fter he and Afeni moved to Baltimore, Tupac attended that citys School for the Arts, studying acting and dance. He also wrote his first rap there and felt himself beginning to fit in, at long last. But by his junior year he was packing up again, moving this time to Marin City, a desolate stretch of northern California known locally as The Jungle. Moving out of his mothers home, he began selling drugs and establishing himself on the streets of his adopted town. It was like a hood and I wanted to be a part of it, he explained to Powell. If I could just fit in here, Im cool. And I thought I did.
At the same time, he began to entertain thoughts of a music career. In 10 he auditioned for the Bay Area rap group Digital Underground, and was hired as a dancer and roadie. He joined the ensembles Sex Packets tour of the U.S. and Japan, and made his recorded debut on their 11 This Is an EP Release. His newfound success , however, was tainted by some unwelcome news I was on the road with D.U. and called my homies just to say whassup, and they told me my moms was buying dope from somebody, he related to Vibe. It f---ed me up. I started blocking her out of my mind. Afenis battle with crack addiction would try their relationship sorely.
By the end of the year he had released his solo debut, Pacalypse Now, on the Interscope label. He paved the way for his solo career while touring with D.U. Everybody knew me even though my album wasnt out yet, he told Vibe. I never went to bed. I was working it like a job. That was my number-one thing when I first got in the business. Everybodys gonna know me. Soon everyone would, though perhaps not as he might have hoped; his albums tough stance--in the increasingly popular gansta mode--created his first major controversy. In April, 1, a Texas state trooper was shot to death by a young man who later claimed to have been listening to the album and cited the track Souljas Story as the impetus for his violent act. The song narrates a fugitive with cops on my tail; pulled over, he decides to blast [the officers] punk ass/ Now I got a murder case.
This incident, along with other descriptions of cop-murdering, led a number of politicians, including then Vice-President Dan Quayle, to call for the records removal from stores. He changed the direction of hip-hop ~ hijacked it, some would say ~ and ceremonialized its status as the art politicians love to hate, declared RJ Smith in Spin. Of course, such controversy ended up boosting sales of Pacalypse. Tupac himself, meanwhile, had filed suit against the Oakland police department, alleging brutality in a jaywalking arrest.
Even as his rap career was heating up, Tupac broke out as a film star in Ernest Dickersons 1 film Juice, portraying Bishop, a kid who becomes addicted to the high of violence. Though reviews of the film were mixed, his performance received uniform raves. Soon, however, his name was making headlines attached to another tragedy, an armed confrontation in Marin City; a six-year-old boy was killed in the crossfire between Tupacs posse and their antagonists. Spin reported that many in the rapper-actors adopted hometown began to refer to him as Tu-faced.
But controversy sells records, and Tupacs 1 effort Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z... went gold in a matter of months, thanks in part to the hit track I Get Around. Ironically, given later developments, one of the albums other hit singles was the upbeat Keep Ya Head Up, a paean to the strength and survival of black women. Meanwhile, his other rap sheet--listing his run-ins with the law--continued to pile up he was arrested after allegedly beating a limo driver, served ten days in jail after attacking another rapper with a baseball bat, and was busted for allegedly shooting two off-duty police officers shortly after relocating to Atlanta. He was acquitted of the latter charge.
He co-starred with pop singer Janet Jackson in John Singletons 1 film Poetic Justice, once again receiving...
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