Tupac Shakur’s 21 Tattoos & Their Meanings

Tupac Shakur was an American Rapper and an Actor. He was born as Lesane Parish Crooks. He was one of the best selling music hip hop artists of all time, selling more than 75 millions of records worldwide, who was also known by his stage names 2Pac and Makaveli. Tupac was shot down on September 7, 1996, and he died six days later on September 13, 1996. He had gained popularity not only because of his talent but also for his fashion style. He could rock different styles with his very famous bandanas look, same was the case with his Tattoos. He had inked 21 tattoos on his body which are very famous. Let’s explore Tupac’s tattoos along with their meanings.



1. ‘THUG LIFE’ Tattoo

Tattoo: THUG LIFE

Meaning: Tupac Shakur had inked a Thug Life tattoo on his belly, with ‘I’ replaced by a bullet, gained a lot of popularity. This tattoo of Tupac has a hidden meaning behind it. According to him, the tattoo Thug Life is an acronym of ‘The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everyone’ meaning that if we continue to bring up children in a negative, depressing environment, surrounded by racism, violence, and oppression then the cycle will just continue.

2. ‘Egyptian Queen Nefertiti and below 2 Die 4’ Tattoo

Tattoo: Egyptian Queen Nefertiti and below 2 Die 4

Meaning: Tupac had inked Egyptian Queen Nefertiti tattoo with 2 Die 4 on the right side of his chest. This tattoo symbolizes feminine power, excellence, progress, and prosperity. Tupac was very close to his mother Afeni Shakur. He had inked this tattoo to express his love towards his mother. The text 2 Die 4 below the queen’s tattoo has a deep meaning behind it. Tupac said

“you know what my momma used to tell me. If ya can’t find something to live for…. then you BEST, find something ta die for.”

3. ’50 Niggaz over an AK47′ Tattoo

Tattoo: 50 Niggaz over an AK47 Tattoo below the chest.

Meaning: This tattoo of Tupac symbolize black unity. It represents one black from every state of the USA. According to him, if black people from every state of America join hand together with him, they would be stronger than an AK47. It’s a symbol for the fight against racism.

4. ‘2PAC’ Tattoo

Tattoo: 2PAC Tattoo on the left side of his chest.

Meaning: Tupac Shakur was just 18 years old when he got his first ‘2PAC’ tattoo on the left side of his chest. 2PAC was a stage name of Tupac Shakur. Being a hip hop artist, Tupac gained a lot of popularity from his stage names 2PAC and Makaveli. That is why he had inked his stage name 2PAC on the left side of his chest.

5. ‘Skull and Crossbones’ Tattoo

Tattoo: Skull and Crossbones Tattoo on his right arm.

Meaning: Tupac had inked Skull and Crossbones on the right side of his arm. A skull with crossbones is a very popular tattoo which has a lot of different meanings. Basically, this tattoo is a symbol of death. It warns of the danger, usually regarding some poisonous substance.

6. ‘HEARTLESS’ Tattoo

Tattoo: HEARTLESS Tattoo on the right side of his arm just above the skull and crossbones tattoo.

Meaning: Tupac Shakur had inked the word heartless just above his skull and crossbones tattoo. Heartless tattoo defines nothing but just the psychology of the person who gets it inked. A combination of heartless text with human skull and crossbones tattoos specifies that the person is warning everyone of his heartless or emotionless nature. This usually occurs when a person is really hurt by something in his life, just like Tupac who was totally against racism faced by black people in the USA. His pain for racism was also seen in many of his other tattoos on his body.

7. ‘FUCK THE WORLD’ Tattoo

Tattoo: FUCK THE WORLD Tattoo just below the nape of his neck.

Meaning: Tupac had got FUCK THE WORLD tattoo just below the nape of his neck. This tattoo is the thirteenth track on his third album, Me Against the World(1995). Tupac’s life was full of ups and down, so he got inked FUCK THE WORLD tattoo on his back to express his anger towards everyone.

8. ‘Gothic Cross(EXODUS 1831) Tattoo

Tattoo: Gothic Cross(EXODUS 1831) had been inked by Tupac on his back.

Meaning: This tattoo of Tupac has a lot of different meanings behind it. Cross has many meanings like justice, god, faith and fight for human rights. Tupac’s tattoo artist Dennis “Dago” Coelho told in an interview that Tupac wanted to get a tattoo inked on his back which he could take along with him for the rest of his life. Finally, he decided to go for Gothic Cross with words EXODUS 1831 on his back which is popularly known as Tupac Cross.

The word EXODUS means the mass departure of people. EXODUS 1831 specifies different theories. One theory states that it refers to a verse from the Bible. But as per the Bible, chapter 18 finishes with Verse 27, so EXODUS Verse 18:31 is non-existent.

The other theory states that Tupac was inspired by the heroic step taken by Nat Turner, who was an African-American slave who led a 2-day rebellion of slaves and free blacks in Southampton County, Virginia on August 21, 1831. The rebellion caused the death of approximately 60 white men, women and children. Whites used a number of ways to suppress the uprising, killing approximately 120 blacks. No one was arrested for such crimes against black people.`

9. ‘BALLIN’ Tattoo

Tattoo: Tupac had inked BALLIN Tattoo on his lower back.

Meaning: Ballin is a word often used and heard as a slang, especially in the black community. It is originated from the term ‘having a ball’. Tupac had this tattoo on his lower back. This tattoo is the tenth track Str8 Ballin from his album Thug Life: Volume 1(1994), in which he rapped,

“I would share the definition of ballin’ with you white folks, but now the game is to be sold not told so fuck y’all.”

10. ‘Smile now’ and ‘Cry later’ Tattoo

Tattoo: Smile now and Cry later tattoo on both sides of his back.

Meaning: Tupac had inked a happy face mask with a smile now text below it on the left side of his back and a sad face mask with cry later text below it on the right side of his back. Both of these tattoos specifies Tupac’s passion for acting and theater. These masks are well known as sock and buskin, are the ancient symbols of comedy and tragedy. On his ‘Scarface’ song ‘Smile’ Tupac said,

“There’s gonna be some stuff that you’re gonna see, That’s gonna make it hard to smile in future, But whatever you see, Through all the rain and pain, You gotta keep a sense of humor, Gotta be able to smile through all this bullshit.”

11. ‘Panther Head’ Tattoo

Tattoo: Panther Head Tattoo on his left arm.

Meaning: Tupac had inked a black panther head on his left arm. Panther tattoos are basically sign of power and strength. Tupac had inked black panther head on his left arm as a tribute to The Black Panther Party, in which his mother Afeni Shakur was an active member. The Black Panther Party was founded on October 15, 1966 with the aim of protecting black people and giving them justice in every field. Many members of Shakur family were involved in this party, some of whom were even imprisoned for serious criminal offenses, including his mother Afeni Shakur.

12. ‘Only God Can Judge Me’ Tattoo

Tattoo: Jesus on burning cross Tattoo with text Only God Can Judge Me on his left arm just below panther tattoo.

Meaning: Tupac had got Jesus on burning cross tattoo with a text ‘Only God Can Judge Me’ on the left side of his arm. He believed that he was answerable to only God and no one else in this world. He also has a song titled ‘Only God Can Judge Me’ from the album ‘All Eyez On Me'(1996) featuring Rappin’ 4-Tay.

13. ‘OUTLAW’ Tattoo

Tattoo: OUTLAW Tattoo on left forearm.

Meaning: Outlaw can be defined as a person who is excluded from the benefit or protection of the law. It is an acronym of ‘Operating Under Thug Laws As Warriors’.  This tattoo represents Tupac’s hip hop rappers group which he formed in late 1995 right after he got released from prison. This group called Outlawz was officially known as Outlaw Immortalz and Dramacydal.

14. ‘NOTORIOUS’ Tattoo

Tattoo: NOTORIOUS Tattoo on right forearm.

Meaning: The word notorious basically means famous for bad quality or deed. Tupac Shakur had inked the word notorious on his right forearm in an old English font. Some people believed that this notorious tattoo goes together with outlaw tattoo on his left forearm, but no official confirmation was given by Tupac on this.

15. ‘MOB’ Tattoo

Tattoo: MOB Tattoo on the backside of the right arm.

Meaning: The word mob means a large crowd of people usually get together to cause trouble and violence. Mob has many different acronyms but for Tupac, it meant ‘Money Over Bitches’ which he had described in his songs ‘Blasphemy’ (The Don Killuminati: the 7-day Theory,1996) and ‘MOB’ (Until the End of Time,2001). Later he described the word mob as ‘Money, Organization, and Business’.

16. ‘TRUST NOBODY’ Tattoo

Tattoo: A 7-Point Crown with words TRUST NOBODY on the inner right forearm.

Meaning: Tupac had a 7-Point Crown Tattoo that said ‘TRUST NOBODY’ on his inner right forearm. The 7-point crown represents the immorality of our souls. Tupac became overly suspicious when he was shot at the Quad Studios in New York in November 1994. Tupac was convinced that all this was planned by the people who were very close to him. He even rapped where he was most probably talking about his former friend Stretch from Live Squad.

“When me and you was homies / No one informed me / It was all a scheme / You infiltrated my team / And sold a nigga dreams / How could you do me like that?”


17. ‘Be Ambitious with Love While Young’ Tattoo

Tattoo: Be Ambitious with Love While Young Tattoo on right arm.

Meaning: Tupac had this most complex tattoo on his right arm. It is a tattoo of a skull with a bunch of cash and a scale, balancing a baby on one side and bars of gold on the other with a text written next to it stating Be Ambitious with Love While Young.

18. ‘MAKAVELI’ Tattoo


Tattoo: MAKAVELI Tattoo on the right side of the neck.

Meaning: Tupac had tattooed his stage name ‘MAKAVELI’on the right side of his neck. Tupac Shakur was very much impressed by the ideas of Niccolo Machiavelli who lived his life for politics and patriotism. Tupac wanted to change his stage name from 2Pac to Makaveli. Even his last album was released under the alias Makaveli.

19.’BOSS PLAYAZ’ Tattoo

Tattoo: BOSS PLAYAZ Tattoo on back of his neck.

Meaning: A 3-point crown with a text Boss Playaz was inked my Tupac on the back of his neck. For Tupac, ‘boss playa’ is the next level a ‘thug nigga’ should try to reach. In 1995, a letter titled “Is Thug Life Dead?” to Nina Bhadreshwar(publicist for Deathrow Records) he explained,

“[Coming from the ghetto, our development as men], begins with a dusk kicker, a thug nigga then finally a boss playa.[…] [Many] never survive the next level of Thug Life.[…] A regular playa plays women, a Boss Playa plays life. A Boss Playa is a thinker, a leader, a builder, a moneymaker, a souljah, a teacher and most off all a Man!”

20. ‘My Only Fear of Death is Coming Back Reincarnated’ Tattoo

Tattoo: My Only Fear of Death is Coming Back Reincarnated Tattoo below heartless and skull crossbones tattoo on the left arm.

Meaning: Tupac Shakur, just below his skull crossbones tattoo has inked the words ‘My Only Fear of Death is Coming Back Reincarnated’ on his left arm. The word reincarnation means rebirth. So according to him, his only fear of death is his rebirth in this world.

21.’DADA’ Tattoo

Tattoo: DADA Tattoo on his inner left forearm.

Meaning: Tupac had inked this last tattoo on his inner left forearm. It is a crown with a word DADA under it. It was believed that this tattoo was dedicated by Tupac Shakur to his fiance, Kidada Jones, daughter of the legendary jazz musician and record producer Quincy Jones Jr. as a token of his love towards her.

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