Tupac Shakur

Shakur literally was a son of the Black Panthers. Did it matter then? Does it matter now?


  • Quinn chap. 8, “Tupac Shakur and the Legacies of Gangsta”


Reading/Viewing Guide

Note that this guide is not meant to replace careful study of the assigned texts. Instead, this guide highlights some of the important ideas and information found in this chapter, songs, and videos. To do well on our tests, quizzes, and class discussions, you will need a thorough knowledge of all assigned texts.

What relationships does Shakur construct with the music and the struggle of past generations? Consider this lyric, from “Keep Ya Head Up”:

I remember Marvin Gaye used to sing to me /
He had me feelin’ like Black was the thing to be /
And suddenly the ghetto didn’t seem so tough /
And though we had it rough, we always had enough….

Kevin Powell claims,

To me, Shakur was the most important solo artist in the history of rap, not because he was the most talented (he wasn’t) but because he, more than any other rapper, personified and articulated what it was to be a young black man in America” (Quinn 180).


  • Do you agree with Kevin Powell’s claim about Shakur (quoted above)? Why or Why not?
  • Does Tupac continue to influence contemporary artists? (Be specific about who and how.)
  • In the terms of Quinn’s chapter 5, do you see Shakur as aΒ  “motivated badman,” or an “unmotivated” one?