First the PlayStation Network, now PBS! Hackers managed to get into the website of America’s public broadcasting home and posted a false story claiming rapper Tupac Shakur was still alive and well, living quietly on a New Zealand resort.
The only reason a farce like this would get any momentum at all would be the credibility of its source, and LulzSec, the group claiming to have pulled it off weren’t shy about outright taunting their victims and continuing to tinker with the PBS site as changes were being made to stop them.
Whatever the case, the conspiracy theories surrounding Tupac’s ‘death’ have stood the test of time in the 15 years since he died and have become akin to the hip-hop Loch Ness Monster. People claim to have seen him, some going as far as posting phony photographic proof and pointing to lyrics in his music that hint at the artist still being very much alive as Chappelle’s Show notably spoofed.
WATCH THE ‘TUPAC’ SKETCH FROM ‘CHAPPELLE’S SHOW’ HERE:
|Tupac is Still Alive|
So why does the hip-hop community still cling to notion that the slain rapper is among us? Is it a group of people unwilling to accept his passing? Maybe a feeling of unfinished business? Or maybe it is a way to grow the legend of Pac as a mythical figure. However it shakes out, Tupac remains a constant in the hip-hop conversation.
Denial is the only way to describe some people’s obsession with not letting go. They are the ones who point out details in music videos, the hidden messages that are right in front of us. Federal task forces and other nonsense that only prove that their denial is stronger than you thought. Present them autopsy photos, they will shrug them off and counter with his lyric “although it seems heaven sent, we ain’t ready to see a black president.”
What’s strangest is it is not like this on the other side. Why don’t we mythologize The Notorious B.I.G. the same way? Their stories go hand-in-hand with ominously linked up until the point of their death. The Biggie eulogy began immediately and has been on-going without anyone chiming in to say the wools being pulled over our eyes.
What really makes leaves Tupac’s book open is the idea of unfinished business. Not from a material point-of-view because obviously Pac’s discography trumps Big in that aspect just by sheer volume. But for what Big did not leave as a recording legacy, he managed to wrap up his arc in just two classic albums. Largely because his music, while personal, did not have the same self-discovery as Pac’s. Shakur’s music was so scattered, there was the intense, in the moment, the serious introspection, the globally contemplative and some that are just good pop music, molded within his narrative. It is as if he left his own Dead Sea Scrolls for us to digest and decipher.
Not to get too X-Files-y but the idea of Tupac’s presence being among us is not very hard to understand. His spirit left an indelible mark on a generation of fans and a rising generation who have grown to admire and emulate him in death. Even within the industry, his name, more than any other, is the one you hear when artists are asked who influenced them.
It is not just the music either; it is the whole package. He was so ahead of his time that he became timeless. He really is hip-hop’s Elvis, which means dealing with the constant reminders that he is not going anywhere. Don’t expect to see him on a postage stamp or collector’s edition plate on an infomercial, but for every day that passes, for every new song released, every story told, the legend only grows.
The same way stories from the Negro Leagues grow from their actuality as time and lives pass, we’re seeing people who weren’t even old enough to have known a Tupac song at his death take the folklore that’s been passed down and run with it. For every star whose life ended well before people expected, Tupac is a parallel. And even those of us who are steadfast in reminding people that he is, in fact dead, have to appreciate that eternal flame hip-hop keeps stoked for one of it’s biggest stars.
He’s every bit to us what enduring figures like James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Jimi Hendrix and Buddy Holly are to their respective communities. He is forever frozen in time and you know what? Maybe keeping that notion alive isn’t so bad. A good conspiracy theory never hurt anyone, right? But for the love of God, someone stop them from letting Soulja Boy portray him in a Juice remake. He can’t have the juice now.