Tupac Shakur

Tupac Shakur

"Murda, Murda, Murda, and Kill, Kill, Kill?", these are the lyrics to one of the songs written by Tupac Shakur. Amidst all the controversy surrounding his personal life, this artist has managed to overcome all obstacles and spread his hope/hate message to a surprisingly receptive audience. Tupac?s music borrowed from the styles of early rap and hip-hop yet its appeal rested in Tupac himself. His persona of "Thug Poet" opened up a portal into the new genre of "Gangsta Rap." This new style of music revolutionized the music industry and allowed several new artists to break through in Tupac?s creation, Gangsta Rap.
Tupac Amaru Shakur was born on June 16, 1971 in New York. Afeni Shakur, a Black Panther member since 1968, gave birth to him in the Women?s House of Detentions in Grenwich Village. She was charged with conspiracy to bomb several New York public locations and had just had her bail revoked. In Incan dialect, his name Tupac Amaru means "shining serpent" and Shakur is Arabic for "thankful to God." For most of his childhood his crack-addicted mother shuffled Tupac between the ghettos of Harlem and the Bronx. Young Tupac began his performance career with the 127th Street Ensemble and then enrolled Baltimore School for the Arts where he was educated in ballet and acting. Tupac was forced to drop out of the school and move to California where his criminal career began. Tupac began selling drugs and had several altercations with the law including several shooting and the unexplained death of two off-duty officers. Tupac?s music continued to excel until his untimely death on September 7, 1996.
The artistic ability and musical talent weren?t enough to get by with; it took a shtick that was "true". There was no candy coating or a softer side to this "straight from the projects" thug. Tupac rapped about what he knew, and he knew the street life. In and out of jail/prison Tupac had been exposed to, even saturated in the criminal element, and this exposure led him to express his exploits in vulgar and gory detail. It was this down to earth ego, telling war stories from his childhood about "growing up in the hood" that attracted people to listen. The genre targeted young black males; it was music that they could relate to. But it reached out past its target group and embraced the white youth of America who were fascinated with drugs and gangs. Tupac painted a picture of the lower-class struggle and middle-class America ate it up.
The lyrics of his music not only told of the hard life of the lower class and the struggle of the black man, but it also spoke of hope. The echoes of the song Life Goes On ring out: "? How many brothas fell victim to tha streetz. Rest in peace young nigga there's a Heaven for a 'G', be a lie If I told ya that I never thought of death; my niggas we tha last ones left, but life goes on....". These words of hope give strength to those who can relate and endear these words to their heart. Tupac?s music resounded with his personal quest for a better life: "?a life where we don?t need no welfare shit with our whole family. Maybe it?s me that caused it--- tha fightin and hurtin, in my room crying cause I didn?t wanna be a burden. Watch Mama open up her arms to hug me and I ain?t worried bout a damn thing---with unconditional love?". The words of this Thug Poet gave strength and support to this new genre of Gangsta Rap.
It was always the man behind the music that gave it life. The same album that Vice President Quayle quoted "?2PACOPYLPSE NOW has no place in American society." went double platinum. The popularity of Gangsta Rap is due solely to its creator, Tupac Shakur.