My Biography of Tupac Shakur

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              It felt like every kid grew up in my generation thinking that Tupac went to their high school before moving to New York, or Oakland – two places he praised in his music.   He didn’t attend some suburban high school.  He did attend the Baltimore School for the Arts.  I don’t need to write a concise biography about Tupac Amaru Shakur.  In light of recent protests highlighting the blindfold that the silent majority has willingly put on itself with regard to police brutality, I want, no I need to tell the story of Tupac as I understood it as a 12 year old child listening to his music.

              What was 2pac to me?  As a kid who attended mix-raced schools, it didn’t take long for my relationship with the police to begin.  I was 9 years old when I was put in handcuffs and treated like a criminal for bumping into a lady while riding my bicycle.   Hang tight, there are a couple more bicycle stories in this paragraph.  I was sued by the lady and my family had to pay $30,000 because I ran into her on the sidewalk.  Oops.   Shortly after that incident, bicycle helmets were required for all children, and were strictly enforced.   I was wrestled to the ground by a police officer at 13 years old and driven home to my parents who were perplexed by Mr. Hot-head’s delivery of their child with his bike stuck in the trunk of the police car.  After spending a little over a month at a state –sanctioned hotel, I didn not grow any respect for the prison industrial complex.  I just made sure I stayed as far away from them as I could.  After a couple decades of being extorted by them through innocuous things like a tail-light fix-it ticket that had an administrative fee of $120!  I had a cop attempt to run me over while riding my bicycle through a community college campus, then threaten to taze me after already having me in handcuffs.  At this point, I was 30, he was 20 something, and I talked to him like the child that he was, a child with a tazer.  Don’t give children weapons!

              Now, when I hear a song like,

 “Cops sweatin’ me

 as if my destiny

is making crack sales”

 I don’t think of the thuggery of this story of a 15 year old boy, I hear of the thuggery of the police.

“They finally pull me over and I laugh

Remember Rodney King and I blast on his punk ass!”

Considering the police had labeled me, and seemingly everyone within their orbit, as criminals, it follows that crime would increase.  The excuse for increase in law enforcement in exchange of social services is the biggest crime of justice in American history.  And Tupac exposed it.

That gap is what I like to call “corruption”

              For those that don’t know, Tupac’s mother was affiliated with the Black Panther movement, I say movement, because the white-stream media wants to label it a terrorist one-off organization, when the reality was every black leader that advocated for taking up their 2nd amendment rights conveniently got assassinated or arrested.  What does Tupac have to say about it?

“What the fuck would you do?

Drop him? Or let him drop you?

I chose droppin’ the cop”

[‘Now, now, now, you can’t go promoting violence against the police.’  Within the same song that warns black men of the possibility that any time they interact with the police, the risk is a Rodney King situation, and people are saying, “you can’t promote violence against the police”?  This song is 28 years old.  It has become so systemic that we have just accepted that being arrested while black is a crime in America. ]

Now for the next song that describes the message that I believe was missed by an entire generation

“Tired of being trapped in this vicious cycle

If one more cop harasses me I might go psycho”

This, Thug is talking about the cycle of describing young black and brown men as criminals before they do crime, then the prison industrial complex takes it turn to enslave children for Federal subsidies. 

“And when I get ’em, I’ll hit ’em with the bum rush

Only a lunatic would like to see his skull crushed

Yo, if you’re smart you’ll really let me go, G

But keep me cooped up in this ghetto and catch the Uzi”

It really is too bad this message was lost on the racist of the white-stream media.  You label them criminals, you put them in prison, you leave them in there in the most formidable time of a child’s life, then throw them to the wolves and sell the idea that these people just didn’t work hard enough to get where they are.  Even a black kid in a white suburb will be targeted, harassed, and likely arrested by the police at a rate that would shock you. Here’s an example of police arresting children in schools.  Why? Because we care about the black and brown communities?  NO, because you trap them in a vicious cycle, and we as Americans are lucky they didn’t go the school shooter route.  I guess mass murder is a dish generally served by whites.

              This song kind of hits the nail on the head:

“I told ’em fight back, attack on society

If this is violence, then violent’s what I gotta be

If you investigate you’ll find out where it’s comin’ from

Look through our history, America’s the violent one

Unlock my brain, break the chains of your misery

This time the payback for evil shit you did to me

They call me militant, racist ’cause I will resist

You wanna censor somethin’, motherfucker censor this!

My words are weapons and I’m steppin’ to the silent

Wakin’ up the masses, but you, claim that I’m violent”

              [Ahhh, symbolism.  This time, 2pac starts with saying that he is being harassed for being a rapper.  Here we see 2pac start to veer from his preachy message, and describes being Never. Ignorant. Getting. Goals. Accomplished.

But, wait, there’s more!]

“Jacked by the police, didn’t have my ID

I said, “Excuse me, why you tryin’ to rob me?”

He had the nerve to say that I had a curfew

‘Do you know what time it is?

Get out the fucking car, or I’ll hurt you!’

So here I go, I better make my mind up

Pick my nine up or hit the line-up”

              Once again we see anger and frustration arising out of a feeling of living in a police state.  A police state that extends beyond these people’s communities, and  beyond the suburbs, and it is deeply ingrained.  Don’t believe me?  Go ask a black man if he would like to accompany you to go hiking in the woods.  His response, “That’s white people shit!  You’re just gonna get-out me and bury me somewhere in the middle of nowhere.”  And even if he did join you, what is the state patrol going to do when he sees a black man at a country store?  At best stare, at worst arrest him for having dark skin.  If you think what I’m saying is crazy, and that the whole world is “woke”, you need to know that there is a lot of work to be done.  And it is crazy that the police have trapped people and labeled them as violent thugs.  So what does 2pac do? 

2pac drops a 2nd album Strictly for my N.I.G.G.A.Z. which had the widespread song Keep Ya’ head up – a classic rap classic. 

“I was framed, so don’t make the same mistake, nigga

You gotta learn how to shake the snakes, nigga

Cause the police love to break a nigga

Send ’em upstate cause they straight-up hate the niggas

So what I do is get a crew of zoo niggas

Straight fools into rules and do niggas

And one-time had enough of me

I’m still raw so the law can’t fuck with me

They wanna send me to the pen, punk, picture that

I stay strapped, motherfuckers better get your gat

It ain’t easy bein’ me, I can’t take it

Life as a celebrity ain’t everything they make it”

“You love to shoot a […] but you scared to shoot a cop” – [Cops love this one!]

More importantly, this song came out:

“Cops pull me over, check my plates, but I’m legal

You couldn’t get me, figure fuck with a niggas people

They got me trapped, gat with the motherfucking hammer back

Cops on my back, just cause I’m black, SNAP

Now I’m guilty?

Message to the censorship committee

Who’s the biggest gang of niggas in the city?

All you punk police will never find peace

On the streets til the niggas get a piece, fuck em!”

              I wasn’t a big fan of the style of this album, but Keep Ya head up, and I get around are classics.  I think this song is so much more powerful than any of the popular songs that 2pac wrote.  This one is telling people to strap up, protect themselves, and then what happened a year later?

              I can’t seem to grasp why the police would arrest  a famous celebrity for having consensual sex with a fan.

It’s not like rape happens in the rock star community.

So, white glamrock stars with spandex pants and eye-liner are fucking teenagers, and 2pac tries to run a train on a groupie and goes to prison?  Does this sound like racism to you?   Because I was told at this time in my childhood, that we cancelled racism, just like we cancelled the Coronavirus.

Tupac went to prison – he went from being trapped in the ghetto to being trapped in a literal cell.  Most white parents (now the boomer generation) felt that he deserved his punishment while enjoying any number of classic rock artists that did the same thing.

After Tupac came out of prison, he dropped a double album.  In my personal opinion, one of the greatest artistic explosions.  The album had mainstream success.  The album had ghetto success, and the album crossed everything but the racial boundary. The year All Me Against the World (1995)  came out,  Jimmy Page was busy touring around the world selling his no quarter album.  Jimmy diddled little girls, 2pac took it a little too far when he thought that California was the place to party.   But guess which one went to prison?  And to make R.Kelly out to be some kind of example of a lack of racial bias, just remember those were accusations, and R.Kelly never advocated for the community to stand up for police brutality.

              What I saw was an activist who was given a choice to either continue along the route of his mother and risk assignation, or say fuck it!  And turn into the caricature that he became out of prison.  To his dismay, real gangsters don’t carry the kind of loyalty that an artist and activist the kind that Tupac had surrounded himself with until he went to prison. 

              There are 3 types of school:

              1 – Traditional education.  Mostly structured to file and itemize human beings by their age into a collective understanding of the world.  Higher education has the tendency to specialize and concentrate into areas that designate the person as a “doer” of some kind.  The further up the ladder, the more creative the learning becomes.  Many ignorant of education do not understand that the strict principles taught in 8th grade are not the same parameters or strictness at the university level.  This is why Donald trump had a majority of voters who were not traditionally educated, and demonized anyone who were as arrogant instead of listening to people who spent years, sometimes decades studying politics, or criminality, or interpersonal communication.  I was lucky to spend 19 years in this traditional educational umbrella.

              2 – The University of the Streets.  Mostly a learned experience unless the child is smart enough to listen to his or her elders, which is rare.  Personal experience, anecdotal evidence, and whatever is absorbed by an individual gets a free education on the streets.  See a person calmly walk up to a group of seemingly angry people is someone who is about to get a lesson at the University of the Streets.  The dope game is learned from the streets, the dope game is run at the Federal level both literally and figuratively (see: Afghanistan ).  Knowing perseverance isn’t enough to succeed is a lesson learned on the streets.  Karma is also learned on the streets.  It is easy to watch the people fail to understand these concepts because they have never been to class.

              3 – State Sponsored Housing.  This can mean living in public housing.   This could mean being sent to federal prison, or this could mean a jail farm.  The politics don’t change.  There are still the same hierarchical order between people and police (or correctional officers), but because there is no influx of civil society to expand and offer diverse opportunities, it reverts back to primal tribal order, where everyone is separated by race and order is conducted by the largest gang, with the officers there to maintain the least amount of effort possible while they suck of this national socialist concept of enslaving 1% of the American population.  Even in housing projects or ghettos, the bars are just shaped differently.  Go ahead, take a jog through the white-people neighborhood.  “you can’t?  Why not?”

“Well, it’s not that I can’t.  Let’s put it this way, if there was a chance that you went to the lake and some guy would put you in handcuffs and dunk your head underwater, how often are you gonna go back to that lake?”  Telling someone to “keep to their own” is limiting their mobility, or imprisoning that person. 

              What do those schools have to do with Tupac?  He, like myself, was victim to all 3.   When he got out of prison, there was energy, fire, and real anger.  Before he went to prison, Tupac wrote songs like

Me against the world

So many tears

Lord knows

Dear Mama

Death around the corner

Significantly less aggressive and “gangster” than his double album that came out immediately after prison.  His music became more directed at a target.  It would have been a great marketing ploy had the other side known that it was just a stunt to take the notice off the growing war on the police pre-prison.  Peace in the streets happened mostly while Tupac was in prison, and the crime rates nationally plummeted after 1994.   Was  Fuck the world  the glue that bonded America?  Haha. Doubtful.

Tupac successfully channeled it in songs like Hit ‘em up, and his album All Eyez on me had the most commercial success, but didn’t have the depth of his previous album.  Almost as if he came in a young G, and came out an o’G.  But his anger started to be directed at the East Coast rappers fueled by a sycophant thug named Shug knight.  A real criminal, Shug befriended used Tupac to muscle his way into the music industry.  Everybody won until bullets started to reign.

The last official (in my words, I believe all of his posthumous albums seemed to scrape old recordings and the possibility of audible deep fakes is more possible than we think.) album was Killuminati.  This album was very spiritual, along the lines of Kanye’s album. It was full of songs like

Hail Mary


Against all odds

But of course he is known for making the song Keep Ya Head up; a song showed a love for women and even has the line, ” why do we rape our women” that gave those that despised him the ammunition to say that his incident in a hotel room with a girl he had already fucked before was in fact rape. And….this song was so amazing that even while concurrently being imprisoned for rape, the song made it to #12 on the Billboard top 100  He was found guilty, so we can’t say he didn’t break the law.  We can argue whether or not celebrity x is treated differently from celebrity white, let alone how celebrities get treated differently from normal citizens.  I remember having this argument around the time of Tupac’s death, and I feel like his message was lost by the path that his art was forced to go toward.  He was a great artist and wrote a book called “A Rose from Concrete”

“Did you hear about the rose that grew

from a crack in the concrete?

Proving nature’s law is wrong it

learned to walk with out having feet.

Funny it seems, but by keeping its dreams,

it learned to breathe fresh air.

Long live the rose that grew from concrete

when no one else ever cared.”

              Now for the fun part.  Who killed 2pac?  It doesn’t matter because he was brought up in an environment where the police were the enemy, tortured him and his family his entire life, and we got to witness it because he shared his experience. 

How many black and brown children never even get to the point of learning how to write before they are terrorized by a police force focused on protecting its existence and serving its racists , sadistic efforts.  It doesn’t matter if All cops are bastards.  If there are 100 cops in a city, it only takes 1% for an innocent person to die.  Tupac wasn’t hunted by the police, and I don’t mean to imply that in way.  However,  the historical relationship Tupac had with police, shared through his music made him a target of enemies and the police likely knew but welcomed the instigator as it was a moral victory for the ‘woods who have infiltrated police forces throughout the nation.  Does this make it a conspiracy to commit murder on behalf of the police because they possibly had intelligence related to 2pac’s rival?  No, but it does say something about what we expect when we keep neighborhoods poor, glamorize the police, and then justify action based on the color of a person’s skin. 

Yes! Poverty and looting  is related.  Yes, looting is a form of protest.  Wealthy people don’t protest.  If you are angry at looters, and you aren’t wealthy, you need to ask yourself why you are without.

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