After studying poetry, theater, and music in high school, Shakur got his first break when he became a roadie and backup dancer for the rap group Digital Underground in 1990. His first music credit came on a soundtrack single for the 1991 Chevy Chase-led film “Nothing But Trouble,” which he also appeared in.
Shakur had his first starring role in the 1992 New York City crime thriller “Juice,” acting alongside Omar Epps, Samuel L. Jackson, and Queen Latifah.
In 1993, Shakur released his second album, “Strictly 4 My N—-Z,” and it was his major breakthrough as an artist. The LP went platinum and produced two major hits, “I Get Around” and “Keep Ya Head Up.”
Later that year, Shakur starred opposite Janet Jackson in the hit romantic drama “Poetic Justice.”
After surviving being shot five times in 1994, Shakur was sentenced to serve four and a half years in prison for a sexual assault charge in 1995. His third album, 1995’s “Me Against the World,” became the first No. 1 album released by an artist during a prison stint and went on to sell over 3 million copies.
In October 1995, Death Row Records boss Suge Knight posted Shakur’s $1.4 million bail, and he was released from prison. Afterward, Shakur immediately began recording new music for an album under Death Row.
“All Eyez on Me,” Shakur’s 1996 double album for Death Row, would be the biggest release of his career — selling over 10 million copies to date — and the last before his death. Leading up to its release, Shakur and East Coast rapper Notorious B.I.G. became embroiled in a rap conflict over opposing diss tracks.
On September 7, 1996, Shakur was shot four times while stopped at a red light in Suge Knight’s car in Las Vegas, Nevada. He died six days later at the University Medical Center in Las Vegas, and his murder case remains unresolved.
From posthumous albums and a hologram appearance at Coachella to his upcoming biopic, “All Eyez on Me,” Shakur’s legacy lives on, two decades after his untimely death.