Tupac Shakur and the Origins of Thug Life

“My mother was a woman, a black woman, a single mother raising two kids on her own. She was dark-skinned, had short hair, got no love from nobody except for a group called the Black Panthers.

“I don’t consider myself to be straight militant. I’m a thug, and my definition of thug comes from half of the street element and half of the Panther element, half of the independence movement. Saying we want self-determination. We want to do it by self-defense and by any means necessary. That came from my family and that’ s what thug life is. It’s a mixture.”

Tupac Shakur, in a 1994 interview with Entertainment Weekly, resurfaced by Blank on Blank. Read more on Tupac.


We need your help to get to 5,000 Longreads Members.

Join Longreads now and help us keep going.

Editorial, Automattic / WordPress.com / Founder, Longreads
Get the Longreads Weekly Email

Sign up to receive the Top 5 Longreads of the week, delivered every Friday.