Tupac Shakur's most famous tattoo has Texas connection

Tupac Shakur was born in East Harlem, N.Y., grew up to be a central figure in the West Coast rap scene and died in Las Vegas — but an important part of his mythology came from right here in Texas.

Shakur, who died 21 years ago today, got his iconic “Thug Life” tattoo in 1992 at Dago’s Tattoo and Piercing Studio, the oldest tattoo shop in Houston.

Tupac Shakur, 1996. Courtesy of the artist and Sock Bandit Productions (Danny Clinch/Sock Bandit Productions)

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The tattoo was the work of shop owner Dennis "Dago" Coelho. A Houston Chronicle story published on Tuesday described Shakur’s history with Dago’s.

Shakur received at least eight tattoos at Dago's, located in the 5100 block of the I-45 North, over his lifetime. The shop has been in business since 1974 and in 1992 it was just one of a handful of shops in the Houston area. 

Source magazine article in June talked about the connection Coelho had with Shakur. “Back in the day, everybody downed me, mocked me, and blackballed me for associating my business with the African-American community,” Coelho said. “Having the opportunity to work with (Shakur) really made everything worth it.”

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