Earlier this month, the Grammy Museum debuted its “All Eyez On Me: The Writings of Tupac Shakur” exhibit. The exhibit celebrates the legacy of the iconic rapper, displaying Tupac’s handwritten lyrics and poems, screenplay notes, interviews, performance footage, and more. Tupac was quite the paradoxical artist at times, but his music, radical love for humanity, and commitment to speaking out on social issues captured the hearts and minds of people across the world.

The increased visibility of state-sanctioned killings of Black people has triggered a now six-month-long wave of protests across the country. As the fight for social justice has moved from hashtags to the streets en masse, how would Hip Hop’s warrior-poet react to these events if he were still with us? Taken from various songs, interviews, and poems, here’s what we think Tupac would say about these issues:

On #BlackLivesMatter and the resurgence of the protest movement:

“Here on earth / tell me what’s a Black life worth” ­­– “I Wonder If Heaven Got A Ghetto”



“I think when there’s hopelessness, people revolt. It’s like we’re going ‘is America gonna help us…ever?’ We know for a long time they haven’t, but are they ever? And all things are showing us. You know there’s somebody going ‘No, they’re not going to help you!’ And of course we seeing, no they not helping us.”

“If I know that in this hotel room, and they have food (every day) and I’m knocking on the door (every day) to eat, and they open the door let me see the party, they throwin’ salami all over the place, just throwin’ food around, but they tell me there’s no food there. Every day, I’m standing outside trying to sing my way in ‘We are hungry, please let us in. We are hungry, please let us in’. After about a week that song is gonna change to ‘We hungry, we need some food.’ After two, three weeks, it’s like ‘Give me the food, or I’m breaking down the door.’ After a year you’re just like ‘I’m picking the lock, coming through the door blasting. It’s like, you hungry, you reached your level. We asked ten years ago. We was askin’ with the Panthers. We was askin’ with them, the Civil Rights Movement. We was askin’. Those people that asked are all dead or in jail. So now what do you think we’re gonna do…Ask?”

On despair many Black Americans harbor, feeling justice won’t be extended to their community:

“When my Momma ask me will it change, I tell her yeah but it’s clear it’ll always be the same” – Until The End Of Time

On how law enforcement and the courts view Black people:

“…I’ve seen their evil when they think no one is looking. I’ve seen the compassion, the anger, jealousy, anger, respect, and I’ve seen hate from cops, more than anybody. I been there, I just got out of maximum penitentiary, I got arrested like 12 times last year…some my mistake, some destiny, some fate, and some unwarranted. But for whatever reason, I got to see police more than I wanted to.”

“Lady Liberty needs glasses / and so does Mrs. Justice by her side” – from the poem Liberty Needs Glasses

On liberal so-called “allies” who stay silent on issues pertaining police brutality, institutional racism, and other issues:

Fear is stronger than love

On the courage and self-reflection it takes to transform words and beliefs into real social action:

“For us to survive here, white folks, Black folks, Korean folks, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, we got to understand each other. We gotta take a bigger chance. When I say Americans, people think I’m talking about Uncle Sam, like the actual Uncle Sam, with the grey and hair and the flag…I mean YOU *points to the camera* You! You! The guy…You! The mechanic…wherever. You need do something. You need to check yourself.”

On having hope for the future:

Today is filled with anger, fueled with hidden hate
Scared of being outcast, afraid of common fate
Today is built on tragedies which no one wants 2 face
Nightmares 2 humanities and morally disgraced
Tonight is filled with rage, violence in the air
Children bred with ruthlessness, because no one at home cares
Tonight I lay my head down, but the pressure never stops
Gnawing at my sanity, content when I am dropped
But 2morrow I c change, a chance 2 build a new
Built on spirit intent of Heart, and ideals based on truth
And tomorrow I wake with second wind and strong because of pride
2 know I fought with all my heart 2 keep my dream alive 

(“And 2Morrow”)



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