One of Chris Rock’s best bits comes from his 2004 album Never Scared, where he talks about a government conspiracy against rap music.
He hits upon a truth about murders in the rap world and the strange air of mystery that always surrounds them. “Tupac was gunned down on the Las Vegas Strip after a Mike Tyson fight,” Rock says incredulously. “How many witnesses do you need to see some s— before you arrest somebody? More people saw Tupac get shot than the last episode of Seinfeld!”
Seven years later — and 15 years after the rapper’s passing — there still don’t appear to be any more clues about his death. Rock’s version of the story is accurate: After attending the fight between Tyson and Bruce Seldon at the MGM Grand (Tyson won a first round TKO to win the WBA Heavyweight title), Pac rolled down the strip and was hit by a hail of gunfire that struck his chest, pelvis, hand, and thigh.
Unlike Biggie Smalls, who would die in similar fashion a few months later, Shakur actually fought through his initial injuries and was placed on life support after a series of surgeries. In fact, he was so adamant about getting up and leaving the hospital that he was put into an induced coma so that he could recover from the shots.
But Shakur ultimately passed away thanks to complications stemming from internal bleeding on Sept. 13, 1996. There was a certain amount of disbelief surrounding Tupac’s death; most people in the hip-hop community believed that he was going to pull through (after all, this was not the first time he had been shot). The day before, reports had even come through that his condition had been improving. But ultimately his wounds got the best of him.
When Biggie Smalls died, it was tragic because he was a clear talent taken too soon. Though Shakur also died well before his time, his passing came just as he was about to make a big crossover.
His 1996 album All Eyez on Me, the first double album in the history of hip-hop, was a gigantic commercial juggernaut that spawned a handful of hits (including “California Love”) and ultimately went platinum nine times. His acting career was also taking off, as he had received excellent marks for his performances in Juice and Poetic Justice and had three films in the can when he died; one of those movies, Gridlock’d, is actually an exceptional film.
Tupac truly seemed to be on the verge of building the sort of cross-platform entertainment empire later perfected by the likes of Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, and Ice Cube. He was alsoactively paranoid of dying young (a worry that was apparently justified), which is why he stockpiled verses and was able to release original albums well after his death.
Those albums don’t have the same impact as Me Against the World or All Eyez on Me, though they’re far better than they have any right to be (especially 2002′s Better Dayz, which contains some surprisingly elegant verses). With all that in mind, here are the top five Shakur performances in any medium. READ FULL STORY