase his freedom. Writing of the moment he gained his freedom, Equaiano wrote:

Accordingly he signed the manumission that day; so that, before night, I who had been a slave in the morning, trembling at the will of another, was became [sic] my own master, and completely free. I thought this was the happiest day I had ever experienced… p.177

Initially he stayed in America to assist Doran as a business partner. But, shortly after buying his freedom, slaveholders attempted to kidnapp Equaino and return him to slavery. He only escaped by being able to prove his education. Equiano later pointed out the position of free slaves was little better than slaves because of the dreadful treatment, black men received.

Hitherto I had thought only slavery dreadful; but the state of a free negro appeared to me now equally so at least, and in some respects even worse, for they live in constant alarm for their liberty; and even this is but nominal, for they are universally insulted and plundered without the possibility of redress; for such is the equity of the West Indian laws, that no free negro’s evidence will be admitted in their courts of justice. p.122

Feeling unsafe in the Caribbean, he returned to Britain.

Anti – Slavery movement

Back in England, he was befriended by many who supported the abolition of the slave trade. Many abolitionists were Quakers, but in the late Eighteenth Century, the movement was spreading to other denominations. Equiano was able to give first hand testament about life as a slave. This information was useful for those who were hoping to change the law and outlaw slavery. His friends encouraged him to write down a book about his experiences. First published in 1789, the account was eagerly received by many people in Britain. It sold well, and went through many editions. Many people who read about the suffering of slaves were more inclined to support the abolitionist cause. The book received good reviews, and many were surprised and moved at the quality of writing and his ability to depict life as a slave.

The book made Equiano a prominent figure in literary circles. In 1788, Equiano was able to personally petition the king for the end of slavery. The book also helped to demystify many of the current misconceptions about African people – this personal account and personality of Equiano was very influential in displaying the obvious humanity of black Africans.

The revenue from book sales enabled Equiano to live independently of philanthropic backers and he could devote more time to campaigning against slavery. He also served as a leader for the poor black community of London. These were often freed slaves and descendants, but struggled to survive economically. Equiano also campaigned for the extension of the vote to working men. He was an active member of the Corresponding Society. He also supported the London Missionary society – a Christian organization committed to spreading education and Christianity overseas.

In 1792, Equiano married Susan Cullen, a local girl from Soham in Cambridgeshire. They had two daughters. He died in 1797 in London.

Legacy of Equiano

Although there is some controversy about the exact birth place of Equiano – some historians believe he may have been born in North America rather than Africa, there is no doubt that Equiano played a pivotal figure in the anti-slavery movement. His writing and speeches helped show people that there was a strong sense of shared humanity. He made a passionate appeal to the higher ideals of British lawmakers – hoping this would affect change.

I hope to have the satisfaction of seeing the renovation of liberty and justice resting on the British government, to vindicate the honour of our common nature.

After reading about the suffering of fellow humans, there was a growing support for the abolitionist cause. Equiano’s biography became an important instrument of abolitionist propaganda.

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. (G+) “Olaudah Equiano Biography”, Oxford, www.biographyonline.net, 11/08/2013 Biography Online

Producer, Writer, and Singer, Missy Elliott is a phenomenal talent
Category: The Golden Era
Tags: missy elliot golden era producer rapper singer word life production feature weekly blog

Missy Elliott was born in Portsmouth, Virginia, on July 1, 1971. Elliott worked as a songwriter and producer before getting her own record label. Her inventive style and ability to transcend hip-hop's ideas about women gave her five platinum albums in a row—including her debut album, Supa Dupa Fly—and numerous honors, including five Grammy Awards. With success as a performer, songwriter and producer, Elliott became hip-hop's first female mogul.

Missy Elliott was born Melissa Arnette Elliott on July 1, 1971, in Portsmouth, Virginia. As a child, she would often sing for her family and neighbors. Even at a young age, Elliott knew she that wanted to be a star.

Elliott's childhood was marked by trauma. When she was eight, she was raped on a regular basis by a 16-year-old cousin. The sexual abuse lasted for a year, until a relative discovered what was happening. She also witnessed her father's almost daily beatings of her mother. The situation had Elliott sending pleas for help to stars like Michael and Janet Jackson. Finally, when she was a teenager, Elliott and her mother left her father.

Success in Hip-Hop

Free from worries about her mother's safety, Elliott was able to fully focus on music and performing. She formed a group, Sista, that was signed to Swing Mob Records in 1991. Unfortunately, financial problems meant that Sista's album was not released. After the group split up, Elliott and her friend Timbaland started writing and producing songs, including hits for their friend Aaliyah.

Although her appearance didn't match ideas about female beauty in the male-centric world of hip-hop, Elliott got the chance to form her own label, The Goldmind, Inc., at Elektra Records. Her first album, Supa Dupa Fly (1997), went platinum and earned Elliott the designation of rap artist of the year from Rolling Stone. Her next two albums also went platinum. Elliott's 2002 album, Under Construction, set sales records for a female-headed rap album, selling 2.1 million copies in the United States.

Elliott won two Grammy Awards in 2002, one of which was for her song "Get Ur Freak On." She went on to win Grammys for the songs "Scream a.k.a. Itchin'" and "Work It." Her music video for "Lose Control" also won a Grammy Award. Along with her Grammys, Elliott has received American Music Awards, multiple BET Awards for best female hip-hop artist and several MTV Video Awards for her inventive, eye-catching music videos.

Personal Life

Though the hard-working Elliott has occasionally put her personal life aside in order to focus on work, she takes time to enjoy the jewelry, cars and homes her success has given her. She remains close with her mother and her family.

Elliott grew up in the Baptist faith, and has stated that faith will always be a large part of her life. She explained in 2003 that her faith helped her cope with her abuse, saying, "You have to find some kind of peace.

I believe in a higher being, and that gives me faith to be strong and go on."

Elliott has also had to deal with Graves' disease, an autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid. With a doctor's help, she learned to manage the condition through diet and exercise.

Continuing Career

Elliott's phenomenal success in hip-hop led to her appearing on TV, in ad campaigns and in films, but music is still her focus. Recently, Elliott added Little Mix to the diverse list of artists she has worked with--a list that includes Christina Aguilera, Eminem, Mick Jagger and Whitney Houston--when she performed guest vocals for the group's 2013 release "How Ya Doin'."

After being dismissed for her appearance at the start of her career, Elliott ended up carving her own path to success. An entrepreneur and visionary, Elliott's skills in writing, producing and performing helped her become hip-hop's first female mogul and a hip-hop icon.

© 2014 A+E Networks. All rights reserved.

Music Therapy for people suffering with Alzheimer Disease Tags: music therapy alzheimer disease memory loss word life production health mental wellness feature blog

Music has power—especially for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. And it can spark compelling outcomes even in the very late stages of the disease.

When used appropriately, music can shift mood, manage stress-induced agitation, stimulate positive interactions, facilitate cognitive function, and coordinate motor movements.

This happens because rhythmic and other well-rehearsed responses require little to no cognitive or mental processing. They are influenced by the motor center of the brain that responds directly to auditory rhythmic cues. A person’s ability to engage in music, particularly rhythm playing and singing, remains intact late into the disease process because, again, these activities do not mandate cognitive functioning for success.

Music Associations. Most people associate music with important events and a wide array of emotions. The connection can be so strong that hearing a tune long after the occurrence evokes a memory of it.

Prior experience with the piece is the greatest indicator of an individual’s likely response. A melody that is soothing for one person may remind another of the loss of a loved one and be tragically sad.

If the links with the music are unknown, it is difficult to predict an individual’s response. Therefore, observe a person’s reaction to a particular arrangement and discontinue it if it evokes distress, such as agitation, facial grimaces or increasing muscular tension.

Top Ten Picks. Selections from the individual’s young adult years—ages 18 to 25—are most likely to have the strongest responses and the most potential for engagement.

Unfamiliar music can also be beneficial because it carries no memories or emotions. This may be the best choice when developing new responses, such as physical relaxation designed to manage stress or enhance sleep.

As individuals progress into late-stage dementia, music from their childhood, such as folk songs, work well. Singing these songs in the language in which they were learned sparks the greatest involvement.

Sound of Music. Typically, “stimulative music” activates, while “sedative music” quiets. Stimulative music, with percussive sounds and fairly quick tempos, tends to naturally promote movement, such as toe taps. Look to dance tunes of any era for examples. Slightly stimulative music can assist with activities of daily living: for example, at mealtime to rouse individuals who tend to fall asleep at the table or during bathing to facilitate movement from one room to another.

On the other hand, the characteristics of sedative music—ballads and lullabies—include unaccented beats, no syncopation, slow tempos, and little percussive sound. This is the best choice when preparing for bed or any change in routine that might cause agitation.

Responses that are opposite of those expected can occur and are likely due to a person’s specific associations with the piece or style of music.

Agitation Management. Non-verbal individuals in late dementia often become agitated out of frustration and sensory overload from the inability to process environmental stimuli. Engaging them in singing, rhythm playing, dancing, physical exercise, and other structured music activities can diffuse this behavior and redirect their attention.

For best outcomes, carefully observe an individual’s patterns in order to use music therapies just prior to the time of day when disruptive behaviors usually occur.

Emotional Closeness. As dementia progresses, individuals typically lose the ability to share thoughts and gestures of affection with their loved ones. However, they retain their ability to move with the beat until very late in the disease process.

Ambulatory individuals can be easily directed to couple dance, which may evoke hugs, kisses or caresses; those who are no longer walking can follow cues to rhythmically swing their arms. They often allow gentle rocking or patting in beat to the music and may reciprocate with affection.

An alternative to moving or touching is singing, which is associated with safety and security from early life. Any reciprocal engagement provides an opportunity for caregivers and care receivers to connect with one another, even when the disease has deprived them of traditional forms of closeness.

How-to of music therapy:

Early stage—

Go out dancing or dance in the house.

Listen to music that the person liked in the past—whether swing or Sinatra or salsa. Recognize that perceptual changes can alter the way individuals with dementia hear music. If they say it sounds horrible, turn it off; it may to them.

Experiment with various types of concerts and venues, giving consideration to endurance and temperament.

Encourage an individual who played an instrument to try it again.

Compile a musical history of favorite recordings, which can be used to help in reminiscence and memory recall.

Early and middle stages—

Use song sheets or a karaokeplayer so the individual can sing along with old-time favorites.

Middle stage—

Play music or sing as the individual is walking to improve balance or gait.

Use background music to enhance mood.

Opt for relaxing music—a familiar, non-rhythmic song—to reduce sundowning, or behavior problems at nighttime.

Late stage—

Utilize the music collection of old favorites that you made earlier.

Do sing-alongs, with “When the Saints Go Marching In” or other tunes sung by rote in that person’s generation.

Play soothing music to provide a sense of comfort.

Exercise to music.

Do drumming or other rhythm-based activities.

Use facial expressions to communicate feelings when involved in these activities.

Contributed by Alicia Ann Clair, Ph.D., MT-BC, professor and director of the Division of Music Education and Music at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. “How-to” section contributed by Concetta M. Tomaino, DA, MT-BC, vice president for music therapy and director of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function at Beth Abraham Family of Health Services, Bronx, NY.

For more information, connect with the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s licensed social workers. Click here or call 866.232.8484. Real People. Real Care.

AZ is one of the most phenomenal rappers to ever rise
Category: The Golden Era
Tags: AZ hip hop rapper golden era new york peices black man doe die word

Anthony Cruz (born March 9, 1972), better known by his stage name AZ, is an American rapper. Born in Brooklyn, he currently resides in Englewood, New Jersey. He is known for being a longtime and frequent rhyme partner of Nas, and also a member of hip-hop group The Firm alongside Nas, Foxy Brown, Cormega and Nature.

In a countdown of the 10 Most Underappreciated Rappers—Most Underrated Rappers of All Time, the editors of About.com listed AZ as #1 on the list. He was also included on About.com's list of the Top 50 MCs of Our Time (1987–2007), where he was described as "arguably the most underrated lyricist ever.

AZ first became known by appearing on Nas' landmark 1994 album Illmatic on the song "Life's a @!$%#", as well as featuring vocals on the opening track The Genesis. He was the only guest feature to appear on that album. AZ signed with EMI, and soon released his debut album Doe Or Die in 1995 to critical acclaim, but meager commercial success. The album's lead single, "Sugar Hill", became AZ's only major commercial success as a solo artist, reaching #25 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and achieving Gold status. AZ's EMI contract was transferred to sister label Noo Trybe Records/Virgin Records when the EMI Label Group was shut down. In 1997, he and Nas appeared in a Sprite commercial. Also in 1997 the group The Firm with AZ, Nas, Nature, and Foxy Brown released their only album as a group, The Album. The album featured production from well known producers such as Dr. Dre and the Trackmasters and generated much hype. The group disbanded after just this one album. In 1998 he released his second solo album, Pieces of a Man. The album fared well but did not chart quite as well as his debut and did not feature a crossover single like "Sugar Hill". The same year AZ made a cameo appearance in the movie "Belly" starring Nas, DMX, and Method Man.

After this album's release, AZ signed with Motown/Universal Records and released 9 Lives. In 2002, he released Aziatic. A single from the album, "The Essence," (featuring Nas) was nominated for the 2003 Grammy Awards for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.

In 2004 AZ was planning on releasing his would-be 4th studio album, Final Call, however, it was eventually scrapped due to heavy leaking and released as Final Call (The Lost Tapes) in 2008.He released his 5th and 6th studio albums A.W.O.L. and The Format in 2005 and 2006, respectively. Then Undeniable, which is considered a underground classic.

Doe or Die (1995)

Doe or Die was released October 10, 1995 on EMI Records. The album features guest appearances by artists such as Nas and Miss Jones, and production from N.O. Joe, Pete Rock, L.E.S., and Buckwild, among others. Upon release, Doe or Die received notable commercial success. The album peaked at #15 on the Billboard 200, and #1 on the U.S. Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart. Doe or Die was known for popularizing the theme of mafioso rap, alongside several albums, namely Jay-Z's Reasonable Doubt and Nas's It Was Written. Doe or Die produced several singles, including, "Mo Money, Mo Murder, Mo Homicide," "Gimme Your's (remix)," "Doe or Die" and "Sugar Hill" - which was certified Gold by the RIAA in 1995.[citation needed]

Pieces of a Man (1998)


Pieces of a Man is AZ's second album. The album was highly praised for its complex and insightful lyricism. The first single was supposed to be "Hey AZ" featuring SWV. That song uses the same sample as Mariah Carey's song "Honey", "Hey DJ" by the World Famous Supreme Team. Both were released in summer of 1997. After the release of the album, AZ left the label.

9 Lives (2001)

9 Lives peaked at #23 on the Billboard 200 and #4 on the Top Hip Hop / R&B Albums. The leading single, Problems, with its accompanying music video, reached #34 on the Hot Rap Singles.Considered AZ come back single.

Aziatic (2002)

Aziatic is considered AZ's comeback album, which restored his credibility. Also Young Manager/ Producer Orrin Ennis was involved in making this album, which gave AZ youth and new life to his production.The album features AZ's flow and style over melodic, soulful production. It featured a duet between AZ and long-time friend and collaborator, Nas, "The Essence", which was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group.The album was mostly well received by critics, one such positive review from Brad Mills at Allmusic, states: "AZ has been looked upon to do amazing things with his music. Has he lived up to those high expectations? On this album he has. From start to finish, the beats on this album are complex, inventive, and almost perfectly suited for AZ's style of rhyming. He's carefully crafted this album rather than slapped it together overnight to meet his quota, and it shows. It helps immensely that he's br ought along people like DR Period, Az Izz, Nas, and Buckwild, but they don't outshine the younger AZ and he holds his own well." He continues by saying; "Lyrically, musically, and historically, AZ has come up with his best work in a long time on this album."

A.W.O.L. (2005)

A.W.O.L. was released on September 6, 2005. It was recorded after Final Call, which AZ declined to release because his label had pushed its release back two months—according to him, they were also the source of its early leak to the press and the internet. Garnering critical praise with production from highly regarded New York underground acts such as DJ Premier, Buckwild, and DipSet production duo the Heatmakerz, the rapper abandoned his previously money-oriented subject matter, stating that he "wanted it to be all street.[citation needed] A.W.O.L. is the first AZ album which was released on his own Quiet Money Records imprint. In a couple of months after the release, A.W.O.L. 1.5, which included a bonus disc featuring a cappella and instrumental versions to the songs on A.W.O.L., was released. The Format (2006)

The Format album features production from Fizzy Womack (better known as Lil' Fame of M.O.P.), Face Defeat, Emile, J. Cardim, Phonte, Statik Selektah and DJ Premier. Guest appearances are provided by M.O.P., Little Brother, as well as artists on AZ's new label, Quiet Money Records. The album's lead single is its title track, "The Format", produced by DJ Premier, with "Vendetta" as its B-Side. The Format also features the bonus track "Royal Salute", a retaliation to 50 Cent's song "What If", which included a line aimed at AZ. On October 7, 2007, Quiet Money released The Format (Special Edition) adding six bonus tracks including "Royal Salute."

Undeniable (2008)

Undeniable was released on April 1, 2008 through Fast Life Music and Koch Records. The album debuted at number 141 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, selling over 5,000 copies in its first week.

Doe or Die II (2013)

As of October 2009, he is working on his ninth studio album titled Doe or Die 2. He hopes to enlist the original production team to Doe or Die such as L.E.S., Pete Rock, DR Period & Buckwild. He has even confirmed a couple of tracks with Pete Rock, including "Rather Unique Part II". AZ also has ambitions on trying to acquire beats from DJ Toomp, Dr. Dre & Kanye West for the album including reaching out to his old rhyme partner Nas. The first single from the album is "Feel My Pain" produced by Frank Dukes.Recently, former member of Da Beatminerz, Baby Paul, confirmed he will be producing for the album also serving as the album's executive producer. He released a 15th Anniversary edition of Doe or Die titled Doe or Die: 15th Anniversary on November 30, 2010. Currently, Dr. Dre & Kanye West are too busy to produce for the album right now but AZ says he is patiently waiting for them to both drop their next solo records so they can join on the production board. He is also seeking production from DJ Premier. During an interview with XXLMag, AZ guaranteed to have Nas featured on the new album.

On March 27, 2012, AZ revealed the first street single from Doe or Die II. Entitled "My Niggas" it features production from longtime collaborator, Buckwild. As of April 2012, there is still no release date set for the project only instead set for a third quarter expected release. AZ has so far unsuccessfully managed to secure tracks from Dr. Dre as he previously wanted, but was going through the album's second half pickings for its productions. He is seeking production still from both Eminem & DJ Premier, but has tracks from Statik Selektah, the album's executive producer Baby Paul & the original Doe or Die team of beatsmiths L.E.S., DR Period, Pete Rock & Buckwild.

Source: Wikipedia

Tupac Shakur was a poet and hip hop activist whose life will always be remembered
Category: Classic Hip Hop
Tags: tupac shakur greatest rapper all time word life production classic hip hop feature blog

Tupac Shakur was one of the most dynamic, influential and self-destructive pop stars of the Nineties. The rapper's husky voice described his stark contradictions, setting misogyny against praise of strong women, hard-won wisdom against the violence of the "thug life" — words he had tattooed across his torso. The critical and commercial successes of his music (as well as his modest achievements as an actor) were continually overshadowed by his legal and personal entanglements. In Tupac's world, art and reality became tragically blurred, culminating with his 1996 murder in Las Vegas.

Shakur was the son of Black Panther Party members Billy Garland and Afeni Shakur (Shakur is Arabic for "thankful to God"), who was in jail (and later acquitted) on bombing charges while pregnant with him. Sometime after his birth, he was named Tupac Amaru, for an Incan chief whose name translates as "shining serpent."

Shakur spent his earliest years in the Bronx and Harlem, and at age 13 made his acting debut in a production of A Raisin in the Sun at an Apollo Theatre benefit for Jesse Jackson's 1984 presidential campaign. He spent the rest of his childhood moving around the country with his mother. He attended the Baltimore School of the Arts before dropping out and settling, at the age of 17, in Marin County, California.

The rapper then successfully auditioned to become a dancer and roadie for the rap group Digital Underground and simultaneously worked relentlessly on his own material. He appeared on that group's This Is an E.P. Release EP (1990) and Sons of the P (1991). In 1991 he signed with Interscope and released the album 2pacalypse Now (Number 64 pop, Number 13 R&B, 1992), a musical mixture of inner-city portraiture and messages of racial strength. An underground hit, the album spawned the single "Brenda's Got a Baby" (Number 23 R&B).

Shakur also became a successful actor in the early 1990s, appearing in Ernest Dickerson's Juice (1992) and Above the Rim (1994), and giving a critically acclaimed performance opposite Janet Jackson in John Singleton's Poetic Justice (1993). Despite a promising start and wide praise for his performances, the rest of his film work was far less acclaimed; he ended his acting career as James Belushi's sidekick in the mostly ignored Gang Related.

Shakur's second album, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. (Number 24 pop, Number 4 R&B, 1993), yielded the hits "I Get Around" (Number 11 pop, Number 5 R&B, 1993) and "Keep Ya Head Up" (Number 12 pop, Number 7 R&B, 1993). He also released an album as part of the short-lived Thug Life group in 1994.

Even longer than Shakur's hit list, though, was his police blotter. In 1992 the rapper was arrested after a six-year-old California boy was killed by a stray bullet discharged during a scuffle between Shakur and two others. (A lawsuit filed by the boy's family was later settled out of court.) He was then charged in Atlanta with shooting two off-duty police officers in October 1993. Charges in both cases were dismissed. The following month Shakur and two members of his entourage were charged with sexual abuse following an incident in a New York luxury hotel.

In early 1994 he was found guilty of assault on Menace II Society codirector Allen Hughes and served 15 days in jail. By the end of the year, the rapper was found guilty of the sexual assault only a day after being shot by muggers in the lobby of a New York recording studio. He was later sentenced to one and half to four and a half years in prison. While his 1995 album Me Against the World (Number 1 pop, Number 1 R&B) headed to the top of the charts, Shakur headed for prison. Shakur became the first artist to reach Number 1 on the Billboard charts while serving a prison sentence. The hit single "Dear Mama" (Number Nine pop, Number Three R&B) suggested a depth of feeling that led some critics to reassess the rapper and his work.

By now Shakur was a lightning rod for a highly publicized West Coast vs. East Coast hip-hop feud. Shakur was released after serving just eight months of his sentence, the result of a parole arrangement and a $1.4 million bond paid by Death Row label CEO Marion "Suge" Knight. The rapper signed with Death Row in late 1995, soon releasing the dark, two-disc All Eyez on Me (Number 1 pop, Number 1 R&B, 1996). On the album, Shakur attacked his enemies with furious threats of violence, while speaking of his own early death as inevitable. The album also included "How Do You Want It" (Number 1 pop, Number 1 R&B), "California Love" (Number 6 pop) (with Dr. Dre and Roger Troutman), and "Hit 'Em Up," on which Shakur claimed to have slept with the Notorious B.I.G.'s wife, singer Faith Evans.

Then, on September 7, Shakur was shot near the Las Vegas Strip while riding in the passenger seat of Knight's BMW. The shooting came about two hours after a scuffle that involved Shakur and Knight in the lobby of the MGM Grand Hotel (an incident that ultimately led to Knight, 31, being handed a nine-year prison sentence for violating his parole). Six days later Shakur died from his injuries. He was 25. No arrests were ever made. In addition, despite calls within the hip-hop community to halt the violence, the Notorious B.I.G. was killed in a similar fashion six months later. No murder charges have been filed in either murder.

Like Elvis Presley and Jimi Hendrix before him, Shakur was soon the subject of a flood of posthumous album releases (and rumors suggesting that he faked his death). The first release was The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory (Number One pop, Number One R&B, 1996), released under the pseudonym Makaveli. It was followed by R U Still Down? (Remember Me) (Number Two pop, Number 1 R&B, 1997), released on Amaru/Jive, an imprint headed by his mother.

In 1997 his estate began a war of lawsuits against Death Row, complaining of $150 million in unpaid royalties, demanding the return of more than 150 unreleased master recordings, and a voiding of the rapper's contract with the label. A 1998 settlement awarded the tapes to Shakur's estate, which sanctioned the release that year of Greatest Hits (Number Three pop, Number One R&B); it includes "Unconditional Love" (Number 73 R&B, 1998) and "Changes" (Number 32 pop, Number 12 R&B, 1999). "Do for Love" (Number 21 pop, Number 10 R&B, 1998) appears on R U Still Down? In 2001 the fourth posthumous collection, Until the End of Time, debuted at Number 1.

With 2002 came another subpar collection, Better Dayz, a guest-filled affair that combined leftover verses and remixes from Shakur's "Makaveli" period. The collection did spawn one hit single, "Thugz Mansion" with Nas and J. Phoenix, and fans' insatiable appetite for unreleased Tupac material helped Better Dayz reach double platinum status. The soundtrack to the documentary Tupac Resurrection followed in 2003, with producers like Eminem and Johnny "J" remixing tracks from throughout Tupac's career. Eminem's production also served as the backbone for 2004's Loyal to the Game, a collection of unreleased Tupac verses combined with guest spots from the likes of Elton John, G-Unit and Slim Shady himself. Loyal to the Game topped the Billboard Top 200 upon its release.

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of Shakur's death, 2006's Pac's Life fused 13 more unreleased Shakur recordings with top notch production from Swizz Beatz and Sha Money LX. T.I. and Ashanti contributed to the album's most notable single, "Pac's Life," while Tupac admirers like Snoop Dogg, Ludacris and Chamillionaire also appear. The two-part greatest hits collection Best of 2Pac followed in 2007 with a minimal chart impact. In 2008, the rights Death Row's master tapes were sold to new ownership, and with it another batch of unreleased Tupac recordings were unearthed, all but ensuring more posthumous releases in the new decade.

Portions of this biography appeared in The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (Simon & Schuster, 2001). Daniel Kreps contributed to this story.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/artists/tupac-shakur/biography#ixzz2iP44ChVB
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