Tupac Resurrection | Book Review Jun 28, 2017

Tupac Resurrection Book Review - Book Cover
Tupac Resurrection; Jacob Hoye, Karolyn Ali, Tupac Shakur; 2003; Atria Books; 256

In my review of Unbelievable, I shared my fascination of my two favourite secular rap artists. The biography of Christopher Wallace in 2003 is the same year Tupac Shakur's came to print. The title of his biography is Tupac Resurrection. This was a direct compliment to the theatrical biopic film with the same title. As a teenager, I use to always listen to Tupac's music. Again, it is out of place to be exploring a book that is not faith based. I already investigated the faith of Christopher Wallace with Unbelievable. These are books I purchased over 14 years ago which I owe to myself to finally read. My hope is that Tupac Resurrection will help me understand Shakur's faith. I always have an appreciation for people's life stories. Especially ones that explore the complex life that Tupac endured. June 2017 would have been his 43rd birthday. This is also when his new biopic movie titled All Eyez On Mewas released in theatres. With these factors alone, this is a good time to explore a book many years overdue.

Tupac Shakur was born in the East Harlem section of Manhattan, New York. He grew up in poverty without a father and faced discrimination as a young black male. His artistic talents in writing, acting, and speaking brought him into a world of stardom. This launched his career as a prolific rapper and actor. His potent and powerful messages in his music created unprecedented fame. This also created controversy that followed him throughout his life. Shakur's music brought a voice to millions of Americans. Millions that live the struggle of poverty, welfare, housing, injustice, addiction, and violence. It brought much needed awareness. His efforts made him to be a revolutionary, a political spokesman, and a humanitarian. The American government viewed Tupac's music in a negative light. They saw his music in a way that promoted messages that threatened American society. His death in Las Vegas from a drive by shooting in 1996 remains unsolved over 20 years later. His musical career amassed an incredible 75 million record sales during his life. Many of those sales were well after his death. Shakur actually released more music after his life than during his life. This is an example of how incredible his work ethic was.

I remember how excited I was to buy this book. This big beautiful hardcover stood out with its gold colour. The simplicity of the covers makes this book stand out in a stunning way. In large uppercase letters spells his name 'Tupac'. In much smaller letters spells 'Resurrection' and the years of his life and death. Their arrangement form a cross that represents the Christian faith. This may hint Shakur's faith was in Jesus, but I am still uncertain. The back cover is also in large uppercase letters spelling his last name Shakur. I spent my teenage years learning about this rap star. Now I want to learn more about the actual man himself.

This book is considered to be the autobiography that Shakur never got to write. With the help of his mother Afeni Shakur, and the editing of Jacob Hoye and Karolyn Ali, it is Shakur's own words. He shares his thoughts and feelings on his life. He talks about the controversial decisions he made during his complicated life. Shakur takes the reader through the very beginning. From his mother's days as a Black Panther activist, to his acting years at the Baltimore School for the Arts. His discovery by Digital Underground led to his first rap album with Interscope. This began a long trail of the many controversies that plagued his life as he rose to stardom. There are also never before seen writings which is a treat for huge fans. This collection showcases the intelligence, brilliance, and creative force of Shakur. Impressive for such a young age.

I was able to read this 256 book in under two hours. Most of this book was rich in beautiful stunning photos and many of his writings that are well preserved. There were more pages dedicated to photos than there was of his actual words. When it comes to quality, you can sense the craftsmanship and love going into this book.

"If I have to, if God sees it fit for me to spend time in a cell, if he wants my brain to be inside of a cage, if he's brought me so far from hell to put me here and now he wants me to go to jail, I'll go." - page 149

"I usually mess up, but I learn. I come back stronger. Everyone changes, becomes better people. We all should get that chance. I just want my chance." - page 229

Readers need to be aware that this is not a true autobiography. At least in the sense that Tupac did not write these words towards the goal of publishing his own book. I can appreciate the effort his family and friends made to have his story published using his words. I can sense his personality when I read his words. The problem is that as much as it wants to be an autobiography, it does not feel like one.His words are a collection of interviews, thoughts, feelings, pictures, and personal writings. Afeni Shakur felt that Tupac's spirit wanted his story told not only in film, but in print. There is nothing wrong with that, especially since he was not alive to do it himself. In their defense, Tupac Resurrection does not claim to be the official autobiography.While there is a wealth of beautiful photos, many of them are missing captions. This leaves the reader in the dark when it comes to explaining who was in each photo? What year? What event? This would have been helpful in providing relevance and understanding of the photos.

I was once a huge fan of Tupac which made owning this book justifiable. I would only recommend this book to fans that have studied his career and life like I did many years ago. Watching Tupac's various interviews in the movie helped make sense of his story. Those same words do not translate well in the book format. Without the visual context, a lot of Tupac's story feels broken and disjointed at times in this book. His story bounces from one message to a completely different topic and time frame. This makes his story at times incoherent. Tupac Resurrection serves more as a commemorative keepsake to fans following his life. For those who never heard of Tupac's story, this book gives beautiful glimpses of his life. This is on full display with its beautiful photos, authentic documents, and writings. The trade-off is its deficiency in words and context. This most likely will leave readers wanting more information and answers.

There is no question Tupac lived a polarized life. With a life of poverty and without a father, he defied all odds. He is considered one of the greatest rappers ever known. A great aspect of Tupac Resurrection is that it helps readers realize he was more than a rapper. He was a writer, a poet, an activist, and an actor. He was a man tormented with controversy. As a title to one of his poems, he is "the rose that grew from the concrete". It is difficult to say what Tupac put his faith in. It is clear he had some amount of faith in a god. Which god that would be is not revealed. This results in readers uncertain of his faith and relationship with Jesus.

Tupac Resurrection is a well crafted book that gives readers access to rare writings and photos. It shares a different perspective of Tupac as a person that was never portrayed in the media. Tupac squeezed every ounce of life he could in his short time on earth. In his 27 years alive, he accomplished more than some people would in an entire lifetime. It is scary to think what more he could have accomplished if granted 40 more years of life. It is tragic that such a young brilliant mind never got to live out the full potential of his talents. He never got to write his own story. With the incredible talent he possessed in his writing, his death comes at a deeper loss. We may never know how powerful his story could have been had he been alive to write it all himself. Tupac Resurrection is the closest readers will ever come to his story in his own words.

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