Unlike most Tupac tributes today, you will not find this post littered with a collection of his “best songs.” Everyone has a favorite Pac record, like everyone has a favorite Martin episode. On the thirteenth anniversary his death, this tribute focuses on an aspect of Shakur’s legacy which sometimes finds itself under the radar: his ability to articulate himself. While Jay-Z, 50 Cent and Cam’ron likely top most lists as the artist with the best/most memorable interviews, it is Tupac who could very well be perched at the top spot. Of all the interviews he participated in throughout his career, his incredibly personal sit down with Ed Gordon happens to be the standout for me.
Filmed during arguably the most hectic year of his life, 1994 (the cases, the shooting then jail), the authenticy of his words were felt from start to finish. From his perception in the media, to his rape case and image of women, to record label politics, to Jesse Jackson and more, Shakur spoke from the heart on all issues, sometimes leaving Gordon stunned. As he always claimed, he was more than his bad rap and image made him out to be.
What’s even more eeire is the fact Pac was 23 years old when this aired. I’m 23 now, and ‘only’ in grad school. It amazes me to think about what that type of pressure would be like in my life right now. Having the entire world listening to your every word, court cases out the wah-zoo and constantly feeling as if your death was around the corner has to cause unexplainable amounts of anxiety. Regardless, if you’re a Pac fan or not, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who says they didn’t take anything away from this interview. The pride, the anger, the joy, the pain, it was all on full display, similar to his music. If nothing else, his passion on whatever topic he addressed was evident and, in some cases, extremely relatable.
Yet and still, it’s amazing to believe Bishop would have been 38 this year had he not found himself on that Las Vegas strip. Admittedly, that is even hard to imagine. Even ‘Pac himself questioned his own mortality at the end of the interview. But then again, when didn’t he? That will always count as part of the mystique surrounding him, I assume.
Anyhow, as always, rest in peace to one of the most talented, misunderstood and appreciated artists of all time. Drake might not have cried*, but music sure hasn’t been the same since.
* Disclaimer: Yes, I fully aware of the context Drake’s line was in.