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Culture & Religion

Tupac Shakur’s Legacy Takes Shape 13 Years After His Murder

It was 13 years ago this week that rapper and actor Tupac Shakur was shot in Las Vegas, eventually being pronounced dead days later. In the years since, the iconic performer’s legacy has been primarily as a posthumous commodity, but some interesting developments have indicated how Shakur’s influence may be more far-reaching than anyone ever imagined.

Almost immediately after his death, the late rapper began selling new records for labels. In 2007, Forbes listed him among the world’s richest dead celebrities while last year they claimed that Shakur’s estate earned $15 million. While this past March saw the release of another Tupac Shakur album, his sixth posthumous release, the late rapper has also inspired DVDs and a clothing line. But more recently, Shakur’s iconography has reached places even he may not have imagined.  

In academia, Tupac Shakur has become a constant source of inspiration. Countless professors have penned books and theses about the star while a Harvard University study found that Shakur was in fact more intellectually well-rounded at a young age than the average first-year Ivy-League student. In 2003, Harvard also sponsored a symposium entitled “All Eyez on Me: Tupac Shakur and the Search for the Modern Folk Hero.” Subsequent academic research and lectures involving Shakur have been seen at schools like the State University of New York, Northeastern, and the University of Pennsylvania.

While some media speculate that Shakur may even be alive, he has no doubt become a relevant political force. People haven’t forgotten how Shakur once rapped “We ain’t ready, to see a black president” and he’s since been cited as a sage, philosopher and communicator for his age. If that wasn’t enough, we’re also on the precipice of the Tupac biopic.

Despite an attack in 2007, the Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts in Stone Mountain, Georgia has worked to solidify the late artist’s legacy. But perhaps his most telling cultural contribution may have just popped up on YouTube. It was there that a video recently appeared showing local townsmen singing along to Shakur’s “Changes,” in which he makes his comments about the black president. But these weren’t young hip-hop fans across the United States. The video was shot entirely in Kazahstan, as far-off a place as you can possibly imagine deifying Tupac Shakur. Considering that, there’s no telling how much further his influence can spread.


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