cover image Tupac Shakur: The Authorized Biography

Tupac Shakur: The Authorized Biography

Staci Robinson. Crown, $35 (448p) ISBN 978-1-52476-104-2

Robinson (Interceptions), a screenwriter and longtime friend of Tupac Shakur, traces the hip-hop star’s trials and triumphs in this riveting account. Inspired by his mother’s activism in the Black Panther movement, Tupac internalized a “revolutionary vigilance against a system complicit in keeping Black Americans powerless and poor,” a perspective that inspired the “compelling poetry and lyrics” he “share[d] with the world” as he rocketed to stardom in the early 1990s. Robinson also delves into Tupac’s training as an actor alongside Jada Pinkett at Baltimore’s School for the Arts, and his dreams of writing, producing, and directing documentaries and films. Among other controversies, Robinson details an incident in which the album 2Pacalypse Now (1991) came in for criticism from Vice President Dan Quayle for its anti-police lyrics, causing Tupac to worry “he could no longer express himself in the raw and uncut way he wanted to—without the white man’s approval.” She ends the account in the Las Vegas hospital room where Tupac died in 1996. Avoiding speculation about the circumstances of his unsolved murder, Robinson instead sets out a faithful and detailed portrait of an artist dedicated to helping “others achieve freedom from oppression.” Enriched by invaluable excerpts from the rapper’s notebooks and sketch pads, this will have hip-hop devotees enthralled. (Oct.)