Rapper, poet, philosopher.
FREESTYLE FACTS—Tupac Amaru Shakur
- born june 16, 1971 in east harlem
- named after south american chief Tupac Amaru, name means, “intelligent warrior”
- HATES POVERTY
- wrote and read a lot, also kept a diary
- aka 2pac and makaveli
- mother, afeni shakur, and father part of black panthers
- height: 5’9”
- signed to death row records
WHAT DOES PAC CARE ABOUT AND BELIEVE IN
A well spoken and positive individual, Pac never really “hated” things, he instead strives to accept the world as much as he can. He openly talks in interviews and within his lyrics about the things that mean the most to him. One thing though, Tupac hates one thing above all else: POVERTY (Tupac: Resurrection). He wants to eradicate it, to wipe it off of the earth. It simply was not fair, why do some people get different and better opportunities than others? If everyone works hard, everyone should get the same things. Right? SUFFERING should not be as much of a norm as it is. Because we all grow up in different homes, in different towns, with different families and different educations, seeing every side of the story is incredibly important to Pac. “I think adults should go through school again. I think rich people should live like poor people and poor people should live like rich people and they should change every week” (Tupac: Resurrection). Everyone may be in different places, but ideals and goals are not entirely different, and in that we are all one community. With new perspectives, you can take on the world. The masses are not educated fully, at least not well enough, and it is not fair. We are all afraid of criminals: mass murderers, dangerous drug dealers, rapists. These people sometimes live in places like the projects, or shitty neighborhoods in Baltimore. We as a society dismiss those locations as being unsafe, and do not try to help. What about the young kids and intelligent individuals that HAVE to live there, they are afraid too (Tupac: Resurrection). Pac believes in God, but he does not always believe in people (Youtube, 2pac talking about his belief in God and religion).
Tupac has been in both poverty and in wealth, and his wisdom helps guide him through life. Growing up in poverty, he learned humility and respect. He cares a great deal for the people who have been there for him and helped him succeed, like his mother and close friend Jada Pinkett Smith. He dedicates his music to those people, writing things like “4 Mama” under his song titles.
Tupac’s mother taught him a great portion of the things that made Pac an “intelligent warrior” (Tupac: Resurrection). MORALS. If you have and know what a good set of morals are, you are set. What means the most to you? The least? What do you hate? Karma is a bitch, but an important one at that. Do good and you will receive it. KNOWLEDGE and the quest for it is incredibly important to Tupac. Learn more and you will grow more, and in order to survive you must grow. You can never know enough. Tupac knows what he is good at and what he is not. He knows he is a lyrical beast, making music is what he does best after all. “Music can transcend racism” and “Hip hop is the way out of poverty” (Tupac: Resurrection). Dedicate yourself to what you believe in, and never stop on your quest for knowledge.
“I FEEL LIKE IF YOU WALK BY A STREET AND YOU WALKING ON CONCRETE AND YOU SAW A ROSE GROWING OUT OF CONCRETE EVEN IF IT HAD MESSED UP PETALS, YOU WOULD MARVEL AT JUST SEEING A ROSE GROW THROUGH CONCRETE. SO WHY IS IT THAT WHEN YOU SEE SOME GHETTO KID GROW OUT OF ALL THE DIRTIEST CIRCUMSTANCES AND HE CAN TALK AND HE CAN SIT ACROSS FROM YOU, MAKE YOU SMILE, MAKE YOU CRY, MAKE YOU LAUGH, ALL YOU CAN TALK ABOUT IS MY DIRTY ROSE, MY DIRTY STEMS, AND HOW I’M LEANING CROOKED TO THE SIDE? YOU CAN’T EVEN SEE THAT I CAME UP OUT OF THAT SHIT AND THAT’S EXACTLY THE ANALOGY THAT IT IS FOR ME. YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN?”
HOW DOES HE SPEAK
Seen throughout the book Tupac: Resurrection, his lyrics, and personal quotes, Tupac rhetorically relies on his ability to say exactly what he is thinking. Hey, this is what I believe, here is my opinion, believe me, I speak from experience. He is blunt. When he speaks, you are not confused. His words are not full of hidden meanings, he tells you exactly what he means. Because of this, no interpretations need to be made. Tupac has such a way with words that with everything he raps, you feel it channeling through your freaking bones. As if he is speaking directly to you, to your life and to your problems. Pac writes from the “Pit of his stomach” (Youtube, Shock G explains why 2pac is better than Biggie). He plays with the meaning of words, and builds new meanings behind them. His lyrics are REAL, just like him. “There is nothing fake” (Tupac: Resurrection) about Tupac. Everything he rhymes is constructed and created in order to say something. “It takes skill to be real” he wrote and rapped in the song “Changes.” Using his angst and resentment from growing up poor, he does not hold back and raps exactly what he feels is necessary at the given moment. Somewhat controversial, Tupac stays true to himself in all his wisdom. Sometimes he would just “interrupt conversations and start rapping.” He did whatever he could to make sure he was heard in order to evoke real CHANGE. “I have no patience for anybody that doubts me, none at all” (Tupac: Resurrection). Tupac does not care if he is not listened to. He knows not everybody will agree with him, and those individuals are irrelevant to him.
The confidence he has in his own words and overall strength he has to speak his mind gives him power. Pac turns words into money, and uses purely Tupac to do it. Pac built himself into the person he is. He is not a respected authority figure because he is a celebrity. A philosopher and soldier, his words, experiences, and intention give him an authority that he takes and uses to change the world. In the article “Religion in Hip Hop: Mapping the New Terrain in the US,” Miller writes “Authority is not as much an entity as it is effect, an aspect of discourse and social performance that relies upon credibility and the ‘trust’ of an audience in its speaker.” Authority embodies the power you have in order to touch the hearts and minds of an audience. Pac did that by speaking his truth and being him.
PAIN and suffering are recurring themes in Pac’s work. He went through a lot, throughout his childhood especially. The hardship of his life made Pac himself. Because of that, he does not hide anything, he shows “the most graphic details” (Tupac: Resurrection) from his community in hope his words will inspire change. He says whatever is necessary, in whatever way he can.
Prison is a terrifying place for many people. Thugs will do anything to avoid it. Tupac’s mother, Afeni Shakur, served time in prison while she was pregnant. Pac talks about how he was “cultivated in prison” and how his “embryo was in prison” (Tupac: Resurrection). Those statements make you stop in your tracks, and think about how far he has come. He started in the worst place one possibly could. If you work hard and strive to grow, change and learn, you will go far, just like Pac. Lay tracks for yourself.
Pac’s language: listen to me. I know my shit. I’ve seen it.
“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. I’M 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.”
WHAT IS HE CRITICAL OF
Pac places a great emphasis on the importance of KNOWLEDGE and RESPECT. He truly believes everybody should respect one another, because why not? We are all human. Knowledge is learned, and through exploration of the world around you, it can be achieved. Why would you choose to be ignorant? Learn about the world around you, you are living in it after all. In regard to respect, if you do not respect the people in your life and those around you, you do not deserve it back. Karma. What goes around comes around. Not one class or gender or race deserves any less than the next. Respect, admire, and love the people around you, everyone has a story. DO NOT LACK KNOWLEDGE. DO NOT COME UP SHORT REGARDING RESPECT.
Racists are disgusting individuals. Why do you think your life is more important or more meaningful than someone who looks completely different from you? Don’t choose to be ignorant, uneducated, and foolish. “I see no changes, all I see is racist faces, misplaced hate makes disgrace to races” (Changes by 2Pac). As Tupac says, you are a disgrace to your race if you hate other races. Just be a good person. What kind of an individual are you if you think of others as not equal to yourself? Are you really that blind?
“I hated growing up poor, and it made me very bitter. We live in hell. We live in the gutter, a war zone” (Tupac: Resurrection). Critical of the lack of care among the public for individuals in poverty, Tupac resents poverty and inequality. He thinks the wealthy and privileged do not give enough to the poor, regardless of race (Youtube, Tupac Shakur Speaks on Poverty and Inequality). Everyone is equal, but in reality everyone is not. There is a great amount of SUFFERING. Growing up, everyone does not get the same opportunities, and that is something that needs to change.
“EVERY DAY, I’M STANDING OUTSIDE TRYING TO SING MY WAY IN: WE ARE HUNGRY, PLEASE LET US IN WE ARE HUNGRY, PLEASE LET US IN. AFTER ABOUT A WEEK THAT SONG IS GONNA CHANGE TO: WE HUNGRY, WE NEED SOME FOOD. AFTER TWO, THREE WEEKS, IT’S LIKE: GIVE ME THE FOOD OR I’M BREAKING DOWN THE DOOR. AFTER A YEAR YOU’RE JUST LIKE: I’M PICKING THE LOCK. COMING THROUGH THE DOOR BLASTING.”
WHO IS HE TO US
Pac has quite a few harsh, deep, real opinions on the world. Doing numerous interviews and releasing REAL music, Pac does not have any intention of hiding them. Growing up in poverty, Tupac has experienced and seen too many people suffer that he is just sick of it. He wants, no needs change. Tupac claims things about himself, like how he believes he is “socially aware” (Tupac: Resurrection). He is a positive person, yet knows it is not positive at every corner of the world. He believes we as a nation are uneducated, and because of that ignorance, people suffer. Well, time to change it.
Tupac is at the center of hip hop. Most of the things he raps and speaks about are relevant to the world, and that sticks within people. He delivers his words with a presence that you just listen to, although not everybody feels it, many people take his words to be truth and that everything he says is being spoken directly to you. When he sings “Keep Ya Head Up,” some cannot help but believe he is speaking to you and your issues. Tupac tells the story of him and all he has been through. Human kind tends to listen to people who have experienced things, who have seen the horrors of the world with their own eyes and are here to tell you about them. Pac exudes intelligence and knowledge. He is well spoken, and will speak to anyone that will listen. He is an authority figure, or more spiritually, a preacher.
Within the way he speaks, Pac believes in and cares about the truth within his criticisms. Tupac in his entirety is from the heart. REAL, Pac is someone to relate to, experience and vibe with. Whether it is a Tupac hologram sixteen years after his death or the song “Dear Mama,” Tupac knows how to speak so people listen. That is someone to pay attention to, and someone who deserves to be on top, even after his death. His influence seems to be unmatched. Tupac died at the age of 25. He was not an old, wise figure like Gandhi. Tupac did not get the chance to grow up or see the world change, but he sure as hell sparked that change. Nothing he did necessarily directly impacted change, but he inspired and pushed his audience to create it. He was the preacher, so his fans had to be the action takers. With his brilliant and eye opening lyrics, realization was brought upon millions of people about the world we all share. Pac’s mentality was sort of like this: I had a shitty childhood and I do not want it to be a secret, others have gone through what I have and it needs to stop, now let’s do this.
“I BELIEVE THAT EVERYTHING YOU DO BAD COMES BACK TO YOU. SO EVERYTHING THAT I DO THAT’S BAD, I’M GONNA SUFFER FOR IT. BUT IN MY HEART, I BELIEVE WHAT I’M DOING IS RIGHT. SO I FEEL LIKE I’M GOING TO HEAVEN.”
1971 in New York City, one of the most influential people of all time is born. He moves to Baltimore with his family in 1984, and again to California in 1988. Tupac Shakur grew up in poverty. He performed in his school’s plays and joined a poetry club. A talented individual, he knew his potential very young. He was raised in a family of protestors, of Black Panthers. He grew up wanting change for himself and the world, sparked by his parents same want. As he got older, Pac reflected on his childhood and how he could better the lives of the people in the world he grew up in. Within his music, Pac raps about every part of him: the positivity, suffering, and desires. His knowledge and vibe began to influence hip hop like nobody else had, or has since. Pac was arguably the first rapper who truly caught the attention of a nation. All races pay attention to him, it is like he speaks to everybody, getting at one part of everyone. Whether it is singing about how he does not know how his Mama raised him in “Dear Mama” or the danger of the streets in “Life Goes On” or how this country needs to make some changes in “Changes,” Pac’s originality is listened to. He was listened to in the 90s, and he is listened to in 2018.
In 2012, Tupac performed at Coachella by means of a hologram. He had been dead for sixteen years at that point. Seven of Tupac’s albums were released after his death. In the final minutes of Kendrick Lamar’s “Mortal Man,” Lamar interviews Tupac. Kendrick says he is the offspring of Tupac, and that he heavily inspired Kendrick’s work and want to become a rapper. Lamar said, “What intrigued me the most is that the answers that Pac has given are answers for today, time and age man” (Youtube, Kendrick Lamar Breaks Down ‘Mortal Man’ & His Connection To 2Pac (Pt. 4) | MTV News). Pac’s words, years later, hold true and Kendrick wanted to showcase that, which is why he had Pac speak on his album, nineteen years after his death. Kendrick knows that even so long after Pac’s death, people want to hear about him, people want to hear what he has to say, STILL.
Even in death, Tupac Shakur is still singing about change and the world, he wants us to know he is watching, waiting for that change to happen. Tupac never left. Tupac transcends time and space, he is timeless. Tupac will live on for as long as hip hop does.
Tupac Shakur was raised to fight, to create change, he was raised by Black Panthers. Growing up in poverty, Tupac struggled. He felt like he did not have the same opportunities as other kids and that because of who he was and where he lived, he would not be successful. Pac did not feel comfortable in his neighborhoods, because there were criminals living around him. He sold drugs for a time, but was bad at it, it was not him. He began his life at the bottom of the social and physical world. He was black, in the great chain of being, black people were the lowest level of human being (Class, 1/25). Tupac did not yet know what black was, and what black could do, until he did it.
As he got older, Tupac developed an obsession with God. Who he was, who he could be, what he could do (Youtube, Michael Eric Dyson talks about Tupac). Black masculinity and black culture began to embody Tupac. He wrote lyrics and rapped about things he cared about, the struggles he had been through, and the world he wanted to live in. He began to search for his own God, a black one, one who has “hurt like we hurt” and “someone who has been through what we’ve been through” (Youtube, Michael Eric Dyson talks about Tupac). Pac was searching for culture and for something to believe in.
Tupac’s flesh is black and Tupac made his culture black. Tupac felt black because he made himself black, he embodied it. He is not white and never wanted to be. Pac educated himself because knowledge is power. He did not understand racists because we are all equals under his God, and he wanted others’ Gods to feel the same way. He took over black culture and made it something people listened to, respected and were empowered by. He made people see through his eyes, and through his struggles. Tupac, a black man, became one of the most powerful and influential individuals in hip hop, and in the nation.
Tupac Shakur was at the center of his world, the hip hop world. All eyes and ears on him. Making something of himself, he started from the bottom and rose high as all hell to the very top. Tupac is of flesh and blood, full of experience and wisdom. Pac has a spirit like no other, full of energy and a positive voice, but still REAL, still realistic in the head.
Tupac creates. He creates raps filled with rhymes and beats that actually say something, it flows right out of him. In his creation, Pac educates the public. He provides knowledge and wisdom for the masses. Pac’s spirit and energy was met with love and praise. People started to see themselves in him and began to invest in him. He became a Saint (Youtube, Michael Eric Dyson talks about Tupac). Tupac is an art form, something to put your faith and belief in, and someone to pay attention to. One man, Tupac Shakur is a flesh made spirit.
Struggling throughout his life and even at his death, Tupac was resurrected. Tupac became immortalized. He became something that would never die. He is a celebrated individual, one who is thought of as all knowing, wise and pure. Tupac became the thing he was obsessively looking for, the individual who had “been through what we’ve been through” (Youtube, Michael Eric Dyson talks about Tupac). Tupac will always be an inspiration, one who provides security and who lives on forever in the hearts of millions.
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D. (2009, September 26). Shock G explains why 2pac is better than Biggie. Retrieved April 16, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=SUo2hzc0vG8
D. (2013, June 05). Michael Eric Dyson talks about Tupac. Retrieved April 16, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sx9nRCsmHeA
Kendrick Lamar – Mortal Man. (2015, March 15). Retrieved April 16, 2018, from
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Miller, M. R. (2005). Religion in Hip Hop: Mapping the New Terrain in the US (A. B. Pinn, Ed.).
S. (2010, July 26). 2pac talking about his belief in God and religion. Retrieved April 16, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MnmLl6Fm1MM
Shakur, T., Hoye, J., & Ali, K. (2004). Tupac: Resurrection. London: Pocket.
W. (2012, April 17). Tupac Hologram Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre Perform Coachella Live 2012. Retrieved April 16, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGbrFmPBV0Y
2Pac – Dear Mama. (1995, February 21). Retrieved April 16, 2018, from https://genius.com/ 2pac-dear-mama-lyrics
2Pac (Ft. Talent) – Changes. (1998, October 13). Retrieved April 16, 2018, from https:// genius.com/2pac-changes-lyrics
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