The Contribution Of Tupac Shakur And Nipsey Hussle To The Community

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The Hip Hop community is filled with various artists who have all respectively contributed to the African American community. Whether it be bringing exposure to blacks, political movements, and even starting trend, these artists can all be looked up on and thanked by the black community. The purpose of this paper is to focus on two who were looked highly upon in the community until their untimely deaths. These two being Tupac Shakur and Nipsey Hussle. Tupac Shakur was born on June 16, 1971 and was murdered on September 13, 1996. Tupac Shakur was an American rapper, actor, and activist who came to embody the 1990s gangsta-rap aesthetic, and who in death became an icon symbolizing noble struggle. He has sold more than 75 million albums making him one of the top-selling artists of all time. Ermias Joseph Asghedom known professionally as Nipsey, was an American rapper, entrepreneur, and community activist. Coming from the West Coast hip hop scene in the mid-2000s, Hussle released his first mixtape, Slauson Boy Volume 1, which led to him being signed Cinematic Music Group and Epic Records. The deaths of these two legendary artists shook the community and made headlines all around the world. The responses to their deaths were expressed in both negative and positive aspects.

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Both of these rappers were activist in the community. Shakur wasn’t engaged in traditional nationalism which was practiced by Karenga but he utilized the culture of young people living in urban areas. In particular, those who had come of age during the 1980s. Tupac’s political work was also inspired by his personal experiences as a black man during the hip hop era. Shakur’s advocacy proves that hip hop and activism are not mutually exclusive. Shakur’s work showed his aspiration for social changed. Tupac understood that society would not address the concerns of the unspoken because a conscious rap song was produced. Some of his lyrics were offensive and many of his actions questionable. In “I Wonder If Heaven Got A Ghetto” you can see the lyrics like “Here on Earth, tell me what’s a black life worth” “Ask Rodney [King], LaTasha [Harlins]”, “When they ask me, when will the violence cease? / When your troops stop shootin n****s down in the street…” After the death of Hussle, fans quickly began spreading the phrase “The Marathon Continues” Hussles last album was called “Victory Lap” A “Victory Lap” is an extra lap of the race track taken after winning a race.” With this definition is can be seen that Nipsey knew that in this world we have to finish this race called life, and in this life, he knew that you can change the community that you live in by not only with what you say but truly by what you do. If one were to watch Tupac’s Resurrection you’ll hear Shakur say ‘I always knew I was going to get shot. I just didn’t think it would happen at that particular moment.” This can be interpreted that both rappers knew that their time on Earth was going to be cut short.

The responses produced by the public indeed showed the fairness and unfairness of both artists death. In the case of Shakur, there were lots of people who thought as if he was murdered by the FBI in an attempt to end the “violent rap culture” that was going on with the feuds between the west and east coast. The murderer of Tupac was never found and it seems as if efforts on finding who did weren’t important. It wasn’t until 2019 that officers from the case that took place in 1996 started speaking up about potential suspects. With this kind of treatment towards this case it made the community feel like Tupac’s death was just “another black man dead” to everyone else. Unlike Shakur, Hussles death prompted a quick search. Two days after the death of Hussle the Los Angeles Police Department spoke on Hussle as being “an artist who touched our city” and was hailed as a peace maker. Both Hussle and Shakur were both artist who wanted change for their community. Both of these rappers wanted a change for their communities. Right when they were about to make big moves that could make a difference they both ended up dead.

The deaths of Hussle and Shakur happened in different decades but we can still see the problem of killings in the community. It was said that Hussles death was related to gang violence which is very much relevant until this current date. Since the murder of Shakur is still somewhat up in the air, we can still make a connection to killing within the community. Both rappers have evidence that their killers were people they have been associated with either as a friend or enemy. A study by Dianna Theadora Kenny was done in 2015 showing that over half of the hip hop artists who had passed away were murdered. “Murder accounted for 6% of deaths across the sample, but was the cause of 51% of deaths in rap musicians and 51.5% of deaths for hip hop musicians, to date,” Kenny wrote. She concluded that the reason this is was because of strong associations with drug-related crime and gang culture surrounding hip hop. XXL compiled a list of sixty-eight rappers and of those sixty-eight, only eleven were deemed as solved. It shows a trend in the rap community that the investigations of their deaths aren’t as intensive since majority go unsolved.

The deaths of these two rappers were very untimely but definitely hurt the community. Some say that Hussle was the Tupac of this time. In an interview Hussle stated ‘that’s why I said I’m the Tupac of my generation, because I follow the red roses in the grey pavements. The rose that grew from the concrete. I know what Pac was trying to do. Pac was like, “I know if I tell y’all the shit I know, y’all will call me smart. In our culture, smart is weak”. Both Tupac and Nipsey wanted to unite the gangs and stop the violence, they both wanted the best for Black people, and they both had a love and dedication to their communities at their essence. They didn’t want to get rich, they were more concerned with being amongst the people. Tupac inspired Nipsey. Nipsey’s legacy can and probably will inspire another in a similar manner. This will begin a series of people who want change and make it a reality like Tupac and Nipsey did. 

16 August 2021

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