Tupac Shakur’s First Rap Group In Baltimore

Baltimore, Maryland was the location.

There was a time when each of these good friends by the names of Dana Smith and Darrin Bastfield would recite one another’s rhymes like they were their own.  They did it for decades.  The two were apart of a group called, “Born Busy” that was put together in high school.

This group, “Born Busy”, also had a third member that many of us have grown to love and miss.  His name was Tupac Shakur.   “I first met Tupac at Roland Park Middle School, 8th grade”, says Dana Smith.  The following year, Darrin met Tupac.  “I met Tupac in 1986, at the Baltimore School for the Arts”, Bastfield mentions.

It’s been more than 30 years since they met at the art school but Darrin remembers it well.  Bastfield recalls a moment when Tupac said, “I heard y’all rapping, wanna battle?” and then Bastfield responded by saying “yeah, who are you!?”

Bastfield didn’t win that freestyle battle, but he won a new friend instead.

Darrin recalled, “I came in the locker room, and Tupac said, ‘Darrin throw a sick rhyme,’ and I started saying a rhyme, and they were beating on the lockers, and that’s how we became close, friends”.

An actor, poet, and rapper who eventually became a ‘Thug Life’ symbol in America and worldwide, but as for his friends in B-More, Tupac was an intelligent and cultured individual.


“His years in Baltimore, we like to call his years of development, focus and purpose. We believe that his years in Baltimore had everything to do with his rap career”, says Dana Smith.

1985 was the year Tupac moved to Baltimore where he stayed on Greenmount Ave. in a small apartment.  Not too many people today even know this location since there’s not any signs or markers to point it out.

“Tupac didn’t have a lot of money,” Darrin states. “So if he didn’t have lunch money, he would go to the library or the theater and just read books. He read every book at The School for the Arts.”

Baltimore School of Arts played a key part in Tupac’s development as a musician.  This is also where he met Will Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith.  He grew a lot as an artist during his years here.

The “Born Busy” group members remember a different side of Tupac.

“Tupac was a person who saw good in other people,” Darrin states. “He was a funny guy, he would friend you, he friended some people I wouldn’t have friended.  A lot of times, who’s to say, that may have been his downfall.”

One thing Pac did say before passing was, ‘if I don’t change the world, I will spark the brain that will change the world.’”

He was right.


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