Earliest Tupac Recordings to Be Released

Before the world-famous hip hop performer moved to Marin City, he was known in Baltimore as MC New York

By Jackson West
|  Friday, Aug 7, 2009  |  Updated 5:30 PM EDT
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Earliest Tupac Recordings to Be Released

Darrin Keith Bastfield

The cover art for Shakurspeare features an oil painting of young Tupac Shakur as an Elizabethan actor -- though the MC preferred his couplets rhymed.

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Tupac Shakur may have started his professional career in show business in the Bay Area, but a new album will feature rhymes from his old school days in the Bay City, Baltimore.

Shakur got his first job in show business performing as a dancer with local legends Digital Underground before eventually becoming a worldwide phenomenon with the release of multi-platinum album Me Against the World.

Titled Shakurspeare, the album is the work of Born Busy Record's Darrin Keith Bastfield, who named his label after the group he and Shakur briefly formed while attending the Baltimore School for the Arts together as teenagers.

Even then, Shakur had lofty ambitions -- the title of the new album is based on the desire to become known as a Shakespearean actor he expressed to Bastfield.

It's not a far a stretch as you might think, as both Shakur and Shakespeare traded in couplets.

Shortly after, Shakur and his mother moved to Marin City, Calif. where he was discovered at a Tamalpais High School talent show by Digital Underground's Atron Gregory.

While his earliest, but probably not best, work -- and can be easily criticized as another attempt to cash in on the artist's legacy -- the album will probably be a must-have for fans of Bay Area Hip Hop and completist collectors of Shakur's ouvre.

Jackson West was never a huge Shakur fan, but respects and recognizes his contributions to the hip-hop arts.

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