Now that we are a few months removed from the semi-anticipated release of Notorious, the biopic of slain rapper Biggie Smalls, and with biopics being such a big thing these days, it’s only natural to think that at some point there will be one about the lost MC known as 2pac. I think that there are a few problems with this. One, we would have to pray that there would be someone charismatic enough to play the man and not be reduced to a laughingstock, like poor Anthony Mackie was in the aforementioned Notorious. Two, he is a difficult man to capture in essence: a walking dichotomy and a man with a conficting personality. A film would have to really be on the ball to capture this duality and then an actor with the chops of, say a Russell Crowe, would have to be brought on to depict the man. I am not certain that there is a black actor capable of this task at this point in time (and I think Denzel and Don Cheadle wouldn’t really qualify at their ages, though a young Cheadle during his “Mouse” era, would have been great!). The filmmakers would probably have to reach to an unknown, like the Notorious producers did when MC Gravy (Jamal Woolard) won out during a huge talent search to play the big man. These are all difficult challenges to overcome, so in the meantime, we have Tupac himself to tell us his story, whether it is with all of his music on CD, or through the interesting 2003 movie, Tupac: Resurrection.
Tupac: Resurrection is an intriguing documentary on the life of the man. The main ingredient that makes this film work so effectively is that the iconic rapper, Tupac Amaru Shakur, is the person telling his own tale. The film essentially covers multiple aspects of his life, literally from birth to death, almost exclusively told by the man himself. This is all done through several interviews conducted and put together by Tabitha Soren, a former journalist for MTV back in it’s heyday when the channel actually used to show videos and cover music to the hilt. The results bring us a fascinating look at ‘Pac, great for those interested in the man or music whatsoever.
I admit I am a hip-hop junkie. It’s part of who I am, a big part, and I routinely challenge the hip-hop IQ of those I come in contact with, just so that I can stimulate myself in this manner (and to prove to myself that I know more than them). I’ve yet to meet my equal in this area. That’s not being cocky, that’s the truth, and it’s not for a lack of trying. I want to meet my equals and superiors. I want to learn from them. That is part of my growth in life as far as I am concerned. Why am I relaying this information here? Well, I was never a huge fan of Tupac while he was alive. He grew up in the Bay Area, which is discussed in the film, and he got in trouble when a young girl was killed by a man in his entourage (if I remember correctly). This was when he was young and “clowning around with the underground” and doing the Humpty Dance (a personal favorite). The incident immediately cast a tainted shadow around him to me (silly on my part looking back at it), since we are roughly the same age and I have always been a guy who prides himself on the music of the area in which I grew up. West Coast!
Through the film though, Tupac discusses the situation, as well as several other controversies that surrounded him, and paints a different picture. It appears to be a media distortion as to how he is perceived, if you would have Tupac tell it (which is completely believable in my eyes). He was clearly an intelligent kid who had an artistic background (the shots of him in ballet tights are great). He never seemed to shy away from that either. On the contrary, it appeared he embraced it. But that is what made and continues to make him, such a complex figure. There were times when he clearly was playing to his persona as he aged, and there is no doubt he grew to thrive on controversy. While he was often one of the smarter guys in any given situation, he created a “thugged out” persona that preceded him wherever he went. This is where the media and how we are fed information really becomes an issue. There are always two sides to every story but that is often a difficult conclusion to arrive at, when we are usually being shown half of the story, through a definitively filtered lens no less.
After his death to gunfire in Las Vegas in a crime that remains unsolved, for some reason Tupac was more heavily embraced. I am even guilty as charged. I dove deeper into his music and listened with a less jaundiced ear, more open to the experience of the tales he told. He was a talented MC, but not the best on talent alone, it was his storytelling and the ability to deliver truth (through his “eyez”) that really makes him unparalleled. This was before the blinged-out era that pervades much of rap music today.
Tupac: Resurrection never shies away from his version of the truth and unlike a traditional film, takes fewer shortcuts in this manner. While it is not the most visually interesting movie, hearing his voice and seeing him on film really makes you feel his presence. He discusses his rape case, the time when he was shot 5 times, his relationship with his mother, and his difficulties with some of those around him, including his struggles with himself and his attempts to grow through the mistakes he has made. Just like any three dimensional, living and breathing human being would.
If you have any interest in a man that really is a modern-day version of Elvis (or if you prefer the more layman’s term, the black Elvis): a man who is revered long after his death, who really outlived his untimely passing through his music, then you need to see this film. Some of it will be familiar to those in the know, but I recently took it in after seeing it a few years earlier, and it was all very fresh and engrossing just the same. It makes you wonder what his life would be like if he were alive today. In the era of the Internet with ultra-quick information and gossip, what would a 37-year old ‘Pac be like? If you like hip-hop, you need to make it a point to see it, before the inevitable biopic happens with Tiny Lister (former wrestler Zeus) playing music mogul Suge Knight and Taye Diggs resurrecting his career as Tupac. You know it’s happening.
Buy this Film U Missed here.