Okay after this note....I need to sleep! By 530am today I was ready for Day 4 of shooting Strike One. The Crew is shooting inside a Correctional Facility outside of East LA for the next 2 days. Lets just say things ran smoothly, but it was crazy! Intense, inspirational and very emotional!
While I checked my Twitter updates today and noticed many Tweets stating "Happy 40th Birthday #TUPAC SHAKUR," I flashed back and once again came into the realization of how much the radio lacks the truth, along with the many missing chapters and ignorance of Latino and African history in our Youth's textbook. I was blessed to have a family who educated both me and my brother about cultural values; why it's always important to remember our history and continue to learn more about it, because we live in a society where it's still being ignored....or worse ERASED.
Through a recent personal study with students and/or teen family members; I wanted to see how many freshman - senior high school students knew who NWA were, when the LA Riots happened and who Rodney King is? I was left to see the number of correct answers in shock. Majority of those students don't recall ever hearing about it, but are fans of HIP-HOP.
I walked around the prison feeling frustrated; with in an out of body experience as if the walls and cells held onto stories for decades explaining the memoirs of so many of young men and women of the barrios; those lost or trapped youth who are push into circles without taking a look outside of the bubble. Not noticing the realization of how many prisons are in America, how much money is spent on each prisoner and facility or the statistics of "who" is being incarcerated. Once again I begin to revisit the feeling of my heart sinking into my stomach, because this story is to common in communities of color; and I believe the lack of education and disrespect towards our movement's history is a cause of why for every 1 white male, there's 10 men of color being sent off to jail. 10 men of color for every 1 white male, to join an overpopulated prison facility.
With that I would like to state and remember the influence of one of the greatest MCs of all time. I grew up a fan of Tupac Shakur, as he was not only an iconic figure in hip-hop for representing the values and purpose of the Black Panther movement, but a phenomenal performing artist...a great actor who broke down barriers and like every great legend battled many wars.
One of my first encounters with Tupac was when he played "Bishop," the inner-city teenaged villain prioritizing power and respect with money and violence in the classic 1992 film "Juice."
I thank my brother Harrel (aka RayRay) for introducing me to one of my top favorite movies of all time. At the same time turning me into a young fan, (yes a very young but very wise fan) who began a journey and childhood crush for the strong poetic black man who happened to inspire me through both his life and death to dedicate and focus on bridging our communities through Hip Hop Activism and lyricism. Just as the Young Lords took over hospitals to give health aid to Latinos in New York City and the Black Panthers developed breakfast and after school programs for Black youth, Tupac shared and gave us his story along with influencing writers to just speak up and take the freedom of speech to your best advantage.
Mr. Shakur, hope you're living it up in Thug Mansion, and I just want to tell you that you were an amazing story teller, poet, MC and activist. You always had a come back and left a gift forever shining a light on the movement of a genre that wishes you wouldn't have been taken from this world so soon. Thank you for not being ashamed to explain your story as a product of your environment.
Today I celebrated your life by recording a new song in honor of your love and passion for California, along with the many different characters I sat with today who showed me love and respect for Tupac and west coast hip hop.
"And since we all came from a WOMAN got our name from a WOMAN and our game from a WOMAN. I wonder why we take from our WOMEN why we rape our WOMEN do we hate our WOMEN. I think its' time to kill for our WOMEN time to heal our WOMEN be real to our WOMEN."
- (2Pac's Greatest Hits, Strictly 4 MY N.I.G.G.A.Z. - Keep Ya Head Up)
Here's a lil something from the piece I wrote today during another CALI Break Session inspired by
Mr. Tupac Shakur
June 16, 1971-Sept. 13th, 1996
"..Prrrat Prrrat Prrat! signs of the cross when I hear the guns snap
Prrat prrat prrat! but the beam from the sun's probably why Mr. Jam moved from Minneap
Prrat prrat prrat! Had to tell Lebron sorry Papi but Kobe has the stats ;(
Prrat prrat prrat Made In Cali made a track
Rest in Peace Tupac....he aint back! Just respect that
by supporting movements for the brown and black
walking stars, love to NWA Raiders on the hat
Shout out to Gov Arnold, with Latin kids on his lap"