Tupac Shakur: A Hip-Hop Inspiration Music is a cultural journal that expresses the realities and emotions of life in a poetic way. For the African American culture, music has always been a statement for many controversial topics such as racism, religion, politics, education, crime, and violence. In the 1990’s, Hip-Hop became the newest cultural and artistic voice for the African American population. Genres such as jazz, blues, rock-n-roll, and gospel that once dominated the musical culture of African Americans slipped into the background, and Hip-Hop rose to power and defined a generation.
The inspirational and influential Tupac Shakur stormed onto the rap scene in 1991 with an emotional style that changed the rap game forever. Tupac’s social consciousness morphed him into an activist and enabled him to influence American culture along with redefining the hip-hop genre. Tupac Shakur was born in New York City during the year 1971. His mother, Afeni Shakur, a member of the Black Panther Party. was in jail for bombing charges during her pregnancy. The origin of the name Tupac Amaru is Incan and translates to “shining serpent,” while Shakur is Arabic and means “thankful to God. In 1986, Shakur’s family moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where Tupac enrolled in the Baltimore School for the Arts. At the age of 15, Tupac wrote his first rap song under the name of M. C. New York. The rapper’s life took a turn for the worse in 1988 when his family moved to a small city outside of Oakland, California. Shortly after moving to the projects, Tupac moved in with a neighbor and started to sell drugs. Later that year, Tupac’s stepfather Mutulu Shakur was indicted and sentenced to 60 years in prison for his part in an armored car robbery that took place in 1981.
Despite all of the trouble surrounding him and his family, Tupac joined the Grammy-nominated rap group ‘Digital Underground’ as a dancer and rapper. After touring with the acclaimed group in 1990, Tupac released his first solo album in ’91. He received immediate recognition for his debut album, 2pacalypse Now, which graced the world with the successful singles “Trapped” and “Brenda’s Got A Baby. ” With the individual success that Tupac had received with his musical talent, he wanted to prove to the world that he was more than just a rapper. In 1992, Tupac appeared in the Earnest Dickerson film “Juice. Within the next two years, Tupac starred in two additional movies: the John Singleton movie, “Poetic Justice”(Janet Jackson co-starred), and “Above The Rim. ” Unfortunately, legal issues slowed the success of the influential rapper as a result of his 1994 arrest on sexual assault charges in New York. Subsequently, during the same month and in the same city, Tupac was shot in an apparent robbery attempt outside of his recording studio. Shortly after his quick recovery, Tupac was then acquitted of sodomy and weapons charges after he was convicted of sexually abusing a woman he had invited to his hotel room.
Despite the absurd amount of legal problems, Shakur was back in the studio in early ’95 and released the incredible album Me Against The World. The amount of devotion and emotion put into songs such as “Dear Mama” helped this record surpass 2 million copies sold. In February of the same year, Tupac was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison for sex abuse. After serving only eight months, Shakur was released on bail while he appealed the sentence. Still thriving on the success of Me Against The World, Tupac released his fourth solo album, All Eyez On Me, which topped the ‘Billboard Album Chart’ shortly after it debuted.
Songs such as “Life Goes On” and “I Ain’t Mad At Cha” once again demonstrate Tupac’s ability to put every fiber of his being into each one of his songs. The game-changing album went on to sell five million copies. On September 7, 1996, Tupac Amaru Shakur was knocked off the top of the world when he was shot in an apparent drive-by in Las Vegas. Five days later, Tupac was pronounced dead. The controversy surrounding the death of the greatest hip-hop artist of all time remains, to this day, a mystery.
The death of Tupac Shakur may still be a mystery, however his influence on hip-hop music is undeniable. Tupac had a talent for exposing social and economical issues that forced society to face the reality that our nation was still far from perfect. He used his success and lyrics as a medium to speak to the world about important economical, political and social injustices. He quickly became a leader among the African American population, transforming into a voice for his nationality and a source of hope when there was nothing left for his people to believe in.
Tupac was an inspiration to those suffering from poverty or feeling hopeless about the future; his accomplishments proved that even a kid from the ghetto could rise above the hate and despair, achieve any goal, and make a difference in the world. The death of Tupac Shakur and his influence on hip-hop music is an invaluable part of not just African-American history, but world history. He may have been a criminal that had ‘thug life’ tatooed on his body, but Tupac was a courageous person who not only stood up for what he believed in, but carved his views into the hip-hop genre for generations to come.
Shakur’s life, legacy, and music career focused on activism so much that I see him as the Martin Luther King of hip-hop. As an avid reader, Shakur absorbed a wealth of knowledge and was eager to share it. Today, you hear a lot of rap and hip-hop music that has no real value. Sadly, most rap lyrics now are focused on material things, money and sex. The emotion in and deeper meaning of rap is dead. Though there are a few exceptions (Eminem), hip-hop for the most part has been swallowed by the genre the media is responsible for: pop.
Music nowadays entails repetitive chorus’s and seems to be just noise. Great music is now a commodity that is hard to come by, especially in hip-hop, which is why I am so thankful for Tupac’s music even though his career was cut short. In a very short time, Tupac managed to address profound social issues while preaching through his lyrics. Not only did Shakur influence the genre of hip-hop and the culture of many Americans, he became a worldwide symbol of change. Tupac Shakur is a martyr, who believed he could make a difference through music, and boy did he ever.
I end this paper on the greatest hip-hop artist of all time with lyrics from the song “Changes: Come on, Come on, That’s just the way it is, Things will never be the same, That’s just the way it is, Aww Yeah. ” Work Citied Hamilton, K. (2004). Making some noise: The academy’s hip-hop generation. Black Issues in Higher Education, 21 (5), 34-37. Krims, A. (2000). New perspectives in music history and criticism: rap music and the poetics of identity. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. Smith, D. (1999). Tupac Shakur. In A. Light (Ed. ), The vibe history of hip-hop (p. 297-305). New York: Three Rivers Press.