Born Lesane Parish Crooks, Shakur was renamed in 1972 as Tupac Amaru Shakur and the beginning of a short yet powerful life begun. Shakur was cultivated in the womb of a female Black Panther activist, the late Afeni Shakur who battled through her pregnancy in prison while defending herself as an attorney in the courts of law, winning her freedom. Thus setting the beginnings for the young Tupac to become the visionary and vocal thinker that he was. Tupac created a legacy and trains of thought that live on today, echoing not only throughout music but in the social movements we see today.
I remember being 9 years old and my older sister playing 'Keep Ya Head Up' in our bedroom while Tupac looked down on me from the wall beside her bed. Even at a young age I was moved and captured by his vocal presence and intimate way with words, to me that gives a very direct description of Tupac, he speaks TO 'us' while still being the voice FOR 'us'. The ever present harsh realities within his great music that made you sway ya neck as much as it made you think, reflects the world that surrounded his famous 'Thug Life' tat stretched across his stomach - descriptive of the ‘hopeless’ lifestyle that he lived and used to reach out to other ghetto youth, letting them know that they weren't alone. He once described T.H.U.G L.I.F.E as "The Hate You Gave Little Infants, Fucks Everybody" meaning what you feed us as seeds, grows and blows up in your face’.
His activism in areas such as poverty and race relations pull together the clever lines he wrote to empower and protect the communities that he held so dear. Tupac Shakur’s musical work impacted artists beyond his time and we can argue that our living legends wouldn't be the rappers they are now if it wasn't for him. Eminem sites Tupac as being "the first one to really help me learn how to make songs that felt like something" while Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 album ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ pulls from Tupac’s entire legacy musically and culturally, serving as inspiration on a personal level as the backbone and structure for the powerful project.
Although Tupac’s life was stopped short at the age of 25, his knowledge and influence still has significant importance in rap and other genres today, a testament to his lasting legacy.
S/o to Pac on what would've been his 45th bday.