There are very few people who have made an impact on American popular culture like Tupac Shakur. His music served to inspire a generation of musicians--music that was inevitably shaped by his time in Baltimore. Although Shakur did not grow up in Baltimore, the years he spent here marked an important point in his life where he began to transition from a child to an adult. At 14, Shakur and his family moved to Baltimore from the Bronx. The family made their home in the North Baltimore neighborhood of Pen Lucy. They lived in a small first-floor apartment in a traditional brick row house on Greenmount Ave.
In Baltimore, Shakur had the opportunity to share his talent with the community. In November 1985, the Enoch Pratt Free Library sponsored a rap contest and encouraged participants to rap about the library to be eligible for a cash prize. Shakur, alongside his friend Dana Smith, created the winning song, “Library Rap.” Eventually, Shakur teamed up with several more friends to form a new group, Born Busy. With Born Busy, Shakur made his very first rap recordings. In Charm City, Shakur took his very first steps into rap. At this time, he had no idea he would become a visionary leader of the budding genre.
For eighth grade, Shakur attended Roland Park Middle School. For high school, Shakur was originally enrolled at Dunbar High School. However, he soon transferred to the Baltimore School for the Arts, where his talent as a performer had a place to shine as a theater major. At school, Shakur practiced his rapping skills. In the days before social networking, Shakur would write raps and share them with his classmates for feedback. Friends and teachers recognized his star potential. Richard Pilcher, who taught at the School for the Arts noted, “You didn’t forget Tupac. There’s no two ways about it, he had charisma for days.”
Although Tupac Shakur will always be remembered as a West Coast rapper, his short time in Baltimore was crucial to his musical and stylistic development. In an interview Shakur said of his time in Baltimore, “Man, I would have been a totally different person had I not been exposed to these things.”
In the summer of 1988, Shakur and his family left Baltimore behind for another fresh start. Shakur would go on to become one of the top fifty best selling musical artists of all time. Sadly, Tupac passed away in 1996 after being shot in a drive by shooting. In 2002, Shakur was post-humanosly inducted into the Hip-Hop Hall of Fame.