Lesane Parish Crooks was born in 1971 in East Harlem. Both of his parents were active members of the Black Panther Party. Crooks was born one month after his mother was acquitted of 150 charges of Conspiracy against the United States Government and New York Landmarks.
His parents later changed his name to Tupac Amaru II, so named after an 18th-century Peruvian revolutionary executed for leading an indigenous uprising against the Spaniards.
Tupac’s childhood was awash in criminals. His godfather was convicted of murdering a schoolteacher during a robbery in 1968. His stepfather Mutulu Shakur spent four years at large on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. Mutulu was ultimately convicted of robbing an armored truck and subsequently killing two police officers and a Brinks guard.
Despite this colorful family milieu, a young Tupac Shakur was a natural showman. He studied acting, poetry, jazz, and ballet, earning parts in a variety of Shakespeare plays as well as The Nutcracker. While in art school Shakur joined the Baltimore Young Communist League USA.
At age seventeen Shakur and his family moved from Baltimore to the West Coast. There he studied poetry and started a performance group titled “Strictly Dope.” In 1990 an agent saw Tupac on stage and signed him as a dancer with the hip-hop group “Digital Underground.” Young Tupac’s fuse was lit.
Anger, Violence, Music
Tupac’s pervasive anger came through in his music. His first solo album hit the streets in 1991 and was titled 2Pacalypse Now. While the nuances of rap music escape me, that title does seem fairly cool.
Subsequent works included Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z., Me Against the World, and The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory. In late 1993 Shakur formed a group called “Thug Life.” His songs included Bury Me a G, Cradle to the Grave, How Long Will They Mourn Me?, and Str8 Ballin. Along the way Shakur earned critical acclaim as one of the most influential rap artists of all time.
Tupac’s lyrics were awash in themes of violence, substance abuse, and the objectification of women, earning the disdain of, among others, Vice President Dan Quayle. Much of his work was deemed too violent or profane for public release. Most of this material was published posthumously.
Reading about this guy’s exploits was like researching the life of a radical Islamist. Perceived slights frequently escalated into violence, and nobody had a sense of humor. At a 1992 post-performance confrontation Shakur drew his Colt Mustang .380. In the chaos, he dropped the gun and a member of his entourage retrieved it. The weapon discharged, striking a six-year-old boy who was riding his bike on a nearby school playground in the forehead. Investigators were unable to prosecute the case for lack of cooperating witnesses. Tupac ultimately settled a wrongful death suit with the poor kid’s parents for half a million dollars.
Shakur had regular run-ins with both criminals and Law Enforcement. He once wounded a pair of intoxicated off-duty police officers out celebrating with their wives. Both parties exchanged gunfire, but, as the cops were both drunk and in possession of stolen firearms, all charges were dropped.
In 1994 Shakur was robbed and shot five times by three assailants in the lobby of a recording studio. He left the hospital against medical advice three hours after surgery. The following day he entered a courtroom in a wheelchair to be convicted of sexual assault.
Shakur entered prison on Valentines Day 1995. Shortly thereafter Me Against the World hit the streets and rocketed to Number 1. Tupac Shakur became the only singer in history to release a Number 1 record while incarcerated. While in prison Shakur occupied himself studying war, philosophy, and military strategy. After his release friends described him as darker and more brooding than before.
The origins of Shakur’s death actually began in a Foot Locker store. Early in 1996 a gang member named Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson had, along with a few associates, attacked and robbed a member of Shakur’s entourage in a shoe store. While in Las Vegas Tupac encountered Anderson in the lobby of the MGM Grand hotel. A row ensued and Shakur and his entourage apparently pummeled Anderson vigorously.
Shakur then struck out for a nightclub in a black 1996 BMW 750iL sedan owned by Suge Knight. Knight’s vehicle was part of a larger convoy of vehicles containing Shakur’s straphangers and security operatives. At 1115 pm Knight’s BMW stopped at a traffic light on the Las Vegas strip. A late model white Cadillac pulled up alongside the right aspect of the BMW, and an unknown assailant produced a Glock 22 .40-caliber pistol. The shooter loosed four rounds at close range, all of which connected. Tupac was hit twice in the chest, once in the arm, and once in the thigh. One of the rounds shredded Shakur’s right lung. Suge Knight was struck in the forehead by a bullet fragment.
Once in the hospital, Shakur had to be heavily sedated to keep him in his ICU bed. Six days later Tupac died of respiratory failure and cardiopulmonary arrest secondary to his multiple gunshot wounds. His body was subsequently cremated. Members of his rap group later mixed some of his ashes with marijuana and smoked them.
In the late 1970’s Gaston Glock produced machinegun links, combat knives, and entrenching tools for the Austrian army. He had no experience designing a firearm. Glock purportedly overheard a discussion between two Austrian Army officers concerning upcoming trials for a new service pistol to replace their vintage P38’s and decided to try his hand at something new.
Glock assembled a group of experts to determine the salient attributes of the ideal combat handgun. He crafted a working prototype in three months. His novel use of polymers made the new pistol inexpensive to produce and environmentally insensitive. Gaston christened the gun the Glock 17 as it represented the 17th patent earned by his company.
In 1982 Austrian military and police forces adopted the Glock 17 as the P80. Glock’s revolutionary new pistol beat out eight different handguns from five established manufacturers to include SIG Sauer, Beretta, Browning, and HK. The Glock pistol has since become one of the most popular combat handguns on the planet. As of 2007, there had been more than five million copies produced in sundry calibers and dozens of configurations.
A current production Glock 17 has only thirty-four parts and breaks down into five main subassemblies. The gun sports three independently operated mechanical safety systems that the company calls the Glock Safe Action System. Unlike more conventional handguns, the sole external safety of the Glock pistol is built into the trigger itself.
Running a Glock is foundational dogma for anyone who might frequent this hallowed website, so I’ll spare you the rehash. The grip-to-frame angle of the Glock is roughly 22 degrees and mimics that of Georg Luger’s P08 Parabellum pistol. By contrast, that of the esteemed 1911 is about 18 degrees. While the more raked Glock design better aligns the recoil vector with the forearm, crusty old guys like me who cut our teeth on the 1911 frequently feel a bit more comfortable with something more acute. Most combat pistols fall into one of these two camps, so there are plenty from which to choose.
Roughly 65% of American cops carry Glock handguns, and the same tactical attributes that make Gaston’s polymer pistol popular with Law Enforcement and military operators endear it to criminals as well. Based upon my informal interviews with shot-up gangsters in an urban ER, possession of a Glock is sufficient to denote one as a thug of distinction.
Lesane Parish Crooks was a poor black kid from a poor black neighborhood who suddenly found himself both unimaginably famous and ridiculously wealthy. The fact that he carried the same themes of injustice, drugs, and violence over from his old life into his new ultimately killed him. At the time of his death at age 25 Tupac Shakur was worth $40 million. In the years following his death, his music earned his estate another $31 million as well.
No one was ever charged with Shakur’s death. Orlando Anderson certainly had a motive, but he was gunned down two years later in a drive-by of his own. One of Tupac’s fellow rappers named Yaki Kadafi claimed to be able to finger Anderson as the shooter, but he died violently himself two months after Shakur.
As a disconnected middle-aged white guy, it was honestly tough for me to keep the names straight, but Tupac’s story was nonetheless a fascinating morality tale. A nobody from no place who possessed an undeniably charismatic personality and some serious natural skills, Tupac Shakur lived amidst a world of violence and anger. Despite his immense wealth and his broad international following he nonetheless ultimately died over a stupid misunderstanding in a shoe store.
|Barrel Length||4.49 inches|
|Weight (empty)||25.57 ounces|
|Weight (loaded)||34.39 ounces|
|Trigger Pull||28 Newtons|
|Magazine Capacity||15 Rounds|
|System||Glock Safe Action|