What Would Pac Be Like at 40?On June 16, the late, great Tupac Shakur would have turned 40 years old. It's a safe bet that middle age wouldn't have quelled the hip-hop firebrand's youthful ferocity, but his friends and fans say that wisdom surely would have channeled Shakur's passions into more positive endeavors -- politics, they say. Or business.
"Whenever I could hear the radio, [Pac] was what was cracking when I first got into hip-hop," says 24-year-old rapper Meek Mill, who was just 9 when Tupac was fatally shot in Las Vegas in 1996, of when he first gained his affinity for Tupac's music. Although he died at 25, the legend of Pac is an enduring one. Mill's recent song with Rick Ross, "Tupac Back" -- in which the rappers invoke Shakur's legacy -- is a testament to his lasting influence. "I think he'd probably be a politician now," Meek says. "He was always trying to give it to you raw; what's really going on out here in real life."
A cursory glance at Shakur's clipped career reveals how his image and inspiration were constantly changing. Most fans first caught a glimpse of Tupac the artist on Digital Underground's "Same Song" from their 1990 This Is an EP Release. In the song's video, Tupac is seen wearing a fez while rapping about "clowning around … hanging with the Underground."
A few years later Pac, the progeny of Black Panthers, would rhyme about police brutality on "Strapped" from his 2Pacalypse Now debut, which also featured "Brenda's Got a Baby." Then, around the time of his star turn in the film Juice, it became "all thug life everything" with his breakthrough, platinum-selling Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. album.
Artists change their view from year to year; some day to day. Forgive them -- they're only human, after all. Different experiences, or even major incidents, can spin a current worldview on its head. About a year and a half after the release of Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. and after multiple run-ins with the law, Pac was sentenced to one and a half to four years in prison for sexual assault. Just a day before his sentencing, he was infamously robbed and shot in the lobby of Quad Studios in New York City.
After the near deadly shooting, the East vs. West beef was on, with Pac soon aligning with Death Row's Suge Knight, who helped get him bailed out of prison. Tupac spat vitriol at his East Coast rivals, who were rumored to have been involved in the robbery, whether from behind bars or on songs like "Hit Em Up," aimed squarely at the Notorious B.I.G. and Bad Boy Records. But even amid the vicious ire, inklings of Pac's rationale still showed
And then his demise.
However, if Pac would have survived those shots, where do you think he would be in life at 40?