As we Commemorate the Anniversary of 2Pac’s Death-Who Speaks for the ‘Have Nots’ in 2010?

Every year around this time many of us within Hip Hop take some time out and reflect on the life and times of Tupac Amaru Shakur as commemorate the anniversary of his tragic death Sept 13 1996. With each passing year its interesting to note that as a younger generation grows older, icons like 2Pac don’t seem to mean as much. For example, I’m not sure I heard anyone shout him out during the MTV VMAs..  Not sure if people took time to acknowledge him during the red carpet interviews or if anyone bothered to ask their thoughts.  Did anyone ask ‘What do you think 2Pac would be doing if he was here?’  ‘What do you think 2Pac would say about our current economic situation?’  “What would Pac have said about that preacher wanting to burn Qu’rans or all the hoopla made at Ground Zero about that Mosque/ Community center?  What would he have said about the looming sentencing trial for the cop who killed Oscar Grant or the riots that have taken place in LA after cops shot an immigrant? What would Pac have said about all those homes being destroyed and people killed during the tragic fire in San Bruno which we are now finding was because of negligence by PG&E?  Considering that’s an area where a lot of people of color live, do you think Pac would’ve been screaming on that? Such speculative question gets asked because it’s all but absent from those who are privileged to have access to a mic.

Pac like so much of our history has been made disposable and I’m not quite sure what to make of it. Is it our fault as elders for not bringing him up enough and keeping his and the memory of other past icons alive? Have we grown so that we now see him through a different lens and maybe don’t hold him up as high anymore? Did we put too much on him?

In looking back I think what folks admired so much about 2Pac was that he gave voice to an underclass of people. He gave voice to the those who we call the ‘Have Nots‘. What’s ironic is that in 2010 we have more ‘Have Nots then ever before, but instead of kicking up dust and challenging those in power about the injustice of such conditions, we now have folks looking for answers in corporate lackeys masquerading as rap stars or corporate backed pundits who know of Pac but would never dare embrace his fearlessness and boldness in seeking change. Still others look for the Glenn Beck, the Tea Party Movement and maybe Congressman Ron Paul to give them voice.

When Pac died at age 25 he was just beginning to find his voice and there’s no telling where he would be in 2010. There’s no telling how he would’ve ultimately have used his platforms and popularity and how things would be different as a result..The young Black male who he claimed to have spoken for would be older now and we would hope that he would be speaking and doing things to change the wretched conditions so many find themselves in.. Alas we can only speculate, but we should not underestimate the differences one man or woman can make.

Moving forward we understand that every generation has their heroes and sheros.. I’m from the public Enemy era, the folks who were my interns back in the days came up under Pac.. Many of them have maintained that fiery spirit 13 years later..My question today is who inspires that in today’s generation? Who is speaking truth to power and kicking up dust? Or have we retired that as a viable method to get things done?

As I was watching what appeared to be a very lack luster VMAs last night I kept asking myself where are the fire-works? Who’s the person that’s gonna leave us with something to talk about for years to come? The closet we came was when Drake yelled out Free Lil Wayne. Many were hoping we’d have that moment with Kanye West who came out wearing a red suit that drew comparisons to late comedian Richard Pryor on Sunset Strip. He’s always one to be counted on to say something provocative. His performance was mesmerizing. But we didn’t get much from Kanye other than him rapping about what a jerk he was .. Instead it was singer Taylor Swift who was famously interrupted by Kanye during last years awards, kicking up dust by doing a song where she took aim at him.

As Kanye closed the show I kept wondering if this generation of Have Nots had someone speaking for them on these national stages.

Written by Davey D

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31 comments on “As we Commemorate the Anniversary of 2Pac’s Death-Who Speaks for the ‘Have Nots’ in 2010?

  1. Did you see that 30 for 30 piece on ESPN (Tyson)?

    As far as this generation’s voice, I haven’t a clue who that person would be (I’m sure someone will add a name), since I quit regularly keeping tabs on hip-hop starting in the late ’90s. Many of the ones I grew up on were either retired or sporadically dropping stuff near retirement.

    RE: VMA’s
    I haven’t sat through that awards show in years and I doubt I’ll be chasing any highlights. When it gets to wondering what Kanye or Taylor Swift is doing due to last year, it’s time for something else…

  2. Beautiful article! I am definitely one who came up under Tupac, and LOVE him more today than I did when he was alive. When Pac talked about the babies…it was me and my peers who he was defending. I was 11 and my 11 year old friend was pregnant when Brenda’s Got a Baby came out. I was a few years older than Yummy Sandifer when he was murdered. Tupac influenced my life in countless ways…which is why me and my children regularly visit the Peace Garden at the Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts, and I teach them about his message through his music and poetry.

  3. I notice that Davey D never talks about the illuminati (as PAC did), the NWO, and how the music, movie, and entertainment industry is run by them. That’s why PAC’s not here. Professor Griff does a great job explaining these things on Ironically, Davey D never comments on this real threat. Just wondering why? We all know if PAC was here, PAC would be drawing attention to this. R.I.P. PAC 9-13-2010.

  4. Thanks Davey for remembering ‘Pac. We played some tunes for him on the Weeklyrapup on last friday.
    I remembering visiting my uncle Geronimo Jijaga (who’s birthday is today) & Pacs Godfather around ’91 and he told me about his godson and his rap aspirations. I was thinking like – o.k. another young brother’s dream. Then when i saw the Trapped video and realized it was TuPac who he was talking about, but still did not realize at that time that he would be the icon that he is.

    Assante Sana for posting the Trapped video too.

  5. I loved the fact that, when he was alive, Tupac Amaru Shakur served as a vivid example of how conflicting and hard it is to truly be yourself when you are a young black male living in “AmeriKKka.” On one side of the coin the brother was full of compassion for the plight of our sisters; he saw through the genocide clandestinely unleashed on our community, and he was vocal about the allure and often, seemingly, necessary entrance (for basic survival) into the dope game. On the other side of the same coin the brother glorified the self-deprecating conditions of said genocide, he, hypocritically, spat venom to our most misguided and neglected sisters, thus aiding in the continued depletion of respect given to all sisters overall, and he never really presented real solutions to the ongoing problems plaguing our communities that we still face today. When I see Tupac (and Biggie Smalls) depicted as “martyrs” like M.L.K., Jr. and Malcolm X it is a little disheartening because of the true legacies left behind by them all. If Malcolm would have always incorporated the positive glorification of his former lifestyle in his speeches it would have been counterproductive to the overall message he was trying to get out to the masses of lost souls he was trying to empower. Likewise, it would have been confusing as hell to those stuck in the hellish environments he spoke of escaping. And what if Dr. King would have preached sitting on the sidelines and waiting on god to help with the eradication of American apartheid vice getting up, getting out, and doing something for self through unity (for all peoples) and protests. Where would we truly be today if these two brothers would have behaved like those we now bestow the word leader so freely upon? I do not say this to lessen the importance brother Shakur (or brother Wallace), but until we individually take a serious approach to acquiring our own real self-worth (without compromise) then we will continue to miss opportunities to help our community as a whole to move forward. Learning how education can be used to open doors, self-reliance, erasing negative stereotypes about seeking therapy to combat Slavery and Hood PTSD are but a few ways in which positive growth can begin to save the next generations. I loved Tupac’s positive messages but I hate the fact that NOBODY seemed to love the brother enough to seek help with his inner demons, thus strengthening him to grow even further and having an even greater impact in this, all too often, dark world. For if a person is constantly preoccupied with their own demise and states that their only fear of “death” is “reincarnation” I think that is a cry for help. So while we reflect upon the legacy of this most influential icon of our generation, I hope we don’t miss any opportunities to possibly save the next man or woman in need.


  6. Who speaks for the “Have Nots”… i have an idea.. how about you Dave! I volunteer you to speak for the Have Nots.. how about that? And no we don’t need to free Lil Wayne… leave that sorry ass fool in jail, tired of hearing about fools actin out in public then they get caught up, and now all of a sudden, it’s free this person, free that person… free yourself first, how’s that… Free Mumia first , free some folks that actually lifted a finger to make things right… Free Lil Wayne my ass…

  7. Well u should continue to let Griff speak loud and clear with the expertise that he has.. I dont speak on all of that cause 1-I dont buy into all of it.. some of it makes sense and I’ve given plenty of folks opportunities to speak their piece.. others stuff sorry.. I’m not that guy..

  8. I think lots of people tried to help Pac and his demons were no different then anyone else 25 yrs old with lots of money in an industry.. His commitment was to be with the downtrodden.. and not get caught up..unfortinately they caught up to him

  9. I think the intentions of this piece are noble and aspirational, but I think–especially at the beginning of it–that you’ve diverted into an unfortunate WW_D routine that ultimately does no one any good.

    We’ve seen that diversion countless times over the years when people speculate on what Dr. King would say about subject Y or event X. And, to me, it always comes off as a lazy lament. We all miss ‘Pac just like we miss Dr. King. But in order for their legacies–and the legacies of our other icons–to matter, the key is for someone (anyone) to carry the leadership mantle. It doesn’t matter what Tupac wold have said about anything happening today because he’s not here. It’s the saddest kind of sad. And it’s absolutely true. What really matters is: what’s happening today? And what do we really need from our leaders?

    I like what you started to do near the end of this piece. But I think you need to go further. A lot further.

    2010 is far different than 1990. The context in which any icon for young Black males lives and creates today requires what I think is a complex combination of inspiration, advocacy and leadership. You may not be able to get the right combination of all those things from a single artist. Or a single leader.

    As you’ve outlined, there really isn’t any artist working today who comes to mind as actively trying to walk in ‘Pac’s shoes. Perhaps because of this generation’s extreme narcissism. Perhaps because this generation would rather be rich than righteous–and they’re actually able to get money. Perhaps because of some other reason I’m not smart enough to come up with.

    To be honest, Davey, I think you could be onto something much larger here. I’d love to see a series of articles (or maybe even a documentary) on the subject of Searching for Tupac, an exploration of Tupac’s legacy, who fills it today and what it could mean tomorrow.

  10. I dont think it was lazy lamenting.. what it was connecting with folks who do everything from mimic rhyme styles to dress like their icons.. Entire industries from electronics to fashion have flourished because many in among us youth an adults follow the ways of those they admire. That aspect is no different in 1990, 1994 0r 2010.. So for the sake of people who admired Pac a series of questions asking what he would do was specifically designed to tap into the mindset of those who did admire him and ask the same questions amongst themselves..
    At the same timew, hopefully it sparked an interest for those who didnt really understand him.. which is why I included the videos

    The only message I wanted to get across was for folks to not be so fearful

  11. Yeah Dave, you need to focus on the Illuminati and New World Order.

    This is important so the hood can chase pointless crank pot self defeating bullshit ….while the educated classes entrench themselves in a simple culture of builder-ship and real education and run circles around these dumb fucks.

    I’m to the point where contrary to the popular beliefs of message boards like this one, that there’s probably many people in the banking industry, the CIA, FBI and many alphabet soup organization that authentically want people to wise up and get smart, but the public is so dumbed down and self defeating it probably just eludes these people and they don’t know what to do.They’re as clueless as anyone. So they just shut up and do their jobs.

    That “economic hitman” guy writes books, beyond that he’s as clueless as anyone else.

    2Pac was over rated and he had an over infatuated sense of self importance that was magnified by the media. The only interesting thing about him wasn’t his views, it was that his views were turned into “something” by being in the spotlight. Which is also the only interesting thing about people like Glen Beck.

    And people like Quincy Jones aren’t the “Illuminati” – they’re just wealthy bisexual twinks entrenched in a world of crappy assumptions, porn, gangsterism etc. all wrapped up in a shell of empty hype and gloss.

    All anyone needs to know is not to go to those people for anything and to get rid of your TV.

  12. Disagree Watcher.. Pac was important.. he had good ideas and was only 25.. he inspired many and before the breadth of his ideas could really take hold they were narrowcasted so we only knew thug-life and not the richer parts behind it.. Pac plain and simple said speak up and have a keen sense of what injustice is.. There’s nothing over-rated about that.. The fact that he struggled with contradictions is what made him so inspiring because as he blazed a trail, many could follow and see that his goals were within reach… As for the hood.. The hood has lots of inteligent people.. Many who know a hustle a mile a way and many who have insight that I and many others could only wish to have.. Sometimes I may say things that resonate, but often times I reflect things said to me.. In short I’m no better than the hood.. I’m part of it.. everyone has something to contribute if given a chance.. Pac himself would tell u that he tried to reflect the sentiments of those he spoke for.. and if he happen to get alittle full of himself at times.. so what.. who wouldn’t when u were in the limelight? At the same time he had flks that kept him grounded and thats where he was gonna start being a problem

  13. Davey D, thanks another great article that makes us THINK!
    For those of us who personally knew Pac, it’s always bittersweet to think who he could have grown into and what he may be sayin’, doin’ and thinkin’ now, because we were able to see the potential in the many sides of Tupac Amaru Shakur that the public didn’t, he was ONLY 25 when he was killed…. I believe it’s important for us to TEACH youth about Tupac, his life, work and what he represents to Hip Hop culture; the good, bad and the ugly so they will have an understanding of how empowering Hip Hop culture can truly be! …

    Although they’re not mainstream, I KNOW several Hip Hop artists around the country that move in with the “spirit of Tupac” to speak for the masses in their music, work and lifestyle such as ZAYD- The Yung General; BIG Nel; Selassie; Mike Flo and many more! The only challenge is they don’t get the same exposure in mainstream media that Pac received so many folks are not aware of the work!…Tupac IS and will ALWAYS very important to Hip Hop culture because Hiphoppas KNOW how hard it is for a “rose to grow from concrete”; for US Tupac is the patron saint of Hip Hop, WORD!

  14. I agree server.. Sellasie has definitely been on the grind.. but like u said he wont be on the VMAs in front of millions.. and if he was he’d say something.. but thats why we try to give folks some seeds of wisdom to grow on

  15. The music entertainment industry is by far the quickest way an unknown person can suddenly find themselves on the world stage – coming across to multiple nationalities, races, and cultures. This can be obtained much faster than with political figures, sports figures or even economic figures. Nothing inspires or garners attention like music.

    Since Public Enemy had the world stage and Pac – (L. Hill as well) the music industry has been very selective who they’ve given access to the resources necessary to ascend to that level. Look at the top artist out now; the people with the large budgets. While they may be inspiring from a personal story standpoint; so as far as beating the odds and becoming successful, socio-political messages that challenge the status quo and compliment activism are non-existent. Maybe Wyclef from an international view, but while he is always going to be a great touring artist, he is no longer a top commercial artist.

    Hip-hop is sterilized. If Pac was here he would fight against that and his popularity and sales volumes would continue to justify him being on the center stage and thus the talent pool behind him would be influenced. Now-a-days the most influential M.C is Jay-Z. Great talent, but his music is mostly all about him. Pac’s music was about us; himself included. Eminem is also a top talent but his music is irrelevant to the struggle, unless you are on dangerous drugs and trying to get off.

    The good part is the industry can manufacture a career but they can’t create talent.. Even with autotune, a million commercials and advertisements, and co-signs for days. I believe at the end of the day talent will have the last say, and it will be saying something. Lord willing.

  16. “if he happen to get alittle full of himself at times.. so what.. who wouldn’t when u were in the limelight?”

    That’s an understatement. Some people may get full of themselves but they wouldn’t act the way 2Pac did (at least on TV) or surround themselves in the dangerous social environment that guy did. He made a trade off and he died for it. Tough shit. That means he was doing something wrong that people should shun, not that he was doing something right that people should embrace. I’m sure as an everyday person he was what he was (good, bad or whatever) ….but as an entertainer with the hype on him he was just another overrated gimmick media figure that had a lot of character that people mistook to represent something meaningful.

    “As for the hood.. The hood has lots of inteligent people”

    Yeah, I’m not saying it doesn’t but the self-perpetuated “stupidity” of the suburbs is done in a way that facilitates their own well-being through selective ignorance, the stupidity of the hood is just as bad except it’s done in a manner that undermines that kind of “well being” instead of being directed to facilitate it.

    The “honor code” stupidity of the hood can get young people killed and put in jail.

    The “honor code” stupidity of the suburbs gets you into a prestigious school or a salary position at a software company.

    I know that’s a generalization, but it’s a generalization of something that has truth, and I think 2Pacs death can attest to it.

  17. Its a ridiculous generalization.. honor code of stupidity?? who do u hang around? There are people in all neighborhoods who do dumb things and many who do smart things..
    Being in this industry I see lots of people do crazy things that get insulated. I’m not talking about rap I’m talking about entertainment.. I seen the coke sniffers, the wife beaters, the meth heads, the violent folks the drama queens and kinds etc..

    It sounds like u just don’t like Pac which is fine.. hopefully you have the impact he does and did.. as long as he does then I’ll build on the meaningful things he meant for people..

  18. If Pac were alive today, and were a 40 year old mega star, still a regular at major awards shows like the VMAs, etc., and using his stardom to make strong political views? Not a chance. The industry wouldn’t allow it if he tried.

  19. Watcher, I’m a fan of Tupac for his music, particularly his political music, most of which came earlier in his career. The man was a true genius and you could only deny it if you’d either never listened to his earlier music, or if you despise hip hop so much, next week’s winning lotto numbers could be in a hip hop song and you’d have your fingers in your ears. Tupac was a young man when he died, 25, and was steered in the wrong direction by all of the wrong people in the final days of his career. You’re not going to get too many people in here defending Suge Knight. There’s a thread on this blog somewhere about Suge getting knocked out and there isn’t an ounce of sympathy in the comments. Only cheers. Suge was just a negative person with negative energy and he had a lot of control of Tupac’s life in his final years. Tupac was so much more than a “thug”. He was a true genius that could have been a true icon and a voice that we all needed throughout the worst decade in the post depression United States if he was in the care of the right people. He was taken from us AT THE WORST TIME and that hurts a lot of people. If you don’t understand that, you don’t. But I’d recommend again listening to his earlier music.

  20. “He was a true genius that could have been a true icon and a voice that we all needed throughout the worst decade in the post depression United States if he was in the care of the right people.He was taken from us AT THE WORST TIME ”

    Just take a long look at that statement.

    Out of all 6+ billion people on the planet this is the one that gets these kinds of accolades.

    Well, their are plenty of people alive that are worth that kind of adoration, many of which are actually focused on the mechanics of these problems, not the theater of them. They just don’t have their idolized image drilled into your retina like 2Pac.

    I actually like some of 2Pacs early stuff, like same song and trapped, but he still presented himself in a manner that was self defeating.

    You can see him how you want, I just look at him as another walking example of what not to do.

    “Tupac was a young man when he died, 25, and was steered in the wrong direction by all of the wrong people”

    If he was as much of a “genius ” as you make him out to be, would he be that gullible and impressionable?

  21. like I said u simply don’t like him.. this whole talk about others are more deserving.. well pac has been dead 14 years.. where are those others? The name of the game is visibility, how have you and those ‘others’ changed that dynamic in 14 years? Celebritism is more entrenched.. After 14 years who are those names? What are you writing about them? Yes after 14 years and 6 billion people this man is one of the most recognized and admired around the world..after Muhammad Ali and Bob Marley .. All these people cant be that wrong.. They obviously see stuff in him to admire.. and just like some will only take away Ali’s braggadocio or Marley’s pot smoking versus their bravery, insights and intelligence, some will only take away thugging from Pac..
    instead of hating Pac try riding for those others..maybe just maybe they could use it and it can make some difference or do we need another 14years?

  22. Watcher, on September 15, 2010 at 2:51 am Said:

    If he was as much of a “genius ” as you make him out to be, would he be that gullible and impressionable?


    That’s a good point. Nevertheless, the answer is yes. We’re fragile creatures, even the geniuses.

  23. When I study intelligence I like to divide it into three categories: Analytical (what), Creative (how), Social (why). Pacs talent was in the creative and he was very intelligent along the analytical spectrum, it fueled the creative; but his social intelligence – the why; Pac was not on the top of his game there. He didn’t yet have the experience. To master the why of life – requires time. Rather than wisdom that time brings he was guided by personality – his and others.

  24. “The name of the game is visibility”

    Only if you think with your eyes and not your mind, which is what the entertainment industry preys on.

    “Yes after 14 years and 6 billion people this man is one of the most recognized and admired around the world..after Muhammad Ali and Bob Marley .. All these people cant be that wrong”

    There are a lot of superstars that are recognized and admired. Lady Gaga for example.

    Lady Gaga has the largest internet fan base in history!

    Does that mean Lady Gaga is a good role model for young girls and her “views” are worthy of peoples attention beyond cheap entertainment?

    Let’s be real, most people on the planet believe in the resurrection of a miracle performing Jesus.

    It’s doesn’t mean you should.

    I just don’t see the fascination with 2Pac. If you do, then I wish you the best with that. I just see him as another self-defeating artificially created image for smart ambitious people to get past, not one to embrace.

    Their use to be a cannibalistic Liberian gang called the “TuPac Army”.

    But that’s ok!

    Those people can’t be wrong!

  25. Watcher, I feel where you are coming from. 2pac has been somehow deified over the last decade and a half to where he’s made out to be this all knowing genius who was about to save the world and would have if he wasn’t killed in the midst of stomping people out in hotel lobbies and running with gang members, killers, and drug dealers. I felt his music. I can also separate the entertainment value of the artist versus placing him upon a pedestal to be admired and worshipped.

    He was very charismatic and very popular. The problem is that people are so weak minded and weak willed that they want to be lead. The only way these weak people nowadays can identify with somebody is if they are a celebrity. How you think we got the Governator as governor of Cali. I’ve said this before, there are (aging) people in our communities just as brilliant, just as driven, just as charismatic as Tupac but if they aint blingin or on T.V. nobody from the younger generation (25 and below) is trying to hear them. That generation will be lost once the ones who REALLY had to struggle are gone.

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