The late US rapper Tupac Shakur.


Remembering Tupac Shakur and his influence beyond the grave


June 16, 1971. A date that will live forever in the minds of those who remember that it was the day Tupac Shakur was born.

Seen by many, including myself, as the greatest rapper of all time, Tupac’s lyrical style and ability to connect emotionally and articulately with his listeners is what stands out the most.

I personally became a huge Tupac fan when I arrived in the US back in 1996. I have called Tupac a “mentor” because it was his mind that I explored in order to understand the urban mindset and the mindset of the black man in the inner city.

I came from the suburbs of Harare, Zimbabwe, went to a private boarding school in the bush, and generally had no clue about life in inner city America, until I landed smack in the middle of the west side of Dayton, Ohio, at 1013 Haller Ave.

I quickly learned that I needed to “fit in” as much as possible. Dayton did not have a particularly diverse population group, and I was still young enough that I didn’t want to stick out.

I was clueless, though. I started listening to Tupac and other rappers to get a sense of my environment. I felt his deep sadness, his overt sense of hopelessness, while at the same time absorbing the positive messages he rapped about.

I am a man who really appreciated what Tupac had to offer to society in terms of his life and experiences.

I wish he hadn’t died so young. Today he’d be 46. It would have been nice to know what he would have thought about the current circumstances of our society, but truth be told he has spoken on almost every issue that still remains unresolved up until today.

When you see me, you see a man who really learned a lot from him, and was influenced in many ways by the things he talked about. RIP Tupac.


Hlase Baloyi, a lawyer, moved to the US from Zimbabwe 20 years ago. He lives in Washington DC and describes himself as a “regular guy living on planet Earth”. Follow him on Facebook


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