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Tupac Shakur’s First Rap Name was MC New York

For a rapper who was so embroiled in the East Coast-West Coast rivalry, it would surprise many people (who didn’t already know) that Tupac Shakur was born in East Harlem and originally went by the name of MC New York.

After spending his early childhood years in Harlem, Pac’s mother, Afeni Shakur, packed the family up and moved to Baltimore, Maryland. It was here in Baltimore where Pac started getting heavily involved in the arts; he attended the Baltimore School for the Arts where he studied acting, poetry, jazz, and ballet. A few years later, the Shakur family would move again, this time to Marin City, California in the San Francisco Bay Area.

It was around this time that Pac would begin rapping under the name MC New York, paying homage to his birthplace. Pac would meet Leila Steinberg while attending poetry classes, who became his manager and helped connect him with Digital Underground, where he started off his recording career as a roadie and backup dancer for the Oakland rap group.

In January 6, 1991, Pac would change his rap name to 2Pac and make his recording debut on Digital Underground’s “Same Song,” off This Is an EP Release. That same year, Pac would release his debut album, 2Pacalypse Now, which featured heavy Digital Underground contributions, and spawned a hit single with “Brenda’s Got a Baby.”

Treach: He grew up on both coasts; his first MC name was MC New York. He was bouncing back, and just had a West Coast mentality and aura mixed with the East Coast at the same time, so it was just amazing to see all of the different dimensions and how talented he really was. It was past just being a rapper, because everyone knew him as an actor before they even knew he rhymed. He got a little shine when he did “Same Song” with Digital Underground because he was in that video, but he blew up after Juice dropped. That’s when it was a wrap.

Interview: Treach Talks Winning First “Best Rap Album” Grammy, Meeting 2Pac, and How Naughty by Nature Blew Up | Complex

Years after he went by the name MC New York, Pac would be one of the central figures to spark off the East Coast-West Coast rivalry, which would tragically claim his life, as well as the life of his friend-turned-rival, The Notorious B.I.G. During the beef, Pac would always claim that he had nothing against the East Coast, and it was just individual rappers from New York.

Let’s not forget that Pac dedicated a whole song on his third album, Me Against the World, paying tribute to the old school New York rap scene.

I remember Mr. Magic, Flash, Grandmaster Caz
LL, Raising Hell, but, that didn't last
Eric B. & Rakim was, the shit to me
I flip to see a Doug E. Fresh show, with Ricky D
And Red Alert was puttin' in work, with Chuck Chill
Had my homies on the hill gettin' ill, when shit was real
Went out to steal
Remember Raw, with Daddy Kane?
When De La Soul was puttin' Potholes in the game
I can't explain how it was, Whodini
Had me puffin on that buddha gettin' buzzed, 'cause there I was
Them block parties in the projects and on my block
You diggy don't stop sippin' on that Private Stock
Through my speaker Queen Latifah, and MC Lyte
Listen to Treach, KRS to get me through the night
With T La Rock and Mantronix, to Stetsasonic
Remember "Push It" was the bomb shit, nuttin' like the old school

2Pac - "Old School" // March 14, 1995
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