“There’s gon’ be some stuff you gon’ see
that’s gon’ make it hard to smile in the future.
But through whatever you see,
through all the rain and the pain,
you gotta keep your sense of humor.
You gotta be able to smile through all this bullshit.
An Inspiration For Generations to Come
There are many titles that can be associated with Tupac, because aside from just being a rapper, he was so versatile with his talents. He was portrayed on the small screen and the big screen for what seemed to be more years than it actually was. He died at a young age (25), and would have been a focal figure in hip hop today; probably not as a rapper, but I could have definitely seen him as someone who would be a mentor to the younger rappers coming up (and doing tours as well).
I wasn’t the biggest Tupac fan, because I was more of a Notorious B.I.G fan (living on the East Coast would sway that influence, but in Canada, the hip hop east/west beef really didn’t do anything for us) but I still knew songs of his, I just didn’t have complete albums. Tupac was more than just someone who was doing more than rapping. The whole aspect of “rapping” is to tell a story through beats and rhymes. Tupac was a man of many stories to share, which explains the 4 albums plus all of the posthumous albums that came thereafter with new material. He was always working, getting caught up with trouble, but he was determined to get his voice across by still living his life, and he did that right until his untimely death.
His lyrics talked about being a thug in California (although he was born and raised in New York), which essentially included having sex with women and gang violence, he talked about life & death; a few times it seemed as if he was foreshadowing his own death, which was also evident in his videos (I Ain’t Mad At Cha being the notable one to me)
He also spoke about the trials and tribulations of life in the ghetto, often taking the listeners (or viewers of his videos) on a journey through what he was surrounded by, but people wouldn’t bring that to light. It was pretty astounding to see because he was making his music relevant for people who were going through some of the same things he was rapping about, so they could use that as comfort that someone was understanding what they were going through. Many artists have tried to really implicate their versions of his storytelling abilities through song. For example, when you listen to Brenda’s Got A Baby, and the story behind that, then you listen to Kendrick Lamar‘s ‘Keisha’s Song,’ you can see that Tupac rubbed off on the younger generations and it’s been 16 years since his death. There have been arguments of him being the best rapper ever, but I would put him in a different category, because he really did more as an artist than just rap. When it came down to what he did, and how he was able to really transcend the way that rappers came out and really TOLD stories to their audiences, Tupac was really an innovator in that state.
Having acted in many movies (classics might I add), you can’t just look at him and just portray him as simply a rapper. Juice, Above The Rim, and Poetic Justice were movies that catapulted his star status and made him a face known to millions all over the world. Aside from Will Smith, no rapper-turned-actor will ever have that great of an impact who will reach millions like that.
Tupac will always be remembered for his wisdom, his memorable quotes that really touched the lives of the struggling black people whom were sources of his inspiration to create music. We’ll remember him as a man who just wanted to spread his message and pretty much educate people while keeping it real, but being educated about it. Many rappers of today have been compared to him (Nas, Kendrick Lamar, J Cole are some examples because of their storytelling styles) but being serious, there won’t ever be one like him because of the changing appearance of Hip Hop today, but we’ll always have his music to go to whenever we need a refresher of what was, and what could have been for his legacy. Gone but never forgotten, Happy Birthday Tupac, and Rest In Peace
Tupac Discography (Torrent Only)
That’s My Word & It STiXX