Tupac's spirit lived on Thursday night at the Atlanta Symphony Hall, as family, friends and fans celebrated him on what would have been the late rapper/actor's 40th birthday.
Rick Ross, Erykah Badu, Bun B, 8Ball & MJG and comedian Mike Epps all attended the event, raising money for the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation, which helps students develop their skills in the creative arts. The crowd stood and applauded when Epps, host of the event, presented 'Pac's mother, Afeni, with a $10,000 donation, The Associated Press reported.
Ross then took the stage with his new Maybach Music signee Meek Mill to perform their homage-paying single "Tupac Back." Not only did the crowd approve but Meek told MTV News he noticed the reaction of one special partygoer in particular.
"I was just representing for Tupac and we performed it out here in front of his mom. His mom was loving it; Afeni Shakur she was loving the song," he said backstage after the show.
Mill admitted that he expected to draw some criticism for comparing himself to the revered Shakur on "Tupac Back," but said he first found inspiration to rap in Shakur's rebellious attitude. "I knew it was going to be a lot of talk behind it, people sayin', like, me thinkin' I'm Tupac or whatever, but we represent the same thing," the Philly rapper said. " 'Pac, he don't care what he say, he gonna give you rawness, and that's what I always felt. That's the biggest message he gave to me: always give out rawness and the things you want to say, say it."
The party was held a day after AllHipHop.com obtained a letter from Dexter Isaac claiming to be involved in the 1994 robbery and shooting of Shakur at Quad Studios in Manhattan. 'Pac, who was shot five times in that incident, survived, but began serving a prison sentence for a sexual assault charge in February 1995.
On September 7, 1996, Shakur was shot in Las Vegas and died in the hospital six days later. (MTV)