Tupac did not limit his artistic license to his words and music. He used his skin as a canvas for the principles that he stood by. He had a total of 21 tattoos which he was also known for. His tattoos, along with his fashion style, added to his iconic status as a hip hop celebrity. Let us explore Tupac’s different tattoos and their meanings.
- THUG LIFE
According to Tupac, THUG LIFE is an acronym for The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everyone. It means that if we continue to rear children in an unhealthy and violent environment, the larger community would continue to suffer.
- 50 Niggaz
Location: Below the chest
It means one black person from every state of the U.S.A.
- Queen Nefertiti and 2 Die 4
Location: Right side of the chest
The Egyptian queen is a symbol of feminine power, and this tattoo is a tribute to Tupac’s mother, Afeni Shakur. 2 Die 4 is a reference to the song lyric “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.”
Location: Left side of the chest
He was only 18 when he got this tattoo. 2PAC was one of his stage names.
- Skull & Crossbones
Location: Right arm
It is commonly known as a symbol of death and danger.
Location: Right arm, above the skull and crossbones
This suggests the pain he felt regarding black racism in the United States.
- FUCK THE WORLD
Location: Below the nape of his neck
This is the 13th track from this 3rd album, Me Against the World.
- Gothic Cross (Exodus 1831)
Exodus 18:31 does not exist. It might be an allusion to Exodus 18:11 instead.
Location: Lower back
This is a reference to his song Str8 ballin’ from the album, Thug Life: Volume 1. Ballin’ is a slang word often used by the black community.
- Smile Now and Cry Later
Location: Both sides of his back
These twin tattoos of masks are a reference to theatre and drama.
- Panther Head
Location: Left arm
This is considered his tribute to the Black Panther Party, where Tupac’s mother Afeni was an active member in the 1960s.
- Only God can Judge Me
Location: Below the Panther Head tattoo
It is an image of Jesus on a burning cross. He has a song whose title is “Only God Can Judge Me” from his album “All Eyez on Me”.
Location: Left forearm
It refers to his hip hop group Outlawz, and it is also an acronym for Operating Under Thug Laws as Warriors.
Location: Right forearm
It was inked in an old English lettering.
Location: Back side of the right arm.
For Tupac, MOB meant “money over bitches” in his songs ‘MOB’ and ‘Blasphemy’. He would later define MOB as “money, organization, and business”.
- TRUST NOBODY
Location: Inner right forearm
It is a seven-point crown tattoo with the words “TRUST NOBODY”. He suspected that people close to him were behind the Quad Studios shooting in 1994.
- Be Ambitious with Love While Young
Location: Right arm
Beside the text is an image of a skull with some cash and a weighing scale that balances a baby and gold bars.
Location: Right side of his neck
This is a reference to Niccolo Machiavelli, a figure Tupac admired for his political ideas.
- BOSS PLAYAZ
Location: Back of his neck
An image of a three-point crown is combined with the words Boss Playaz. Tupac said that thugs should aspire to become Boss Playa as a leader and thinker.
- My Only Fear of Death is Coming Back Reincarnated
Location: Left arm, below heartless and skull and crossbones tattoo
He did not fear death, only rebirth.
LOCATION: Inner left forearm
This was believed to be dedicated to his fiancé, Kidada Jones.