My favorite rapper of all time is Tupac Amaru Shakur. I’ve been a fan of his since he released 2Pacalypse Now back in 1991.
I must admit I never really was a big fan of rap when it first emerged back in the early 80s (I’m still not. I only like a few artists and think most of today’s rap is a hot stinkin’ mess).
Sure, I was into Run DMC, LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, Kool Moe Dee and Salt N Pepa, but I never owned any of their tapes.
Then along came Tupac. I can still remember vividly the black-and-white video for Brenda’s Got a Baby and the message of the song. Listening to the lyrics, I realized this was a man whose rhymes spoke a different truth.
Every album Pac released while he was alive, I own. I still listen to them all from time to time. Depending on my mood, Tupac can either pump me up or calm me down.
I remember being in a class either my freshman or sophomore year at Grambling State University and the professor tried to tell us how bad rap was. A student went back to his dorm room and brought back Tupac’s Strictly for My N.I.G.G.A.Z. He played the song Keep Ya Head Up to show the professor that not all rap was negative.
The professor agreed.
I was a senior in college when, on Sept. 7, 1996, Tupac was shot in Las Vegas. I remember thinking, “This has got to be a really bad joke.” Lounging around the university’s newspaper, the staff was stunned – we couldn’t get over the fact that Pac might not make it.
We all kept hope alive though, and believed he would be back. I mean, he previously survived being shot five times, so why should this time be any different?
Unfortunately, it was not to be. Sept. 13, 1996, the world lost what I feel was one of the best artists music has ever had.
I truly believe Tupac knew his time here was limited. Why else would he have recorded so many songs before he passed?
Twelve years later, I’m still bothered by the fact he’s not here anymore. I’m really troubled that the shooter has never been found.
I often wonder what the rap game would be like if Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G were still around. Would there be a Lil’ John? Would the Southern rappers even exist?
Somehow, I think hip-hop would be in a different place had Pac lived.
One can only speculate.