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Hip Hop: How Tupac became a global icon


When discussing Tupac, you must do so with the same style he used to attack the booth with. Pac may not have been the best lyricist in Hip Hop, but he was by far the biggest rapper that ever lived. I feel confident in saying there will never be another Tupac, not just in name but in everything he stood for and what he meant to the game.

Can you explain how a kid born into the Black Panther era, attends a school in Baltimore for the Performing Arts becomes a backup dancer for Digital Underground, then after ONE verse changed Hip Hop forever? Me either, and that’s what made him so special.

This is not a life story on Pac but more of a why we will never see his kind again.

I’ve heard rappers say “how one verse changed the game” but in Pac’s life that is true. Once he went solo, he was regarded as an activist, but that was to be expected when you put in perspective his upbringing. But here is the thing about Pac that no other rapper will ever touch. His records, while some may be violent, more were on the lines of “look over here”, this is what’s going on in our community than more of a “look what I’m doing” type of message.

You felt his music because he made you feel his music. It wasn’t written in subliminal messages that made you rewind the tape and get a hidden meaning; it was straight in your face outrage. He had the persona to hit you political, emotional, with laughter, then come hood, sometimes all in one song. But was it the music that made us love him or was it him that made us love his music?

Where were you thing night Pac got shot, what were you doing? Do you remember anything about that night or did you block it out? I remember hearing about it the next morning when I woke up. I was still in college, after hearing the news, I double checked to make sure and like any other fan, I blasted his music. The day he died, it was like a family member had passed away; it was hard to believe giving his history, but I had to come to terms that Pac would no longer make any more music.

But with Pac, he was so much bigger than Hip Hop. What we see of Ice Cube now, is where Pac was supposed to be. Maybe he wouldn’t be commanding $20M a movie, but he was on his way to kicking down Hollywood doors. Baby Boy was to be his, Menace to Society, and the list can go on about his possibilities. His role in Juice will forever be a hood classic, his role in Poetic Justice showed his acting range, but the one thing we forget when talking Pac and his legacy are that the sky was the limit.

Pac died at 25. At that age most of us are still getting to know ourselves. This man created hits on wax, hits in theaters, did time in prison, started the biggest coastal beef this side of the Civil War. This was the power that ONE man had. When you look at Hip Hop artist today and past, name one that had his type of effect. When Biggie passed, we remembered him for his music, outside of that he was just Christopher Wallace. The only person that comes to mind is Jay-Z, and that’s because the game has changed so much since Pac’s death.

Jay is an icon; he has the same respect that Pac had but not the same love that Pac had. I hate to do this, but I have no choice. When Big passed, New York mourned, when Pac passed the world mourned. How many people have you heard say, “Pac is alive, he chilling in Mexico somewhere”? Statements like that are left for icons like Elvis Presley, not an African-American Hip Hop artist.

You can go overseas, and there are murals of Pac, they have College courses breaking down the meaning of his lyrics, hell, there was a stage play titled “Holla If You Hear Me” on Broadway in NYC. This is the legacy he left behind. Pac was bigger than Hip Hop, he took the game, turned it upside down then formed his category and locked the door. Many have tried to sneak their way in, 50 Cent, Ja Rule, and DMX, but have failed miserably in the process.

You cannot duplicate greatness. You can come close, but when a person reaches a certain level, it’s no longer reachable to the masses. When I sit and think about Pac’s life, I become envious. We spend, so much time worrying about what others are doing that we forget to live ourselves, Pac LIVED, he enjoyed life. Yes, he died young but in that time he only managed to become the world’s biggest Icon.


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Mark Wilson
Mark began his writing career for Yahoo then Rant Sports before deciding to head out on his own at TruluvSports. Now, he is lead NBA writer as well as co-owner of Inscribermag. His topic ranges from sports, Lifestyle, Sex, live streams and more. Mark's work has been featured in Sports Illustrated, ESPN, Bleacher Report, Fox Sports, MSN, Yahoo Sports and many others. No one is perfect but he does his best to provide fans with an honest opinion and not the saturated, watered-down sports and news everyone dishes out.