The Life and Death of 2Pac


In the stifling post-boxing match Las Vegas traffic jam, a new black
1996 BMW inched along impatiently, it\'s gold detailing glimmering brightly under
the street lights. Any attempt to catch a glimpse of the passengers within the
tinted windows revealed only a distorted reflection of the chaotic, yet
relatively motionless urban scene. The glass sunroof slid open and a dark
figure rose partly through the opening, like a tank commander surveying the
horizon for signs of the enemy. Discreetly the rear window of a nearby car
rolled down as it approached, and the muzzle of a gun emerged slightly. The gun,
almost indiscernible from the cavernous blackness inside the car, spewed out
thirteen bullets, each one punctuated by a startling yellow flash and a
reverberating crack that cut through the buzz of the traffic. In one blurred
and sweeping motion the black BMW roared to life, accelerating across the
traffic flow and towards the oncoming cars, retreating from the scene as the
dark figure collapsed li mply back into the vehicle.
This incident is not a scene from a DeNiro/Pacino mobster movie. Nor is
it an episode from an Oliver Stone or Quentin Tarrantino film. In fact, it is
not a scene from any movie, although the story will likely wind up as a made-
for-television drama. Rather, it is the dramatic finale of the life of
rapper/actor Tupac Amaru Shakur, who was shot four times during this escapade
while traveling from a Mike Tyson fight to a nearby club on September 7th. He
later died of the wounds, after six days of intensive care and several
unsuccessful operations.
Tupac Amaru, or 2Pac, as he spelled it --distinguishing him from the
violent Peruvian terrorist group of the same name-- was one of today\'s most
popular "gangsta rappers." His lyrics are usually vulgar, offensive, and
explicit, and glorify the type of life that he and many other gangsta rappers
lead. They depict violence, drug use, crime and sexual abuse as acceptable, and
as a necessary way of life. They often go so far as to threaten the lives of
rappers from rival record labels, with whom he has an East/West coast
disagreement resulting in sporadic violent episodes and threat volleys.
Such lyrics as Tupac wrote accurately depicted his dangerous lifestyle.
Unlike some other gangsta rappers who conjure the image only for money, he
actually led the "thug life", as the tattoo on his stomach describes it. He was
a magnet for violence, as his police record illustrates. He served eight months
out of a three year sentence for sexual assault, and was to face sentencing this
month for assault and battery charges on a music video producer and carrying a
loaded, concealed gun. In 1993, Shakur was sued by a limo driver who claimed
that he and several others severely beat him. Also, he was sometimes on the
other end of the violence. In November of 1994 Tupac was shot five times in a
New York recording studio in what was labeled a robbery, but allegedly was
rivalry related.
Despite these misfortunes, Tupac continued his lifestyle without fear of
what might happen. His lyrics have grown more furious and scathing, and
continued to threaten other rappers and fuel the tension between East and West
coast record labels. He began to predict in some songs that either he or his
rivals were soon going to be killed, but in the song "How Do U Want It," Tupac
said "I got the scoop on how to get bulletproof," indicating that he didn\'t
expect it to be him.
Tupac may have thought he was bulletproof after surviving five bullets,
including one to the head, in 1994, but on Friday the 13th the world learned
that he was nowhere near bulletproof. More correctly, he should be thought of
as ignorant. He was ignorant to think that all the threats he rapped out
against others and the reckless behavior he exhibited would not be reciprocated.
Because of his ignorance, Tupac gave the five million fans who bought his last
album the impression that gangsters are bulletproof, and that may have had a big
impact on some listeners. But perhaps with his death, he corrected the damage
by showing them what the gangster lifestyle really brings: violence, misfortune,
and sometimes death.

Category: English