Every few years we hear about a new posthumous Tupac Shakur album about to be imminently released only to be scrapped and forgotten until news of the next one arrives. It's been a while since one has been released, with the last being Pac's Life
way back in 2006. It appears however that with the new Tupac movie
expected soon, a Tupac renaissance is about to hit pop culture hard and not solely on a musical scale. All signs point to more unreleased music dropping with the blessing of the Shakur estate.
reports that the Shakur Estate teamed with JAM Inc. in early 2013 to oversee a "total reset of the Shakur Estate." The focus of the project will consist of releasing, "unreleased music, released music, remixes, original demos, writings, scripts, plans, video treatments, poems," from Shakur. Whenever I see a headline suggesting new Tupac music is coming, I have the same thought process. First, "Pac is alive!" After that foolish concept leaves my head, I wonder if this is actually good material. Finally, I accept that... maybe this is a bad idea. There have been very few good songs from his posthumous discography, excluding the instant classic "Runnin' (Dying to Live)".
To be honest I'm completely torn down the middle on how I feel about this news. On one hand, Tupac already has a perfect legacy. If anything, one could argue that the insane amount of posthumous projects that dropped quickly after his death was more of a cash in then an actual cultivation of the man's legacy. On the other hand, Tupac is one of the greatest rappers, poets, and revolutionary artists not only in hip-hop but all of 90s American culture. The man has entire
college classes based off of him. He deserves to be celebrated, but when exactly is enough enough? While some of Tupac's posthumous albums are okay, most are bullsh** and unnecessary unless you're really bored of listening to his far better classic material that he made when he was alive.
The main question that needs to be answered is does the world need more Tupac music? With the resurgence of media attention to the Civil Right's Movement in wake of recent police violence and the ensuring protests, one would think Tupac's voice could again be powerful. Still, Tupac has been gone for almost twenty years. Will his old material still seem fresh and relevant regardless of the changing times? No matter what, you have to admit that most of this material has to be
sub-par or it would have come out already. It speaks to the lasting legacy and influence of Tupac that people are still interested in hearing what he has to say; however, plenty of long dead rappers continue to remain beloved and honored without the constant need to put out posthumous material. Pac's ally turned enemy Notorious B.I.G. continues to be called one of the greatest despite not having a large back catalog that is dangled over the audiences head.
Whether or not these releases will hold artistic value or simply be another cash grab remains to be seen. Having Pac's mother Afeni Shakur on board can only help. With the movie on the horizon, this could be a potential perfect moment to push Tupac back into the national conversation the right way if Kendrick Lamar hasn't done it already. We all know Tupac had a lot of ambition. Being a rapper was never enough. Interested in poetry, acting, and screenwriting, the man had a lot to say. I'm curious as to what he had left to say, but I'll keep my expectations low on the quality of it all. Let's call it cautiously optimistic.
In the mean time check out the video for "Tupac Back" below because he obviously is about to resurrect yet again.