Thug life and motherhood?!

There is something about the rap of the early 90’s that makes me smile inside and out, makes me bob my head to the beat, and makes me miss you way too baggy Dickies and Puma’s….and part of me feels compelled to throw up gang signs but I manage to resist the urge. I prefer not to have a cap busted in my bum.

I’m a rap fan this is true, but, I’m a selective rap fan.  Sure, I’ll shake my booty to some Usher and I’ll get low with the Ying Yang twins, but when it comes to the rap that *I* consider to be da bomb, it’s all about the story. The story of the rapper and the tale he tells with poetic lyrical genius. The stories told in rap are not sunshine and rainbows, they’re stories of struggles, hardship, and violence, fighting until your last breath, personal demons and self destructive ways. Perhaps that is why rap has always struck a nerve with me.  I have stories that aren’t sunshine and rainbows too.  The stories told in rap, good, bad, ugly and cuss-filled, are raw, no holds barred, in your face honest.  I love in your face raw honesty regardless how ugly the truth may be. Rappers are like damaged poets trapped in a life of violence, death and gangs.

My personal favorite is Tupac Shakur.

He started out as a backup dancer for Digital Underground but rose to the top of the rap kingdom that had emerged in the late 90’s.  Sporting a “thug life” tattoo on what happen to be some killer abs, Pac was known for saying things like “Live by the gun, die by the gun”… and in September 1996, he did indeed die by the gun. Shot several times right there on the Las Vegas strip. A rap icon at the top of his game, just filled what he felt was his destiny. He did live by the gun and he did die by the gun.  Although he was only in the rap game, alive that is, for a short time, he made some phenomenal music and left the world with timeless tracks.

One of his last (“Hit em Up) was rumored to be the ‘reason’ Pac ended up dead in Vegas that night but seriously; the rumors about Pac’s death never rest. TuPac was shot shortly after getting into a fight with a member of the gang Southside Crips and the only person to say that they may have been able to id the shooter, wound up shot in the head. To date, the murder of TuPac remains unsolved and much like many gang related murders, it will probably never be solved.

Unlike Eminem, there was no line separating the man from the rap. He lived it until the day he died. Perhaps if Pac had lived longer he would have reached the point of separation as Eminem has, and we’d know more of the genius rather than the thug Pac was.  I can only imagine the powerful lyrists Pac the man would have become.

On a side note; TuPac’s body was cremated and some of his ashes were mixed in with some marijuana and smoked by the members of Outlawz.

So, why Pac? Besides being one of my all time biggest thug crushes? As with Em, it’s all in the story.  Two of my favorite TuPac songs feature motherhood. Odd for a thug I agree, but beneath that thug life was a man who did indeed love and respect his mother.

First, the timeless jam that never ever gets old.  Shakur’s hit song “Dear Mama” is one of 25 songs that will be added to the National Recording Registry in 2010. The Library of Congress has called “Dear Mama” “a moving and eloquent homage to both the murdered rapper’s own mother and all mothers struggling to maintain a family in the face of addiction, poverty and societal indifference.” Shakur is the third rapper to enter the library, behind Grandmaster Flash and Public Enemy.

Second is one that I often blip for my single mama posse.  “Keep Your Head Up”.  I love, love, LOVE this track.  Aside from a wicked sick beat and a hook line you cannot help but “oooo child” along with, this last verse is one that lights a fire in my single mama soul.  From time to time, I need that fire lit, even by a thug.

And uhh To all the ladies havin’ babies on they own

I know it’s kinda rough and you’re feelin’ all alone

Daddy’s long gone and he left you by ya lonesome

Thank the Lord for my kids, even if nobody else want ‘em

Cause I think we can make it, in fact, I’m sure

And if you fall, stand tall and comeback for more

Cause ain’t nuttin worse than when your son wants to know why his daddy don’t love him no mo’

You can’t complain you was dealt this hell of a hand without a man, feelin helpless

Because there’s too many things for you to deal with

Dying inside, but outside you’re looking fearless

While tears, is rollin down your cheeks

Ya steady hopin things don’t all down this week

Cause if it did, you couldn’t take it, and don’t blame me I was given this world I didn’t make it

And now my son’s getten older and older and cold

From havin the world on his shoulders

While the rich kids is drivin Benz

I’m still tryin to hold on to my survivin’ friends

And it’s crazy, it seems it’ll never let up, but please… you got to keep your head up


(June 16, 1971 – September 13, 1996)

21 Responses to Thug life and motherhood?!
  1. [...] Be sure to check out my post over at The Music Mama’s! Last week it was Em, this week……TuPAC. [...]

  2. Alex
    October 19, 2010 | 5:06 pm

    Love love LOVE me some TuPac!! He is one of my favs (2nd only to Eminem).. I totally agree with you – lyrical genius. There are not many rappers out there that you can give that title too.

    Amazing piece of writing, CC. I followed you from beginning to end.

    Here’s to the mama’s that love them some gansta rap jams!! And to Sir Tupac himself!! =)

  3. CC
    October 19, 2010 | 5:06 pm

    On a side note, anyone remember where they were when Pac died? I do….NOT at ALL where I was supposed to be that’s for sure. My mother would have kicked my butt if she had known where I really was. #badteensmakegoodmoms
    CC´s last [type] ..Best of TMI Tuesdays with a hint of thug

  4. Kim @ Not Your Typical Southern Belle
    October 19, 2010 | 11:11 pm

    Wow, you’ve really done your research :)

    Lot of stuff in there I didn’t know about Tupac.
    Kim @ Not Your Typical Southern Belle´s last [type] ..I have come to the conclusion

  5. Mari
    October 20, 2010 | 8:26 am

    Love it -I’ve never been a rap fan but I do like Tupac – and I’d just gotten to really love him when I saw him in Gridlock’d & realized what a huge talent the world had lost.
    Mari´s last [type] ..Random Song

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