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AALBC.com's Thumper's Corner Discussion Board » Culture, Race & Economy - Archive 2003 » Keepin' It Real--The Tupac Dilemma « Previous Next »

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Chris Hayden

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Posted on Saturday, August 16, 2003 - 11:18 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I was listening the other day to "How Do U Want It" by Tupac Shakur and noted the refrain which in part stated "I'm for real".

The hiphop generation has a great interest in "Keepin' It Real."

But what is Real?

I see this dilemma with Tupac most starkly--he is trying to be down with his homies, yet this actor/recording artist is dating Quincy Jones' daughter and modeling in fashion shows in Rome.

What self respecting Thug or gangsta would be an actor or model clothes? How can you be hard and live in Beverly Hills.

Isn't this just another form of the American Delusion that one can Have It All?
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ABM

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Posted on Saturday, August 16, 2003 - 12:48 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Tupac was as complex as he was talented. He could at times appear to be a studied and insightful intellectual and other times be an uninhibited lout.

And there seems to be a pervasive paradox within the human character where the beautiful want to be viewed as bada$$es and thugs want to be glamorous. Tupac was one of those rare individuals who was equally adept at appearing both immensely attractive and dangerous.
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Suky Suky

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Posted on Saturday, August 16, 2003 - 03:10 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

ABM you offer a deft explanation of the two sides of 2pac. But others (including show biz folks and regular people) who display more than one side of their personality or interests, or who show any signs up upward mobility or changing consciousness are labelled as "phonies" and "sell outs" by the gossips that be. I think that a lot of people consider Will Smith in this category because he moved successfully in to being an commercially viable actor.

Does anyone know how their acting gigs have affected the street cred of Ice T, Ice Cube, Mos Def and LL Cool J? Have Lil Kim and Mary J Blige suffered because of modeling for MAC cosmetics?

General Question: What distinguishes in the public mind a sell out from someone who has genuniely changed or who is showing another very real side of themselves? Is it haveing spin control and a good public relations team?
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Cynique

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Posted on Sunday, August 17, 2003 - 01:08 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

They say power corrupts, but wealth also corrupts. When, through the fruits of their "talents", people can afford to indulge themselves in a lavish lifestyle while basking in the adulation of their fans, then these individuals become corrupted by fame and fortune. The true test of a person's dedication to his or her beliefs is whether or not he or she is willing to take an unpopular stand that would jeopardize their careers. If that rigid criteria is used, then mostly all celebs are sell-outs. As for the martyred Tupac, he ascended to stardom because he told his followers what they wanted to hear, - not what they needed to hear. He never really made himself a part of the solution; he was part of the problem. He told the truth, yes, but he didn't tell the whole truth. And hip-hop stars who become millionaire capitalists inevitably become sell-outs because, in effect, they end up saying to their fans "do as I say do, not as I do." But, that's show biz...
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ABM

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Posted on Thursday, August 21, 2003 - 01:10 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Sukky Sukky,
I don't think those artists in the least bit suffer any loss of "street cred" because of their relative mainstream acceptance. And they (and their enormous bank accounts) probably really wouldn't care even if they did. The only REAL "street cred" is gettin' paid. Sure some people will hate on them and try to put a negative spin on their success/wealth. But the bottomline is most of those in the hood, even those who don't like them, know that they would consider bungie jumping off Mount Everest for a chance to be in T's, Cube's, Def's and Smith's place.


Cynique,
I disagree that Tupac's success was due to his being "sell-out" or "telling his fan's what they wanted to hear". There were and are plenty of wannabe hip/hop 'stah'rers' who would do and are doing those things in spades who still regularly dine at soup kitchens. And actually Shakur's most popular songs ("Keep Yah Head Up", "Dear Momma" & "Aint Mad At Cha'") extolled appreciation of and fidelity to Black women and championed Black enlightenment, responsibility & liberation.

'Pac was/is popular because, in spite of his troubles/failings, he was an estremely compelling, charismatic, talented and productive person whose gifts transcended artistic genres (performing, writing/producing/arranging, poet/essayist and actor) and whose art often very fairly and poignantly mirrored the plight of young Black men/women.
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Cynique

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Posted on Thursday, August 21, 2003 - 01:11 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Tupac wasn't really that extraordinary. He was a media created icon. He was anointed by the powers-that-be-because he personified the glamourous thug-life that fascinated white suburban kids and mesmerized black ghetto ones. He was Suge Knight's cash cow, and he wasn't adverse to embracing the establishment when it suited his needs. All of which made him no different from anybody else looking to make money and acquire acclaim. His death made him a martyr. Had he lived, his popularity probably would've tapered off.
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Chris Hayden

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Posted on Thursday, August 21, 2003 - 02:58 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Cynique:

I partially disagree with you about TuPac. He might have turned out a big star if he had lived and if he had decided tobuckle down and try to work at his art. Had he continued to fritter away his talent partying and getting in crap he would have burned out and been nothing.away his time and talent He was young and in the development stage as an actor but he had talent. I don't think he was the best rapper I ever heard

So far to be kind to him, I have settled on the idea that he was confused. I think what we were seeing was a young man dealing with the difficulties of "stardom"--at the same time he wanted badly to do soemthing he had never done before which is fit in.

When he's fitting in with the Hollywood and artistic types, he's got all these street types he likes to hang around with (I think he was also insecure in his manhood) asking him if he ain't "down" whatever that is. He gets with them and because he really doesn't know what he's doing with them he gets in messes.

It would seem his getting shot up was almost foreordained the way he was going--but I don't think he was as resigned to it as he was trying to act.

He was a guy like many others trying hard and failing to be all things to all people.
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Cynique

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Posted on Thursday, August 21, 2003 - 03:52 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Chris, I realize that I'm in the minority when I diss Tupac. And since I'm not really an authority on Rap I will not offer passionate rebuttals to those who disagree with me. But I will say this: Rapping is an art. Anybody who masters it and is able to secure a recording contract is a "genius" in this musical genre. So as far as I'm concerned, all famous rappers are geniuses, and they all have charisma because that's what it takes to be successful in their field. To me, Tupac was just another talented rapper; nothing more, nothing less. He apparently lacked discipline and, to me, that detracts from his being someone who deserves to be canonized.
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Yukio

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Posted on Thursday, August 21, 2003 - 10:54 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Cynique:

I haven't read much of the thread, only this last one you've written, but Tupac's corpus of work was/is unbelieveable...no rapper has been so prolific(he had to be focus to write soooooo much good music) nor has any rapper's lyrics moved sooooooo many people...this is why he is canonized, this is why he is a genius....he was able to say what many young black men and women wanted to say if they had access to the media! BTW, this his the same reason why so many people are attracter to Farrakhan, cuz he has his ear to the people....soooo many of the people that appreciate him but don't follow him are Christians!
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ABM

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Posted on Friday, August 22, 2003 - 01:03 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Cynique,

I have as little tolerance for most "gangstas", real and pretend, as you do. But I think that concerning Tupac Shakur, many of us have allowed the media's myopic, venal, opportunistic depiction's and our own generational resentments to distort and sour the legacy of a very special Black man.

Perhaps what limited info you have about Tupac was "media created". But consider the following. Within the span of just 6 years, this "thug" managed to perform, write & produce over 10 albums. And an amazing six of them were released AFTER HE DIED. He also starred in 7 movies during that period.

Tupac's diversity of talents were really comparable to those of the late greats Sammy Davis Jr. or Gregory Hines. Dude could seamlessly move from rapping, to writing, to producing, to speaking & to acting. And Tupac left so many unpublished poems/songs that had he lived (& broken free of the infamous Suge Knight), the size/depth of his musical legacy might have approached that of Stevie Wonder or Quincy Jones (who was scheduled to become his father-law prior to Tupac's murder). Even the late grunge rocker Curt Corbain who was widely regarded as a musical genius did not leave a posthumous catalog as lengthy as 'Pac's. And unlike Corbain, Tupac also had the time/skill to make movies, most of which he performed remarkably well in.

And when you consider that while making movies/music, he was nearly shot to death and spent almost a year in prison for a rape conviction, you have to concede that he had to be been not only incredibly talented, but also a very determined, focused and hardworking young man as well.

And all of that from a poor Black son of a man he never met and a drug-addicted, revolutionary/fugative mother who very nearly gave birth to him in prison.

No, Cynique, Tupac was not just another wannabe "thug" rap star with "charisma". Tupac was the real deal!

I am not defending or apologizing for Tupac's apparent misbehavior. And he paid dearly for every mistake that he made. But in spite of his problems, Tupac had such an assortment of skills and accomplishments that they deserve to be fairly acknowledged.

I won't try to dissuade you about Tupac as it's clear that your views about him and hip/hop will likely remain profoundly different from my own. But if you are interested in receiving a fair/balance perspective about Shakur, I suggest that you pick up Dr. Michael Eric Dyson's book "Holla If You Hear Me". Because a close and fair examination of Tupac's life would reveal that he was a truly remarkable young Black man whose wings were sadly clipped just as he was beginning to learn to fly.
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Cynique

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Posted on Friday, August 22, 2003 - 11:54 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I hear what you're saying, Yukio and ABM. Tupac was prolific and versatile and provided a voice for his generation. He was also foolish. But nobody's perfect. And I will give him his props for how, through the force of sheer will power, after being shot multiple times, he did manage to get himself to a hospital. Obviously I'm not a big Tupac fan but, then, I'm not someone whose frustrations he was bitching about.

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