Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Notorious Tupac Amaru Shakur

Upon hearing of the release of the recent film Notorious, a biopic of the iconic East-coast rapper Christopher Wallace (better known as "the Notorious B.I.G,") I came upon an astonishing realization that never occurred to me before - why hasn't there been a biopic of Tupac Shakur!? Though 2pac has had plenty of documentaries filmed about his life, there has yet to be a Hollywood production that recognizes the impact this man has had on urban America, and even the global urban youth community. Not to discredit Biggie, but I would argue that Tupac has inspired more artists (and has been a bigger cultural influence in general) after his passing than Biggie has, and if you disagree with that statement, here's a few more that you cannot dispute: Tupac is the #1 selling rap artist in history and has more posthumous material released than he had released during his lifetime! Even 10 years after his passing, new Tupac material and buried tracks were coming to light. Tupac has had a greater reach and audience than Biggie has by virtue of the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation for the Arts alone, let alone his music, poetry, and films. He is credited to have been a very big influence on some of today's biggest artists and recording acts including The Outlawz, Snoop Dogg, Nas, TLC, DMX, Ja Rule, Eminem, Bone Thugs N' Harmony, Treach (from Naughty By Nature) and many others. He is probably the only rapper in history to have classes about his life being taught at colleges; Harvard University among them, one of America's finest Ivy League universities. He was a controversial visionary, but nonetheless, an outspoken leader. He was notoriously instrumental in instigating the fabled "East-West coast war" which ultimately claimed his own life as well as the life of then friend-turned-enemy Notorious B.I.G.

Tupac is often brushed aside for embracing (and really popularizing) the "thug" image which so many rappers after him tried to emulate but never really understood what it stood for. Tupac said that "ThugLife" really stood for "The Hate U Gave Little Infants F@*!$ Everybody" and really wanted to show what the tough inner-city life in the ghetto does to people who survive and live to tell about it. He wanted to expose what he considered as society's hypocrisy in trying to conceal the harsh realities of ghetto life yet remain complacent about what really goes on, as he defines in his own words in these interviews below.

Tupac is known as many things. Many people only remember him for his controversy and the portrayal showcased in the media but what they often pass over is the softer side, the intelligent and caring side, the philosophical side, the side of leadership and passion that was in him. I do believe that if Tupac made it out of the entertainment industry he could have followed in the footsteps of the great African American leaders within his community. But unfortunately his life, dreams, and message were cut short at the age of 25, but forever immortalized through his music for future generations to take inspiration from. Tupac once said, "I'm not saying I'm gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world."

1992 Christmas Interview

1992 Malcolm X Speech

1994 Ed Gordon Interview

1995 Tabitha Soren Interview


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