Even though his life was cut tragically short seventeen years ago, Tupac Shakur has remained one of the greatest and influential artists of his time. In honor of what should have been his 42nd birthday, we’d like to take the time to look back and reflect on what made Tupac such an astounding artist and musician.
Like many a young artist, Tupac’s life started out on the rocky side, with his parents and guardians in prison for serious convictions or being wanted by the FBI for various offenses. But through his music, Tupac created a name for himself and changed the world of hip-hop and black societies’ significance in the world. Tupac’s family was heavily involved in the Black Panthers as he was growing up, so he experienced first hand the struggle that Black America was going through from the 70s to early 90s.
But even though Tupac’s musical accomplishments set him apart as a legacy, it was his voice and his words that remain a lingering and important figure in the world. As hip-hop was in transition from an underground culture to a mainstream art form, Tupac’s complexity helped to shape the future of music. He wrote songs about loving his mother despite her flaws. He wrote songs that were sexist and misogynistic, but he also wrote sophisticated songs and remained a charismatic and intellectual individual. He told stories of Black urban life and inspired his listeners with encouraging and motivational songs. But, most importantly, Tupac Shakur brought an honest vulnerability to his music that hadn’t quite yet been seen in the music industry.
Tupac bore his soul as he wrote about the struggle and pain as he tried to be proud of his Black American heritage, but Tupac wasn’t just applicable to the black community. His struggle and his witness cannot be confined to a single community. In a music genre bred out of diversity, every cultural community steeped in chaos or poverty could relate to Tupac. He was more than a symbol for hip-hop or a symbol for the black community. He was a symbol for the world and for humanity. He spoke for a generation during his lifetime, and he continues to speak for us today.
Happy birthday, Tupac.Google+