Tupac is alive!


The star called Tupac Shakur shone for only five years, then at the height of his fame and notoriety at the age of twenty-five, went out in Las Vegas when his car on the road was flanked by another car from which were fired four firearms shots. His star shone for only five years but his light has been powerful, perhaps unmatched. The myth of Tupac Shakur, whose real name was Lesane Parish Crooks, twenty years after his death is still very much alive in the hip hop community.

1996: We are in the midst of what is considered, rightly, the golden age of rap, but it is also a period marred by numerous incidents of violence and by the famous feud between East Coast and West Coast. In both sides are killed the most representative artists (Tupac precisely in the West Coast and Notorious B.I.G. for the East Coast) in a few months, and both in mysterious circumstances.

It would be very easy – but also very superficial – to classify Shakur for the more than 85 million records sold, the tattoos, the look that influenced generations of rappers to come. In fact, twenty years after his death, it’s time to make an analysis of this political figure, as it has already been done with Bob Marley and John Lennon.

The most important element in the development of the social consciousness of the young ‘Pac is undoubtedly the influence of his mother, Afeni Shakur (who died in May 2016), revolutionary and militant Black Panther, who gives birth to her son only a month after her release from prison: Afeni is indeed one of the Panther 21, a group of anti-racist activists who are acquitted by heavy accusations only after a legal and political battle that makes history. The same name with which was renamed the child, Tupac Amaru, is copied from the South American revolutionary who led the indigenous uprising against the Spanish colonizers, and his adoptive father, Mutulu Shakur, is for years in the FBI list of Most Wanted while his aunt Assata Shakur is still in forced exile in Cuba, being sought throughout the United States.

At the same time, it is impossible not to see the influence, in poetry and in the inspiration of Tupac, of the darkest period of his childhood, that of poverty and of the fall of the mother in the spiral of crack, which gives a very different perspective of shi life. He was in fact already considered a brilliant student and a young poet.

The Discography and writing in Shakur’s verses are therefore a compendium, for better or worse, of what happens in the African American suburbs of those years: the activism and the fight for the rights, but also for the personal affirmation, for money and material goods. The delicacy and depth of Brenda’s Got a Baby, which tells the dramatic story of a poor young mother in the ghetto, and the fist in the face of Hit ‘Em Up, in which the rapper claims to have had sex with the wife of his rival Notorious BIG. The “Underground Railroad” project to keep kids away from drugs through music and conviction for sexual abuse, accuses that the rapper always vehemently denies and that probably ends the relationship with Madonna. Tupac represents the 90s like no other.

Listening again to his songs, sometimes I realize that the beats are exceeded, children of a time when you had to be in sharp contrast to the point of falling into the stereotype. What remains granite is the flow of rhymes, the content, the monstrous character of this giant. Pac lives.

Can you see the pride in the Panther
As he grows in splendor and grace
Toppling obstacles placed in the way,
of the progression of his race.

Can you see the pride in the Panther
as she nurtures her young all alone
The seed must grow regardless
of the fact that it is planted in stone.

Can you see the pride in the Panther
as they unify as one.
The flower blooms with brilliance,
and outshines the rays of the sun.


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