Boss Lady Speaks: The legacy of Tupac Shakur
RIP Tupac Shakur
The incomparable Tupac Shakur was born on this day (June 16) in 1971 in East Harlem, NY (where I currently reside); he would have been 38 years old today.
People can (and do) debate the merits of Tupac’s rap career. But while hip-hop purists continue to gripe over his constant inclusion in the “top MC’s of all time” discussion, real fans understand how this man truly embodied being “deeper than rap”.
I interviewed Tupac’s mother Afeni Shakur back in 2003 for Urban Hitz Magazine, the publication I founded and edited back home in Sydney, Australia.
We spoke about many things, including her excitement about the impending release of the film Tupac: Resurrection, how she foresaw the inevitability of ‘Pac having to change his personality to survive the world he grew up in, the strength of children who grow up with single mothers, when she remembers ‘Pac at the most comfortable point in his life and whether his spirit is at peace. We also touched on his compelling connection to people (like me) of Middle Eastern background, including his favorite writer Kahlil Gibran (“The basis of Tupac’s understanding of anything comes from The Prophet“, she told me).
When I talked to Afeni about how minority children are often discouraged by their peers for speaking their mind, for questioning the ills of society around them (I was one of those children, as was ‘Pac), her response was:
“You remember how you said you were quiet early on [in your childhood]? There was a reason for that; because you knew if you opened your mouth they would shut you down to the ground. But if you did that you would have never made it here and you HAVE made it here and now guess what you get to do? You get to speak for those people, those children [who come after you]. That’s what Tupac did, and that’s why we love him.
“Tupac, to me, was an example to me of what a real man is. And I thank God that I lived long enough to not only see one, but for the blessings of birthing one. I know he wasn’t here for long but the few years he had – it’s okay – he did that wonderfully.”
She went on to say “If you can’t see God in Tupac, you’ll never see Him”.
I couldn’t disagree if I tried.
Rest in peace Tupac Amaru Shakur. You once asked how long will we mourn you; I hope as each year passes your question is answered.
BOSS LADY INTERVIEWS AFENI SHAKUR (2003) (excuse the audio quality!)
Being a huge fan of Tupac’s work it’s tough to choose the best songs, but here are a couple of my favorites (they’re as diverse as he was):