Tupac's legacy is unquantifiable.
A man gunned down in his youth at 25, and who was regularly classified as a "gangster" by white media, is now heralded as a street prophet whose rap skills were just one of his many gifts. He is a figure so wildly loved that a 66-year-old Iowan was dismissed from his government job last year after sending out too many Tupac quotes, as Blavity previously reported.
Tupac still empowers us, and sometimes it's good to know we can revisit his words whenever we need them.
1. "Real eyes, realize, real lies."
My editor told me to find the sources of quotes. The interesting thing about this one is that I can't actually find out the original source. Everyone knows Tupac said it, but the mythology of where it comes from seems to be lost in the details, or many just not usually referenced. That said, Tupac was the original "woke" rapper, and many things he said are still relevant today.
2. "Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete? Proving nature's laws wrong, it learned to walk without having feet."
A collection of poetry, The Rose That Grew From Concrete, was released in 1999 after the young rapper's death. Within the pages are thoughtful and poignant messages of perseverance and hope. One such poem, the namesake of the collection, tells the story of an imperfect rose that is beautiful because of its ability to thrive in impossible conditions. It's a reminder to take pride in everything you are.
3. “I'm not saying I'm gonna rule the world, or I'm gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world. And that's our job … to spark someone else watching us."
In a 1994 interview, Shakur passionately unleashes one of his signature philosophies about the state of Black oppression and marginalization. Though the interviewer tried to play devil's advocate by asking why he would be angry about the state of the Black community because he himself has money, Pac shut her down magnificently and asserted he's not separate from his people. Tupac's mission to inspire his community should empower us all.
4. "So no matter how hard it gets, stick your chest out, keep ya head up and handle it."
Often speaking on how we should "keep our head up," "Me Against The World" is the second song (including "Keep Your Head Up") that asks its listeners to take pride in themselves. Never let the opposition see you down.
5. "Cause I think we can make it, in fact, I'm sure. And if you fall, stand tall and come back for more."
"Keep Ya Head Up" is arguably one of the most beautiful and complete anthems of Black pride, love and mercy. In an era where hip-hop was beginning to be increasingly gender divisive, having a respected Black, male rapper speaking encouragement to Black women was an act of revolution and something that would likely get a man called a "simp" now. Pac's ability to center his masculinity as something to protect his community and the women within it is something that can always put a smile on your face.
6. “Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside while still alive. Never surrender.”
RT @52BLOCK:Death is not the greatest loss in life.The greatest loss is what dies inside while still alive.Never surrender! Tupac Shakur— Ludacris (@Ludacris) June 11, 2013
The multi-talented artist eerily spoke often of death. He never expressed fear, though. He mainly encouraged others to live as full of a life as possible because that's what he planned to do.
7. “You got make a change. It’s time for us as a people to start making some changes, let’s change the way we eat, let’s change the way we live, and let’s change the way we treat each other. You see the old way wasn’t working so it’s on us, to do what we gotta do to survive.”
It's all popular now to promote health consciousness and emphasize community engagement. But, that's not what most rappers were doing in the early 90s. Pac's 1998 posthumous release, from his Greatest Hits album, reminds us that we have to be good to ourselves and each other.