Still job hunting, yo~ Again, please pray for me!
You guys know that I have my phases of getting obsessed with random hobbies. For the past month, I had been exploring music, from Jimmy Hendrix to Bob Marley, and somewhere along the path of related Youtube videos, I started listening to 2pac.
I knew he was a big name before and had been moved to tears when I happened to listen to “Thugz Mansion” on my boyfriend’s ipod about a year ago. I think most of us have heard at least one of his songs in our lifetime. Nevertheless, I had never been that into American rap/hip hop before because I often felt like my intelligence level was decreasing with each passing syllable. The common themes of showing off bling, booze, broads, and guns as well as the excessive cussing and violent and misogynist themes weren’t really things I wanted to listen to or to which I was accustomed to listening. It wasn’t so much the presence of such things in the songs that turned me away as it was the really pointless use of them and the glamorizing of them. I mean, I would just kind of sit there thinking, “Ok, so you got a ho, got crap-faced, and made a lot of money from it. Uh, good for you? I mean your beat is great and all, but, no thanks.” (I think similar lines of thought run through my head while listening to a vast majority of contemporary mainstream as well).
But 2pac, also known by his birth name Tupac Shakur, is different. And it’s not just different as in he sounds a bit different or his themes are different. No. His music and he, as a person, are on a WHOLE other plane of music than any kind of hip hop or music in general that I’ve ever listened to.
Gosh, how do I explain my respect and love for this man and his music?
I guess the best way is to simply give you some links to the songs that I think prove his worth and difference from other musicians – hip hop or not: “Dear Mama“, “Changes“, “California Love“, “Brenda’s Got A Baby“, “Keep Ya Head Up“, “So Many Tears“, “Hail Mary“. (Maybe not “California Love” so much haha. That’s more of a Dr. Dre show-off song. It’s a classic though so…).
I didn’t have to hear any of the many interviews he gave during his lifetime to know that this guy was not only a genius when it came to the evocation of emotions through writing or the drawing of empathy and attention from the masses through words, but I – and any one who listens to his music – could also tell that this guy had been through the mill and back and instead of being defeated by it, chose to use his gifts to both escape it and help others get through it. He was someone with a huge heart, bravery, and compassion and all his emotions and the words he used to convey those emotions were intended to assist others as well as to try to change the society that was afflicting such people, inclusive of himself, so viciously. In short, he was a poetic genius with the brains to see the big picture and the heart and balls to try to change it.
I mean, what kind of rapper – particularly during his time – would even think of writing a song to encourage and strengthen poverty-stricken women, to show respect to mothers, to not only describe the hardships of his life but try to grab society’s attention so as to demonstrate that he wasn’t the only one who had to sell drugs to survive, had friends get shot and killed, were brought up by drug-addicted single mom’s, and were stuck with the inability to make it to the age of 30 never mind go to college? And the fact that he wrote about those things and felt compassion for the stricken when he was stricken himself, when he had been used, abused, and abandoned by such people himself, just gives me so much hope to press forward and gives me hope for mankind in general, not to mention the fact that it makes me want to become braver myself.
His songs were stories of his life and outlets for his many emotions and in turn, were also a cry for justice, for change. He wanted to use his music for good, and that’s really something that you can almost never see – both within and outside of the music industry. Hell, that’s even hard to see in sectors that were built solely for the purpose of helping others (i.e. the health field, politics/government, social services, etc.). It was more amazing because he never became a sell-out. He kept writing about what he deemed as important issues that had to be voiced despite all the negative media and lawsuits that built up on him as a result.
I also really respect the fact that he always stood his ground, no matter what he was attacked for, no matter how much the media and law enforcement went after him for what he stood for. Because he stood for the truth. He stood for what society made people into. He told us all loud and clear that it wasn’t the ugliness in people that made them do ugly things but the ugliness of society and the corruption of those who could and should make a difference that created the so-called monsters they would always shun but never help.
He also gives me so much hope and strength because he really was someone trapped in the middle. He wasn’t part of the poor black America he had grown up in after he became a rapper but he wasn’t part of the white-washed or rule-fearing rich black America either. He had the genius of a fully educated man with enough brains to be a professor in poetry and music, but he been unable to go to college and became a rapper instead. He loved Shakespeare and compared Romeo and Juliet to the Bloods and the Crips. For goodness sake, he rapped about screwing Biggie’s wife and surviving 5 gunshot wounds but said that his favorite tune of all time was the main melody of the musical “Les Miserables.”
He was neither here nor there but instead of feeling down and lonely, he embraced all the different parts of himself that society refused to believe could be contained in one man. He, as he termed it, “kept it real” and defined himself as Tupac, not as the dangerous or conflicting entity that society labeled him as. He refused to conform to society and instead, spat in its face, telling it that this is what it had made him into and it could take responsibility for it. As someone who also grew up in a (often impoverished) minority community that sees so many continual unfair struggles and burdens under – let’s face it – a racist and greedy society, I can totally relate to his feelings of injustice and hopes for change and really appreciate the fact that he had the balls and the heart to look out for the afflicted – something society routinely refuses to do. In many ways, I think he would agree with the things I wrote about in my post “Ghetto” and “Korean Americans”.
One good thing that came out of my not being able to afford cable for the past eight or so years is the fact that the veil has been lifted from my eyes when it comes to watching the news and general media coverage of major events and celebrities. Before when I constantly watched cable, it was hard to tell whether the things said were true or false simply because I was accustomed to watching t.v. day and night. However, now that I live in the real world and not in the world the media supplies to me, it’s really easy to see the lies they tell and the tricks they try to pull to make a profit or, in 2pac’s case, bring someone they don’t like or understand down.
I say this because I’m just so disgusted at how the legal system and media treated him. They made him out to be everything from a rapist, to a murderer, to a really racist picture of a stupid and violent black man. No one in the courts or the media ever focused on the fact that he he made several songs that tried to empower women despite the fact that other “clean,” non-black artists out there never did. No one ever paid attention to the fact that he never would have become a rapper if he had been able to afford to go to college. No one ever elaborated on the fact that he constantly called people to have compassion on minority groups and help people in poverty. Oh no. They would just concentrate on the violence in his songs and how such imagery somehow brainwashes people into becoming murderers and naughty children. They even framed him for rape! Oh jeez. I mean, in the words of Frank Miller, there’s wrong and there’s wrong and then there’s this. Just so freaking racist, biased, and unfair.
The it’s just so sad because they were accusing and going after a rapper, yes, but when all is said and done, Tupac was just a kid! He was, what, 20 when he released his first album? He was 25 when he was shot and killed. TWENTY FIVE. I know undergrads who are older than that. He was technically a college student/a recent grad but he already had the weight of the world on his shoulders and little to no recognition for the positive changes he was trying to make in that world. How could people be so mean and cruel and accusatory towards a KID? He may have looked like a tough thug rapper, and he was a tough thug rapper, but he was also a poor kid raised under a single mom who never knew his father, who wanted to but never got to go to college, who had a diverse range of tastes in literature and music, and showed signs of being a genius at the tender age of 20. How could society beat down a child like that and refuse to look at the whole picture of his life just so that they could make a profit? So disgusting. I swear, 2pac is living proof that society only rewards corruption, and people who try to change it or even address it usually get blown up or cast away.
I especially hate how the media made all his ghetto characteristics look so foreign, or wild, or crude, or stupid, or violent. I mean, what is so sensational and surprising about a kid who grew up in the ghetto acting ghetto? It makes no freaking sense that media would even take the time to tape crap like that! It’s just a bunch of rich people looking down on a poor individual with a magnifying glass and fascinated eye before dumping him into the trash! Oh jeez. I mean, damn, if any of the people who accused him were put in his place I doubt they would have turned out half as good-hearted as he did seeing as how they turned out corrupted even though they were born into stability and even wealth.
I’ll end this with some of his interviews. LISTEN TO AT LEAST ONE IF NOT ALL OF THEM. He even gives a shout-out to the Korean kids! ^^ He is just SUCH in an inspirational speaker. You can just tell how freaking smart he was. I mean, all the subjects he addresses and elaborates on and how he thinks of them (such as the legalization of marijuana, unity of minority groups, and all of his concerns about poverty and racism) are subjects and ways of thinking that are just beginning to surface right now! Truly ahead of his time.
God rest his poor soul. RIP Tupac, you really continue to influence people from beyond the grave. Nothing can stop you!
Xmas Interview with MTV: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVevJk-K6As
Interview with Tabitha Sorens: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsItj_NzbuI
Interview stuff: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5iBULGJG1s
u r the omega of my heart
the foundation of my conception of love
when i think of what a black woman should be
its u that i first think of
u will never fully understand
how deeply my heart feels 4 u
i worry that we’ll grow apart
and i’ll end up losing u
u bring me 2 climax without sex
and u do it all with regal grace
u r my heart in human form
a friend i could never replace
“Jada”, Tupac Shakur