When I analyze Tupac today, it’s almost as if surveying a previous piece of my identity, an artifact of ancient times. I knew Tupac was forced into brutal conditions as a child, ‘evicted from the burbs,’ as he bellows poignantly on the song ‘Blasphemy.’ Yet I can no longer relate to his never-ending anger, or many of his fan’s simplistic adoration, which renders their hero an unreal ghost on a poster.
I too only saw the good, back then. I used to burn CD’s filled with Tupac’s most positive tracks. Yet as I entered college, I was ready to find a new idol. Oscar Wilde said an artist must be separated from his art, but in Tupac’s case, his ill-conceived, artistically bankrupt vision of ‘thug life’ was becoming more than I could accept, especially as I drifted away from an environment which celebrated that life style. I was beginning to become conscious of death. Not of the physical variety, but of the spiritual. I was becoming convinced the soulnessness of modern rap could be traced to Tupac’s endorsement of gangster culture. It was materialistic and misogynistic, a regression for Tupac which did not reflect his massive potential. That’s the unfair aspect of leadership. Tupac embraced that role, but would have been far better off experimenting in the shadows. Everything happened at once for him, and understandably, it became entirely too much for an artist in his early twenties to handle. Either way, I didn’t understand how anyone could accept it, let alone adopt the philosophy. And it was becoming harder to take the positive songs seriously without acknowledging their hypocritical stature within his entire body of work.
Tupac had opened me to the power and music and lyrics. He was a real poet, and I know he would have set it all right, once he had the right perspective. We’ll never know.