I love Tupac not because he is dead and famous, but because he is more alive than most of the people living. Tupac or 2pac as he is known was the legendary rapper who elevated the art of rap music to the next level by his rich and hard-hitting lyrics.
Despite the negative reviews and perceptions regarding the violence associated with rap music of 90’s, his uncanny ability to generate heartfelt and realistic music based on introspection and experience won him many fans and supporters. The east coast-west coast feud intensified the competition and therefore the stakes, which finds reflection in the quality of music.
It is said that the rap music is the CNN that the black people never had. If so, Tupac is the Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper and male Christiane Amanpour put together in one body. He was the hero and the victim. He created the THUG LIFE, which he said stands for ‘the hate that you gave’. His rivalry with Biggie, B.I.G from East Coast finally cost him his life when he was assassinated in 1998, at the age of 25. The murderer was never identified, although speculations and rumours of his existence are still doing the rounds.
His death resulted in further glorification of this man who lived through it all by smiling and laughing his childlike laughter, beautifully haunting in nature. His music chronicles the events of his short yet eventful life.
Subsequently, his personal bodyguard made documentaries on him with rare footage captured over the years and shows the softer side of him.
It is said that Tupac always had the premonition of dying early, which finds mention in most of his songs. In the song Pac’s life by Ja rule, Pac was recorded as singing “never vision staying longer than my 21st”
Towards the end of his life, he jotted many more lyrics that he kept aside to be published posthumously depending on how he dies. He mulled over death early on, especially after1991 when he got shot five times, but survived. It finds mention in one of his biggest hit “hit em up”.
Some of his favourite books were ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird,’ ‘Tibetan Book of Death’ and others.
Some of the remarkable tracks that show the softer side of him are Dear mama, Keep ya head up, Brenda’s got a baby. His more phenomenal songs would be Change, I ain’t mad at you, Thugz mansion, Requiem for a dream, so on and so forth… Contemporary hip hop artist continues to make reference to Pac’s and his life in their hit songs, be it Ja Rule featuring Ashanti in Pac’s life or the game in my life featuring li’l Wayne. Snoop Dogg was a close friend of Tupac and together they produced the hit “two of America’s most wanted”
Yet it wasn’t all glittery and rosy for him. He was accused of rape by one of his former girlfriends. He went through a very public trial, he pleaded innocent. The prosecutor never came up with concrete evidence to convict him but he was made to serve jail terms. Despite the lack of physical evidence, the accusation cast a blotch on his graph. He was also picked on vociferously by all the moral agencies of the society like Christian church, politicians and other dubious congregations. His lifestyle and music were vilified on many occasions. Tupac, on the other hand always maintained that only god can judge him. His album ALL EYES ON ME was one of his greatest album addressing this issue.
Tupac was known to come up with lyrics of a whole song randomly in a jiffy. In the documentary BEFORE I WAKE, his bodyguard says that once when they were coming back from one of the trial, Pac asked the car to be pulled over for no apparent reason. He got down, rushed to a store and came back with a notebook and a pen. And on the way back, completed a whole song.
His lyrics are deep, poetic, thought-provoking and very slick.
One of his best-known quotes that reflects his life is
“we wouldn’t ask why a rose that grew from the concrete for having damaged petals, in turn, we would all celebrate its tenacity, we would all love its will to reach the sun, well, we are the roses, this is the concrete and these are my damaged petals, don’t ask me why, thank god, and ask me how”
― Tupac Shakur, The Rose That Grew from Concrete