Editor: Tef Poe is an artist from St. Louis City. Through powerful imagery and complicated honesty, he has earned a reputation as one of the best rappers telling the story of St. Louis, which is about much more than one place. Poe has been featured in music publications such as XXL and Urb Magazine. His next project War Machine 2 is slated to be released June 5th and followed up by a full-length with DJ Burn One entitled Cheer For The Villain. Follow him on twitter @tefpoe
Every week in I'm Just A Rapper, Tef discusses modern life, hip-hop, and the deep connection between them.
Last month, a rap star who has been dead since Sept 13th,1996 performed onstage at a music festival in 2012. A few people have slandered Dre and Snoop for this, but not me. Tupac's mother approved the hologram, and I am very sure they both miss him dearly. I listen to Tupac daily in some form or fashion. Why exactly do I do this? Why am I so infatuated with the sound and message attached to Tupac's music?
This man has been declared deceased since 1996, and hip-hop still hasn't found out way to get over it. His murder is unsolved, and his death is some sort of a mystery.
Earlier this week I was on the phone speaking with my comrade Rockwell Knuckles. Rocky and I typically talk about everything under the sun. We speak heavily about our own music for about 45 minutes every other day, and then we talk about different things concerning American pop culture. Tupac is always at the top of this list, and I don't even think we realize it. We live in an historical era that no longer breeds civil rights leaders and celebrity activists. Everyone is extremely plugged into the system, which is why our politicians answer any form of a question simply by asking a question themselves. The hip-hop culture is attracted to the allure of Tupac mainly because he was honest with us. The propaganda machine behind many of our favorite musicians has managed to ruin their freedom of speech. In today's world of entertainment, everything is all about being politically correct. If you vocally disagree with a perceived social norm it means you may lose twitter followers and endorsements. Entertainers are not allowed to speak freely about poverty, racism, sexism and politics in general. Some are bold enough to do it anyway, but most tread lightly around these issues.
Tupac would've had an amazing Twitter profile, filled with profanity and slander aimed at politicians. One of my favorite Tupac quotes was his response to a reporter asking him if he was afraid to die. Pac replied to the reporter by basically saying, if you kill me the person that comes after me will be completely heartless. Oddly enough, he was somewhat right.
Today's entertainers no longer have a true value to the communities that may identify with them. They are heartless exalted douchebags. For example: "I'm a rich rapper, so it's okay for me to suck cash from the wallets of the poor and middle class while I board my private jet and never look back."
Martin Luther King died because he was guilty of caring. We respect Tupac for saying I'm not Martin Luther King Jr. -- if you touch me I'll blow your head off. We feel as if we know everything about this man because he's a total open book. He told us his mother was a drug addict; he was raised by drug dealers. His family was dirt poor and he believed racism was America's favorite pastime. Tupac took the teachings of Huey P. Newton and made them relevant to a new generation. The son of a black panther became the world's largest rap star. He was a hybrid between gangster rap and black nationalism. He had skeletons in his closet and he didn't try to hide them. I became a fan of his music as a child and his untimely demise made me feel as if Superman died. I viewed Tupac as the educated version of the big homie from the neighborhood. Every ghetto has at least one big bad fearless gang leader or drug dealer. We refer to this person as the O.G. or Big Homie and in my mind Tupac is the ultimate big homie. He somehow created a personal relationship with me even though we've never met.
Tupac explained the black struggle in America like none other. Poor white people love Tupac because something in his voice resonates with those that come from nothing. There are street gangs in Brazil named after him. He was shot five times and survived a botched robbery attempt. He shot at two racist cops while defending an innocent man. He went to prison for a crime many claim he did not commit. He kissed Janet Jackson and allegedly had sex with Madonna. As a teenager Jada Pinkett Smith was his girlfriend. He wrote her poetry and love letters, which can still be read today via the Internet: "You will never fully understand how deeply my heart feels for you. I worry that we'll grow apart and I'll end up losing you".
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