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Kill Your Idols: Tupac Shakur

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Versatile, Feb 6, 2013.

  1. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    We needed to make up for the upper-class trollop fare of The Great Gatsby, so here we are: Let's discuss Tupac Amaru Shakur.

    It's tough to even find a place to start when discussing 2Pac, and maybe that's the place to start. What lasts is how he was everything to everyone, part thug, part poet, part actor, part superstar. This is the man behind "Part Time Mutha," ripping his mom for her addictions and neglect, and "Dear Mama," praising her for being there while his father wasn't. He made "Wonder Why They Call You 'Bitch' " and "Keep Ya Head Up." He wrote "So Many Tears" and "2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted."

    What was 2Pac's influence? He changed hip hop culture more than anyone but perhaps Jay-Z, and his death had a similarly enormous impact. But one moment he was positing the value of introspection, creating and deepening the image of the regret-filled thug, and the next he was extolling the life style of money, power and bitches.

    2Pac rarely delved into the kingpin images of so many 1990s rappers. He was an everyman, through and through. Either he was swigging malt liquor, haunted by the past, or strapping up his boots and loading his gun. Of course he was neither, not in real life. 2Pac made it big while he was young, after being trained in ballet and Shakespeare. He had his first big break as a backup dancer for Digital Underground when he was 18.

    Does it matter if it largely was a front? Did 2Pac become the image he created in order to validate himself and his career? One of the greatest stories in rap history is the one about 2Pac and Notorious B.I.G. on stage at an awards show shortly after their feud began. Amid an otherwise hostile scene, 2Pac grabbed Biggie in an embrace and allegedly whispered to him, "Let's get this money." The feud never really made sense; 2Pac was the one repping the West Coast despite living in New York, then Baltimore until he was 18. He still worked with Method Man and Redman and other East Coast mainstays even at the peak of the conflict.

    It's tough to say where he would have gone had he lived. 2Pac had remarkable talent. He broke out by outshining a pretty strong cast in Juice, then completely dominated the screen in Above the Rim and Poetic Justice, which were much lesser movies. It's easy to see how he could have been one of the biggest actors in Hollywood whenever he abandoned rap.

    Or he could have stuck with rap. His output in his final year, 1996, was prodigious but wildly uneven. He had a deal to make three albums for Death Row Records, and he regretted signing it basically from Day One, so he rushed out those three albums with the combined content of about one great album, one mediocre album and one wretched album. But his best was among the best of all time, even despite criticisms that he couldn't hang with other greats in terms of lyrical complexity.

    Dr. Dre raps, "How much 2Pac in you you got?" in "The Watcher," off his 2001 album (released in 1999). In that context, he's talking about lacking fear of death. I think that defines 2Pac. Here was a guy who embraced dying young, who made tons of references to it throughout his career. He had a thug-life attitude, which involves being ready to die. Biggie had the same fetishization of early death, and both got their stated, if not serious, wish.

    Is that who 2Pac is, the guy who died at 25? He certainly became more famous after his death, but he already was the biggest rapper in the world before then. With the shootings, the arrests, the music videos, the record deals, the movies, etc., there was no worry about anonymity or lack of success. His influence was stamped into hip hop culture long before that ride in Las Vegas.
  2. JackReacher

    JackReacher Well-Known Member

  3. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    That, too.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 1, 2015
  4. Uncle.Ruckus

    Uncle.Ruckus Guest

    My favorite Tupac song is Pain. Jay-Z is great, but he's still in second place.
  5. cranberry

    cranberry Well-Known Member

    Nothing really incongruous about it. Tupac manufactured the thug as well the thug regret for the purpose of accumulating money, power and bitches. It was a strong business plan.

    YGBFKM Guest

    I can remember driving to cover a game and hearing on the radio about Tupac's death. I immediately thought, "Did I just miss my turn?"
  7. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    Didn't like his rap at first for reasons I couldn't verbalize, other than maybe it was that he was the "new school" of rap/hip-hop and I loved the "old school" with Eric B. and Rakim, Boogie Down Productions, EPMD, Public Enemy, Run DMC, Big Daddy Kane, the Beasties, MC Lyte, Biz Markie, Rob Base, Doug E. Fresh, Slick Rick, Ice T, Stetsasonic, LL Cool J, Kool Moe Dee and so on.

    It was really only in Roswell during those nights in outer space that I gave him and a chance and listened to the entire All Eyez on Me CDs -- 15 or 20 times -- and started to appreciate Tupac for his talent. He was good in a way that all my boyhood favorites were good.

    What perplexed me every now and then is how Tupac exuded the whole thug life -- bitches and ho's, niggas and murder, etc. -- yet dropped "Wonda Why They Call You Bitch" ...

    ... which carries a strong message to women caught up in the game, yet Tupac goes right back to the braggadocio where he's king of the game and fucking the bitches and ho's that he seemingly rails against.

    Not sure he has a better song than the title track:

    Has there ever been the definitive story of what happened that night in Vegas?

    Anyway, Tupac was good, verily so. But he was no Eric B. and Rakim:

    Some of my other favorites growing up:
    Boogie Down Productions:

    Kool Moe Dee:

    Biz Markie:

    3 Times Dope:

    Slick Rick:
  8. JackReacher

    JackReacher Well-Known Member

    Tupac was good, but he was no Eric B. and Rakim.

    Never imagined I'd hear that.
  9. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

    How is that perplexing? He's explaining to them EXACTLY why he sees them that way. You don't want to be seen as a bitch or a ho? Don't do bitchlike and holike things. Those two things are related, not opposite.
  10. YGBFKM

    YGBFKM Guest

    SportsJournalists.com: America's whitest message board
  11. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    And then he goes and fucks the bitches and ho's. That's what's funny, perplexing, whatever, about it.
  12. YGBFKM

    YGBFKM Guest

    He's a complicated ARTIST!
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