Before I get into Tupac Shakur, maybe this is just a crazy coincidence but yesterday morning I stumbled across an old archive video of Malcolm X on Facebook. It’s the clip where an interviewer tries to take him to task for not revealing his surname, but Malcolm eloquently reiterates like five or six times that he doesn’t acknowledge a name that was given to him by a slave master. Simples.
Like, the interviewer is seriously getting served and looks like he’s about to blow a kidney or something.
Now, I’ve seen this interview before. My final year dissertation was titled “Black Power: from rhetoric to reality”, covering the period in the 60s to mid-70s where the concept of black power evolved from an emotionally-charged buzzword to real political activity. It started with looking at the Malcolm X legacy and the way it inspired the dawn of the Black Panther Party – but the essay kinda stopped at the emergence of politicians like Jesse Jackson and didn’t really go beyond that, like anywhere near the 80s or 90s (there’s only so much you can do with 10,000 words, you know), otherwise I probably would’ve dedicated an entire chapter to Tupac Shakur.
Looking back at my teen-hood, I was here for Tupac in as much as I liked the songs Keep Ya Head Up, I Ain’t Mad At Cha, California Love, All Eyez on Me and his breakout starring role in the film Juice. And yea, I’m not gonna lie, I appreciated the fact he was easy on the eyes. Shout out to Black Beat and those Thug Life posters.
Maybe that was enough to claim fan-dom back them. Like, how much did I need to know about gangbanging and bitches? Nor was I really trying to pretend to relate to it in any shape or form. But what I did clock was that when Tupac wasn’t spitting tales of that thug life, he was also coming from a place of black consciousness (and in a strange way, doing both at the same time). And of course he was – his mom was a black Panther. And on the interwebs, you’ll even find a speech he gave as a 20-year-old at a Malcolm X grassroots movement dinner in ATL, amongst many others engaging vids where he’s talking about issues within the black community with the same fervour and enlightenment as the man like Malcolm.
Tupac Shakur was totally THAT dude.
But if you’re not necessarily a hip-hop head and wanted to know more about that side of the legend, Rich Mix has got the best thing happening this weekend. It’s an afternoon of music, spoken word, discussions and lectures dedicated to the man himself, to mark the 20th anniversary (!) of his death on September 13, 1996. Dwell on that for a moment. Tupac Shakur died 20 YEARS AGO. Twenty. Two. Zero. Where in the blazes did the time go?!? And why is his murder still unsolved? #thingsthatmakeyougohmmmm
Anywho, the event is being run by a group called the Malcolm X movement which is devoted to celebrating the life of Tupac and Afeni Shakur, his mom, so the aim of the day is to talk all things Tupac and explore his relevance today.
It’s just a fiver to go along and there’s not gonna be any freaky holograms or anything like that, so you can find out more about the event here.
Until then, I leave you with another TUPAC CLASSIC that’ll get you all up in your feelings and make you call your mom today, guaranteed: