Fact: There’s no replacing Tupac Shakur. The man was a legend and remains a mythical figure even 20 years after his death. No one man has come close to filling the gaping hole left after Pac was gunned down on that ill-fated night on the Las Vegas strip. But, actor Demetrius Shipp Jr. took up the task of trying to emulate the Death Row icon for the new film All Eyez on Me. Apparently, he’s not short on confidence because the brother feels like he nailed the performance.
Shipp understands that he’s carrying a heavy burden by even attempting to take on the role of the mythical rapper-poet-actor-all the many titles he held. No worries because the young actor believes he’s up to it and everyone who has seen the movie so far has given their approval. Before people were allowed to see a rough cut of the film, Shipp said he’s had to tell them he did a good job just to break the ice and to knock out any preconceived notions they may have. He told Los Angeles’ Power 106, “They’re coming in critiquing hard like ‘You better had did this justice!’.”
The man who would be Tupac said that while Afeni Shakur never made it to the set, Outlawz members Noble and E.D.I. Mean were there coaching him how to be animated and rambunctious like the rapper. Besides utilizing an acting coach, he also explained how he learning to capture Pac’s voice by literally eating and sleeping Pac every day.
And as it turns out, he used to hang around the Death Row studios as early as age six because his dad was a producer who actually worked on “Toss It Up.” Although the younger Shipp never lucked out on meeting Pac, those types of experiences are what part of what shaped his understanding of how powerful the label once was.
But, his calling wasn’t acting. In fact, he claims he had never been on a set before day one of shooting for the new biopic. Before he landed on Death Row portraying Tupac, Shipp was actually the cable guy. “My most recent employer was Dish Network, installing satellite cable,” he said. “I was on the roofs and under the houses, man.”
Of course, his striking resemblance to the legendary rapper had his dish costumers taking pictures of him and telling people ‘Pac wasn’t in Cuba. He was at their houses, hooking them up with the NFL Network.
As crazy as that may sound, it didn’t even rank high on the lists of odd requests Shipp would get. One of which included the chance for him to go around faking like Tupac the rapper in a series of performances. An unnamed group wanted him to “do some performing for a little tour. Eight cities or something like that.” Thankfully, he turned it down. There’s already a hologram for that anyway.