Tupac Shakur: An Unlikely Messenger

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Lesane Parish Crooks, more commonly known the the world as Tupac(2Pac) Shakur would have been 44 years-old today. His untimely death in 1996 at the tender age of 25, in many ways was a wake-up call to the world. His music and his poetry helped depict for the public, a portrait of his environment and his community’s reality. Shakur was by no means shy about voicing his opinions on different subjects. Subjects that most would steer clear of discussing on such a public platform. He used his notoriety and his art to shed light on things that the media seemed to be blind to. In an excerpt from his poem, “Liberty Needs Glasses”, he wrote, ” excuse me but Lady Liberty needs glasses and so does Mrs Justice by her side both the broads r blind as bats—Justice stubbed her big toe on Mandela and Liberty was misquoted by the Indians, slavery was a learning phase  forgotten with out a verdict while Justice is on a rampage 4 endangered surviving black males. I mean really if anyone really valued life and cared about the masses they’d take em both 2 pen optical and get 2 pair of glasses.” Perhaps Shakur was wise beyond his years. He considered himself a “young heart with an old soul” (Shakur, “In The Depths of Solitude”). Today, we see some of the same things that he was referring to in his lyrics and in his poetry resurfacing like: gun violence, injustice,and skewed media. More than ever, his words ring true in the hearts of hurting people. It’s amazing to me how relevant his message remains 19 years after his passing. In a 1994 interview he was asked, “What do you think you’re most known for: your acting? your music? or the controversy that surrounds you? To which he responded:

” My BIG mouth. I’ve got a big mouth; I can’t help it. I talk from my heart. I’m real and whatever comes, comes. But my controversy probably; and it’s not my fault. I’m trying to find my way in the world. I’m trying to be somebody instead of just making money off of everybody. So I go down paths that haven’t been traveled before and I usually mess up. But I learn and I come back stronger. I’m not talkin’ ignorant; so I obviously put thought into what I do.”

During the 1997 MTV News special, “Tupac Shakur:In His Own Words” the narrator mentioned that Shakur had an astounding 170 tracks out and several hundred unpublished poems. In a short amount of time, Tupac made a dynamic impact on the hip-hop music industry, in his remote community, and on all of those who heard the message behind every story he creatively expressed through his art. He spoke his truth to anyone who would listen. He may have been somewhat misguided, but seemingly his heart was in the right place. So what’s his legacy? He stated, ” I don’t want to be forgotten. If I’m forgotten, that means I’m comfortable and I think everything’s OK.”  Shakur was unconventional in his approach but he desired to inspire others in his own way. To this affect, he was quoted saying:

It’s our job to spark somebody watching us. We may not be the ones [to change the world], but let’s not be selfish. Let’s not talk about how we should change the world. 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.”

It is the hope of those closest to him that Tupac “be remembered as a communicator and not just an instigator” (Kearse,”Tupac Shakur:In His Own Words”). Regardless of which end of the spectrum you stand; whether you loved him or you hated him, the fact remains that the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” (Romans 11:29) His talent and the timeliness of his work were both undeniable. Was he a gangster? Or Was he “A Rose That Grew From Concrete”? I’d like to think the latter. References: Kearse, A. (Narrator). Shakur, T. (Actor). (1997). Tupac Shakur: In My Own Words [Online video]. MTV News. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHOrL-qcwRU

Shakur, T. (Artist). In The Depths Of Solitude. [Image of painting]. Retrieved from http://allpoetry.com/In-The-Depths-Of-Solitude

Shakur, T. (Artist). Liberty Needs Glasses. Retrieved from http://allpoetry.com/Liberty-Needs-Glasses

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