Just sitting here readying for the rain and it’s so quiet before the storm you can hear a pin drop. The lack of noise inspires clarity, and anytime the first big squall of the season threatens to roll across the bayou nostalgia precedes it. But to be true it’s not Big Bad Bill that’s on my mind, it’s a G of another color – what some would say was the last true soul brother. I’m talking about Lesane Parish Crooks. You may know him better as Tupac Amaru Shakur, 2Pac or Makaveli. If not the greatest rapper of all time, he might be the most important. Save me your comparisons to other lyricists. LeBron may yet turn out to be one of the greatest basketball players to ever strap on a pair of sneakers, but he will never be Michael Jordan. Twenty-three transformed the game and set the very foundation on which James’ kingdom has been built, and with all respect to those that came before and inspired him as well as his talented contemporaries and artistic progeny – Pac is just as integral to the fabric of rap. It’s been 19 years since his heart stopped six days after he was shot in a drive-by in Las Vegas, but the bullets were not able to silence his voice. It remains as vital and inspirational as ever.
A photo posted by JmacGlobal (@jmacglobal) on Jun 15, 2015 at 9:51pm PDT
Generations of new artists from all genres wave his artistic banner and his music still provides the soundtrack for social revolutionaries around the world. Statues have been built in his honor and his hologram performed for thousands at Coachella, hungry for a small taste of what it was like to be in the presence of greatness. Why? I don’t know if I can truly say. I can tell you about the first time I really, really got Pac. Our music director at the time Greg Head was white and came to me to ask what I thought about a song, “Dear Mama,” and whether or not it was “right” for urban radio, he put it on for me and for one of the first times in my life at that point I was completely swept into the world of an artist. The Picasso of street poets, Pac’s picture-perfect lyrical painting of the ghetto and the struggle was both beautiful and laced with hard truths and evoked raw emotion the way few artists can. “And even as a crack fiend, mama. You always was a black queen,” was his simple refrain. So, catchy you would sing along with it before realizing what you were saying and letting the emotional undercurrents of the words hit you. Convict, creator, actor, musician, social activist, street solider, talented student and Thug. Tupac was all of those things, yet somehow more than the sum of them – and never made lesser by his failures. Like most artist he put his soul into his music, but unlike the majority of them he was one of the few that could make you feel it, and sometimes make it fill you. Happy 44th Birthday Tupac.