Genius. Thug. Rapper. Poet. A menace to society. These were a few of the words used to coin the complexity of the man Tupac Shakur during his life and career. Next month is the 16th anniversary of Tupac's passing.
What I miss most about Pac is his complexity. He was unafraid to say what he felt whether it sounded soft to some, harsh to others, but nevertheless truthful and raw. Whether a rapper, writer or otherwise, many people can't do now what he did during his 6 year career. Most of us worry too much about what people think or what they're going to say about us.
He wasn't without fault either. Tupac didn't dismiss how between his wisdom-filled verses and laments he too had faced consequences for some of his poor judgment and impulsivity. Though a lot of his actions seemed controversial and conflictual Tupac made music for himself 1st and other people 2nd (however for those times possibly in his last days when most likely he was being influenced by bullying and coercion from his management, Death Row). He gave a voice to so many young voiceless men across the world who this country had chosen to ignore. Of course at times he was pompous and rowdy but how else would you have noticed him? How would someone who came up from "the gutter" get noticed if he wasn't loud, wearing tattoos all over his often uncovered upper body, spitting at cameras and giving paparazzi "the finger" so you could hear the important messages he was trying to tell you?
Tupac's messages stretched from a Poor Righteous Teachers perspective to a dirty mouthed seeming- to- be heathen. But how is that different than a lot of other young, frustrated people around you and me? Because his words were put on wax and (mis)quoted in an urban magazine his hold more weight I suppose. I'm neither condoning nor accepting everything he ever said as true or applicable to my life but I understand that the perspectives he wrote and talked about were true to many. And he carried a light for so many of young America's issues that a lot of people never wanted to see--poverty, shameful assaults on the disadvantaged, a racist America, the love & displaced anger a child has when his father's not around. The saddest thing is that be it then or now there are still a lot of people who don't want to hear those stories, pretend they don't exist or that someone like a Tupac can have something so powerful to say and yet still be so confused.
I want to be like Pac in that I say what other people don't want to because they feel it's too shameful and bring light to the stories that some of our society still thinks don't exist. In honor of the likes of Tupac and so many others who never had a claim to fame I aim to use my words and my mind to affect change.
To all the roses who still grow from concrete, I sprinkle water on you.