The legend of Tupac "2Pac" Shakur is alive and well 20 years after the rap icon's tragic death. With a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nomination this week, an upcoming biopic and rumors of unreleased tracks possibly being released, 2017 is poised to possibly be the biggest year for the slain rapper as his life has maintained an impressive level of relevancy.
Shakur's nomination Tuesday for the Hall of Fame's Class of 2017 put him in elite company, joining an accomplished group of nominees that includes Pearl Jam, Depeche Mode and Electric Light Orchestra. It's also historically important, as he would become only the sixth hip-hop addition — and only solo rapper — to be inducted after Grandmaster Flash, Run-DMC, the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy and N.W.A. 2017 is the first year Shakur was eligible, as artists can be nominated at least 25 years after their first record's release.
Like Elvis Presley, Shakur is as famous in death as he was in life, if not more so. The 20th anniversary of his Sept. 13, 1996 death was celebrated widely and tributes abounded last month for the late rapper who was gunned down on the Las Vegas Strip. That level of homage is showing no signs of letting up.
Soon Shakur's turbulent life will be immortalized on film with the upcoming biopic, "All Eyez on Me," named for his 1995 double album that has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. The film is expected will show everything from the rapper's incarceration for sexual assault to his political activism to him being called out by Vice President Dan Quayle for glorifying violence. No release date for the film has been announced, but it is expected sometime next year.
Shakur, who also gained critical acclaim for his acting, has already been represented on the small screen this year. The Lifetime made-for-TV movie “Surviving Compton: Dre, Suge & Michel’le," while not focusing on Shakur, provided a glimpse into his personal life as a rapper signed to the notorious Death Row Records under Suge Knight, who is in jail waiting for his murder trial to begin.
Adding to the anticipation of the biopic's release are the rampant rumors of unreleased 2Pac tracks kept under lock and key since his death. In a 1997 televised tribute one year after his death, MTV claimed 170 unreleased tracks and poems exist in Pac's archive. With rumors of unreleased music flying, Tupac's memorabilia has hit the market in the form of several personal remnants. A bible from his time in prison and a bullet-dented diamond pendant are both up for auction on the site Moments in Time.
Rap and hip-hop artists have been notoriously not considered for inclusion in the Rock Hall of Fame. Last year, KISS bassist Gene Simmons protested N.W.A’s inclusion on the ballot last year, telling Radio.com that if "you don’t play guitar and you don’t write your own songs, you don’t belong there."
Yet for many, Shakur transcended hip-hop. His cultural icon status is cemented in his rags-to-riches success, poetic lyrics and outspoken criticism of social and political events. He is also one of the most successful artists of all time, selling more than 75 million albums worldwide. Current rappers from Kendrick Lamar to 50 Cent to Drake have cited Shakur as a major influence.
“His attitude, energy, and passion is inspiring", said J. Cole. “He accomplished more in 25 years than most other people do in a lifetime.”
Considering all of the above, Shakur could conquer 2017 as if he never left.