Ke.Mazur, WireImage
Ke.Mazur, WireImage

It's hard to believe that 15 years has elapsed since the death of rapper Tupac Shakur. Noted as one of the father's of West Coast hip-hop, his influence can still be felt today, as fans continue to purchase his posthumous releases, making him the most successful deceased rapper in the game. He straddled the line between intelligent thug with heartfelt songs like 'Brenda's Got A Baby' and 'Dear Mama,' and unapologetic lyrical villain by way of the Notorious B.I.G diss record 'Hit Em Up.'

While his music touched the masses, Tupac's death came as the biggest shock to West Coast rap lovers who had been involuntary thrust into a bi-coastal beef lead by the rapper himself. At just 25, he succumbed to wounds sustained after being shot on Sept. 7, 1996, while leaving a boxing match at the Las Vegas MGM Grand Hotel, dying six days later. Having been a victim of gunfire a few years earlier, during a studio raid in New York City -- of which he blamed Biggie and Diddy for officiating -- the public saw him as an untouchable figure of sorts, likening him to the rose that grew from the concrete, a metaphor he often used in describing his struggle. Yet behind 2Pac the rapper was Tupac Amaru Shakur, the man.

In honor of the anniversary of his death (Sept. 13), The Boombox caught up with some of hip-hop's biggest names to discuss the esteemed MC's impact on their own lives. Some knew him personally while others admired him through his music. Check out what they had to say about the late, great Tupac Shakur.

Johnny Nunez, WireImage
"If there was anybody that I wish I could be a little more like, it'd probably be 'Pac. I think more than anything, aside from his music, which was absolutely incredible, I think he just drove people with who he was, the way he carried himself. He was somebody who was a free spirit and he did not care, he just did what he felt. I wish I could have a little more 'Pac to my persona. I'm working on it."
Rick Ross
Gary Miller, FilmMagic
"Tupac is more relevant than ever. I think his legacy will never tarnish, his emotion is still unmatched. He brought a street and thug point of view but his intelligence is something we never speak about enough. I think we need to make sure we express that Tupac was a very intelligent, great speaker. He was very intellectual and we gotta continue [influencing] our young men [to be] leaders and speak their mind. That's what we miss the most about Tupac."
Paul Archuleta, FilmMagic
"He's an icon. A lot of people, hopefully they learned from what happened with Tupac. He was a great man, he had a great heart, a passion for this music. He taught me so much; he taught a lot of people so much. He changed our whole work ethic in the studio, changed the way we look at this game. We took it serious all off the way 'Pac was. Before then, we were just running amok."
Valerie Macon, Getty Images
"Tupac continues to influence and inspire artists every day. Most of these big rappers are emulating him, emulating his style, his persona. You see me acting in movies, he was one of the first guys that was able to rap and act and break those barriers. Tupac is [an] icon for hip-hop, for music and for black people. He was one of the first guys to stand up for what he believed in without taking no s--- for it."
Warren G
Tibrina Hobson, FilmMagic
"He [was] an incredible dude, a real dude that really cared about the youth, just an all around great person. I still miss him. It's hard for me to play his music, it's hard for me to play Nate Dogg's music [and] other artists that we lost. It's hard for me to hear their music because I knew them. I picture being around them, so it kind of messes me up a little bit, but he was a good dude."
Snoop Dogg
Maury Phillips, WireImage
"His legacy is deeper than people could ever imagine. I been all over the world and the Tupac legacy is so deep. You got people believing that he's still here. He gave people a different train of thought. You can be a thug, but be an intelligent thug. I see gangsters now walking around with laptops and becoming smarter. I attribute that to him because he was a thinker. He made people that were around him think."
Busta Rhymes
Kevin Mazur, WireImage
"I remember when I was in Leaders of the New School, I had a show, I think I was 21 or 22. We got to the sound check late, so the production was trying to shut our s--- down. Digital Underground was performing too and when 'Pac overheard we wasn't allowed to get our sound check, [he] went over there and [said], 'That's Leaders of the New School, you better turn that s--- on before I f--- you up!' There was no grey area with 'Pac and that's one thing I loved about him the most."

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