When people who were alive during the 90's think of the word "thug", they usually associate it with the late rapper Tupac Shakur. His name has become synonymous with that word, because he redefined it and made the phrase "thug life" into his own type of calling card. He popularized that phrase in modern culture, and continually referred to himself as a thug. Majority of people who grew up during that era do not question whether he was a thug or not. But many younger people today who are not so familiar with him are more sceptical and are not so quick to label him as a thug. Many have wondered if he was a gangster, or if he lived a gangsta life. Tupac never called himself a gangster and was never in a gang, but continually called himself a thug and wasn't ashamed of it. There is a big difference between the two. But what is a thug, and was Tupac a thug or not?
To answer that question, we have to take a look at Tupac's life and the events in it. Many younger people today do not understand what Tupac meant by Thug Life , and what he meant when he called himself a thug. They think that a thug is somebody who commits crimes and lives an illegal life. They don't know what the difference between a thug and a gangsta are. Tupac defined a thug as somebody who has came from the gutter, and who still manages to shine. He once wrote a famous poem called The Rose that Grew From Concrete, and the very essence of that poem is what Tupac's definition of a thug was. Another westcoast rapper, Yukmouth, once commented on this and said in a tribute song to 2pac "Do you even know what a real thug is? When he swears and he cusses? Come on man, that's like comparing a Bentley to a Cutlass". In an interview of Shakur on the street outside the courthouse where he was facing various criminal charges, he famously stated "I'm not a thug because I rob and rape people. I'm a thug because I came from the gutter, and I'm still here".
But what about Tupac's life? What about his brief time spent in The Baltimore School for the Arts? What about the alleged ballerina classes he took? Again, Tupac's definition of a thug was different than what many younger people define a thug as. But if they are looking for a tough guy who cusses and breaks the law, they can easily find that in Shakur as well. The fact that he went to a school of the arts is not relevant, because Tupac wanted to get into music and acting, and saw that as a way to do it. Many poor teens went to that school, and a large percentage of them came from the gutter, including Tupac. The world only knows about the ballerina classes there, because Tupac told people on video. This shows that he was honest about his past, and didn't try to hide it in the first place. Mike Tyson is now a vegan, and does not eat animals. Does this make him any less of a tough guy? I think not. Speaking of Mike, he once said about Shakur "Man judges our actions, but God judges our heart". Now I'm not a religious percent, but that was a pretty insightful thing to say. He mainly said it in reference to how the media tryed to make Tupac into a villain because of his criminal history and rough background, but it can also be applied to his time spent in Baltimore. Tupac lived in the gutter, and regardless of what school he went to or what he did in that school, he still had to go home to the gutter.
Tupac's family members were some of the most famous people involved with the Black Panthers. This was an extra-militant group, and these are the people who raised him and instilled their values in him. What type of environment do you think he might have grown up in with parental figures like these? His step-father was on the FBI's most wanted list for a few years, and his Aunt Assata Shakur once broke out of a maximum security prison and fled to Cuba, where she remains today. His mother was indicted and charged for conspiracy to bomb government buildings. Anybody who is trying to imply that Shakur came from some kind of white-bred affluent background, is sorely mistaken. Tupac's life was the epitome of ghetto.
As far as problems with the law, there has never been a rapper who has had as many as 2pac. I really doubt he was purposely getting arrested and going to prison just to hype his image up. Shakur was multi-talented, and could easily have had just as much success if he had went the Will Smith, clean and wholesome route instead. He was arrested numerous times and still continued to spit in the face of authority every chance he got. When he was robbed in the Times Square studio and shot, he attempted to pull his gun on the men who had their guns to his body, when everybody else around him froze. This is why he was shot, and even after he survived the shooting, he continued to taunt his shooters and mock them on his albums. Plus, even as a massive star, Tupac was well-known in black communities such as Compton and Oakland, because he would attend house parties there without any security with him. He also managed to organize the crips and bloods together for the peace picnic in 1992. There's an old saying in the hood, and it's "real recognize real", or "game recognize game". Tupac was respected in the ghetto, because people recognized him as being real. Few rappers today will ever gain that type of respect worldwide.
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