When one thinks of philosophy that holds a tremendous amount of weight and meaning to it, one usually would expect it to come from the minds of Socrates or Plato. Of all the philosophers people can think of, people would never expect such profound insight to come from the mind of a rap and hip-hop artist. Of all the many influential African-American rappers to have emerged since the inception of the genre, perhaps the most compelling and relevant artist was that of Tupac Shakur.
Tupac Shakur used his music as a way of not just rapping about fame, wealth, and material things, but used his art as a means of communicating about the harsh realities of life. What really makes the music of Tupac Shakur relevant and powerful is the fact that it resonates with the black community all across the United States. Tupac used his music to openly address the problems black people in America face, whether they be struggles caused by outside parties or issues within its own community. He understood that he had power in his music and that he wanted to share what he knows and wake up his community so that they can become enlightened and better themselves.
One of his songs, "Changes," discusses issues ranging from the "War on Drugs" and police brutality, to how there seems to be little positive changes for black people. In this song, Tupac does not hesitate to rap about racism, hypocrisy, and injustices that are prevalent in American society. It is in songs like this where Tupac is open about all kinds of issues and struggles black people have to deal with and how it seems like no matter how hard they try, the society they live in will never change. He even remarks about how we might never see a black president, expressing how his hopes for such an achievement are greatly diminished.
Another song, "Brenda's Got A Baby," was inspired by an article Tupac read in the newspaper about a 12-year-old girl who got pregnant by her cousin and threw the baby into a trash compactor. With this song, Tupac addresses issues of teen pregnancy and the effects it has on the mother. He uses the song to talk about an issue that is often seen in the black community and openly criticizes the fact that there are people that would turn their back on someone that is in desperate need of assistance. Issues like this can be uncomfortable and disturbing at times, but Tupac makes it his duty to shed light on these issues through his music.
The music and philosophy that Tupac is known for can be summed up in one of his most famous sayings, "T.H.U.G L.I.F.E." While it initially sounds like a cool saying that rappers and hip-hop artists would say, it actually has a deeper meaning. "T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E." stands for: "The Hate U Give Little Infants F***s Everybody."
It means that what society gives us at a young age will inevitably cause problems for everybody. If a child is taught racist ideologies and is taught to hate those that are different, we end up with people like Adolf Hitler or groups like the Ku Klux Klan; people who hate others for no rational reason and have been perpetrators behind blatant crimes against humanity. If we allow hate to dominate the lives we live, it will be passed on to our youth.
If we allow the cycle of hate to continue, then things will continue to get worse for everybody. Love for all mankind is the only way to break this sad cycle. Tupac understood that, and it seemed that it was that philosophy he wanted everyone to know.
Violence, destruction, and despair will always result from hate, but if we can manage to break the cycle, then perhaps the world would finally know peace.