Opinion: Real life, not just thug life


Photo via Flickr (Trisha Fawver) under Creative Commons license

“Dear Mama” premieres tonight at 10 p.m. on FX. “Dear Mama” is the true story about the relationship between Tupac and his mother Afeni Shakur, and the impact she made on him.

Premiering tonight on FX, “Dear Mama” is a docuseries that provides Tupac’s fans important insight into how his life experiences and his mother’s influence on him helped create his music.

Tupac is a poet put to music.

— Editor Katie Johnson

Tupac is a poet put to music. His music earned attention and respect through a poetic style that embraced street vocabulary while also being innovative. 

He did not start writing music until his late teens when his friend got shot while playing with a gun. That incident fueled Tupac to make his first rap about gun control.

Most people who do not like rap have the misunderstanding that all rap is loud music and profanity, but it is more than that. It is true that rap lyrics are often explicit and describe graphic images of violence, and drugs, but they are informing people of what is happening in communities that people would rather overlook.

[I]f young Black people could stand up for themselves, then they can stand up for others who are too weak to do so.

— Editor Katie Johnson

On the album “All Eyez On Me,” Tupac allowed his listeners to feel his vulnerability, his fears, and his trials and tribulations.

Tupac helped change the way young African American children living in poorer parts of the cities perceived the way that they were being seen or seeing themselves. For example, in the song “Changes,” he talks about what the young people could do to fight back against discrimination without resorting to violence. 

His music focuses on the premise that if young Black people could stand up for themselves, then they can stand up for others who are too weak to do so. 

Tupac Shakur was born on June 16, 1971, to Afeni Shakur and Billy Garland. His mother would go on to raise him and his younger sister as a single mom.

Tupac’s mother pushed him toward being a better man. On the album “Me Against the World,” he released the single “Dear Mama,” a dedication to Afeni. In the song, Shakur details his childhood poverty and his mother’s addiction to crack cocaine. Despite the struggles, he argues that his love and deep respect for his mother surpasses any bad memories.    

[H]is love and deep respect for his mother surpasses any bad memories.    

— Editor Katie Johnson

Afeni was a Black Panther activist during the civil rights movement and she took what she learned from that experience and tried to raise her children with the best values she could give them. 

After studying poetry, theater, and music in high school, Tupac got his first break when he became a roadie and backup dancer for the rap group Digital Underground in 1990. His first music credit came on a soundtrack single from a 1991 Chevy Chase film which he also appeared in.

The new docuseries is a deep dive into the bond of the iconic rapper who died in 1996 and his activist mother who passed away in 2016. 

“Dear Mama” will premiere with back-to-back episodes at 10 p.m. on FX. The entire docuseries will consist of five episodes.

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