June is Black Music Month, a celebration of African-American musicians, creators, innovators and influencers. For 2019, the Urban One family is highlighting 25 of the most influential musicians of all-time that have contributed to black spaces far and wide, ranging from inspirational, to hip-hop and R&B.
No list about hip-hop would be a credible list with the omissions of Tupac Shakur. As Pac goes, so does a generation of men and women across the globe that hail him as a martyr, a man so consumed with representing us all that there’s not one true word to represent him.
From film to music, Pac set the standard in regards to being a magnetic personality that could galvanize people. And in that, people have versions of Pac that they embrace. They see the poet from “The Rose That Grew From Concrete” or “Dear Mama” and “Keep Your Head Up”. Or the party starter that owns nights to this day with “I Get Around” and “How Do U Want It.” Even the passionate hell raiser who crafted songs such as “Hail Mary” and “Ambitionz Az A Ridah.” They’ll fondly discuss clips from documentaries and interviews that relate to modern day topics even if they were recorded twenty-five years ago.
Most of all, the phoenix like rise and fall of Pac leads to as much conspiracy and “what if” thoughts than any other. What if he hadn’t befriended the people had had or allowed him to be influenced by certain figures? What would he have been? It’s hard to argue when one of rap’s GOATs is also one of the few figures that dare us to fill in what more of a legacy he could have had. In a way, he’s Michael Jordan to a generation of people who weren’t alive when he was at his peak. He’s a myth that an older generation worships like none other. It’s also undisputed that there’s an era before Tupac and a generation of rappers and more that arrived after he left us.
“I Get Around”
“Do For Love”
“So Many Tears”
“I Wonder If Heaven Got A Ghetto”