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Tupac's earliest recordings will be released Sept. 13 as 'Shakurspeare'*

July 31, 2009 | 11:48 am

Shakur400 Break out the sheer linen collars and the Alizé -- "Shakurspeare," a collection of Tupac Shakur's earliest known recordings, will see a digital release on Sept. 13, exactly 13 years to the day of the lionized rapper's death in Las Vegas. Masterminded by Darrin Keith Bastfield -- Born Busy Records' chief executive and partner with a 16-year-old Shakur in the company -- the album sheds light on the gangsta rapper's pre-Digital Underground days, when he rapped under the sobriquet "MC New York."

"I was there when Tupac heard himself for the first time rapping on a recording. As he sat in the cafeteria of the Baltimore School for the Arts, it was as if he couldn’t believe that he was listening to himself,” Bastfield told AllHipHop.com. “I want people to hear Tupac as a young artist in his very first recordings ever having fun, rapping about issues that concerned us and most importantly giving a cautionary and timely ‘Message of Peace’ in his own voice as if he was already a big rap star with a reputation to uphold.” 

The project is Bastfield's second dedicated to the legacy of his fallen friend, following on the heels of his 2002 memoir, "Back in the Day: My Life and Times With Tupac Shakur." According to Bastfield, the "Shakurspeare" title stems from the thug life legend's original desire to be a Shakespearean thespian. 

The vocals for "Shakurspeare" were originally recorded a cappella on cassette in 1988 and have since been digitally mastered and paired to contemporary beats crafted by Baltimore producers. Its cover will feature a Bastfield painting portraying Shakur as Shakespeare.

Though the 25-year-old rapper had yet to realize his theatrical aspirations when he was shot in 1996, it's safe to say that he would've made for a pretty awesome Julius Caesar.

-- Jeff Weiss

UPDATE: The original version of this post referenced Tupac Shakur's year of death as 1995; it was 1996.

Portrait courtesy Obey Giant Art