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.
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
—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
—Camille Augustin, Contributing Editor
—Mikey Fresh, Music Editor
—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