Tupac Shakur Was My Judy Blume
As I watch the strangely surreal event that is Tupac Shakur being inducted into the The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame on the same weekend his biopic was released in box offices across the nation, on what would have also been his birthday weekend, I can’t help but recall the first time I ever heard a song of his. I was eight years old and caught the end of “Hit Em Up” in my older cousin’s basement and was absolutely floored. Who was this man saying exactly what he wanted in such an angry fashion you couldn’t help but hear him?
I went on to buy every album he managed to release in his tragically short career despite the fact he died briefly before I actually began purchasing albums on my own. His music spoke to me in a way which very few people have been able to reach me since.
As immersed in his words as I was, by the time I was a teenager my interest in him extended well beyond his music. It was his attitude and energy. It was his boldness, his ability to genuinely not care what others thought of him and basically who he was as a person that intrigued me. It would be more accurate to say I studied his words and message then listened to his music.
I was amazed by the versatility he showed in being able to publish a collection of poetry called “The Rose That Grew From Concrete” and then threaten to kill whatever he felt threatened by on his very next single. Both truly represented who he genuinely was as a person and I felt connected to both from a very young age. It would be fair to say that Tupac Shakur made me want to write well before I knew I wanted to write. Years before I knew what I wanted to write, that seed had been planted, oblivious to even me. He made me want to make sure people eventually heard what I had to say, whatever that would end up being. He taught me it was okay to say what was on your mind, regardless of what others thought. To walk and speak boldly through chaos and controversy.
The anger and intensity he displayed on tracks made me feel fearless. I think there was even a point where his anger became mine. He pointed to so many social injustices, most which unfortunately have yet to be resolved even twenty years after his death. However through that I believe I developed principles that I still apply to my life every day or at least try to. Principles like wanting to help those who need it when and where I can. To never accept disrespect from anyone but to treat everyone with respect until they gave me a reason not to. It was less his music and more his everyday quotes taken from his real life that I tended to pull inspiration from. It was the way he stood up to an entire system he saw as corrupt and didn’t flinch or apologize for it that I truly admired. The way he told his story made me want to tell mine and probably instilled in me the confidence and creativity to even make me believe I could.
Above my writing space is a poster of Tupac staring eerily back at the camera with an expression that almost makes it seem as if he sees his untimely demise shortly down the road he’s glaring down. At the bottom of the poster is a quote of his where he said “I believe that everything that you do bad comes back to you. So everything I do that’s bad, i’m going to suffer for it. But in my heart, I believe what i’m doing is right, so I feel like i’m going to heaven.” I don’t know that any words have ever rang truer to me since, despite my beliefs on heaven. Tupac was also once quoted as saying that he didn’t guarantee he would change the world, but that he guaranteed he would spark the mind that would change the world, I’m positive he did both in a way that would be hard for anyone to ever replicate. I don’t imagine he ever envisioned being inducted into the Rock & Roll of Fame alongside the likes of ‘Journey’, two decades after his death but those are the kinds of changes he hoped to one day see in a world that took him from us before he was given the chance to.