This week marked the 16 year anniversary of the passing of Tupac Shakur. The effect of his death is one that is still felt in Hip Hop to this very day. The date was Friday, September 13th 1996. I remember that day in its entirety.

I woke up that morning  feeling the day’s vibe was off. I was ten years old at the time. My mother, baby sister, and I were living in Louisiana. The sun refused to come outside that day. It was raining and the air was slightly cool. I was trapped in the house after school. I still remember looking outside of the kitchen window that overlooked the neighborhood playground. It was completely dead outside. There were no visible forms of life anywhere. It was a little creepy. I think that I subconsciously knew that something was going to happen. I just wasn’t sure what.

Tupac was shot in what would be known as one of the most “mysterious”, violent crimes in Hip Hop. When he breathed that last breath, his words took on new life. What Tupac did is amazing. He is Hip Hop’s Elvis or Kirk Cobain. The love that people had for him lives today just as strongly as it did in the 90’s, if not stronger. What I personally loved and respected about Tupac was that, he showed a different side to hip hop. When I was a little girl, Shock G from Digital Underground was my favorite rapper. I wanted to rap because I wanted to be like the “humpty hump” man. I thought that he was so cool. I was a little girl but I wasn’t “green” to Hip Hop by far. My mother was the brooklyn “flyy girl” and my father was a b.boy. He used to break dance with my uncles. Naturally, Hip Hop is in my blood and thanks to my mother, Hip Hop was the soundtrack of my life. She used to have me listening to everything Hip Hop. During the time that Digital Underground was doing their thing heavy in the 90’s, Tupac was just about to emerge on the scene . While I was fascinated by the ‘Humpty Hump”sensation, Tupac was right there. He was literally thrown in the mainstream but still behind the scenes. He was a dancer for the group. When he dropped his first album, “2pacalypse Now” in 1991, he began to forever change the game.

Tupac’s living career was nothing short of astounding. What I appreciated about him was, he produced certain songs that challenge you to think. Yes, he was thuggin but he was also nurturing with his wordplay and concepts. I have learned numerous terms, events, and names just listening to him spit. He was a product of the Black Panther movement. Leading was in his genes. Tupac gave us street, conciousness, and real reality.

And since we all came from a woman
Got our name from a woman and our game from a woman
I wonder why we take from our women
Why we rape our women, do we hate our women?
I think it’s time to kill for our women
Time to heal our women, be real to our women

                                                                                      –Keep ya head up

I remember getting a bowl of cereal that Friday night. I was about to go to bed in a few hours. Out of nowhere, a news break comes on and they announce that “Tupac Shakur is dead”. My stomach knotted up. After watching the video responses of people all around the country react to the news of his death, I felt like I was dreaming. I felt like somebody just knocked the breath out of my body and I had to lay down.  I excused myself. I went to my bedroom and I began to cry in private. My mother hadn’t gotten word yet. She was too busy attending to the new baby. I remember on television, people were saying all kinds of things. I specifically remember the anchor saying that it was thought to be gang related? In fact, she thru the crips name in it. He was hit on September 7th, he battled for his life until the 13th. Like everyone else, I was waiting for the news to report that he was out of that coma and back to talking shit. This day is one that I still cannot erase from my mind. Tupac was my everything. My hope, my inspiration. He is what challenged me to rhyme deeper. I’ll always love, respect, and thank Tupac for that. I am one of the brains that he sparked through his music….

Dear mama