Late rap great Tupac Shakur continues to live on in the memories of many. Whether posthumously popping up in recent musical masterpieces (see: “Mortal Man” on Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 sophomore effort To Pimp a Butterfly) or frequently aired films like the 1993 classic Poetic Justice (which also starred a young Janet Jackson), the West Coast rhymer — who passed away Sept. 13, 1996 almost a week after he was shot in Las Vegas — has claimed a permanent spot in hip-hop’s hall of fame.
On the 20th anniversary of ‘Pac’s passing, here are 22 famous fans who was touched by the multi-hyphenate’s spirit.
A hard-core stan of the late rapper’s, Compton’s good kid nearly titled his 2015 landmark album To Pimp a Butterfly, Tu Pimp a Caterpillar, an acronym spelling out TuPAC. On the 19th anniversary of the legendary rapper’s death last year, Lamar wrote a touching tribute to late rapper, saying, “I was 8 yrs old when I first saw you. I couldn’t describe how I felt at that moment. So many emotions. Full of excitement. Full of joy and eagerness. 20 yrs later I understand exactly what that feeling was.”
The singer became enamored with Tupac after watching the 2003 documentary Tupac: Resurrection. Ever since, the Slauson Hills rep has honored the late rapper by covering songs and even releasing a series of pictures where she mimics ‘Pac. In an interview with MTV last year, Aiko explained, “I never felt there were a lot of people I could relate to as far as wanting to do so many things with my life that don’t necessarily have to do with the other. He was so contradictory to people, but to me, he was just human and not afraid to express himself. I could relate to that a lot… How dancing turned into music, turned into acting, turned into all of the things that he did. And he still had this passion and this purpose about him. That spoke to me so much.”
Jackson stared alongside Shakur in the 1993 film Poetic Justice and has helped keep his legacy alive ever since. In an interview with Britain’s Sunday Telegraph, she offered, “Pac was just silly. He was completely different from what people knew. Not that it was an act, the person that the world knew, because that was him, too. I adored him – he liked to play and laugh.”
From one rap god to another, Eminem was strongly influenced by not only Tupac’s music but the way he carried himself. “I used to be fascinated with his interviews like, ‘Yo, what he’s saying is so true,'” he said in a Paper magazine essay last year. “He would also be able to trump people who were interviewing him when they would hit him with hard questions — it was incredible. He was a superstar in every aspect of the word.”
5. Kendall Jenner
In a recent installment of Vogue’s “73 Questions” series, the supermodel/reality star called the late rapper her “spirit animal.”
Despite his pure pop pedigree, the heartthrob is an unabashed fan of Shakur. Earlier this month, he covered the late rapper’s hit “Thugz Mansion” in a stripped-down version for BBC1. In his 2015 cover story with Billboard, Bieber spoke of his admiration: “I was always that fearless kid who would jump onstage or do whatever. My dad would be like, ‘Rap that Tupac verse,’ and I’d do ‘Thugz Mansion’ — I was probably 8.”
7. Tory Lanez
Despite having a name that honors Tupac’s alleged foe, the Notorious B.I.G., Lanez cited all of Shakur’s albums as some of his greatest inspirations. “Tupac told stories that weren’t fit for normal conversation,” Lanez told Pigeons and Planes in 2013. “There are certain stories in my life that I can’t tell. Music gives me the outlet to explain certain things. It gave me the platform to share my life, my story, my perspective. Nobody did that better than Tupac.”
On what would have been Shakur’s 44th birthday in 2015, the Bay Area rap veteran posted a tribute on Instagram to Shakur writing, “Happy 44th Birthday Tupac we love you & miss you!”
9. J. Cole
The New York rapper is an outspoken fan of Shakur’s, having cited him as his favorite rapper multiple times. In a track from his 2013 album Born Sinner, Cole went so far as to equate ‘Pac to Jesus in the standout track “Let Nas Down.” He also hailed ‘Pac in a 2014 Blurred Culture interview, saying, “My favorite rapper was Pac. He was my favorite rapper before I even started rapping. … Just the cool dude that I looked up to. And then one day my stepfather came home from-I don’t know if he was back from Desert Storm…I remember him coming home with that first Pac album [2Pacalypse Now] with “Brenda’s Got A Baby.”
He continued, “And since then, I was too young to know what he was talking about, but it connected. ‘Cause that’s the thing about art. It’s just truth. It’s straight — whatever you feel. So, even as a seven-year-old kid, eight-year-old kid, I could hear ‘Pac’s early albums and feel the truth.”
When asked in a 2013 interview what song he wishes he recorded during an interview on Big Boy’s Neighborhood, October’s Very Own cited Tupac’s “Pain” as one of his favorite songs of all time.
11. Will Ferrell
In an interview promoting his hit 2014 film Anchorman 2, the superstar comedian talked about meeting the late rapper, telling BET that he was “the sweet and mellow guy” and that “he was counter to his persona.”
12. Meek Mill
In what would have been ‘Pac’s 44th birthday in 2015, Meek Mill posted an Instagram video of Tupac saying “This is all about my image. This has nothing to do with me … It’s like MTV and all the papers they building me up, now they destroying me on the same image they perpetuated.” The Philadelphia rapper found empathy in the clip and paired it with the simple caption, “My life.”
13. Zayn Malik
The former One Direction-er told Glamour magazine that Tupac’s esteemed album All Eyez On Me was the first he ever owned. In another interview with Complex, Malik elaborated on his respect for the rapper. “He’s the first rapper to talk about the fact that his mom was a crack addict. For me, that’s courageous as fuck. He took that risk and spoke about everything in detail openly and without any shame. For me to listen to that album as I grew up, it really helped me to understand that it’s OK to be honest with your art, because people appreciate that.”
14. Allen Iverson
During his Basketball Hall of Fame induction acceptance speech earlier this month, the legendary Sixer shouted out Shakur as one of the artists who provided the “theme music” throughout his career.
Allen Iverson thanks Biggie, Redman, Jadakiss, Tupac and Michael Jackson for being the theme music of his career !!! pic.twitter.com/kLicfc1mDZ
— Alysha Tsuji (@AlyshaTsuji) September 10, 2016
In a recent Ask Me Anything session on Reddit, the pop star revealed she once danced with the legendary rapper. “He was sweet, but all I wanted to say was that I want the ‘I Get Around,’ ‘Brenda’s Got a Baby’ Pac back,” she explained. “He was already like a thug by then; it was the ‘California Love’ days.”
16. Kerri Walsh
In the midst of this past summer’s Rio Olympics, the volleyball player referenced Shakur on Instagram before winning a bronze medal writing, ”’… Till the day I die.’ #RemainTrue Let’s GO @aprilrossbeach,” citing her teammate. “Let’s do what we came here for #PlayfulDomination.”
17. Lin-Manuel Miranda
The acclaimed writer, composer, and star of the Broadway smash Hamilton said he was inspired by Tupac while writing the show. According to a New Yorker feature, Miranda thought Hamilton’s character reminded him of Shakur.
18. Mike Tyson
In an interview with the Associated Press, the legendary boxer said Tupac always “wanted me to smoke weed with him” and even called him a “misguided warrior.” Tyson also noted, “He’s going to last until the time this earth comes to an end. I’m glad to be a part of his life and to have known him.”
19. Ed Sheeran
While Sheeran and Tupac may seem like polar opposites musically, the singer-songwriter cited Tupac as an influence in an interview with VIBE. “I like Tupac’s statements and (songs) like ‘California Love’ and ‘Changes,’ shit like that,” he said. “I like Tupac more now because it’s reflective.”
In a December 2015 interview with Complex, the pop songstress compared herself to Shakur. “I think it’s a responsibility, but like Tupac Shakur, I’m a real model. Which means, I’m not pretending to be something that I’m not, because like he said, people are going to be disappointed when they find out who you are, because it’s not going to be what you presented to the world. So just keep it real.”
21. John Singleton
The famed director, who was previously onboard for the long-delayed ‘Pac biopic All Eyez on Me, posted an Instagram tribute to the rapper saying in part, “Tupac was much more than a hip-hop artist. He was a black man guided by his passions.”
Real talk! The reason I am not making this picture is because the people involved aren’t really respectful of the legacy of Tupac Amaru Shakur. I won’t say much if you want you can read my articles in Hollywood Reporter on authenticity in Black Storytelling … To Pac’s real fans just know I am still planning a movie on Tupac … It doesn’t matter what they do mines will be better… Tupac was much more than a hip hop artist … He was a black man guided by his passions … Of most importance was his love of black people and culture … Something the people involved in this movie know nothing about… Real talk! How you gonna make a movie about a man when you suing his mother to get the rights to tell his story?! They have no true love 4 Pac so this movie will not be made with love! And that’s why my ass isn’t involved ! If Tupac knew what was going on he’d ride on all these fools and take it to the streets… But I won’t do that … I’ll just make my own project. What Yall think about that?!!
22. Jada Pinkett Smith
In a June 2014 interview with Howard Stern, the actress was heavy on the praise for her good friend, Shakur. “I’ve had never in my life met a person like Pac. He had so much charisma. And he was poor,” Smith told Stern. The actress/wife to Will Smith added, “He left a very strong and powerful mark. People are still inspired by him. So he did his work.”