Home Imperatives Tupac Shakur: Rap Revolution

Tupac Shakur: Rap Revolution


tupac-shakur-mail-page-3Tupac’s uncompromising attacks on inequality brought the wrath of the establishment down on him in his lifetime. Vice-President Dan Quayle named Tupac specifically as a malign influence on American youth and was just one of countless conservatives to claim the hip-hop genre was the main source of violence in the black community. At the same time, mainstream politicians have occasionally tried to exploit Tupac’s ongoing popularity for political advantage. Republican Senator Marco Rubio, for example, recently making the laughable claim that he admired Tupac’s music but condemned his politics, as if the two could be separated.

Rubio’s campaign for the Presidency, of course, has been crushed by the Trump steamroller. The latter was already making a name for himself as the unacceptable face of capitalism in Tupac’s time, much to the rapper’s disgust: Everywhere, big business, you want to be successful? You want to be like Trump? Gimme, gimme gimme. Push push push push! Step step step! Crush crush crush! That’s how it all is, it’s like nobody ever stops.

It is intriguing to speculate on how Tupac, if he had survived the shooting in Las Vegas two decades ago, would have reacted to the possibility that confronts America today of Trump being sworn in as the 45th President; possibly something the lines of his 1996 track ‘Trapped’-

“It’s time I lett’em suffer tha payback
I’m tryin to avoid physical contact
I can’t hold back, it’s time to attack jack”

Die by the sword?

Tupac’s murder is usually portrayed as a case of live by the sword, die by the sword. However, there is a political dimension to the shooting that has echoes in the shocking episodes involving more recent cases of denied justice such as Philando Castille earlier this year. Many would not want to go as far as author David Potash who argues Tupac was the victim of a similar act of state terrorism as the ones that killed Panthers in the 1960s such as Bobby Hutton and Fred Hampton, but comedian Chris Rock incisively highlighted how the rapper’s death is emblematic of the US elite’s disinterest in its most downtrodden communities, as manifested in the numberless unsolved African American deaths:

Tupac was gunned down on the Las Vegas Strip after a Mike Tyson fight. How many witnesses do you need to see some shit before you arrest somebody? More people saw Tupac get shot than the last episode of Seinfeld.

Sean Ledwith is Lecturer in History and Politics at York College, where he is also UCU branch chair. He is a member of Counterfire and York People’s Assembly. Sean is also a regular contributor to Marx and Philosophy Review of Books and Reviews in History..



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