Tupac Shakur

-“My mission is to be more than just a rap musician; the elevation of today’s generation, if I can make them listen.”

Today marks the eleventh anniversary of the death of Tupac Shakur. Tupac, or 2Pac, as he was also known, was the most successful rap artist of all time, and in my mind, the best I have ever heard, hands down. As I grow older, I listen to less rap music and have little respect for most hip-hop artists of today, but my feelings towards 2Pac are different. He was there for me like no one was. His lyrics not only influenced me, but shaped me in my youth. Even now, at certain times when I am in the mood, I blast 2Pac on my iPod and am brought back to my years in high school. He had it harder than me, but he at least knew what it was like to be down, to be up against a wall, and to wish for a better life.

Although I bought the single that put 2Pac on the map when I was in junior high, “I Get Around”, I was not a fan of his first album and his days with Digital Underground. It was not until 1995 when “Dear Mama” was released that I became a big fan of his music, and more specifically, of his lyrics. When his album Me Against The World came out in 1995, I was going through a hard time. My mother had just passed away and I wanted to rebel from family and what I knew was right. I bought the album because of Dear Mama, but soon found myself repeating the album on my stereo time and again for the lyrics and the sentiment that he expressed so poetically in his songs. He was a man in prison writing from his heart and it showed.

2Pac had me hooked with Me Against the World and I went out and bought his next album, All Eyez on Me, as soon as it was released in 1996. I remember listening to the album the first night that I bought it and thinking that he was much less humble than on his previous album. But then again, he was now out of prison, had just signed a new contract with Death Row Records and was embracing all things California. The more I listened to both CDs of All Eyez On Me the more I enjoyed it. The only album that begins to somewhat capture my high school years as well as All Eyez on Me is E1999 Eternal by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.

That I still enjoy listening to 2Pac today when many of my other tastes have changed with time says something about his music. He was talented and intelligent. He was not the best role model, but he did what he knew how to do to effect change. 2Pac, he was real, and will be remembered always, in his words, as such: When I die, let it be, but when they come for me, bury me a G.

postscript: here is a good overview of his life and music.

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