Tupac Shakur, from fiction to fact
Still alive, some will swear, one of the greatest rappers of all time. The founder of underground persona “Thug Life”, Tupac carried his life from a fictional rap character to a real life thug that would end up in his own demise, after signing a contract with the devil.
A tragic legacy expose a brilliant artist who was political savvy, well-schooled, and destine for greatness, until a fatal association and conviction of rape exposed him to a rumored rape in prison, and a desperate financial plea for a savior to get him out of jail.
Even with a thriving movie career, that started with the play, A Raisin in the Sun in 1983, friendships with some of the most power people in Hollywood, and the music industry, once charged with rape, they all dissociated. No one wanted to be associated to his symbolism “Thug Life”, which he branded in big bold letters across his ripped abs.
Gangsta Rap, thanks to Dr. Dre, was a mainstream success. But Tupac had taken it to a whole different contradictory level, which took the party poppin’, make money, trash talking, don’t mess with me and I won’t mess with you, Dre gangsta attitude, and ushered it in with murder and degradation, a hard pill for the American people to swallow. His Thug Life persona was so bad, Janet Jackson’s people asked him to take an AIDS test.
After the 20,146,880 box-office hit, Juice, where Tupac played the hard and crazy gun-willing Bishop, he was reported saying: “I feel I can go into any hood now and get love.”
Some say it’s where it all started, where Tupac took the fictional persona, Bishop, and ran with it. Soon after came the flash of the “Thug Life” tattoo, and certainly amped up the believable blade-chewing character, Birdie, in Above the Rim.
“Few rap stars filled their music or their lives with as much violence” as Tupac Shakur, proclaimed Time in its obituary. “His murder forced a culture of glamorized hate to consider the consequences.”
Although the Thug Life persona may have been just a music making persona and a hard pill for the American people to swallow, it was not until the rape charge that things got real for the self-proclaimed outlaw. A rise of violent lyrics that left him inaccessible to the legit side of investors, and open to violent street retaliation, had crippled the superstar, who seemly had it all, by the time he had reached court.
The conviction sealed his fate. The evident fall from grace left him financially exhausted, alone, and in a cage he had no control over, forcing him to sign away the beginning to the end of his life and legacy, on a hand written contract, to Suge Knight, CEO of Death Row Records.
Tupac’s release from prison spurred on a whole new entity that spiraled from the release of his prison release Album “All Eyez on Me”. He recorded it October 13 – 27, 1995, and released it February 13, 1996, which attest to his brilliance. To the world it seemed Tupac was back in full force. Certainly we felt it. One of my favorite CDs. But behind the woodworks was a troubled soul brewing. All his previous success and once thriving label, Out Da Gutta, was gone. He had no money, and he owned nothing. He was brought and paid for. Reportedly, when he needed money, or needed anything, Suge Knight provided pocket expense for him. All the success he was achieving from his comeback album was only financially beneficially for Suge Knight who ran Death Row more like an organized crime unit, than a record label. It was uncommon not to find a Death Row recording artist without a gun tucked into his waistband.
Although embroiled in emotional entrapment that contributed to Tupac’s sudden rise back to the top after his release from prison, it also contributed to his hard and sudden demise. Fused with rage, anger, and an “I don’t give a f**k” attitude, he scorned everything he touched. Some say it was out of envy and jealousy because he really had nothing and everyone else was blowing up around him. But those that knew him knew he saw the light at the end of the tunnel.
Makaveli was his was out. He talked about it, what he was going to do after his obligation to Death Row. He had even started recording. Even with all the pain, you could see hope in his glowing eyes and public smile that never left his face. His acting was paying off, but not in the way he hoped.
Playing the role of a thug, and actually being a thug, would have been impossible for Tupac to fathom, for any well educated person that has only witness violence second hand. Real thugs are heartless killer. There is nothing a real thug will not do. Tupac found that out after his release from prison by association, an act he could not pull away from once he had signed his blood on the dotted line.
I would imagine, even behind that smile and those glowing eyes, he feared for his life. Broke, no were to run, and self-imprisoned, it was evident, and ironic that the man who started the label, Out Da Gutta, had climbed back into Da Gutta.
No one knows what was really in Tupac’s mind. His last breath, “F” you, to retired sergeant of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department certainly displayed how deep Tupac had gotten in. Hopefully it was in the interest of building a bigger rep to combat the demons that was chasing him, believing he was going to survive, and Tupac will rise again.
Contrary to how you feel or what you think of Pac, as he was often called, he was an enigma. He was not ordinary, born of the sixties revolution to Afeni Shakur Davis, a once proud member of the Black Panther Party, who had lived a violent life. So, understanding violence had come at a young age to Tupac. But understanding a murder and picking the gun up yourself is two different intuit. Seeing blood, and having it on your hands, is no turning back. Once in, there is no way back out, certainly the code Suge Knight held to standard at Death Row Records. One of the blessings of Tupac’s death is, when he went, the hell storm that followed him, went to. The devil fell from a punch that shredded his immortality in a video on YouTube. Arrest were made, doors were kicked in, and the millions Tupac made Death Row, was taken away by the courts.
Tupac’s death warns immortalized. The violent waves that once was 2pacalypse in the streets, is now a cool wave of pop culture and crossover artist, and Tupac still up in there somewhere humming Dear Moma, and keep your head up. The thugs have packed up and moved back into the woodworks. Pac stands, in a white custom outfit, a keeper at the gate. You have the choice now young man, he would say. Keep it real, keep your head up, and keep it strong. I think he knew death was coming, at least in The 7 Day Theory. Makaveli will rise, he promised. Indeed, some say he is still alive. I would like to believe he is, that somehow Pac outsmarted us all, and is sitting somewhere with that wild and crazy laugh and those dancing eyes, with a blunt hanging from his lips, toasting to a nice sunset.