Tupac dedicated this song to his mother Afeni Shakur. It was a song of reconciliation between a son and his mother. Tupac writes about coming of age and understanding the trials and tribulations his single black mother went through in trying to raise a son on her own. He speaks of forgiveness and admiration for his mother even though she dealt with issues of drug abuse. Tupac is a man now and appreciates the hard times and tough love he experienced with his mother. This song reveals the softer gentler side of Tupac and became a Mother’s Day anthem for many black men. “Dear Mama” has as its legacy as being one of 25 songs that were added to the National Recording Registry in 2010. Both of these songs depict the high regard Tupac had for black women.
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It’s ironic that he went to prison for sexual assault of a black woman. He was sentenced to 1-4 years in prison for his crime. He served 9 months in Clinton Correctional Facility until he was let out on bond, thanks to Suge Knight of Death Row Records. Tupac however, vehemently proclaimed his innocence up to the day of his untimely death. Tupac has come to symbolize all the contradictions and perplexity that have grown up around in hip-hop. There is a love hate relationship with women, homophobia, and the celebration of drug use while depicting its devastating affect on the black community. Desiring to have people look up to them while at the same time searching for a leader. This was all portrayed in Tupac’s music and the lifestyle he lived. But for all his faults and contradictions he is maybe the most beloved hip-hop rapper of all time. Tupac has continued to garner folklore with many people today still believing he is alive.
Legendary musician, artist, and producer Quincy Jones said it best, “Tupac was no angel, but he certainly had a spirit, a passion for life, and a raw, unmitigated talent that the world has now lost” (Tupac Shakur, By The Editors of VIBE, pg. 13). Even though I was born two years after his death, his music and lyrics have had tremendous impact on my generation as well. With today’s racial climate, police brutality, and political uprising Tupac’s lyrics are prophetically addressing these issues head on. His social conscience lyrics have given rise to such rappers like Kendrick Lamar, J Cole, and Chance the Rapper. Without Tupac’s influence and defiant swagger many of these rappers wouldn’t have had the confidence or blueprint to address these issues in such a bold declaration.
Tupac’s love of tattoos and jewelry have even inspired the younger generation of rappers to mimic and often over glamorize that side of the hip-hop culture. Rappers like, Migos, Lil Wayne, and Post Malone come to mind. Some may believe that Tupac’s larger that life persona has had a positive and negative affect on Rap and the hip-hop culture. No matter where you fall on that side of the argument, we must all agree that Tupac Amaru Shakur’s legacy is alive and well and is here to stay. Fans and critics alike can only imagine the impact he could have made if he was still around and able to evolve and mature into manhood. With dying at 25 years of age and the impact he has up until now, I can only speculate that his impact would be still evolving and taking the world by storm. The world of hip-hop owes him a tremendous amount of gratitude as one of the best to ever put pen to paper and grip the Mic.
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