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Rapper Tupac Shakur Dies After Drive-by Shooting

September 14, 1996

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ Tupac Shakur, the rapper whose raw lyrics drew on the rage of a coarse urban existence and seemed a blueprint of his own violent life, died Friday from wounds suffered in a drive-by shooting. He was 25.

Shakur, whose right lung was removed after he was shot Saturday in Las Vegas, was pronounced dead at 4:03 p.m. at the University Medical Center.

Known as 2Pac, he was one of the most successful _ and scorned _ ``gangsta″ rappers. Fans bought millions of records; others denounced him and his lyrics for glorifying violence and drugs and degrading women.

Shakur was hit by four bullets Sept. 7 as he rode near the Las Vegas Strip in a car driven by the head of Death Row Records, Marion ``Suge″ Knight, who was slightly wounded.

Although there was trouble earlier that night _ Shakur and associates were in a fight outside a hotel just before the shooting _ there have been no arrests.

It was the second time Shakur had been gunned down in less than two years. In November 1994 he was shot five times during an apparent robbery in the lobby of a Manhattan recording studio, and on his latest album he even bragged about it _ ``Five shots and they still couldn’t kill me.″

Arrested repeatedly in recent years, he was released last year on bail pending appeal after serving eight months in a New York prison for sex abuse.

But he had support from black leaders, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who visited him in the hospital, and the Rev. Al Sharpton, who counseled him in prison.

``I found him a very warm, sensitive and intelligent, person, very unlike his public image,″ Sharpton said late Friday. ``I hope in the midst of this tragedy, we can put together an aggressive and strong drive against violence among young people and dedicate it to Tupac’s memory.″

Said rapper Heavy D: ``I hope this is a wake up call for a lot of us.″

Shakur was up-front about his troubled life in the 1995 release ``Me Against The World,″ a multimillion-selling album that contained the ominously titled tracks ``If I Die 2Nite″ and ``Death Around The Corner.″

``It ain’t easy being me _ will I see the penitentiary, or will I stay free?″ Shakur rapped on the album, which produced the Grammy-nominated ``Dear Mama″ and standout singles ``So Many Tears″ and ``Temptations.″

Yet Shakur was not just the fury, expletives and anger of songs like ``F--- the World.″ He could be poignant (``It was hell hugging on my mama from a jail cell″) and both sympathetic and critical of young black men trying to become ``gangstas.″

A fledgling actor, Shakur had recently completed filming a role as a detective for the picture ``Gang Related.″ He previously appeared with Janet Jackson in the 1993 release ``Poetic Justice,″ and in the 1992 film ``Juice.″

The Las Vegas shooting occurred as Shakur’s fourth solo album, ``All Eyez on Me,″ remained on the charts, with some 5 million copies sold. The song ``How Do You Want It _ California Love″ was a top 20 single on Billboard magazine’s charts.

While in prison last year, he indicated he was rethinking his gangsta rap image, typified by his photo on an album with the group Thug Life that showed his face framed by two extended middle fingers.

``Thug Life to me is dead,″ Shakur told Vibe magazine. ``If it’s real, let somebody else represent it, because I’m tired of it. I represented it too much. I was Thug Life.″

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