Apart from 50 Cent, no rapper had a better 2003 than Tupac Shakur. The feature-length documentary Tupac: Resurrection took in almost $5 million on its opening weekend. And its accompanying soundtrack sold more than 435,000 copies in its first week and debuted on Billboard at Number Two, just behind the retiring Jay-Z and just above the very-much-alive G-Unit.
Though it has been more than seven years since Tupac's murder, the rapper's profile remains high -- thanks to the efforts of his mother, Afeni Shakur, and her company, Amaru Entertainment. "There are years of his intellectual property to be exploited," says Dina LaPolt, legal counsel for Amaru Entertainment. "And we're really humble, knowing that we're doing this to preserve a legacy."
Forbes recently reported that Tupac's estate earned $12 million between June 2002 and June 2003, even more than Bob Marley's. That figure could be dwarfed next year, given the number of upcoming Tupac projects, including a Broadway show, a Makaveli clothing line, a made-for-MTV movie about the rapper's early life and an authorized biography.
Just because Tupac's seemingly endless vaults may soon empty out, that doesn't mean the music will stop. The seventh and "final" posthumous album of his unheard material will be released in early 2004. Even though his postmortem work has sold well, the albums have been hastily thrown together, rarely sustaining themselves beyond a single. There's also a rash of remixes and bootlegs to release -- this year alone, Death Row issued Nu-Mixx Klazzics, and DJ Vlad, DJ Green Lantern and Dirty Harry came out with Rap Phenomenon II, a mix-tape tribute featuring Wyclef Jean, Alicia Keys and Jadakiss.
Part of the revenue from the Amaru-sanctioned Tupac projects will go toward the construction of the Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts, in Stone Mountain, Georgia, which will house a museum, gallery and theater and will offer classes for teens interested in the music business. "It's modeled on Tupac's time at the Baltimore School for the Arts," says LaPolt. "It's how we're going to make Tupac's influence last for years and years."