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The Philodoxer
Thoughts on writing and publishing, and the various sources of entertainment...
A weekly column by Abel G. Peña, best known for his Star Wars work.

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THE PHILODOXER for 09/17/2006
Tupac Amaru Shakur

I'm a little late, but that's never a good reason to withhold praise.

September 13 was the ten-year anniversary of Tupac Amaru Shakur's death. I'm not a fan of conspiracy theories (stoners and life's embittered might do well to read the 9/11 Commission Report before throwing out their paranoid hypotheses). Tupac's as dead as political correctness. But Makavelli, Don Killuminati, remains immortal.

2Pac - Greatest Hits

I'm not familiar with all of Tupac's songs, and don't even know the full lyrics to any of them. But even if it had only been once, all I needed to have ever heard is one.

"Hit 'Em Up."

Frightening and awesome in its violence, that uncompromising song was a revelation. It allowed me to understand there was an artistic way to express anger, that intelligence could be mixed with vulgarity to powerful effect, and flaws were okay to have. Sincerity, in short, was acceptable. But your heart had to be in it, and mustard is no substitute for meat.

It's true, I didn't grow up black, gangbanging, and slangin. But I didn't journey through the nine circles of Hell either, and I still get to proclaim the Divine Comedy the finest thing ever written. Strife is, after all, always metaphorical, and its particulars circumstantial.

But there's another justification for my appreciation of Tupac. After watching the documentary Tupac: Resurrection, my best friend, in what Napoleon Hill calls a communion with Infinite Intelligence, was struck by a bolt of lucidity, and made an observation I'd long suspected but had hesitated to even think, let alone speak.

"Tupac was a nerd!" he revealed. And it was true.

Watching the story of his life, you learn Tupac was a bookworm, took acting classes and dance classes with relish, and you can catch him looking like a goofball on stage doing the Humpty Dance.

For most of my life, I've felt Tupac's philosophies were too superficial, first naively idealistic and later blinded by the vision of The Prince; Tupac never understood the significance of Niccoló Machiavelli's moral incapability to execute his own vicious principles. These days I find myself rediscovering and appreciating Biggie Small's flow over Pac's hostility.

But every time I hear "Hit 'Em Up," "Changes," and "Starin' Though My Rear View," I'm reminded Tupac's passion remains immeasurable and his impact undiminished. I've outgrown him, but I'll never outlive him.

Tupac was an artist and a philosopher... and a dreamer. In that spirit, I'll share a moment in tribute with the conspiracy theorists. Roll the perfect blunt, and let me spark it for ya.
You ain't knowin' what we mean by starin' through the rearview. So since you ain't knowin' what we mean, let me break down understandin': The world, the world is behind us. Once a motherfucker get an understanding on the game and what the levels and the rules of the game is, then the world ain't no trick no more. The world is a game to be played.

--Tupac Amaru Shakur,"Starin' Through My Rear View"
- Abel

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