|Tupac: Revolutionary, Problem, or Neither?|
On one side, there are journalists and academics who are guilty of "Tupac worship." I'm paraphrasing, but there are tons of journalistic and academic accounts that treat Tupac as if he were a "revolutionary" or "visionary" who changed the face of the music industry. The more ambitious accounts like to argue that Tupac has forever changed the face of American culture.
I'm uncomfortable with the revolutionary tag and feel that people throw around this term too casually and liberally. I'm also ambivalent with the visionary label, particularly since I think it's hard to really assess how a single artist has impacted something as vast as the music industry (let alone American culture).
|C. Delores Tucker|
Although I sympathize with the romantic treatments of Tupac, and understand some of the concerns from different critics, I think both sides commit the same error: They reduce Tupac and rap music into something essentially positive or negative. Like debates about religion, abortion, gun control, and other hot button issues, both sides have a moral stake in the ground and seemed prepared to defend their position tooth-and-nail.
As a sociologist, I tend to think about things in less essential terms. Instead of thinking of Tupac's music as a kind of "revolutionary music" or as a "cultural problem," why not appreciate it for all of the unique ways in which it has been a part of our lives? One thing I love about music is that it can always take me back to some particular place and time in which I was listening to an artist or song. Many of my fondest memories come equipped with a musical soundtrack of some sort. Isn't this how music resonates with all of us?
|"Zombie" now reminds me of intense swimming|
In between morning and afternoon training sessions, I would come back to my room, and right before falling asleep, I'd put on "Zombie." I don't know why, but this song was strangely comforting during that experience. Now, whenever I hear that song or anything by the Cranberries, I'm reminded of a string of memories that begin in that place/at that time.
|"Atliens" reminds me of D-Man Blancnhard|
Back in those days, Donald had a dark grey and black Nissan truck. It had two doors, light grey interior, and very darkly tinted windows. I didn't have a car in high school, but was able to ride shotgun with Donald wherever he went. Most nights we never really did very much. Aside from trips to different local malls, movie theaters, or late night restaurants, Donald and I spent a lot of time just cruising the sprawling streets of Jacksonville listening to Outkast.
|What's up with this cat?|
I'm sure all of us have funny, sad, or inspirational stories of times in which we remember listening to Tupac's music. If you feel comfortable sharing, I'd love to hear about them.
So, in short: Instead of analyzing the potential merits or problems of Tupac (or any music for that matter), why not remember all of the times in which we were listening to "Shorty Wanna be a Thug" or "How Do you Want it?" This is just my opinion, but I feel like these kinds of conversations are what's missing in moral debates about music.