5 things to remember about Afeni and Tupac Shakur

Photo credit: Amaru Entertainment Inc.
Photo credit: Amaru Entertainment Inc.

Sadly, the mother of Tupac Amaru Shakur, arguably the most respected hip-hop artist in history, died Monday night. Afeni Shakur suffered from cardiac arrest at her home in Sausalito, California and was later taken to a hospital where she died at around 10:30 p.m. She was 69.

Although the life of her rap superstar son’s life was cut short when he was shot and killed in 1996 at the young age of 25, one thing that stood out about Tupac was that he was serious about honoring his mother. After all, she was a very resilient woman who underwent a lot of pain and struggle while raising Tupac and his sister in New York, and later, California. The two had a complex relationship, but many Tupac fans would agree that Afeni had a major influence on the rapper and the iconic art he left behind.

Here are 5 facts to remember about Tupac and Afeni’s relationship.

One of Tupac’s most popular songs was written about Afeni.

“Dear Mama” was released in 1995 from the album Me Against the World. The single was a tribute to Afeni and detailed his childhood, as well as her struggles with drugs and raising children in poverty. The emotional song spoke of his appreciation for his mother’s endurance and also offered her words of encouragement.

And runnin’ from the police, that’s right
Mama catch me, put a whoopin’ to my backside
And even as a crack fiend, mama
You always was a Black queen, mama
I finally understand
for a woman it ain’t easy tryin’ to raise a man
You always was committed

– lyrics from “Dear Mama”

“Dear Mama” topped the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart for five weeks and peaked at No. 9 on the Hot 100 chart. Afeni can be seen in the music video reconciling with her son’s look-alike, because Tupac was in prison at the time of the video’s release.

Afeni was pregnant with Tupac when she went to trial.

Afeni was a member of the Black Panther Party in the 1960s. She and 20 other members were arrested in 1969 and charged with conspiracy to bomb police stations and various other public buildings. During the 1971 proceedings, now known as the Panther 21 trial, Afeni defended herself and was considered as a major factor in beating the prosecution’s case. She was pregnant during this ordeal, as she explained in the “Dear Mama” video.

“When I was pregnant and in jail, I thought I was gonna have a baby and the baby would never be with me. But I was acquitted a month and three days before Tupac was born. I was real happy, because I had a son,” she said.

Tupac’s estate was left to his mother.

Before he died, Tupac arranged for his mother to receive $16,000 per month from his estate, and he also bought her a home in Stone Mountain, Georgia, according to Encyclopedia.com. After he passed away, Afeni and her former employer, Richard Fischbein, became coexecutors of Tupac’s estate, which was worth $8 million to $10 million in 1997. Her son had also left behind a collection of unreleased music valued at $100 million. At the time of Afeni’s death, the estate was generating about $900,000 per year, according to NY Daily News.

Afeni was involved in an upcoming film about Tupac.

A biopic about Tupac, All Eyez on Me, is set to be released in November. Afeni served as executive producer of the film. “The Walking Dead” star Danai Gurira will portray Afeni in the movie.

Afeni created several projects honoring her son after he died.

Tupac’s mother created Amaru Entertainment in 1997, which handled the release of his posthumous projects — including 9 albums, a film biography, and several books about his life. She developed Tupac Amaru Foundation for the Arts, a charitable organization aimed at assisting the youth in succeeding in the arts. She also established a clothing line, Makaveli Branded, in 2003 and gave a portion of the proceeds to her foundation and the Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts also in Stone Mountain, Georgia.

Kacie Whaley
Kacie Whaley

I'm a writer and philosopher.

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