If Tupac Were Here Today (Would He Be Here Today?)

Tupac Shakur is phenomenal. I use present tense because his influence is still with us today. Just like in our minds how fictional characters never die, same with ‘Pac.

I’m sure you all are aware of the rumors about how he’s hiding out in Cuba. Again I ask, if Tupac were here today, would he be here today? I don’t believe that he would be hiding out, when the world is in flux. Not after he catalyzed the modern resistance which the world is facing right now, by addressing police brutality that plagues inner cities, by addressing how the black community has been underserved and left vulnerable to poverty and sickness.

He is, in many minds, a symbol of the resistance against inequality. His words resonate with not only the fans who were there to witness his ascension in the music industry, but with kids and activists today, who are younger than I was at the time he was shifting the paradigm of gangsta rap away from the murderous depictions of Black on Black crime, to the social injustices that keep a knee on the neck of the Black and Brown community.

Tupac is here today. He’s in everyone who is involved in the struggle. I think he’d be proud at the fact that the foundation he laid out for the people has been bucked but not broken. In a sense, all eyez are on him, on me, on we. Happy bornday, Tupac. The shit ain’t over…

Loup D in a limited edition 2Pac Collection hoodie by Oakbay Fits

How I Shot Tupac

 

April 11, 1992. I was a writer for a magazine called No Sellout: The Tip-Top-Hip-Hop-Raggamuffin-Black-Rock-Mag-Rag. It was the first time I used the Loupy D moniker in print. One day I was walking around Hollywood soliciting “donations” for the publications to make soem extra dollars. As I walked by the Pig and Whistle on Hollywoood Blvd. I look in, and there was Tupac sitting at the bar alone, drinking beer from a mug. I walked in and sat next him. “Check out this magazine ‘Pac. I got the cover story,” I bragged. He reached in his pocket and gave me a couple of dollars. We talked about one article on misogyny in hip hop adn agreed that the community had to come together to stop all the self hatred we were inflicting on one another in the music. After our chat, he invited me to come to the release party for his debut album 2Pacalypse Now. I told him that I was already on the guest list because of the magazine, so we peaced out and I went on my way.

I bought a disposable, black and white 35mm camera from the Thriftys on the corner of La Brea and Rodeo. Later that night I got to Glam Slam, Prince’s old club on Boylston Street downtown. I couldn’t wait to see this brotha perform. I loved the energy he put out on stage as a backup dancer for Digital Underground; the same with his performance in the video when he dropped the verse on Same Song. I knew that he was going to give it up that night for his debut release party. Surprisingly, there weren’t many people at the show: mostly industry execs and a few heads from the underground community.

In 1992, Tupac was another brotha in the game coming up and shining his light. Who knew what he would become in the span of his short career and beyond? For millions, he represented the reawakening of a black activist movement that took a nap during the narcissistic decades of the 70’s and 80’s. He, along with other rappers, writers and influencers of Generation X, was a beacon for a future that has not forgotten the original resolve of the hip hop spirit, which is each one teach one, earn our fair share, and share it with the culture.

You can buy merchandise featuring photos from the night by clicking here.

Transmission Complete

It’s a big day for me. My online class is up for the offering. It starts October 25th. I’m in the middle of preparing the syllabus and I think that it will be an interesting course for anyone who writes creative nonfiction. It will be nice to teach again; it’s been over ten years since I’ve been in a classroom. The major difference is that this is a virtual classroom. The coolest thing about online education is that you show up to class when it’s convenient for you. As long as you meet your deadlines and participate in the discussions, you’re okay. I did it for two years of grad school, so I’m really looking forward to the experience being the online instructor this time.

Also today, the official announcement goes out that I am an assistant editor at the online literary journal Drunk Monkeys. At last! I’ve broken the digital barrier and now I’m writing for an online magazine. It seems like this blog came just in the nick of time, to chronicle the bridging of the gap between where I left off twelve years ago in my career, and now. I made a little money in between working in the film industry, but somehow the appeal of being a near broke starving artist, working for pennies and cred, is alluring. The feeling is always “this is going to lead to something great!” In the meantime, I’m wondering if they’re gonna turn off the lights because my payment arrangement is a few days late. There’s a sick thrill in relishing in these types of opportunities. I’ve lived with the same kind of hunger since my first article was published in 1991.

I didn’t know where my literary efforts would lead me, but I did it again and again, and man did I have some memories behind a lot of those articles and encounters: interviewing Notorious B.I.G. the night before his first album Ready To Die dropped, snapping photos of Tupac performing at the record release party for 2Pacalypse Now, his first album, interviewing the entire Wu-Tang Clan, to name a few. I was broke, but happy. My grandfather told me back then, as long as you have a roof over your head, clothes on your back and food to eat, you’re doing alright. I’m still doing alright, and my sons seem to be pretty happy when they’re at my apartment playing on the Xbox and eating homemade ice cream.

It’s a hustle to keep this dream alive and make it grow in the process. The digital age is still a new landscape to me. I’ve peeped it out through virtual binoculars and I can’t even see the horizon, which means that there is plenty of ground to build these dreams into realities, just like the artists I knew in the analog age, some who didn’t make it this far. Their inspiration and belief in the hustle gives me reason to keep reinventing the hunger that I felt back then and use it to feed the muse.