As today is the 15th year since Tupac Shakur died, here are my thoughts…
I remember back in the 80s I had first encountered Hip Hop, it was in the whole Break-Dancing era with Shabba Doo and Boogaloo Shrimp. However, I was more interested in the dance moves rather than the rhymed voice over an electronic sounding beat.
I had recalled vaguely glimpsing a trailer of a film ‘Juice’ where Tupac played a character named Bishop. There was this familiar ‘something’ about Tupac Shakur which I couldn’t quite place.
Almost passing the Odeon Cinema in Streatham, my friends and I saw the ‘Juice’ placard and on a whim we got off the bus to see this ‘black’ film. Back then a coming of age film with an all black cast of ‘fit’ men was a rarity.
We were amazed and I was like…that Bishop is crazy but sexy!!!
His whole personality reminded me of my friend’s brother who was the best looking big brother in Tooting, South London.
Tupac portrayed a near psychopath but because he was easy on the eye – it was perfectly acceptable for him to be this controlling maniac!
Then watching ‘MTV’ and ‘The Box’ on Sky, he re-appeared: Yep that’s when I realised this guy was a rapper.
The video was ‘Brendas Got A Baby’ which had tenderhearted lyrics towards an abused teenager. I thought to myself : Goodness he gets us! By us I meant young women especially those who are in difficult circumstances.
Even though he had pandered to the whole ‘bad boy’ type of image and over-stressed ‘keeping it real’. It was the balladic lines in his female dedicated renditions which won us over. Admittedly, I did not care too much for his harder so-called ‘gangsta’ stuff. Hence the reason why prior to the film I didn’t pay much attention to him. I felt Hip Hop stopped being fun after the whole Breakin’ era. Seeing NWA shouting down the camera did nothing for me, so Hip Hop took a bit of a hiatus yet I paid attention to Tupac Shakur. He was every girl’s future ‘husband’…lol!
When he began to make more news which was less about his music, this seemed to draw me in even more. I just loved his energy in interviews and his choice of words to justify his actions. Whether he was right or wrong, he sounded right. When prominent political figures starting to express their dislike towards him. I, of course, stood with Team Tupac.
His music is known world wide. How can this ‘thug, gangsta’ relate to so many non-thug, non-gangsta people? Maybe within his ever changing persona, had his listeners found a bit of themselves or of who they would like to be : Outspoken yet articulate, energetic, honest, and impulsive.
Towards the end of his life I just could not understand him as he was so contradictory on many levels.
Tupac could be, and often was, held to ransom for his reactionary bad behaviour. This unfortuntately, defined him. Today I choose to focus on the good stuff like when he told disheartened young women to ‘Keep Ya Head Up’ when no one else did. Yeah he said ‘bitch’ and ‘hoe’ but he wasn’t the only one at the time. As a mother protects their young I guess I was just blindly defending his actions whether good or bad.
I had, in my own mind, a ‘rocky relationship’ with Tupac (the rapper and actor) as sometimes I liked him and sometimes I didn’t. Then Tupac (the man) with no effort at all…would be my friend, protector and lover again!!!
Tupac was a talented ‘words’ man. He was a bit of a poet, a bit of a charmer and a bit of trouble. A bit of everything!
From his birth, poor childhood, success and finally to his death in Las Vegas his whole life seemed to be a formulated rags to riches tale with the classic tragic ending.