On June 16, 1971, a little thug by the name of Tupac Amaru Shakur came screaming into this world.
He was the son of Black Panther Party members, a scrawny kid with a big mouth, who grew up in the streets during the crack epidemic, studied ballet and jazz at a fancy Baltimore arts school, and bumrushed the '90s rap scene with politicized gangsta philosophy. He got shot five times in 1994 and survived. He spent eleven months locked up in the Attica Correctional Facility on a sex charge. And he died in Las Vegas exactly 25 years, two months, and 27 days after he was born.
Pac's time was short, complicated, and violent. But he released six albums (and nine posthumous ones), sold almost a 100 million records, and changed the world. And next Thursday is the anniversary of his birthday. Honor his life with a pilgrimmage to Atlanta for the 2Pac 40th Birthday Concert Celebration, organized by his mother Afeni.
On "Dear Mama," Pac paid tribute to the strong yet trouble woman who gave him life, rapping: "And even as a crack fiend, mama/You always was a black queen, mama/I finally understand/For a woman, it ain't easy tryin' to raise a man/You always was committed/A poor single mother on welfare, tell me how ya did it/There's no way I can pay you back/But the plan is to show you that I understand/You are appreciated."
And now Mama's throwing her departed baby boy a birthday party at the Atlanta Symphony Hall with Erykah Badu, comic Mike Epps, DJ Drama, soul men Roy Ayers and Eric Roberson, and rappers 8 Ball & MJG, Too $hort, Bun B, Meek Mills, Pill, and Big Staxxx.
It's hard to believe that four decades have passed since Tupac came screaming into this world. And 15 years since he held the mike for the last time. But he ain't dead yet.
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2Pac 40th Birthday Concert Celebration with Erykah Badu, Mike Epps, DJ Drama, Roy Ayers, Eric Roberson, 8 Ball & MJG, Too $hort, Bun B, Meek Mills, Pill, and Big Staxxx. Thursday, June 16. Atlanta Symphony Hall at the Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St., Atlanta. The concert begins at 8 p.m. and tickets cost $45 to $150 via woodruffcentertickets.org. All proceeds benefit the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation. Visit 16thofjune.com.