Why do people like Tupac so much

Tupac on the 20th anniversary of his death : Holy gangster

It was on the night of November 30, 1994 when the rapper Tupac Shakur had a very direct encounter with death for the first time in his previously restless life, which was also marked by some criminal turbulence. He is currently in the lobby of the Quad Recording Studios in New York's Times Square, together with three friends, they want to take the elevator down, and suddenly three men with guns stand in front of them and ask them to lie down on the floor .

Tupac refuses, has to have jewelry worth 4,000 dollars, which he - for whatever reason - has with him, and surrender his Rolex, gets into a tussle, falls. After one of the men points to him and shouts “shoot that motherfucker”, Tupac is kicked, beaten and shot five times, including one in the head. He survived an operation, disappears from the hospital three hours later and even appears in a wheelchair in a courtroom the next day. After being charged with rape of a 19-year-old girl, the verdict awaits him on December 1st. Later he will say in an interview with "Vibe" magazine that he is already sitting in the high-security section of the prison on Rikers Island, that he has not given a single thought to death. And: “I am not afraid of death. My only fear is to be born again. "

Me against the world, that was the name of one of his albums

Almost two years later, on the night of September 6-7, 1996, after Mike Tyson attended a boxing match against Bruce Selden at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Tupac Shakur was again the target of an assassination attempt. He is sitting in the passenger seat of his label boss Marion “Suge” Knight's black BMW 750i when a white Cadillac with four men pulls up next to them at an intersection and 13 shots are fired from a semi-automatic pistol.

Tupac Shakur dies a week later from complications from his serious injuries at the age of only 25. “Live by the gun, die by the gun,” it said on a huge Tupac mural that hung in New York's East Village for a long time after his death. Indeed, there has probably been no untimely death in the history of pop music for a musician who, apart from excessive drug abuse, became such a self-fulfilling prophecy as the death of Tupac Shakur.

“If I Die 2Nite” is the name of a track on Tupac's album “Me Against The World”, which came out a few months after the first attack on him in the spring of 1995 and made him a hip-hop superstar. "If I Die 2Nite / Never Fear, Never Will I Fear," raps Tupac - If I die tonight, I'm not afraid, never. Another of his pieces is called "Only God Can Judge Me" - only God can judge me. Also in the video for the song “I Ain't mad at cha”, which he recorded six months before his death, he imagines himself as dead in heaven, where he meets other early pop deaths like Jimi Hendrix or Janis Joplin .

There is also war, at least in black neighborhoods, in the ghettos of US city centers, in Compton, L.A., in Corktown, Detroit, in parts of Brooklyn or the Bronx in New York City. Black against white, but especially black against black, in the form of gang wars such as that of the "Crips" and the "Bloods" in South Central Los Angeles.

"Keepin it real" was Tupac's top motto

For more than a decade and a half, since the late seventies and early eighties, hip-hop has been mapping these states. Hip-Hop has become the preferred musical means of expression for the Afro-American population in the USA, the “CNN of blacks”, as public enemy rapper Chuck D. called it. Quite a few hip-hop stars were drug dealers and petty criminals in their previous lives, often from broken families, and now tell about them in their tracks. Gangster rap becomes a genre, first on the west coast with the band N. W. A. ​​(Niggaz Wit Attitudes), then on the east coast. “Keepin It Real” is the formula for it, the ultimate hip-hop mantra (by the way to this day), a kind of certificate of authenticity. It stands for gangster life, gangster rap as well as for telling the circumstances, the many tragic ones, that someone has become a gangster.

The war on the streets, in the neighborhoods of the blacks, is now being fought out in the lyrics as a substitute: by means of mutual insults, insults, threats, especially between the rappers of the west and east coast. Sure, that has a symbolic character, just think of the many gunshots in the songs, the fights, the gang bangs, the sexist fuss, moans. The fight of blacks against blacks is re-enacted in the plays, the racist reprisals by the usually white police, the everyday racism of the white environment. But this symbolic level takes a very real turn on the day when the life-threatening shots fall at Tupac in New York and Tupac specifically names the culprits and masterminds: the East Coast rapper Notorious B.I.G. alias Biggie Smalls, real name Christopher Wallace, a good acquaintance, so far a friend of Tupac. And his mentor Sean “Puffy” Combs, known as Puff Daddy, head of the east coast hip-hop label Bad Boy Records. This is fighting on the pop market with Knights Death Row label for aesthetic and economic supremacy in hip hop. Tupac only joins Death Row with his fourth album "All Eyz On Me"; There were already connections, however, not least Knight took him out of prison on Rikers Island on bail.

In 1994 he was convicted of rape

"Thug Life", crook's life: That was what it said on a tattoo across his stomach, that is what Tupac also called a band with whom he recorded the album "A Thug’s Life" - just through his biography he convincingly embodied what he sang. But this biography also knows other traits, militantly political, there is not only the blood and baller poetry.

Tupac was born on June 16, 1971, the son of the Black Panther activist Afeni Shakur, who died in May of this year, and of a father whom he met late. His grandfather was also with the Black Panthers. Between two stays in prison, Afeni Shakur gave birth to her son, whose real name is Lesane Parish Crooks. She is renaming him after the leader of an Inca rebellion in 18th century Peru. Afeni is expelled from the Black Panther Party soon after his birth, and she gets caught on drugs, especially crack. After moving many apartments within New York, she moved with her son and his half-sister Sekyiwa first to Baltimore, then to Marine City, California. While Tupac is later to consider the time in Baltimore, where he attends the School For Performing Arts, the happiest of his life - becoming an actor is his professional dream - he slips into the drug scene in California, with all the consequences that this has from brawls to first experiences in prison. On the other hand, he accompanies an activist in their hip-hop workshops in the schools of poor neighborhoods inhabited by blacks and Latinos - and begins to write, dance and rap himself in the late 1980s, initially as a member of the hip-hop group Digital Underground.

"2pacalypse now" is the name of his own first album, which comes out in 1991. Similar to the NWA album “Straight Outta Compton”, which was released in 1988, Tupac tells of poverty, racism and police violence in pieces like “Young Black Male”, “Rebel of the Underground” or “Brenda's Got A Baby” - so directly , so cryptic that a year after America's then Vice President Dan Quayle banned it.

After his death, Tupac released more albums than during his lifetime

What follows in the next four years up to Tupac's death, but also in the time after, is unprecedented in rap history. “There's two niggas inside me”, Tupac once said, and one of these two becomes the most successful rapper of the mid-nineties, with his multiple platinum-refined albums “Me Against The World” and “All Eyez on Me” and that shortly after published "The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory" after his death. He also plays the leading role in various films, not least because of his acting performance, such as John Singleton's "Poetic Justice" and the basketball film "Above The Rim". Tupac Shakur is the artist who also pursues educational purposes, dedicates love songs to his mother, "Dear Mama", one of his big hits, who tries to get kids on the right, non-violent (educational) path that wants to create identity.

The rapper, who at the same time knows only too well about his conflict, about the other “nigger” stuck in him: the one with the intricate biography, who wants and has to fight for his survival regardless of others, who never knows who, friend, who Is an enemy who is prone to paranoia and outbursts of violence. The titles of his albums are self-explanatory. "Makaveli" is the stage name he chooses for the album, which was released shortly after his death. Of course, none of this stands in the way of its authenticity, increases it to the proverbial larger than life size, and makes it all the more believable.

Tupac is always involved in arguments. He fights with the driver of a limousine, with a rapper on the stage who allegedly insulted him. He shoots two police officers in Atlanta for racist attack on a black motorcyclist. He ends up in prison several times for such attacks. He was sentenced to four years in prison for raping a 19-year-old girl the day after he was attacked at Quad Recording Studios.

For Kendrick Lamar and Anderson .Paak he's the greatest ...

Less tangible, i.e. real, but all the more momentous are his accusations in the direction of rap colleagues Puff Daddy and Notorious B.I.G., of having commissioned the attempted murder of him. He repeatedly points this out in interviews. He gets really massive in the song "Hit 'em Up", in which he calls for revenge, even to murder the bad boy hip-hop artists: "All you niggaz getting killed with your mouth open" - All You niggers get killed, your mouth is open. Or "We are the realest / Fuck’em / We’re Bad Boy Killaz", We’re the realest / Fuck them, we’re the killers of Bad Boy. Of course that's primarily rap rhetoric, playing with, slipping into a role. At one point, however, Tupac emphasizes in the piece that this is no longer a "freestyle battle", but serious. A few months later he's dead.

The revenge for this is not long in coming: Six months after the shooting in Las Vegas, the heavyweight Notorious B.I.G. Shot on the night of March 9th to 10th during a so-called drive-by shoot in Los Angeles. He was sitting in the passenger seat of an SUV after a party organized by the music magazine “Vibe” when shots were fired at him from a passing car. Like the murder of Tupac, this case has never been solved. "Life After Death ... Till Death Do Us Apart" was the name of the last album by Notorious B.I.G.

... Kanye West thinks he's overrated

The afterlife, however, meant it very well, especially to Tupac Shakur. Five more albums came out of him posthumously, which the British "Guardian" Tupac called "the hardest working corpse in the pop business". To date, he has sold 75 million albums, most of them not during his lifetime. For many years, his mother Afeni, with the help of several lawyers, had fought back the rights to her son's work, including over 150 pieces that Marion "Suge" Knight, who was now in prison on charges of murder, did not want to hand out for a long time. Of course, as with so many pop deaths from Elvis to Michael Jackson, there were always doubts about Tupac Shakur's death as well as conspiracy theories that he had only staged it.

But more important is: Even today, twenty years later, a whole generation of young rappers refer to his figure and his work. Kendrick Lamar published an imaginary conversation with Tupac as an outro on his album "To Pimp A Butterfly" and tells, among other things, how exciting and full of indescribable feelings it was when he first saw Tupac at the age of eight. Lamar later added that she had flirted with naming the album "Tu Pimp a Catterpillar", which is Tupac's name for short.

“He was our leader” recently recalled Anderson .Paak (sic!) When asked about his all-time favorites. “Me and my older brother were obsessed with him.” Number one for him is Tupac's “Keep Your Head Up”. And the Canadian rap superstar Drake, in turn, who confessed in one of his plays that he hadn't cried when Tupac died, had to explain that he didn't want to dissolve Tupac, but different from the then eleven-year-old Anderson .Paak and the eight-year-old Kendrick Lamar when he was nine, he couldn't do anything with Tupac. Only Kanye West, in his own megalomania, did not want to give proof of favor and described Tupac in a conversation in 2014 as "the most overrated rapper in history".

Was Tupac really the best? Certainly not. Even back then there were hip-hoppers with smoother rhymes, better flow and better beats, especially on the west coast. Tupac's albums, you can hear that with the passage of time, sound rough, not very curious, old-school. Was he the toughest? Who knows. He was definitely one of the most influential, the contradictions of a black artist, especially a rap artist, ideally balancing - until the crash, until the hip-hop war, when the rhyme battles became a dark reality. The premature death was probably the only consequence of this life, this survival size of Tupac. Rebirth really wouldn't be an option.

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