Six posthumous albums have been released since his death. His sixth album, R U Still Down? (Remember Me) sold over 4 million copies within a month of its release. His Loyal to the Game album, produced by Eminem, was certified platinum. His Greatest Hits album of 1998 was accompanied by four previously unreleased singles. One of the singles, “Changes” makes references to the war on drugs, the treatment of black people by the police, racism, poverty and the difficulties of life in the ghetto. The song was nominated for Best Rap Solo Performance at the 2000 Grammy Awards and remains till date the only posthumous song to be nominated in this category.
Until the End of Time, his third posthumous album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart and sold 426,870 copies in its first week. The album was certified quadruple platinum by Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). BET ranked the album number 3 on their list of 25 Best Posthumous Albums of All Time.
Since his death, sixteen documentaries have been made in Tupac’s honour to capture the rapper’s life. Most notable among the documentaries is Tupac: Resurrection (2003) which was nominated for an Academy Award. Five biographical films about his life have also been produced in his honour. Tupac was inducted into the Hip-Hop Hall of Fame in 2002 and in 2014 he was inducted in the Hollywood Hall of Fame.
In 2010, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him 86 among the 100 greatest artists. Rapper, 50 Cent cited that, “Every rapper who grew up in the Nineties owes something to Tupac. He didn’t sound like anyone who came before him”.
Tupac’s contribution to the black community and rap music made him one of the greatest rap artists of all time. On the academic front, in 1997, the University of California, Berkeley, offered a course “History 98: Poetry and History of Tupac Shakur” which was led by a student. In April 2003, Harvard University co-sponsored the symposium “All Eyez on Me: Tupac Shakur and the Search for the Modern Folk Hero.” In the paper, he was called the “Thug Nigga Intellectual” and an “organic intellectual”. His death has been described as leaving a “leadership void amongst hip-hop artists”.
Tupac formed the T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E. crew in his lifetime, an acronym for The Hate U Gave Little Infants Fucks Everybody. He redefined the word “thug” to mean a man who triumphed over societal and systemic obstacles. Tupac in an address once said “the only way I have been practising my whole life is to be responsible for what I do. I don’t know how to be responsible for what every black male did. I don’t know. I guess I am gonna say I’m a thug and that’s because I came from the gutter and I’m still here”.
Despite his short career which lasted for about 6 years, 24 years after his death Tupac’s legacy as a rapper who was unafraid to stand by what he believes engraved him in the hearts of many people around the world as a timeless artist. He said he “would rather be stricken blind than to live without expression of mind”. In his words, “I’m not saying I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world”. A creative genius who challenged all the wrong that plagued his community and preached against them through his music. His actions to right the existing wrongs often caused controversies to hover around him.
Considering the brutality and harsh treatments the young black community was exposed to at his time— and now, Tupac made the best out of a tough and difficult situation. Tupac strived “to survive and make good out of the dirty, nasty, unbelievable lifestyle” that was given to him. He struggled to transcend the barriers of his origin and he was resilient in getting his voice heard. He took the hard card he was dealt from birth, rising to be the phenomenal star that gave generations after him what rap music should be like. It is safe to say Tupac Shakur is a rapper who continues to inspire young rappers.