Thursday, September 13, 2012
Resurrection Power: Remembering Tupac Shukur
September 13, 2012, is the sixteenth death anniversary of Tupac Amaru Shakur. While riding in the passenger seat of Suge Knight’s BMW Tupac was shot four times while waiting for a light at the intersection of Koval Lane and Flamingo Road in Las Vegas. He succumbed to his injuries on Friday, September 13, 1996. He was 25 years old.
Questions remain. Was it a revenge shooting because of an earlier altercation? Was he shot over East Coast/West Coast beef? Did Bad Boy Records chairman Puff Daddy (now Diddy) order a hit on a rival to increase publicity and profits? Did Death Row Records chairman Suge Knight order a hit on a friend to increase publicity and profits? Was Tupac assassinated because of a government conspiracy? Although I am not entirely sure who killed Tupac or why he was killed, I can say with absolute certainty that Tupac has been resurrected.
In my book, Rap and Religion: Understanding the Gangsta’s God, I surveyed 175 undergraduates about their thoughts on rap and religion. They identified Tupac as their second most religious rapper after Kanye West. The respondents’ average age was 22-years-old, which meant they never sat in front of the TV to watch Tupac’s newest video premier on Yo! MTV Raps or waited in line at a record store for his new album to drop. They have no memories of him except what has been resurrected in popular culture.
With at least 10 authorized posthumous album releases, the 2003 documentary Resurrection, talks about a Tupac biopic and a stage musical, as well as the revolving door of retired police officers who suddenly have new information about his cold case, Tupac persists in our collective consciousness in part because of his fabulous life after death. Perhaps, the most striking resurrection was Tupac’s 2012 Cochella performance.
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