Tupac Shakur is unquestionably a cultural icon. His impact on both Hip Hop culture and Pop culture as a whole is felt, seen, and heard in all corners of the world. His music still resonates in lounges, clubs, and the radio waves. His poetry, rap lyrics, and life have been studied at the university level. There are murals, books, paintings, songs, and performances that pay homage to him all over the world. Many artists, within Hip Hop and from other genres, list Tupac as an influence. He’s a legend, plain and simple. And two decades after his death, he’s still in our consciousness and still in the news. ALL THE TIME. That’s not an exaggeration. Let’s take a look.
On Friday, April 7th, 2017, Tupac will be the first solo Hip Hop artist to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The biography section of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s website details, “Tupac wrote lyrics that spark conversations about rap, race relations, and young black men in America today.” The site goes on to note, “Tupac Shakur sold over 75 million records worldwide, with All Eyez On Me and his Greatest Hits collection both surpassing the ten million sales mark. Since his murder in 1996 at the age of 25, Tupac’s legend and impact have continued to expand across the globe. He has become an international symbol of resistance and outlaw spirit, an irresistible contradiction, a definitive rap anti-hero.” Needless to say, he’s certainly deserving of joining the likes of Run DMC, the Beastie Boys, and N.W.A. as Hip Hop acts in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. That said, as big a Tupac fan as I am, I would argue LL Cool J should’ve been the first solo rapper to be inducted, but that’s a story for another day. Again, Tupac absolutely deserves to be inducted.
In other recent Tupac news, a restaurant inspired by the legendary emcee is opening up in New York City this weekend. As Eater New York columnist Serena Dai explains, “The Lower East Side location of Southern restaurant Sweet Chick will transform into Powamekka Café, a restaurant based on notes that the artist wrote before dying more than 20 years ago. Sweet Chick at 178 Ludlow Street will become the 2Pac-inspired ‘down home Southern’ restaurant this coming Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.” Dai goes on to note that the restaurant’s transformation will be run by Tupac’s estate in collaboration with Bravado, a merchandising company under the Universal Music Group umbrella. Memorabilia, such as childhood photos of Tupac and original poetry will be on display and clothing will be sold. All of this is based on menu ideas and restaurant sketches that Tupac drafted before his untimely passing.
For what it’s worth, the menu will consist of “a collection of Tupac’s favorite foods, including meatloaf, gumbo, and ‘his cousin Jamala’s fried chicken wings,’ according to a statement from the estate.” A similar culinary tribute occurred in Fresno, California last September to honor the 20th anniversary of Tupac’s death and apparently was a huge success. It’s a pretty safe bet the New York version of such will garner similar fanfare. For more information on the Powamekka Café, follow this link.
In other recent Tupac news, former “friend” and boss during his time at Death Row Records, the don to Tupac’s capo if you will, Suge Knight, recently revealed that he knows who killed ‘Pac. That’s right ya’ll, good ol’ gangsta Suge, who’s currently locked up while he awaits trial for the 2015 murder of Terry Carter, having run over the man on the set of Straight Outta Compton no less, is now, after 21 years, spilling the beans on who supposedly killed Tupac Shakur.
As The Daily Mail notes by way of a signed affidavit through Knight’s lawyer, Thaddeus Culpepper, “Knight has known for many years that Reggie Wright Jr. and his ex-wife Sharitha were behind the murder of Tupac and attempted murder of Knight.” Apparently, at the time of the murder, Suge and Sharitha were not yet divorced, so she stood to make a lot of money had the hit actually resulted in Suge’s death. Again, this is coming from a man with a pretty long rap sheet who’s currently on trial for murder, desperate for freedom. Who knows how much of this is actually true. Is Suge aware that Tupac will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame soon and just simply that desperate for any bit of publicity? And if any or all of this is true, why the hell did he hold on to that information for two decades? Again, who the hell knows? What resonates with me more than anything is that people still care quite a bit about Tupac’s unsolved murder, to the point that anything Suge utters about it, despite there being absolutely zero reason to believe he has any credibility at this point, makes headlines. This stands as yet another prime example of the power of Tupac.
In other recent Tupac news, the Godfather of Gangsta Rap himself, Ice T, while a guest on an episode of Nore and DJ EFN’s wildly entertaining and very insightful Drink Champs podcast indicated that Tupac played his legendary Biggie dis track, “Hit ‘Em Up” for him before releasing it, and Ice T wasn’t feeling it. To quote the Ice man, “He was at my house with The Outlawz, a couple of The Outlawz, and he played me ‘Hit ‘Em Up.’ And I didn’t like it. I was like, ‘you gon’ start some shit.’ I didn’t like him starting the beef. I said ‘you going in on dude’s wife and all that.’ Then at that time, he thought B.I.G had shot him. You ain’t supposed to be handling that with a record. Really, are you? So, we kinda was on bad terms with that because he wanted me to ride with him, but I was like, I couldn’t.”
For the record, again, as much as I love Tupac and still play that record, I agree with Ice T on this one. Even back in 1996, Ice T was much older and wiser than Tupac was, so it doesn’t surprise me that he had this perspective. It also doesn’t surprise me that Tupac, in his mid-20s at the time and ever the bold character, passed on Ice T’s advice and released the record. But again, what resonates with me is that this made Hip Hop news reels as well. In fact, a lot of the stories that other artists have shared about Tupac on Drink Champs, from Snoop Dogg to Q-Tip to Brand Nubian to Ice Cube, make the Hip Hop news reels one way or another. Everyone who came in contact with him seems to have a cool story or some quirky anecdote about him that fans eat up. It’s uncanny, and again, speaks to the lasting impact ‘Pac continues to have on so many.
Speaking of anecdotes, in other recent Tupac news… I think you get the point by now. Sure, the man’s been gone for 20 years, but simply put, he ain’t going anywhere. As we heard him yell on R U Still Down’s “Redemption”, “YOU CAN’T KILL ME!” As he asked us on Me Against The World’s “If I Die 2Nite”, “never die, I live eternal, who shall I fear?” And as he rapped on “Until The End of Time”, “getting raw ’til the day I see my casket, buried as a G, while the whole world remembers me, until the end of time.” I suspect ‘Pac will be around in some way, shape, or form even after Time in fact concludes. He’s just one of those cats we don’t want to forget. It’s All Tupac, All The Time.