September 13, 1996 is a day that will forever be immortalized in hip-hop history as the day a legend left us. Tupac Shakur was 25 years old at the time of his death 17 years ago, leaving behind a legacy as rich in lyricism as it was in attitude, a man who helped define a sound and who led a movement, who is widely considered one of the best rappers of all time and one of the most engaging personalities hip-hop has ever seen. His legacy is massive—for both those who knew him and those who didn’t—and his shadow exists over much of what the West Coast has done in the past 20 years.
Since his death, his mother Afeni has helped put out numerous posthumous albums, books of his poetry, and generally has helped preserve his legacy. Buckshot, one of the few who spent time with ‘Pac in the recording studio, agreed to speak on the condition that Afeni’s role in his legacy also be remembered—”his mother is our mother,” he said. “Because Tupac is the son of hip-hop, then we should always give praise to the mother who gave birth to the son of hip-hop.” She, and Buck, were two of many for whom Tupac’s impact has been immeasurable. On the 17th anniversary of his death, XXL spoke to a handful of rappers who knew him or were around him during his life, gathering favorite stories and small anecdotes surrounding their fallen friend. Read on to see the likes of Scarface, Big Daddy Kane, Warren G, MC Lyte and more remember the good times, the positive times that helped make Tupac who he was: a legend. —XXL Staff (@XXL)