Smithsonian Collections

Tupac Shakur

Image for Tupac Shakur
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
Exhibition Label
Nearly two decades after his death, Tupac Shakur remains one of the most magnetic and best-selling rappers in music. A figure of great strength and vulnerability, Shakur wrote songs that probed the difficult circumstances experienced by many inner-city black youths. Repeatedly condemned for his explicit, violent, and at times misogynistic lyrics, he reveled in his outlaw status and became a part of the "thug life" that his music portrayed. Shakur’s eight-month incarceration for a sexual assault in 1993 coincided with his emergence as a crossover success. Though he glorified being a "playa" in baggy jeans, he was critical of hip-hop’s excesses and wrote poignantly about political and social injustice. Shakur was killed in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas in 1996 at the age of twenty-five. Like that of his contemporary Kurt Cobain, his life seemed like a constant struggle between his art, his cultural politics, and the demands of fame.
Eli Reed, born 1946
Tupac Shakur, 16 Jun 1971 - 13 Sept 1996
1992 (printed 2013)
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Digitally exposed chromogenic print
Image: 34.6 × 27.3 cm (13 5/8 × 10 3/4")
Sheet: 35.5 × 28.4 cm (14 × 11 3/16")
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Object number
Tupac Shakur: American\African American
Personal Attribute\Facial Hair\Mustache
Personal Attribute\Tattoo
Tupac Shakur: Male
Tupac Shakur: Literature\Writer
Tupac Shakur: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician
Tupac Shakur: Literature\Writer\Poet
Tupac Shakur: Performing Arts\Performer\Actor
Tupac Shakur: Performing Arts\Producer\Music
United States\California\Los Angeles\Los Angeles
Restrictions & Rights
© Eli Reed/Magnum Photos