Late rapper Tupac Shakur was known for keepin’ it real, both in his music and when speaking to the press. Some would say too real, but it was his uncensored candor and willingness to talk about real-life stuff that won the world over.
In the latest installment of PBS’ swagged out animated interview series “Blank on Blank,” ‘Pac discusses thug life, comin’ up, and the often racist climate that he and his mother grew up in. Taped by journalist Benjamin Svetkey in 1994, the brief chat offers a glimpse into the rapper’s vast and unsleeping mind.
+ Watch Tupac Shakur on life and death.
Hauntingly, the reported asked Tupac where he saw himself in 15 years. “Worst case … sprinkled in ashes, smoked up by homies,” said the rapper. “Best case, multimillionaire, owning all of this s**t.” The rapper died two years later after a drive-by shooting.
“If I was white, I would have been like John Wayne,” Tupac told Svetkey. “Someone who pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, from poverty, from welfare. Now I’m kissing Janet Jackson; I’m doing movies.” ‘Pac often criticized the media’s tendency to create heroes out of white celebrities and criminals out of black ones.
Much of Tupac’s willingness to examine race so deeply was learned from his mother, who was a member of the black revolutionary socialist group the Black Panthers. “My mother was a black woman, single mother raising two kids on her own,” he said. “She was dark skinned, short hair, got no love from anybody except a group called the Black Panthers. So that’s why she’s a Black Panther.”
“Do you see yourself as a role model?” asked Svetkey? “No, I see myself as real,” responded ‘Pac.
As the interview closes out to his famous cut “So Many Tears,” fans of the rapper will likely cry a few wishing he were still here to offer lyrical insight on Obama, Trayvon Martin and … Justin Bieber. What do you think he’d have to say about them? Let us know in the comments section below.
Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation
The foundation, founded by Tupac's mom Afeni, helps students who aspire to enhance their creative talents.
Learn how you can battle racism with the help of United Nations' Let's Fight Racism campaign.