ike a lot of people who saw the video floating around the Internet of Tupac’s hologram performing at Coachella, I was eager to click on it. I was a fan of his before he was killed and own a few of his CDs. He had a great
body flow and made some awesome music. But Tupac also made music that epitomizes the worst of hip-hop, the gun-toting, gang-banging, woman-hating kind. I held my breath when I clicked play on the video, hoping that I’d hear some progressive Tupac. Instead I got “Hail Mary,” a song glorifying the very violence that killed him. My heart sunk. This is not how I want to remember Tupac.
I applaud Dr. Dre and Snoop for their creative use of the hologram technology and for the contributions they’ve made to hip-hop. And I’m not saying they should have whitewashed or bowdlerized Tupac. I’m simply saying I’d rather remember him as a complex artist who also performed music like “Dear Mama” and “Brenda’s Got a Baby.”
I know that gangsta rap sells records, concerts, and CDs around the world. And I know producing concerts is a business. But for me, that fact makes the revival of Tupac in this manner only worse. Essentially, his violent lyrics and violent end are being pimped after his death.
Yes, some rappers actually grew up around and participated in the violence they rap about. Yes, Clint Eastwood, Westerns and war movies are far more violent and deserve reproach. And I can think of a thousand other justifications for the resurrection of this particular Tupac. But I have to draw a line somewhere and that line is at resurrecting the image of a murdered man and forcing him to strut around the stage performing a song about his thirst for revenge.
Tupac didn’t get revenge against the people he said set him up on rape charges or against the person who shot him five times in 1994. And his elusive pursuit of that revenge probably cost him his life. In 1996, he was shot four times, held onto his life for six days, then died.
Please, let him rest in peace.