Nas & Tupac both cared about people, and about the
community at large -- about our sons & our daughters; the less
fortunate; pregnant teens; convicts
with no future, etc. Those that we [society] would rather forget about.
As we reflect this weekend on the life of Tupac Amaru
Shakur, while celebrating Nasir Jones’ 40th birthday, let us not forget
their message and what they have contributed to not only rap music, but also to the
culture known as Hip Hop.
Rap music is essentially stories set to rhyme. But the best
stories have a message. The essence of HIP HOP lies in the MESSAGE.
There was a time when that message was to uplift the urban
black community. There was a time when that message was used to inspire our
youth (whether the song's message was pain, activism, heartache or love).
Those voices became drowned out with the over-promotion of gangsta rap
in the 1990’s. Yes, the stories of the “Hustla” goes back even to the 1970’s; especially
the Blaxploitation film era. But that story has evolved in so many ways.Queen
and Will ‘The Fresh Prince’ Smith, for example, are both movie stars now. Shawn ‘Jay
’ Carter is a business-man by his own admission. VIBE magazine and BET are
more powerful media outlets than ever before with the explosion of social
Yet, what do we amplify? What do we glorify? Beef. Gossip.
Sex tapes. Twerking videos. If Tupac were alive today, think of how he would
use the internet and social media to rally his “soldiers”! It would NOT be to
direct your attention to the latest twerk video. Yes, World Star Hip Hop -- I’m
talking to you.
Our beloved Nas continues the legacy of the message. He used
Twitter to bring aid to a homeless
family in need of help. He carries on the tradition of hip hop’s true roots
– we are one. We are united.
And what of Mr. Shakur’s current fanbase? It continues to
grow – and unlike a lot of aging rappers, Tupacs fans almost seem to be getting
younger. Yet, we mark his death today, 17 years ago. When I listen to Cinos' Teenage Crime, I hear frustration and anguish similar to that of 2Pac. I also see
a generation of young people who still feel like no one cares. As we brace ourselves
to intervene in the Syrian rebellion, we do so with the full knowledge that the
war in Chicago has spanned decades. Our youth are also still reeling from the
unnecessary murder of one Trayvon Martin.
But do we see the stories of Anala Beevers, Carson
Martin, or Zuriel
Oduwole pushed through these so-called urban media outlets? Does 106th and
Park share inspiring stories such as Misty
Copeland or Jaylen
Bledsoe? The old saying goes, "The
best way to hide something from Black people is to put it in a book. Well,
undoubtedly Tupac and Nas are two of the most well-read emcees in history.
Tupac’s classic track about his gun ‘Me and My Girlfriend’
was inspired by Nas’ conceptual track ‘I Gave You Power’. According to Young
Noble of the Outlawz, Tupac heard ‘I Gave You Power’ in a studio out in North
Hollywood in the Summer of 1996 and was amazed at the creativity and power of
the track. Which is ironic, since Tupac dissed Nas on the same album.
(7 Day Theory) [source: hiphop365.com]
What happened to that element of hip hop? Where did it go?
Will it ever be welcomed back? Versace, Gucci, and Prada. Most of us (myself
included) - cannot afford these labels. I say we cannot afford to continue to be
labeled as ignorant, unintelligent, lazy, and so on.
DEMAND A BETTER MESSAGE. Tupac would have and Nas certainly has and continues to be the messenger.
Nas famously declared Hip Hop Was Dead Years ago. Did Hip Hop's true message die along with 2Pac on September 13, 1996?
“I’m never gonna die, never heard of death, energy can never
be destroyed – only the flesh. So when you try to murder me with bullets to the
head, this is why you can’t kill me, n-ggas, I’m already dead.” – NAS ‘Eye 4 an