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Have you seen Tupac Shakur's tattoos? We've got "So Many Tears" after decoding his greatest ink. Check out the American rapper's most emotional pieces.

Decrypt the meaning of Tupac Shakur’s most iconic tattoos

If you don’t remember the legendary Tupac Shakur, he wasn’t just an American rapper & actor who was shot & killed in 1996, but he was also known as one of the biggest hip hop artists in the world with his raw talent & writing. 

Despite his incredible music career in the 1990s, Tupac had a unique style with over twenty tattoos with meanings behind each one of them. Here are some of Tupac’s most popular tattoos that represent everything the fallen rapper stood for. 

“Thug Life”

You might not know this, but Tupac had a large tattoo with the phrase “Thug Life” across his stomach. And according to Body Art Guru, this wasn’t just a random tat, it actually stood for “The Hate U Give Little Infants F***s Everyone”. It represents the “depressing environment” he saw in society with racism, violence, and oppression. 

In fact, Lad Bible stated that the tattoo artist who created the work of art Dennis ‘Dago’ Coelho stated: “It had to have a meaning and be something nobody had. Every tattoo meant him.”

Whatever we might have thought about the giant “Thug Life” tattoo, Tupac told his fans in 1994: “I don’t consider myself to be straight militant. I’m a thug, and my definition of thug comes from half of the street element and half of the Panther element, half of the independence movement.”

Cross & Exodus

Tupac’s giant Cross tattoo with the word “Exodus 1831” inside was reported as a “symbol that he could take with him for the rest of his life” according to his tattoo artist Dennis Coelho. 

Tattoo Me Now reminds us that Tupac’s Exodus tattoo was directed at the enormous amount of people who died during slavery. Other meanings related to the tattoo include the rapper’s thoughts about injustice & faith. 

Head of Nefertiti

Although Tupac didn’t comment about his Nefertiti tattoo, many fans have looked at the incredible piece and thought that it could relate to his late mother. The rapper had an intense relationship with his mother and even mentioned her in one of her songs “Something 2 Die 4”: “You know what my momma used to tell me. If ya can’t find something to live for. You best find something to die for.”

Underneath the head of Nefertiti’s tattoo is the phrase “2 Die 4” which sounds like the perfect connection to his mother & song. So perhaps the “Dear Mama” rapper saw his mother as strong as Egyptian royalty. She definitely sounds like a Queen.

Panther head

There’s nothing as captivating as an animal tattoo, but in this case, Tupac’s panther head tattoo on his left arm represented everything that he lived for – black equality. 

Tupac’s panther head tattoo tells a story about his parents Afeni Shakur & Billy Garland who were members of the Black Panther Party in New York during the height of racism in the United States of America. During the 1960s & 1970s, Tupac’s parents were also members of the Liberation Army. 

His parents weren’t the only ones to focus on black equality, as even his godfather Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt was one of the most important members of Black Panther. With so many influential people in his life, the tattoo has been interpreted as a never-ending tribute to his loved ones. 


Talking about tattoos for Tupac’s loved ones, one of his most iconic tattoos is on his right forearm with the word “Notorious”. This tattoo has been rumored to be a tribute to his late friend Big Kato who was killed back in 1993. 

As Complex noted that Tupac was extremely driven to make his voice heard in various social movements after Big Kato was murdered. His stepbrother Mopreme Shakur stated: “It was really supposed to be about saving thugs’ lives. A lot of people got the message, but a whole lot didn’t. 

What do you think about Tupac’s tattoos? Let us know in the comments below. 

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  • I like the tattoo´s of Tupac. I have the tattoo “THUG LIFE” on my stomach like him. It was my frist one on my body and now i´m going for his cross on my back.

    April 19, 2022

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