Tupac’s death struck me hard. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was that youngster who was hip to Pac before long before “Thug Life” became his focus. I remember harrasin’ the staff at the local record store….just wonderin’ when the first single was gonna hit the shelf so that I could follow right behind it. When “Trapped” did finally drop in 1991, I got one of the first singles fresh outta the box…a cassette no doubt. I knew the brother had a lot to say. In fact, I was waitin’ on him to tell the world what I had been thinkin’…..cuz I knew he understood; and I wanted to hear it raw and uncut. Tupac’s voice boomed as he spoke about the trials of black people. For those of you that don’t remember…that’s how he came to us. He mentioned not a word about the west coast, other rappers, money, jewelry or any of that other lame ass shit cats have reduced Hip-Hop to. His frustration and anger stemmed from the condition of black people in America.
Look at the cover….a lone, innocent child, grasping the bars of a fence…but resembling a cage. In the background, an urban skyline, in her eyes, an intent and piercing gaze. A gaze much like the one’s you would see on Pac’s face on his own covers in later years.
Pac’s music was powerful. Everybody knew it; from the fans who adored to the ones who felt fear with every lyric that flowed from his lips. His heartfelt poetry would stay with me always. Knowing the root of his passion made some of his later work difficult to listen to. It all seemed so frivolous in comparison to “Young Black Male”, Brenda’s Got A Baby”, or any of the pieces from his first two albums. Even more difficult was the onslaught of recycled garbage that was released after his death to capitalize on his fame. By the time Makavelli Vol. 93 dropped, I had long been sick to my stomach.
How could so many people have forgotten that this young man was such a brave young poet? How could so many be willing to forget his true soul? After a while, I think Pac even asked himself that question. Well, I never forgot. The 2000 CD release of “The Rose That Grew From Concrete: Volume 1” was one of the most welcomed additions to my collection in years. I had purchased the book, but it grew legs…and walked out of my apartment faster than roaches scramblin’ when the light comes on.
Though the poems were not rendered in Pac’s own voice…it was great to hear Pac’s “True Voice” again. Today’s Lyric pays tribute to “that voice”. The poem “Starry Night” was dedicated to Vincent Van Goh, but speaks to everyone. The rendition from Volume 1 features Quincy Jones, Mac Mall, and Rashida Jones.
“Wake Me When I ‘m Free” featured Babatunde Olatuni & Sikiru Adepoju.
Rest in peace brave young poet.