Is it possible to become inspired by someone you’ve never met? Can we admire someone, despite not having been alive at the same time as them?

Music plays an important role in my life. Growing up, I’d listened to music when I woke up, and I’d listen to music on my way to school. I’d listen to music on the radio at midnight, and I’d listen to music on road trips while gazing at the starry night sky. 

There are certain artists, musicians, painters, writers, or poets who leave a lasting impression on our hearts. A person who changed my perspective on life, and who gave me hope during my darkest moments of agony and grief was 2Pac.

I wish I had been born in the same era as him. He was an angel gone too soon. But then again, those with a pure soul and a heart of gold are the ones to go away first. God takes away the souls He loves the most. Perhaps he had loved 2Pac too much to let him venture too far in this cold material world. 

Tupac Shakur. Everyone knows who he is. In 1996, he was shot at the age of 25, in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas. We did not get a chance to hear more songs from him, but I am grateful for all the beautiful ones he left behind. 

“Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else even cared.” For a girl who grew up without a supportive group of friends, Tupac’s songs were my solace. Every time I heard these lines, I was given a strange sense of comfort and hope. 

“No one knows my struggle, they only see the trouble. Not knowing how hard it is to carry on when no one loves you.” —“Thugz Mansion”

2pac spoke on the injustices happening around the world and he was very vocal about poverty issues too. He said: “I mean why have 52 rooms and you know there’s somebody with no room? It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

Tupac often spoke on police brutality, something which hasn’t changed even decades later. We are still fighting for the equality of people of color, we are still trying to pave the way so that future generations won’t have to live in constant fear of being killed or shot just because they’re Black. 

2Pac changed my life. The songs he sang and the words he spoke, possessed an intricate intoxication, one that made me believe in the myself, one an intoxication that gave me hope.
The songs he sang and the words he spoke possessed an intricate intoxication, one that made me believe in myself, an intoxication that gave me hope.

“During your life, never stop dreaming. No one can take away your dreams.” – Tupac Shakur 

A man who inspired me to lift my pen, and pour all of my feelings into the pages of my diary, Tupac helped nurture the writer and poet in me. He taught me to not only write but to write for a cause. I might be unique, I might be different. I might live in a world where people judge me for the color of my skin and the practice of my religion, but whenever inferiority starts crumbling me, these words uttered by Tupac that I keep in my heart are the words that keep me going through the roughest of my weeks.

“I say the darker the flesh then the deeper the roots/ I give a holla to my sisters on welfare/ 2Pac cares if don’t nobody else care/ And I know they like to beat you down a lot.”

I never got the chance to see Tupac Shakur’s performances live nor did I get a chance to meet him in reality. But he lives in my heart, and in it, forever he shall stay. 

“Just ’cause you live in the ghetto doesn’t mean you can’t grow.” In a world full of digital media where people constantly flaunt their successes and their wealth, Tupac Shakur was vocal about his past, and the unjust system he grew up in. He was not ashamed of his family background nor was he ashamed to show the world his true face. 

“For every dark night, there’s a brighter day.”

It is truly unfortunate that we don’t have rappers like Tupac anymore. All we have are people who repost quotes from Tumblr to sound ‘wise’ or ‘mature.’ 

“People die but legends live forever.”  Tupac’s presence might have faded away but he is still alive in the hearts of those whom he has inspired. There are some people whom we can never forget, and the words that they uttered forever remain etched unto the crevices of our hearts. For me, that person was 2Pac. Every time I’d come home from school after a long day of sitting in the corner and observing people, I’d plug in my earphones and hear him say:

‘Baby don’t cry. I hope you got your head up. Even when the road is hard, never give up. Baby don’t cry. I hope you got your head up. Even when the road is hard, never give up’

Amidst the chaos of life, buried under the weight of discrimination, racism, and indifference, Tupac’s songs made me believe that through courage and faith, anything is possible. He made me believe in the power of words. He made me believe in the power of truth. He made me believe in the power of poetry. 

“My inspiration for writing music is like Don McLean did when he did “American Pie” or “Vincent.” Lorraine Hansberry with “A Raisin in the Sun”. Like Shakespeare when he does his thing, like deep stories, raw human needs. So I thought, that’s what I’m going to do as an artist, as a rapper. I’m gonna show the most graphic details of what I see in my community and hopefully, they’ll stop it quick. I’ve seen all of that– the crack babies, what we had to go through, losing everything, being poor, and getting beat down. All of that. Being the person I am, I said no-no-no-no. I’m changing this.”  – Tupac Shakur, Tupac: Resurrection 1971-1996

I wish more youngsters would come forward to speak their truth, to speak against the constant injustices happening worldwide against people of color, and the unfair and racist judicial system. I wish more rappers would start making songs about police brutality rather than uttering repetitive lyrics that continually objectify a woman’s body. Shouldn’t they use their fame, their voice, and their followers for a better cause? Shouldn’t they highlight the issue of poverty instead of posting half-naked pictures online that show off all their luxuries?

When I hold a pen in my hand to inscribe the feelings of my soul unto the pages of my diary into metaphors and poetry, I think of all the other people in this world like me, people who are the prisoners of politics or poverty, people who are too unfortunate to go after their dreams because life has shown them the ugly parts of reality early. When I write I think of all those people who were too scared to keep on living because grief swallowed them whole until they couldn’t breathe, and they gave up, to their circumstances and agony. When I write, I think of all those times I kept moving forward despite the obstacles life threw at me. And the man who inspired me to create the curated words of my heart was 2Pac. He was a man who saved me.

Being a young woman of color, there were countless times when I faced racism and was discriminated against by my classmates, colleagues, and peers. However, what got me through those moments is listening to the words of a rapper who had died years ago. Listening to 2Pac’s songs gave me hope. He made me realize that no matter where I come from, no matter what my family or cultural background is, there is always a place in this world for people like me.(Opens in a new browser tab)(Opens in a new browser tab)(Opens in a new brows

And with so much violence and war going on around the world, it all makes me realize one thing: if we chose to fight for our rights, not with guns or violence, but with the power of our words and poetry, how discrete and disparate would our world be?

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