The Inspirations Of Tupac Shakur And His Impact On Society

“Reality is wrong. Dreams are for real,” said world renowned rapper Tupac Shakur. Tupac wanted to change the reality of racism and despair, into one of hope. Tupac was one of the most recognizable faces ever in the music industry and a pioneer in the world of hip hop. He was inspired to make a difference in the world, because of what was going around him regarding racism, and its impact on his mom. It was so difficult that she joined the Black Panther party looking for support and change. Tupac’s family was targeted by law enforcement and his stepfather even landed on the FBI’s most wanted list. Tupac was faced with the struggles of being a minority in a tough time at a very young age. He moved around a lot in his childhood, and eventually landed in California. He enjoyed listening to music, especially rap, and found that he was able to express himself through writing and performing his own music. He was a very creative artist and the struggles black people face in society came through in his songs, especially his lyrics. Tupac was influenced by NWA, L.L. Cool J, and surprisingly, Shakespeare to write and create his own music.

Tupac was a gifted writer and performer, having studied acting at the prestigious Baltimore School for the Arts. He wrote poetry as a teenager. His musical tastes were broad, and he especially liked songwriters with something to say, or those who said things well, with truth or poetry. Some people Tupac looked up to for influence, and wanted to be like was L.L. Cool J, NWA, and unexpectedly, Shakespeare.

LL Cool J was a rapper that he loved to listen to, and had a great style that Tupac wanted to strive to be like. The Grammy Award winning pop artist showed the world the fun side of rap that wasn’t all just vulgar language talking about sex, guns, and drugs, but was fun to listen to for everyone. He also inspired Tupac into becoming an actor by starring in movies (Deep Blue Sea) and different TV shows. LL Cool J exemplified the many different things rappers could do to be more creative in their own music while also taking the entertainment industry and public by storm by acting.

NWA was in a similar situation as Tupac was in. NWA suffered a very tough early life while on the come up to fame. Like Tupac, the group also dealt with racism and the negative stereotypes that went with being black. The group rapped about the struggles they were faced with in society and expressed their feelings for the law through their music. With such songs as “Express Yourself” with the lyrics “I’m expressin’ with my full capabilities/and now I’m living in correctional facilities.” Most notably the song “F**K Tha Police” with lyrics such as “got it bad 'cause I'm brown, and not the other color so police think they have the authority to kill a minority.” These songs mention to the world that how they want to express themselves, and show who they are is not up to the “police standards” and is not the right thing to do, even though they have not broken any laws. NWA had some run-ins with the law that they thought were not right and were being targeted by the law. Tupac could relate to them because of his whole childhood growing up.

These musicians and writers had a style and character that Tupac could relate to. And while Tupac was performing Shakespeare's plays at Baltimore school the Arts, he could relate to the Shakespearean psychology of the inter-cultural and inter-wars conflict. “I love Shakespeare. Shakespeare wrote some of the hardest stories, man. Romeo and Juliet is some ghetto type stuff. It is very tragic.” Tupac was so influenced by Shakespeare, that he even has many quotes in his music that come straight from Shakespeare's plays.

While he was certainly influenced by others, he took most of his inspiration from his own life growing up around the Blank Panther movement and watching his mother deal with drug addiction and desperate living situations moving frequently, and while living with an absent father. Tupac did not rap about “thug life”, he wanted to have a bigger meaning and more positive influence on youth. Through Tupac’s songs it is clearly seen that he was very well educated and put many different problems society was faced with in one song. In some songs he would talk about the problem of black on black crime, then he would talk about supporting women and their rights. He was able talk about a wide range of issues that all could relate to. Many people had not heard of this style of rap before, because mostly it is just about violence. But Tupac did not just want to talk about the problems, he wanted to find a way to fix them. Many people loved his style.

Tupac was aware of his popularity and of his ability to affect change, and influence people. He wanted to inspire change, and did so through his songs, like “Trapped” with lyrics like “You know they got me trapped in this prison of seclusion

Happiness, living on the streets is a delusion...Cause they never talk peace in the Black community.” His acting was also inspiring. He was in several films including Gridlock’d, Juice, Above the Rim, Poetic Justice, and Bullet. Tupac had such a strong effect on others, tha a foundation was started in his honor after his death. The TASF (Tupac Amuru Shakur Foundation) which offers youth book clubs, Community development projects, and it offers scholarships to students pursuing College. It is a great way to help keep kids on the right track and stay involved in careers they have a passion for. Just like when Tupac was young, he had a passion for expressing his emotions through music and acting, and with the foundation he is helping keep kids in school and giving them something to work for.

However, Tupac was not without controversy. He often wrote about racism, police brutality and poverty. And with lyrics from ‘2pacalypse Now’ were cited as reason that a youth shot a Texas State Trooper, many, including Vice President Dan Quayle, criticized Tupac at the time, saying “There’s no reason for a record like this to be released. It has no place in our society. Of course, those words only helped sell more records. The reason Tupac says he wrote about these problems is because it is reality and people don't want to think it is but they have to know the truth. And it is an outlet for those who are struggling with the same problem and don't have a voice big enough to solve and share how they feel about the problems. Tupac was a leader for all the people who went through the same things as him but couldn't express their feelings. He was a way for the people to get their point across. Overall there has been a very widespread feeling about gangster rap, and hip hop in general. Some people believe Tupac is a bad influence and ruining the reputation of law-enforcement, and some believe he is a pioneer of freedom for all. Through all of Tupac's influences and what he has accomplished he has been a great way to send a message of the injustice in society and all of its effects on people.

“I’m not saying I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world” said Tupac Shakur. After many number 1 albums and top movies he became one of the most influential figures of the world, and a person all can look to for motivation as we strive to change the world. By having great influences that pushed him to make a difference, Tupac Shakur changed the world by inspiring everyone to be less judgemental about people and culture, Shakur shed light on the differences and bought all together as one. 

16 August 2021
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