Tupac’s 1991 debut 2Pacalypse Now was a social barometer. By the summer of the following year, then-Vice President Dan Quayle was demanding the album be removed from shelves for its “role” in the murder of a Texas state trooper in what would be Pac’s first national tug of war with the exact establishment he’d spend the remainder of his life fighting against.
Through timing, message and fear, the 20-year-old son of a Black Panther gripped America by the balls. His tales of violence either shed light on the vastly unreported tragedies of the inner city, or helped fuel them, depending what side of the argument was talking. However, his biographical account of a young girl known only as Brenda may have had the most lasting impact from the album.
Ever the person to be aware of his surroundings, Pac’s take was too graphic to be painted as fictional. The details were too exact. In layman’s terms, Pac saw Brenda’s demise up close and personal. But who was she, really? Shakur revealed to Danyel Smith and others 22 years ago while visiting a houseboat Jimi “Chopmaster J” Dright rented out to record an album for Qwest Records, “No, she ain’t somebody I know. Y’all some simple muthafuckas. She’s one a them girls we all know.”
With the help of a largely forgotten interview Tupac gave in 1992, and the assistance of a New York Times article by James C. McKinley, Jr., what’s stated here stands as possibly the closest glimpse into “the real-life Brenda” since the song itself.