I decided to write this because as talk of the new Tupac movie is trending, as well as what would have been his 46th birthday just passing, the age old debate of who was the better rapper between Tupac and Biggie continues, and it probably won’t ever end. While I posted my opinion on Facebook, and a friend of mine posted his opinion on the debate, one comment stood out to me; Tupac was better because he was revolutionary. There aren’t many rappers who I consider to be revolutionary, and while I won’t argue here on who I think was better between Tupac and Biggie, I will point out the qualities that made Tupac a revolutionary.
Tupac, like my favorite rappers of all time, Nas and Lauryn Hill possessed a spark of something magical that every rapper doesn’t have. It’s something within their lyrics that lets us know they are more spiritually adept than others, more in tune with who they are, and more aware of their mission on earth. Maybe they’ve been here more times or maybe they were just more elevated than their peers, but that spark is what propelled Pac’s ideas into a poetic collection of truths that resonated then, resonates now and will resonate in the future.
Revolutionaries change society. That’s what makes them the best at what they do. They have an effect so strong on the psyche of the people; a hold so unrelenting that they don’t even have to be active for you to see elements of their influence everywhere they were — and weren’t. Tupac’s contributions to the world are not limited to Hip Hop. His essence transcends art and speaks to the soul of the Black experience. He is legendary because he came, he saw, and he conquered — in only 25 short years. He literally foresaw the future of his essence and put it on wax, leaving behind a legacy that hundreds of years from now may appear to be more legend than truth — that’s how fantastic his gift to us is.
And then his eyes — his eyes held a mystery and beautiful mischief to them. It was as if he had cracked the code to the purpose of the human experience and had hidden the answers between the lines of his lyrics. Tupac made us think. He made me think. He made me wonder, dream, ask questions, and inspired me to rebel against what I know is wrong.
Tupac was truly an outcast — like many revolutionaries are. He was a gifted Black man struggling with the oppression this world placed on him since birth— strangling the life out of a gift that desired to fly free in all its glory, yet some chose to ignore that part of him, and instead label him a thug. Little do they know, Thug Life is only an ode to those who dismissed him as only a thug — those who cheated themselves out of knowing the remarkable reality of who he truly was. Tupac was a rebel — only because he felt he he had a responsibility to stand for those who couldn’t. He wasn’t afraid to disrupt the norms he knew holds us captive. Instead, he resisted against them until his very last breath.
“ I don’t see myself being special; I just see myself having more responsibilities than the next man. People look to me to do things for them, to have answers.” -Tupac Shakur
Tupac is quoted as once saying, “I don’t see myself being special; I just see myself having more responsibilities than the next man. People look to me to do things for them, to have answers.” Tupac was aware of the responsibilities he had during his time here on earth. Tupac wasn’t merely speaking about responsibility to his family and friends — he was speaking about his responsibility to the world. One Google search of “Tupac quotes” reveals only a sample of Pac’s brilliance and his lyrics reveal even more. Some say we pick our lives before we’re born into them. If that’s true, then there has to be a method to the madness of choosing the life Tupac lived — we just haven’t evolved enough to completely understand it. So, let’s not be quick to judge, until we can completely understand him.
“I’m not saying I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.”-Tupac Shakur