Tupac Shakur Activist, Poet, Family man, Rapper. Tupac was one of the most influential rappers of our time. He was able to bring real life troubles and crimes to light by converting them into lyrical hits. Tupac made a name for himself out of nowhere he was the rose that broke out of the concrete walls that held him in. Overcoming adversity Tupac became the most famous rappers of the west coast. Being known as a “West Coast” rapper Tupac’s influence was known to spread throughout the states to the east coast.
What was even more surprising is that Tupac’s influence didn’t only cross the country it crossed oceans to the continent of Africa. The African culture ate Tupac up as if he was there long lost king . In my essay today I’m going to cover Tupac’s influence in Africa. To talk about Tupac’s influence in African we first have to dive into who Tupac really was. Tupac Amaru Shakur was born June 16, 1971. His name, Tupac Amaru was an Inca name meaning “Shining Serpent” and Shakur meant “Thankful to God”. Tupac had a rough childhood.
From the day he was born, things were rough. His mother, Afeni Shakur, was a member of the Black Panther Party. While carrying Tupac, she was arrested in connection to the Black Panther Party for conspiracy to bomb several public places. She was released one month before Tupac s birth. Tupac grew up in the tough parts of town and did what he could to survive. When Tupac turned twelve years old, decided acting was his calling. He joined the 127th St. Ensemble, a Harlem Theater Group. Soon after, he enrolled in the Baltimore School for Performing Arts.
This came to an abrupt end when Tupac, age 17, was forced to leave the school and move to California with his mother. Soon after the move, Tupac began dealing drugs. At about the same time, his stepfather, whom he had considered his real dad, was sentenced to sixty years in jail for his role in a 1981 armored car robbery. This was a devastating blow to Tupac. Within a year, Tupac had risen among the black youths in the area and became the chairman of The New African Panthers. The New African Panthers was group which was honoring the goals of the original Black Panthers, but without making the same mistakes they made.
In 1991, Tupac joined the rap game. This is where Tupac truly shinned, by the end of the year he released his first album. It was titled “2Pacalypse Now”. Soon, Tupac began acting. In a short period of time, Tupac appeared in many movies. He was in Juice, Poetic Justice, Above The Rim, and Menace II Society. With his many movie releases, he was soon very popular. In Late 1994, Tupac was found guilty of sexual abuse. He was sentenced 18 months to 4. 5 years. Five months later his new CD “Me Against The World” debuted at number one on all of the charts.
It went on to go double platinum. Later that year, he married long time girlfriend Keisha Morris. Later he released the first ever two-disk CD. It was titled “All Eyez On Me”. It went quintuple platinum. Five months later, on September 7, while in vegas with Sugh Knight, Tupac was shot four times. Six days later, he died. There is way too much controversy surrounded his death many people believed Tupac faked his death. To this day nobody can prove it either way, but the rumors say he is alive and well chilling in Africa are still to this day going around.
Many people in Africa felt connected to Tupac due to his roots. By embracing his African name he was considered a king among kings in the African culture. They saw a black man with African name making a name for himself and gaining notoriety and a celebrity by speaking the truth through music. Many people in the Africa connect with Tupac because they felt they could be like him he came from nothing and made a name for himself he was famous and making money, he lived in shelters he was in jail his family was falling apart and like a phoenix he rose from the ashes.
Tupac was an escape in Africa, seeing that the African culture has a huge role and concentration in music it was only right that someone bringing new music would be looked up to as an idol. Much like Bob Marley Tupac was seen everywhere, in urban eras where posters and murals of Bob Marley were posted Tupac was also plastered everywhere. Tupac not only an idol for the youth of Africa but also for the rebel soldiers (Rogers 2011). During the civil war in Sierra Leone rebel soldiers would drive around with the lyrics painted on the cars “Death Row,” “Missing in action,” and “Only God can judge”.
Some military regimes even wore the Tupac tee shirts you might find at dds discounts as their uniform. “I only listen to 2Pac before going to shoot Gaddafi boys,” said Hisham al Hady. Al Hady is a Libyan rebel battling the regime of Colonel Muammar Gadaffi, but he’s not alone. Shakur’s influence on African fighters extends far beyond the current civil strife in Libya, and goes much deeper than just pre-battle pump-ups. Tupac has even influenced a gang in Libya called the Westside boys.
The west side boys got their name from a popular song that Tupac created called “Hit ‘Em Up” where he says in the song west side boy killas . Shakur’s murder in September of 1996 came at a critical point in Sierra Leone’s civil war. The following May, the Revolutionary United Front and army soldiers sacked the country’s capital, Freetown. Among this craziness of stealing, rape and murder, many fighters looked to the rhymes of Tupac for some vague comprehension of their situation.
Many people connected with Tupac through one way or another whether it was because of the music he brought or the stances he stood for the rights he fought for. In an interview with MTV rapper Eminem stated “He made you feel like you knew him. I think that, honestly, Tupac was the greatest songwriter that ever lived. He made it seem so easy. The emotion was there, and feeling, and everything he was trying to describe. You saw a picture that he was trying to paint. ” That was the underlining reason so many people connected with Tupac no matter where you were from he made you feel loved and connected through his lyrics.
A physcologist studied boys in the ran down parts of Cape Town where murals and other things regarding Tupac can be found he wanted to figure out if there was a correlation between the two. In his studies he found that the boys looked up to Tupac as a strong male figure. Most of the people in the gangs that he interviewed and studied had no father figure to look up to so they looked to Tupac for guidance event though they were only shown the “Thug” side of Tupac they were still judgmental about him being just a plain thug.
These depictions of celebrated masculinities are played out in local, material conditions. Although the new South African state is characterized by a progressive approach to gender, high poverty rates, rising expectations and the emergence of a commodity culture, underlined by globalization, has led to widespread criminal violence and masculinities which are destructive (Morrell, 2001) Many of these kids sought “Masculinity” by joining the thug life they felt at ease in a community that accepted them.
Tupac and his music created a dream that the thug life was the way to go so the youth flocked to the gang life to get money and acquire women cars and notoriety and fame much like Tupac. The last and final reason for Tupac’s huge effect on the African American society would have to be through his uplifting of the African American society and in turn lifting up the African people as a whole (Jacobs, 2011). Tupac wasn’t just another rapper who would rhyme any two words together.
Tupac brought attention to injustices all around this country, whether they were due to the color of one’s skin or economic status. While Tupac supported the uplifting of African-Americans, he openly questioned if it was ever possible due to the destructive tendencies he witnessed from his time in these communities. He understood that little progress would ever be made as long as the drug epidemic continued. Along with the widespread drug use in these communities also came a high crime rate.
Many artists simply left these tough issues alone, but Tupac gravitated toward the controversy. Tupac showed people that they could be of African descent and still be wise they could still make money and become successful. In conclusion Tupac was a man of very talents he had to power to put all the monstrosities and injustices in the world and make it into a song that would instantly become a hit. He wanted to make a difference in the African community and he felt like if he didn’t do it who would. Without the brilliant mind of that black man who knows where we would be now.
Sure racism and oppression is still happening but I felt like Pac really took it out of the shadows. I feel like the African people looked up to Tupac because he came from a one family home he came from oppression and the ghetto and he rose out of the pits and became something. He made a name for himself and I feel like the idolized him for that and were proud for the very fact that he is from African decent and I believe that’s beautiful. When a community will back someone up that’s trying to make a change that’s when you know you’re doing something right.
Rogers , P. (2011, September 12). African rebel soldiers and their eerie obsession with tupac shakur. Retrieved from http://blogs.laweekly.com/westcoastsound/2011/09/tupac_week_african_rebel_soldi.php
Jacobs, S. (2011, September 15). Tupac in africa. Retrieved from http://africasacountry.com/2011/09/15/tupac-in-africa/