• Ike Okwerekwu

Tupac Shakur: The Greatest Inspirational Hip Hop Artist

Tupac Shakur is undoubtedly one of the greatest influences in hip hop culture. The legendary artist not only sold over 75 million records worldwide, but he was also an actor, activist, entertainer, poet, and passionate leader. He used his music and other notable skills to address social issues hindering people of color from achieving success.

Despite his tremendous efforts and profound impact on the black community, people often categorize Tupac as a gangster who glorified the thug lifestyle, but to characterize him as such is a false representation of what he really stood for. Contrary to popular belief, the man felt strongly against crimes and even devised a plan to develop a “thug” code of ethics for jail inmates, enforcing a set of rules that punishes prisoners for engaging in criminal activities.

Tupac used the thug life image to market himself and connect with young African American males. The moral justification of the marketing scheme is controversial and up for debate, but the infamous image contributed largely to his commercial success. Regardless of the ethical validity of the image, Tupac represented the conflicting nature of a black man and fought passionately to bring awareness to the issues plaguing the black community. He struggled internally with finding himself and had external conflicts with police arrest and court trials, but his musical ability to be emotionally vulnerable made him even more relatable and beloved.

Perhaps, the most interesting thing about Tupac may be the tremendous impact he had on the world before reaching the age of twenty-six. Despite his early unfortunate death in 1996, his legacy still lives on. Even though people may use his name to chase clout such as Jussie Smollett’s proclamation of being the gay Tupac or Kodak Black stating that he is better than Tupac, the vast amount of attention received for the questionable comments speaks to the rapper’s greatness and the emotional attachment many have for the adored artist. In midst of the unruly statements, many people speak highly of the rapper with profound respect and claim he’s the greatest rapper of all time or put him in their top five rapper list.

In an interview, he proclaimed, “I’m not saying I’m going to change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.”

Tupac bought this statement to life, inspiring many of today’s prominent hip hop artist including Kendrick Lamar, J Cole, Eminem, The Game, Chris Brown, and Snoop Dogg. Many of these artists may not have enjoyed the same success they experience today if not for Tupac’s influence. Before J Cole even started rapping, he felt an immediate connection with Pac’s music after listening to the 2paclypse now album at the age of seven. Kendrick Lamar often speaks about how the rapper deeply inspires him, displaying his reverence on the track, “Mortal Man.” Nearly every hip hop artist seems to have a genuine connection to Pac that encourages them to continue honing their artistic craft.

After reading this article and watching the videos, those who view the rapper as a reckless thug should consider viewing him in a more positive light. Tupac Shakur lived with a strong sense of purpose, challenging many individuals to think outside of the box and develop solutions to obtain prosperity unconventional to the hood environment. He fearlessly spoke against social injustices and proposed that people aspire to be an engineer, doctor, or scientist for the overall betterment of the community. Even in his death, Tupac Shakur’s spirit lives on through the millions of people he connected with and his legacy will continue to inspire individuals to strive for greatness.

“I know it seems hard sometimes, but remember one thing. Through every dark night, there’s a bright day after that. So no matter how hard it get, stick your chest out, keep ya head up, and handle it.”

-Tupac Amaru Shakur