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Shakur was shot and killed in Las Vegas 20 years ago this month.
The media frenzy that ensued focused mainly on violent song lyrics, previous shooting incidents, and a simmering East Coast versus West Coast rap feud.
Their friendship blossomed, rooted in a shared love of hip-hop acts like Eric B & Rakim and Run DMC and an appreciation of different types of music. Smith’s house was lively, populated by an array of family members including grandparents, his mother, an aunt, and two uncles. Smith was the youngest of his group of friends, a self-professed “good kid, the freshest kid on the block” who had all the latest fashionable clothes and sneakers, thanks to his uncles, who dealt drugs in the neighborhood. His father wasn’t around; his mother had been arrested and charged with conspiracy to bomb New York City landmarks while a member of the Black Panther Party in 1969.
As Smith recounts the story, he walks around The Sound Garden, the now venerable Fells Point record store, and points out some of the nonrap music Shakur enjoyed. A month after being acquitted of the charges, she gave birth to Shakur, on June 16, 1971.
He slept in a small bedroom, while his mother and little sister slept in the dining room Afeni had converted into a bedroom. They had lights and it was clean, but it was dark with not a lot of stuff in there.” Smith’s family and friends razzed him for befriending the raggedy newcomer.
In the public imagination, Tupac Shakur will always be a West Coast figure.It looks like he might be talking to the photographer.Dana Smith sits in the front row, to Shakur’s left.California is, after all, where he gained fame as the embodiment of the platinum-tongued hip-hop star—the feuding, gun-toting, authority snubbing anti-hero.It’s where he radiated Hollywood-sanctioned sex appeal, stoking tabloid tales that made him a mainstream celebrity.