Tagged as “The Untold Story of Tupac Shakur”…
…but there was nothing “untold” about it. It felt like the writers went through the 2Pac Wikipedia entry and focused on the same RETOLD shit everybody’s seen over and over again – the East Coast/West Coast beef, the jail sentence, the shootings. Untold my ASS.
No. This movie sucked and didn’t do Tupac justice at all. I’m compelled to write about it because when I think of Tupac I think of someone who inspires me. As we get closer to understanding who we are, we get closer to knowing what we want in life and he had so many qualities that I admire. He was thrust into a world of fame and celebrity but he was more than that – he was a human who wanted to change the world for the better. He was an artist, an activist and a light of influence. Tupac was someone who stood for something and made it known.
As the son of Afeni Shakur, a Black Panther, his path to becoming a Revolutionary started in the womb. This short interview is clear evidence of an intelligent, passionate, educated, Black man using his platform to really inform and call people to action. To be at the top of the Billboard Charts in the MTV era where recording artists were THE Monsters of Influence and then call out White America and give direct instructions on how to dismantle White Supremacy. Who did that? He quickly got a target put on his back. Tupac was a major threat. Even the Presidency denounced his music publicly.
Tupac had a real power to effect change. He was Greatness. What he was able to achieve in the 25 years of his life was amazing but there was so much more Greatness that wasn’t realised.
If you know me, you know how much love I have for the ladies of TLC. The late Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes was a beautiful soul and inspires me in my journey. Her comments about Tupac and distractions really resonate.
Distractions. The most tragic part of Tupac’s story for me was his imprisonment for something I believe he was framed for. Like many Black artists of that time, he was making millions for his record label but had f.ck all for himself – he couldn’t post his own bail. As a result, he spent 9 months in an institution that was built specifically to destroy Black men in America. A place designed to break your spirit. In an interview from prison, Tupac talked about how it absolutely killed his creativity.
Who knows exactly what happened on the inside. What we do know though is prison changes people. This was undeniably evident in the shift in his music. After being released, he went from beautifully written stories [and my personal favourites] “Brenda’s Got A Baby”, “Keep Ya Head Up” and “Dear Mama”…
…to diss tracks and club bangers “Hit ‘Em Up”, “California Love” and “How Do U Want It”.
Of course this was all with the guidance of Suge Knight who paid bail and helped steer Tupac in that direction. Whatever happened in prison compromised his values to let someone of Suge’s calibre come into his life.
It wasn’t long after the release of the “All Eyez On Me” album that he was shot dead.
Now as far as “All Eyez On Me” the movie goes, it didn’t capture any of part of his life with any real depth. It just glanced over the entire span of his career on such a superficial level. What didn’t help particularly was that the actor who starred as Tupac looked like someone playing dress up the whole time. He lacked the charisma and intensity Tupac had. Interviewing him on the carpet and watching subsequent interviews, it was clear to me he didn’t really understand who he was either.
Krit: Who do you think was the love of Tupac’s life?
Tupac Actor: Oh Kidada for sure.
Tupac Actor: Cuz they were engaged.
Yeah I don’t know how you can snap Kidada with such confidence without even mentioning Jada.
It’s pretty telling that Jada has come out and said the depiction of her relationship with Tupac is all lies. It’s pretty telling that noone really close to Tupac attended the premiere. I will however give it up to the actors who did the best they could with what they were given. I especially liked Danai Gurira who played Afeni Shakur.
Consultation is key when it comes to telling any story that is not your own and it was clear there was none that took place here. Just this year, we’ve seen one of the best biopics EVER – “The New Edition Story”. A three part mini-series that took its time and had the support of its subjects. Take note.
Another great example of honouring and respecting storytelling is “The Get Down”. I had the opportunity to ask the director, Baz Lurhmann, about the implications of being a white Australian at the helm of a project based on Black culture. He acknowledged his ignorance in the space and described his role as a curator of a much bigger collaboration that included pioneers of Hip Hop like Grandmaster Flash and Nas.
There is so much footage out there of Tupac already that I really think a documentary would serve him so much better. Think “Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise” and James Baldwin’s “I Am Not Your Negro”. The resources are available for Tupac and people close to him to tell his story. Until then, let’s keep this supposedly “untold” story untold.