Tupac Tupac
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Picture Him Rollin': VIBE Staff's Favorite Tupac Moments

VIBE recalls their favorite Tupac moments on his 44th birthday

Tupac's vision continues to inspire today's rap OGs and young-uns. Just listen to lines from Nas, J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar. Before his untimely death on Sept. 13, 1996, the West Coast legend offered quotables in a '94 interview, humblebragging that he would "spark the brain" that would change the world. After sitting through his hefty catalog, including his '91 debut 2Pacalypse Now to '95's Me Against The World, 'Pac's statement still holds true.

Away from the mic, Sir Shakur was also a cinema darling, giving life to roles for 1994's Above The Rim and 1993's Poetic Justice, where he stars opposite Janet Jackson.

On what would have been his 44th birthday (June 16), the VIBE Tribe rolls through their memory bank and deposits their favorite Tupac moments below.

You can't have just one favorite Tupac moment. You just can't. The way he influenced not only hip-hop, but pop culture is so broad and vast that you can only pick what comes to mind first. For me, it's the sincerity in his voice on the song "My Block". The way he so vividly depicts the mind state of a young black male just getting by on hopes and dreams in an area that stifles progress is genius.

With Pac's life filled with constant change of location as a youngster throughout the East and West coasts, you'd think his view would be so one-sided since he's mostly associated with California. Yet, the way he universally takes us on a trip through ghettofied America is like a camera lens focusing on the ills and few highs of living in Anyhood, USA. More than the holy icon of #Thuglife, 'Pac was the spokesman for Black Pain. Something so real and fragmented that if not for his insight with songs like this one, we'd be lost for ways to express our hurt, circumstances and undefined love/hate for one another as a black people in particular.
—Datwon Thomas, Editor-in-Chief

How can one forget one of the many popular scenes from the John Singleton 1993 film, Poetic Justice? Here, Tupac's character, Lucky, tries to start up friendly conversation, but is hit with the "I'm not interested in what you have to say right now" body language. It's funny how a simple question takes two people (who, deep down, are fond of each other) from 0 to 100 real quick. As real as that scene was, it was clear that Pac was not only a gifted lyricist, but a multi-talented artist capable of doin' his thing on the big screen, too.
—Christine Imarenezor, Social Managing Editor

I was five years old when Poetic Justice hit the big screen. Too young to understand back then that my elders were watching a classic in the making, I'd be somewhere doing the oblivious things five-year-olds do. But revisiting Tupac Shakur's on-air romance with Janet Jackson some seven years later, the "guy that didn't like Biggie" became my first crush. As a born-and-bred Brooklynite, the image of the West Coast-reppin' legend was one of abrasiveness, disrespect and recklessness. In Poetic Justice, however, the perceived degenerate tapped into his softer side, and revealed a charm that no one informed me had existed. His magnetic smile remains disarming 'till this day. Too bad we had already lost him by the time I was able to gift him with a place in my young heart; he definitely could've been the object of my preteen obsession.
—Iyana Robertson, News Editor

Tupac is one of the greatest storytellers in the history of music. Period. But one song in particular that truly solidified that statement for me was when I first listened to "Brenda's Got A Baby." Obviously I was a baby myself when that song was released, but once I got old enough and started to explore music aside from my parents' Soca and Calypso tunes, I came across this track and was immediately full with emotion. Tupac's knack for seamlessly telling a gripping tale had me hooked, and the fact that it was based on a true story made listeners focus on the plight of those living in underprivileged communities, mainly teenage girls. Like Lauryn Hill said, "Music is supposed to inspire," and I think this is one of 'Pac's most influential moments that other MCs have tried to emulate.
—Camille Augustin, Contributing Editor

SEE ALSO: Check Your Vernacular: VIBE Staff’s Favorite Left Eye Lines

Tupac's portrayal of a New York hustler with his eyes on young high school basketball stars captivated the world in Above The Rim. Released in 1994, the same year as Nas' Illmatic, the film captures the grittiness of the baddest drug dealers but also the way money and crime can tear families apart.
—Mikey Fresh, Music Editor

I first heard of Tupac when my rebellious uncle, tatted like Wiz Khalifa and rocking an afro, blasted "Ambitionz as a Ridah" in my family's native Philippines. In 1996, I was hip to Spice Girls and every boy band at the time but got my first real helping of hip-hop outside of America. Years later, as an aspiring journo and VIBE intern, juggling three jobs to pay my college tuition to graduate and help my mom and grandma with rent ("I'm tryin' to make a dollar out of fifteen cents/ It's hard to be legit and still pay the rent"), I turned to 'Pac's 1993 anti-struggle anthem, "Keep Ya Head Up." Despite rap's rep for being overly misogynistic, here was an articulate, street smart poetry master tackling rape culture and fist pumping for young mothers and hustlers who became victims of the system on wax. Now, when happy moments seem few and far between, I remember the hook by the Five Stairsteps and Pac's wise words: "Keep ya head up, ooh child, things are gonna get easier."
—Adelle Platon, Associate Editor

"In 'Pac's 1994 interview with MTV, he boldly said, "I'm not saying I'm gonna change the world, but I'll spark the brain that will change the world."

Filled with palpable passion that was oftentimes presented as anger or hate, Tupac was well aware of his influence. Society and the media didn't know how to digest a man who in one breath said "Keep Ya Head Up" and then in the next created "I Get Around." They tried their hardest to place 'Pac in a box and even to this day, almost 19 years after his death, Tupac's music and candor has influenced new legends such as J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar. Even our darling poet Nikki Giovani gets it and has the infamous "Thug Life" tattoo to prove it.

It's heart wrenching 'Pac didn't live to see how far his legacy has gone, but I guess that's not the point. Instead of expressing sorrow towards his absence I'll instead be thankful for his presence, despite how short it was.
—Shenequa Golding, Editor

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CIRCA 1980: Photo of Bill Withers
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Bill Withers' Greatest Hits: Remixed, Sampled And Covered

The recent loss of legends in jazz, soul and classical music have saddened the music industry and reminded us of their touching gifts to music. The passing of Manu Dibango, Krzysztof Penderecki, Ellis Marsalis Jr., Bucky Pizzarelli and Alan Merrill brought endless tributes from peers and fans with the recent loss of soul singer-songwriter Bill Withers doing the same.

With a mirage of hits, the iconic songwriter left his mark on music with the release of his debut album Just As I Am in 1971. "Ain't No Sunshine" put a spotlight on his songwriting while 1977's "Lovely Day" reminded the industry of his signature vocals. Withers released eight studio albums, one live album and garnered three Grammys for his powerful songs that gave hope and love to fans to this day.

Hip-hop and R&B have gained the most from Withers as his music went on to inspire records like "No Diggity" by BLACKStreet, "Roses" by Kanye West and other songs from UGK, Dr. Dre, Jill Scott and more.

Take a look at some of Withers' finest tunes covered, remixed and sampled below.

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8. “Lovely Day” | Menagerie (1977)

Sampled On: T.W.D.Y., “Player’s Holiday” | Derty Werk (1999) LunchMoneyLewis - “It's Gonna Be A Lovely Day” feat. Aminè | Pets 2 Soundtrack (2019) Swizz Beatz - “Take A Picture” |One Man Band (2007)

Standout: T.W.D.Y., “Player’s Holiday” | Derty Werk (1999)

Short for "The Whole Damn Yay," the group used Withers' sample while throwing a splash of The Bay's laid back flavor. With cameos from future legends like E-40 and Ray Luv, the single already embodied the best of R&B and hip-hop with guest verses from Too Short, Mac Mall and Otis & Shug. The mimosas and yacht are also a great touch.

Covered By: Jill Scott, The Original Jill Scott from the Vault Vol. 1 (2011) Alt-J, This Is All Yours (2014) Robert Glasper Experiment, Black Radio 2 (2013) Kirk Franklin, The Nu Nation Project (1998)

Standout: Kirk Franklin, The Nu Nation Project (1998)

Who was going to beat a chorus singing to the lordt? Franklin's take on the classic gives us stirring gospel and appreciation for Withers and God. There are plenty of covers that have lifted the same vocals as Withers, but the ones listed have put their unique spin on the track.

7. “Ain't No Sunshine” | Just As I Am (1971)

Sampled On: DMX - “No Sunshine” | Exit Wounds Soundtrack (2001) Lil B - “Up And Down” | Based Jam (2012) 2Pac- "Soulja's Story" |  2Pacalypse Now (1991)

Standout: DMX - “No Sunshine” | Exit Wounds Soundtrack (2001)

"No Sunshine" served as the only single from DMX's film alongside Steven Seagal, which gave everyone the perfect backdrop to the movie and X's intricate storytelling. Both the original and flipped version points out the dark elements of our lives. Withers penned the song after watching the film 1962 movie Days of Wine and Roses, he pondered over the toxicity in his life. "Sometimes you miss things that weren't particularly good for you," he said in 2004 to SongFacts. "It's just something that crossed my mind from watching that movie, and probably something else that happened in my life that I'm not aware of."

Covered By: Soul For Real | Candy Rain (1994) Michael Jackson | Got to Be There (1972) The Boris Gardiner Happening | Is What's Happening (1973) The Temptations | Solid Rock (1972)

Standout: Michael Jackson | Got to Be There (1972)

At 14, the future King of Pop gave a riveting cover of Withers' hit for his debut album, Got To Be There. From his vocal control throughout the track to the instrumentation, his cover takes the song to another level of heartbreak.

6. "Grandma's Hands” | Just As I Am (1971)

Sampled On: BLACKstreet - “No Diggity” feat. Dr. Dre and Queen Pen | Another Level (1996) Big K.R.I.T. - “I Gotta Stay” | K.R.I.T. Wuz Here (2010) Brother Ali - “Waheedah's Hands” | Champion (2004)

Standout: BLACKstreet - “No Diggity” feat. Dr. Dre and Queen Pen | Another Level (1996)

R&B heads are well aware of BLACKstreet's neverending ballads and the genius of Teddy Riley. But the pivot of their sound for their sophomore album Another Level was due to Withers and the William “Stylez” Stewart. Speaking to Fact Mag in 2017, the creator of New Jack Swing gave credit to Stylez for bringing him the sample of "Grandma's Hands."

“If he hadn’t played that sample for me, there would never be a ‘No Diggity’ And if he didn’t write it according to the melody I gave him so it would sound that way because I wanted it to sound funky,” he said. “I wanted it to be appealing to everyone, but mostly to women. I wanted every woman to feel like they were the ‘No Diggity’ girl and that song was about them and it came across. And now, still, today, that song plays and people are on that dancefloor.”

Covered By: Gil Scott-Heron, Reflections (1981) Merry Clayton, Merry Clayton (1971) Barbra Streisand, Butterfly (1974)

Standout: Gil Scott-Heron, Reflections (1981)

Gil Scott-Heron's version of the soul classic reminded us of his versatile talents. From spoken word to his vocal abilities, the Godfather of rap music always came through with his own sound and style. Reflections was one of four albums the late artist dropped in the 80s with critics looking to it as one of his finest projects. Other cuts from the album included "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" and "B Love."

5. "Use Me" | Still Bill (1972)

Sampled On: Kendrick Lamar - “Sing About Me, I'm Dying Of Thirst"  | Good kid, Maad City (2012) J. Cole- "Dollar And A Dream II" | The Warm-Up (2009) Leela James - “So Good" | Fall For You (2014) UGK - "Use Me Up" | The Southern Way (1992)

Standout: Kendrick Lamar - “Sing About Me, I'm Dying Of Thirst"  | Good kid, Maad City (2012)

Lamar's take on "Use Me" blended right into the themes of his debut album, Good kid, Maad City allowing the artist to create another world on the project. To make things even better, Lamar also sampled Al Green's "I'm Glad You're Mine" for the track.

Covered By: Grace Jones, Indigo Nights, Live (2008) Mick Jagger feat. Lenny Kravitz, Wandering Spirit  (2004) Issac Hayes, Dr. Dolittle Soundtrack (1998)

Standout: Mick Jagger feat. Lenny Kravitz, Wandering Spirit (2004)

On his third solo album, Jagger linked with Rick Rubin to test his creative energy, allowing him to work with Lenny Kravitz on their version of "Use Me." Colliding worlds was one thing but to hear Kravitz's vocals come in on the bridge, set the track apart from the rest.

4. “Kissing My Love” | Still Bill (1972)

Sampled On: J. Cole - “The Cut Off" featuring kiLL Edward  | KOD (2018) Dr. Dre - "Let Me Ride" featuring Snoop Dogg, RC and Jewell | The Chronic (1992) Masta Ace- "Movin On" | Take A Look Around (1990) Master P- "Bastard Child" | The Ghettos Tryin To Kill Me! | 1994

Standout: Dr. Dre - "Let Me Ride" featuring Snoop Dogg, RC and Jewell | The Chronic (1992)

"Kissing My Love" is one of most sampled from Withers catalog, thanks to its feverish drums. It's also why it fits into Dr. Dre's single and the G-funk era.

3. Grover Washington's “Just The Two of Us” featuring Bill Withers | Winelight (1981)

Sampled/Covered On:  Will Smith - “Just The Two of Us” | Big Willie Style (1997) Eminem- "Just The Two of Us" | Slim Shady EP (1997) Keri Hilson- "Pretty Girl Rock" | No Boys Allowed (2010)

Standout: Will Smith - “Just The Two of Us” | Big Willie Style (1997)

Touching and soulful, Smith's dedication to his eldest son Trey is just too cute for words.

2. “Let It Be” | Just As I Am  (1967)

The Original: The Beatles - “Let It Be” | Let It Be (1968)

"Let It Be" is a pretty special record. Aretha Franklin recorded a version a year before the release of The Beatles' version and Withers gave his take on the record in the 70s. Slightly faster, his upbeat take on "Let It Be" just hits different.

1. “Rosie” | Menagerie Re-Issue (1977)

Sampled On: Kanye West - “Roses” |  Late Registration (2005)

As the somber part of Late Registration, "Roses" brings us into Kanye's world where he contemplates the mortality of a loved one. It's a sentimental take on the sample and one of the artist's most underrated songs. It's also a hidden gem for Withers as it isn't featured on Menagerie's LP. It was added as a bonus track on

Enjoy the jams in playlist form below.

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Remain Calm: 5 Ways To Curve Negative Effects Of Coronavirus Isolation

Self-isolation during the coronavirus outbreak seems to be best practice in keeping our families and peers safe but it's also a shift in our normal social behavior. As millions of families around the country get adjusted to self-isolation, the state of our mental health and how our bodies react to the practice are changing by the day, especially lower-income and marginalized groups.

Speaking with Wired, John Vincent, a clinical psychologist at the University of Houston, shared how apathetic behavior can rise to the forefront, making space for anxiety and depression.

“People start getting lethargic when they don’t have positive inputs into their small worlds,” Vincent says. “We can expect depression to kick in, and depression and anxiety are kissing cousins.”

But the biggest reason behind the uneasiness isn't the self-isolation but just how long it will last. Details of COVID-19 are changing by the day with the most cases now coming out of New York. Yet, there's still little to no information on what happens next.

“Open, transparent, consistent communication is the most important thing governments and organizations can do: Make sure people understand why they are being quarantined first and foremost, how long it is expected to last,” Samantha Brooks of King’s College London told the outlet. “A huge factor in the negative psychological impact seems to be confusion about what's going on, not having clear guidelines, or getting different messages from different organizations.”

Uncertainty hitting low income and marginalized groups is also a problem within itself. As virtual parties and celebrities opening up on social media happen on a daily, there are people who might not access fun distractions on the web.

“Some people have posited technology as a means of connecting people, but lower-income groups might not even have FaceTime or Skype or minutes on their phone,” Thomas Cudjoe, a geriatrician researching the intersection of social connections and aging at Johns Hopkins University says. “People take that for granted, using their devices can be a strain on people’s incomes.”

To make self-isolation less than a bore or a daunting task, experts suggest creating a schedule to dictate control in your home.

1. Work It Out

Gyms are closed, but your home can be transformed into a personal training center. Use heavy bags for weights and if you can, create a playlist of workouts on YouTube. For those who have memberships for Blink or Peloton, the platforms have streamed their workouts on apps.

2. Mindful Meditation

Meditation isn't about dumping your thoughts, it's about staying aware and mindful. AQUA has developed online that leverages the power of "Mindful Meditation and Mobility Movements" for flexibility and fluidity in the body. Classes are free of charge but feel free to donate.

3. Take It Back To High School

Give your friends a call or indulge in a FaceTime party. Feel free to use the Wifi in your home to reduce the amount of data used on your phone. Lala Anthony held a too-cute FT birthday party for writer Kiyonna Anthony with a 70s theme. You can also find creative ways to hop on the phone with friends and family instead of constantly chatting about 'rona.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

We made the best out of our quarantine situation🎉‼️FACETIME 70s Party💃🏽🎉HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY NIECE @kiyonnathewriter ❤️❤️💃🏽💃🏽SHOUT OUT TO ALL MY ARIES ♈️ MAKE THE BEST OF IT!!!😘

A post shared by ℒᎯ ℒᎯ (@lala) on Mar 23, 2020 at 7:14pm PDT

4. Start A Journal

Journals just aren't for kids. The practice not only gives you something to do, but it fuels creativity and a new level of self-awareness. Former First Lady Michelle Obama recently developed Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice, with over 150 inspiring questions and quotes that connect to key themes in her memoir. The journal will also help bring readers to terms with the importance of family and personal reflections as well as the goals they'd like to make a reality.

5. Have a Dance Party or Enjoy Lo-Fi Beats To Quarantine To

If you don't have data or battery power to watch a virtual DJ party, make your own. If you have to pull out your record player, do it! You can also hop on your favorite streaming service and create a playlist all your own.

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From Teen Sensation To Vocal Bible: Brandy's 15 Best Songs

September 27, 2019 marked the 25th anniversary of the multiplatinum self-titled debut album by one of R&B’s greatest voices, Brandy Rayana Norwood, or simply Brandy. She was already well on her way to stardom prior to her debut as a background vocalist for Immature and one of the stars of the short-lived ABC series, Thea. However, it was the album Brandy that set her on the path to tremendous success.

Since officially bursting onto the scene in 1994 sporting her well-known braided crown of glory, she has been a force to be reckoned with. She was handpicked by her idol, the late Whitney Houston, to portray the role of the first Black Cinderella in the 1997 film Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella. Her show Moesha was one of the longest-running black sitcoms. Brandy was also a CoverGirl in 1999 and became a friend of Barbie that same year when Mattel released the Brandy Doll. In music, she’s released six studio albums, sold more than 40 million records worldwide, headlined three world tours, and won more than 30 awards including seven Billboard Music Awards, a Grammy and the Soul Train Lady of Soul Award. Brandy deserves her flowers.

Let’s check out the top 15 songs that helped solidify Brandy as your favorite singer’s favorite singer (just ask Solange) and earned her the title of the “Vocal Bible.”

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