“I am not a gangster and never have been. I’m not the thief who grabs your purse. I’m not the guy who jacks your car. I’m not down with people who steal and hurt others. I’m just a brother who fights back. I’m not some violent closet psycho. I’ve got a job. I’m an artist.” — Tupac Shakur
Prophet. Poet. Gangster. Thug. Hip hop icon. During the life and times of Tupac Shakur, he was labeled many things, but after his death, the polarizing, legendary rap artist was universally accepted as an extraordinary and influential talent. Personally, whenever someone asks me about Tupac Shakur, the immediate thought that comes to mind is “tortured soul.”
Tupac Amaru Shakur born Lesane Parish Crooks; June 16, 1971, also known by his stage names 2Pac and Makaveli, was born in East Harlem, New York City. During the first 17 years of his life, he was raised by his Black revolutionary mother, Afeni Shakur Davis. Both of his parents and several other people in his family were members of the Black Panther Party, whose ideals were later reflected in his songs. In his early youth, Shakur became involved in the performing arts as a theater actor and rapper. Aesthetically driven by the arts, he moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to gain greater opportunities. Shakur received his big break as a roadie, backup dancer and MC for the alternative hip hop group Digital Underground, thanks to group leader Shock G.
As evident, Shakur ended up branching off as a solo artist. He released his first solo album “2pacalypse Now,” in which the theme of the album depicted a young black man dealing with violence, poverty, racism and other social problems in America. As of 2007, Shakur has sold over 75 million records worldwide. His double disc albums All Eyez On Me and his Greatest Hits are among the best-selling albums in the United States. Whenever a list of the “greatest rappers ever” or the “most influential rappers of all time” is presented, Shakur is consistently high on the top of the list. If you ask me, he’s definitely in my top five hip hop artists of all time. His immense body work ranges from prophetic and brutally realistic to deeply passionate and poetically moving.
On September 7, 1996, Shakur was fatally shot in a drive-by shooting at the intersection Flamingo Road and Koval Lane in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was taken to the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, where he died six days later on September 13, 1996. There’s been so much mystery, conspiracy talk and contradictions surrounding Shakur’s tragic murder. I recently got around to watching the biopic film, “All Eyez On Me” in which I thought was surprisingly good and actor, Demetrius Shipp Jr. did an excellent job on capturing Tupac’s spirit and mannerism in the film. Unfortunately, all the events that were portrayed in the film wasn’t entirely accurate. As evident, actress Jada Pinkett Smith, expressed her grievances against the producers and was deeply distraught over how she was characterized in the film. You can watch the video here and draw your own conclusions. I also wasn’t fond of the film being released shortly after the death of his mother Afeni. According to reports, Afeni didn’t receive executive producer credit on the film, despite her right to one. She was also reportedly upset over not being sufficiently consulted on the vision and direction of the film project.
21 years later after Tupac’s death, he has truly become a worldwide icon and almost a myth-like figure. On the anniversary of his death, let’s best remember him for his fearlessness, his resiliency, his powerful lyricism and his cultural influence over the masses through his film, poetry and music. Rest in power my brother.
What were your fondest memories of Tupac Shakur? Did you see the new biopic, “All Eyez On Me” yet? If so, what were your thoughts on the film? I’d love to read some of your thoughts.
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