“I want, when they see me, They know that every day when I’m breathing is for us to go further. Every time I speak I want the truth to come out. Every time I speak I want a shiver. I don’t want them to be like they know what I’m gonna say because it’s polite. Im not saying I’m gonna rule the world or I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee you that I will spark the brain that will change the world. And that’s our job, It’s to spark somebody else watching us. We might not be the one’s, but let’s not be selfish and because we not gonna change the world let’s not talk about how we should change it. I don’t know how to change it, but I know if I keep talking about how dirty it is out here, somebody’s gonna clean it up” ~Tupac Shakur
In many ways I grew up shelter from much of popular culture. Most shows like Power Rangers or The Simpsons were considered demonic and I was forbidden to watch them. My parents canceled cable when I was around 6 years old. My only opportunity to watch videos was through “The Box” and that was only if the rabbit ears could get a good signal. Even then I still had to hope that someone would order a good video. My exposure to secular music was pretty low, but my parents did let me listen to Christian rap. I had a DC Talk album. We listen to a ton of Yolanda Adams who I hated for years. My first secular tape was “Gangsta Lean” by DRS. My God sister brought it for me. My first secular CD was the Space Jam Soundtrack, I still remember being in Best Buy when my mother agreed to buy. It was a big deal.
I really don’t know how I came to care about Tupac so much. I guess I heard his music at relatives houses, I remember my older brother having one of his CDs. Somehow I became acquainted with who he was and possibly his music. On Friday September 13, 1996, my siblings and I had a sleepover at my cousin’s house. They made me watch scary movies all night, I was 9 years old. At one point as they were changing the videotape, MTV news came on and stated that Tupac Amaru Shukar was pronounced dead. I don’t even remember knowing he was shot. My young emotional self, immediately begin to cry and call all the adults who number I knew by heart (at 1AM) to tell them the news. For some reason his death affected me so.
As the years went on my interest in him intensified. I spent the summer going into 8th grade researching every piece of info on his life and compiling it into my “Tupac book”. I was well versed in all the theories about his death. You name it, I knew it. Every book and article I could find about him I devoured. I remember asking the bus driver in 9th grade for permission to announce a moment of silence on the anniversary of his death. Part of me wanted to believe he would return after 7 years and that he was living in Jamaica or someplace. I remixed a gospel song “Tupac’s not dead ya’ll, he’s still alive.” I realize that’s a bit sacrilegious, but I was serious about Tupac. I had posters of him in my room until sophomore year in college. That’s when I became too grown for posters. His name was supposed to be my first tattoo. I was 11 waiting to be 18 so I could get a Tupac tat.
I am not as obsessive but I am still in love with Tupac and what he represented to my generation. I can trace my “consciousness” to the seeds that were planted because of Tupac’s life and music. In many ways I interact with his memory on a daily basis in my life. Tupac died at 25 years old. 25 years old. I turn 25 in 3 months and I am wondering what would be my legacy if it all ends there. It is hard to believe that it has been 15 years since Pac walked this earth, but his music remains so relevant today. I just wanted to take some time to pay homage and respect to a man who has played such a vital role in shaping the person that I am today, despite not being physically on this earth.
I can go on for days about my Tupac but I won’t. I am including this first part of an episode of Different World were Tupac guest starred, his energy- his smile was so contagious and beautiful.
RIP Tupac Amaru Shakur June 16, 1971- September 13, 1996