Tupac Shakur would have turned 41 this June 16, and the occasion will be commemorated with two birthday celebrations in San Francisco featuring a number of his former colleagues and friends.
Shakur was part of L.A.'s Death Row Records when he was killed, which helped cement his image of being a part of that notoriously gangster crew. But the time Shakur spent in the Bay Area in his late teens and early twenties were crucial to his development as a thinker, political activist, poet, and musician. They often get rushed over or overlooked altogether in the larger narrative about him.
Shakur moved to Marin City in 1988, when he was 17, and formed a rap group called Strictly Dope with Ray Luv. On Wednesday, June 13 at Mezzanine, Luv joins other subsequent Bay Area collaborators Spice 1 (said to have been a favorite of the late Shakur), Rappin 4-Tay (who appeared on 2Pac's All Eyez on Me album), and Mac Mall (whose "Ghetto Theme" video was directed by Shakur). Doors open at 8 p.m. and tickets are $15 (advance).
It was Shakur's work with Oakland's Digital Underground -- first as a roadie and blowup doll-humping dancer, and then as a featured performer on the group's "Same Song" from the Nothing But Trouble soundtrack in 1991 -- that helped launch his solo career. To this day, Digital Underground dedicates a significant portion of each live set to honoring Shakur's memory with thoughts and moments of his songs, including the hits that frontman Shock G produced: "I Get Around" and "So Many Tears."
On his birthday, though, Digital Underground will dedicate the entire show to him, an intimate benefit for National Alumni Association of the Black Panther Party (NAABPP) on June 16 in the Lounge at Yoshi's at 10:30 p.m. Admission is $30 (advance).