The unforgettable legend of the rap...
Commemorating the twentieth anniversary of his death, the rapper Tupac Shakur is far from forgotten. He has left a legacy that, through time, has gotten stronger and has expanded beyond the world of gansta rap. It has reached a point that anybody who is “pop-cultured” knows who he is; even my generation, who was born by the time of his demise, has been able to experience his impact on the world.
The Harlem-born, Los Angeles-based rapper was known for using his fame and his amazing gift of lyricism as a tool to bring to light social issues that the media failed to explore. By using his music as a form of activism, he was able to reach a mass audience. His lyrics fought systematic oppression and managed to rally many groups of minorities who were felt maltreatment. So much so that in Sierra Leon, Tupac became a symbol of hope for the rebel band during their Civil War, that culminated in 2002. The rebels used Tupac-inspired shirts as their uniform. Back in the United States, Tupac’s music was more directly pointed towards the African American population, given the fact that he was African-American. He rapped about the black experience in the United States and how hard it is to grow up in a white man’s society. Whether black or not, his goal was to give hope through his music to anyone who was feeling oppressed.
To this day the radio still plays Tupac’s music and it also plays the music of artists he inspired; most notably, Kendrick Lamar, Jay Z, and J. Cole. These artists have been very vocal about the influence Tupac has had on their music; Kendrick even had a dream when he was a young boy that Tupac went into his room and told him that “he cannot let hip hop/rap die.” Kendrick also culminated his last album, To Pimp a Butterfly, with a conversation he created using snippets of past interviews Tupac had. In this conversation, it is almost as if you forget how famous Kendrick is by the way he is talking to Pac; he is talking to him as if he was talking to his idol.
Many artists sample Tupac’s music into theirs as a way of paying homage to him. His song “Hail Mary” has been sampled by artists such as Drake, Lil Wayne, Eminem, and Jay Z. These are all very respected rappers who still use Tupac’s music as inspiration for their own art. Even though “Hail Mary” is arguably his most famous, and most sampled, song, Tupac has an array of songs that has influenced so many rappers, whether they are veterans to the game or up and coming.
The most distinct way of paying homage has to be the hologram in 2012 during Coachella. Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre were performing when all of a sudden a Tupac hologram came out and performed with them. For five whole minutes Tupac was “resurrected” and performing alongside his fellow Death Row rappers. It is moments like these that make me think that the world was not ready for the death of Tupac, people were excited to see what Tupac was going to do next. During his last year Tupac had a lot of enemies, so much so that he started wearing a bulletproof vest everywhere he went. He then decided that it was ridiculous and started to change his ways for the better. Little by little he was making peace with rappers and gang members he had beef with and tried to make peace. People were rooting for him to do so much good in the world, that is why I believe rappers and fans will not allow for his legacy to die.