The 18 NFTs are up for sale on NFT platform OpenSea from the archives of hip-hop journalist and photographer Lawrence “Loupy D” Dotson. Seventeen of the 18 NFTs are original photos of Shakur, while the 18th is a “Super NFT” collage comprising the other 17 photos. The NFTs will each come with a framed print of the photo signed by Dotson, and part of the proceeds will be used to plant trees in Tupac’s hometown.
Dotson snapped the photos at the 2Pacalypse Now release party in Los Angeles back in 1992, having been personally invited by Shakur himself. The pair had met shortly before the event when Dotson, who was an up and comer at the time, was selling copies of a magazine on the streets of LA. Spying Shakur drinking alone at a bar, Dotson saw his opportunity to get the rapper’s eyes (or should we say, eyez) on his work.
The photographer recalled his memories of the night to Rolling Stone saying, “I bought a disposable, black and white 35mm camera from the Thriftys on the corner of La Brea and Rodeo. Later that night I got to Glam Slam, Prince’s old club on Boylston Street downtown. I couldn’t wait to see this brother perform.
“I loved the energy he put out on stage as a backup dancer for Digital Underground; the same with his performance in the video when he dropped the verse on ‘Same Song.’ I knew that he was going to give it up that night for his debut release party. Surprisingly, there weren’t many people at the show: mostly industry execs and a few heads from the underground community.”
Although Dotson developed the photographs, he never published them — reserving them as a special treat he would show to his students to reward them for good behaviour instead. In addition to selling the snaps as NFTs, Dotson said he would also love to create a travelling exhibition of the work to show them around the world.
“When you look at these photos you can see it in his eyes: the determination, the passion, the swagger, the shine,” Dotson told Rolling Stone.
“These photos show a side of the man not many people got to see. This ‘Pac wasn’t covered in jewels and Versace; this ‘Pac was humble and hungry. He knew what he going for on stage that night, and that was to become the legend that he is.”
Shakur died on September 13, 1996, after sustaining fatal injuries in a drive-by shooting. While there are numerous theories as to who was responsible for his death, the case has never been officially solved.