Tupac Shakur

image for Tupac Shakur
Exhibition Label
Nearly two decades after his death, Tupac Shakur remains one of the most magnetic and best-selling rappers in music. A figure of great strength and vulnerability, Shakur wrote songs that probed the difficult circumstances experienced by many inner-city black youths. Repeatedly condemned for his explicit, violent, and at times misogynistic lyrics, he reveled in his outlaw status and became a part of the "thug life" that his music portrayed. Shakur’s eight-month incarceration for a sexual assault in 1993 coincided with his emergence as a crossover success. Though he glorified being a "playa" in baggy jeans, he was critical of hip-hop’s excesses and wrote poignantly about political and social injustice. Shakur was killed in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas in 1996 at the age of twenty-five. Like that of his contemporary Kurt Cobain, his life seemed like a constant struggle between his art, his cultural politics, and the demands of fame.
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Restrictions & Rights
© Eli Reed/Magnum Photos
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
1992 (printed 2013)
Object number
Tupac Shakur: American\African American
Eli Reed, born 1946
Tupac Shakur, 16 Jun 1971 - 13 Sept 1996
Personal Attribute\Facial Hair\Mustache
Personal Attribute\Tattoo
Tupac Shakur: Male
Tupac Shakur: Literature\Writer
Tupac Shakur: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician
Tupac Shakur: Literature\Writer\Poet
Tupac Shakur: Performing Arts\Performer\Actor
Tupac Shakur: Performing Arts\Producer\Music
United States\California\Los Angeles\Los Angeles
Digitally exposed chromogenic print
Image: 34.6 × 27.3 cm (13 5/8 × 10 3/4")
Sheet: 35.5 × 28.4 cm (14 × 11 3/16")
National Portrait Gallery