The article was originally published in Issue #272 “The Life And Times Of Tupac Shakur”
written by Chrystal Matthews
This issue honors Tupac Shakur; the man, the artist and the transformative rapper for his contributions to Hip Hop music, lifestyle, culture and the entertainment industry as a whole. We respect Tupac for his bold lyrics that were both real and raw. Tupac had an undeniable ability to penetrate and articulate the culture through the eyes of a young Black man, who felt he had been marginalized and unfairly labeled by mainstream America.
Where did all of this passion and fervor originate? How were his revolutionary lyrics birthed? By Tupac’s own admission, his mother, the late Afeni Shakur, was an impactful force in his life, affecting his way of thinking and initially crafting the lens with which his lyrics were framed. Afeni Shakur was a revolutionary with the Black Panther Party in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. She fought against racial discrimination, social injustices, and the Vietnam War. Having been wrongfully accused and charged with 31 counts of criminal offenses including conspiracy, Afeni Shakur refused to accept the status quo and forged ahead believing that injustice had to be stopped.
Ms. Shakur’s life story is one of highs and lows, as she was a single mother who overcame homelessness and drug addiction. Her passion to see other young mothers and people of color thrive in the face of unjust laws and oppressive policies was remarkable. But, her social awareness and influence on Tupac Shakur, one of the greatest rappers of all time, is one of her most far reaching accomplishments.
We can trace Ms. Shakur’s influence on Tupac best by reviewing of some of his lyrics. We see Afeni’s reflection when Tupac talks about rioting for social change. We see her tenderness in “Dear Mama” as Tupac rhymes, “Ain’t a woman alive that can take my mama’s place..”. We see Ms. Shakur in Tupac’s hit, “Live and Die in L.A.”, where he laments the unfair treatment by the police toward black and brown people, and declares equality for all. Pac echo’s his mother’s mission for helping single mothers, the disenfranchised, and the wrongfully accused in his lyrics in songs such as “Keep Your Head Up”. Finally, Tupac argues in Dear Mama, “Through the drama, I can always depend on my momma, I appreciate the love you gave me..”
A great testament to the impact of a mother’s love is when the mother’s values are reflected in the daily lives of her son or daughter. Tupac’s love for his mother and his mother’s love for him is showcases the loving and endearing side of a complex, yet sensitive man, who cared for his people. His passion was undeniable and so was the love and passion he had for his mother, Afeni Shakur.
The Source salutes Afeni Shakur for her revolutionary love that has changed us all!