This is VIBE's first venture into book publishing, and the subject could not be more appropriate. There is no other artist we have covered as extensively as Tupac Shakur--he has appeared on our cover four times in this young magazine's life span. But the reason was never, as Mobb Deep suggested in one single, that "VIBE magazine on some love shit." No other individual touched our readers like Tupac. There was no one else we consistently received so many letters about--some supporting him, some attacking him; but all full of such intense passion and feeling, so much love, so much anger.
The overwhelming response made it clear that Tupac had come to embody all the contradictions and confusion that have grown up around hip hop. He was a lightning rod, a screen onto which millions of people projected their feelings about rap, about race, and about the young black man in America today. Tupac may be a legend now, but he's hardly a hero. Many young people may have looked up to him, but he himself often seemed to be searching for a leader.
"Laugh Now, Cry Later" was tattooed on Tupac's back, but there is no later, no time for crying when you're dead at 25, and not much time to laugh, either. The real story behind his murder may or may not ever emerge, but nothing will change the end result: One more young black man is dead for no good reason, one more young life is ended long before its time. And it is incumbent on all of us in and around the hip hop community to remember that this death is no triumphant, blaze-of-glory exit but just another senseless murder. We need to do everything in our power to help stop the killing.
When I spoke to a longtime family friend of the Shakurs the day after his death, she said, "I know he's in heaven, I just hope he's not giving the angels too hard a time." Our thoughts are with Tupac's family and the fans who identified with him so strongly.
May Tupac Shakur rest in peace, and may the rest of us live in it.
Editor-in-Chief, VIBE magazineshow more