I grew up listening to hip-hop and rap, with artists like Kanye West and 50 Cent marking their spot as some of my favorites. Tupac was always on that list as well, although as I grew up, I started listening to him less and less.
My infatuation with Tupac began when I watched the movie Juice… at least I think that’s how it started. The movie Juice introduced me to one of the greatest rappers alive, and to be quite frank, it actually changed my life. Listening to Pac’s music and analyzing his life and lyrics changed who I was as a person; I started to view society and life differently. In fact, I was so in love with Tupac and some of the messages he conveyed, that my Twitter handle was @shakurluv for quite some time (Shakur being Pac’s last name).
After watching the Notorious B.I.G. movie, I remember telling myself that I absolutely needed a movie made about Tupac. He was just too legendary and too impactful to not have a biopic made, which is why I was more than pleased when news broke that there would be a film released in 2017.
With that in mind, All Eyez On Me, the Tupac Shakur biopic (biographical motion picture) was released June 16, 2017, and it chronicled the life and legacy of 2Pac, including his rise to fame, his incarcerations, his family life, and his partnership with Death Row Records. The film starred Demetrius Shipp Jr. as Tupac Shakur, whose father actually worked with Tupac on the song “Toss It Up.”
Although the film was long and there were many claims that it did not accurately depict reality, I truly enjoyed it. Shipp Jr. did an excellent job portraying Pac and it was evident he gave the character his all. Furthermore, the actors who were chosen to play secondary characters were also very effective at performing their roles, particularly Tupac’s mom in the film, Afeni Shakur, who is portrayed by Danai Gurira. What I enjoyed most about the actors adopting their roles was the passion and livelihood they put into each character. It was evident they were trying to pay a sincere homage to the late rapper.
Another thing I found to be quite interesting and satisfying was the accurate portrayal of racism, white supremacy and the Black Panthers in the film. It is a wide known fact that Tupac and his family had very close ties to the Black Panthers, as well as pro-black groups, so to see this so accurately depicted and heavily enforced in the film was great. It was also fascinating to compare this racism and what Pac dealt with to what is going on today, in 2017, with police brutality and Black Lives Matter. Tupac and his family were very adamant on pushing forward black rights and equality so it was incredible to see that this was a crucial aspect of the film and not an overlooked detail.
The only faults I found were that although it focused too much on not-so-necessary scenes, it still felt a little rushed. It just seems that they could’ve focused more on Tupac’s rise to stardom and the obstacles he endured with his mother, for example, instead of all the random conversations he had. On top of that, an issue would be brought up, such as the infamous shooting that started the Biggie vs. Tupac beef, but then it wouldn’t really be mentioned again or elaborated on. It felt as though the audience was left to pull the pieces together and as a huge 2Pac fan, this was no problem for me, but for someone who just wants to watch the film for entertainment purposes, this may leave them confused.
All in all, the film was excellent and I would definitely recommend watching it. Demetrius Shipp Jr. earned my respect with this film and I truly hope he goes far in his acting career. This movie actually reminded me of why I fell in love with Tupac and his music, to begin with. So if you love rap music, you’re into biopics, and you want to learn some rap history, this is the movie for you!
Tupac, you are forever missed down here and I hope you’re partying wherever you are! Your legend lives on.