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Tupac Shakur, ‘The Audacity to Dream’

Photo Credit: James Jefferson, III

Mr. James Jefferson, III of Millionaire Obsession Enterprise, LLC was kind enough to provide us with this brilliant feature on Tupac Shakur and his former residence in Baltimore, Maryland. Make sure to check it out and leave your comments for Mr. Jefferson. His feature is an excellent tribute to Tupac and the legacy he left behind.

 

 

 

Tupac Shakur – ‘The Audacity to Dream’

By:  James Jefferson, III

The year was 1994, and Hip Hop was making its inception into the mainstream. The retro snap-back hats were fashionable. Hip Hop CDs and cassettes were not only popular amongst African Americans, but could now be found in Caucasian suburban households. Traces of the emerging genre’s DNA could be found in films such as: Menace to Society, Poetic Justice, and Above the Rim. The stars of the time were the Wu-Tang Clan striking gold with tracks like “36-Chambers”, like wise Snoop Dogg with “Doggystyle” and Ice Cube in his artistic prime. However…the Kobe and LeBron of this Hip Hop era were Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G.

James Jefferson, III

Although, this all seems so long ago, hip-hop has drastically changed throughout the years. We as a Hip Hop generation have become accustomed to giving more credit to music production and an outstanding beat; instead of focusing on creative and memorable lyrics; unlike the aforementioned artist who represented one of the most diverse and creative eras in Hip Hop. The formula for success which was once calculus has been watered down to simple arithmetic. Catchy Radio Single + Easy to Recognize Brand + Music video with Females Emulating Stripper Aerobics- Never Being Abstract or Complex to Listeners= Instant Success.

James Jefferson, III

In remembering Tupac Shakur, he is best described as an activist, poet, and humanitarian. However, he was also renowned for controversy, recklessness, and violence. Tupac’s life consisted of triumphs, hardships, peaks, and pits that would rival your favorite gangster film. Perhaps one of the most revealing stories of his early life was his drive and determination, to become successful.

Two years ago, while serving as Student Body President in College I had an opportunity to bring Tupac’s mother, Ms. Afeni Shakur, to deliver an inspirational message to students. I knew the idea of bringing Ms. Shakur to the school would produce a large turnout of students as most attended the speech for mental enlightenment. On the day of the event, the auditorium quickly filled to capacity while numerous Tupac hits like “Dear Momma”and “Brenda’s Got a Baby”, played in the background throughout the auditorium speakers. Ms. Shakur, in all of her grandeur gave an energetic and motivational speech to the students. After Q&A and a long autograph session, I had the opportunity to finally speak with Ms. Shakur. She had the demeanor and poise of your grandmother, yet still fun and energetic enough to be your Aunt. While engaged in conversation she wrote down the address of her previous Baltimore, MD home: 3955 Greenmount Avenue. Ms. Shakur moved her family from New York to Baltimore in the 1980’s after being in and out of homeless shelters and subsidized housing for over 3 years. She encouraged me to visit the area in Baltimore. We hugged, and exchanged farewells.

Photo Credit: James Jefferson, III

As a native of Maryland, I pay homage to my “Charm City” roots. One afternoon while visiting family, I accidently made the wrong turn coming home. This wrong turn coincidentally, became a right turn, landing me a mile from Greenmount Avenue. This was the perfect opportunity to visit the house the Shakur’s grew up in located in northeast Baltimore. This neighborhood was one of the many affected by the City riots in 1968 after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. This neighborhood is a smorgasbord of middle to low-income families. Certain areas of the neighborhood would remind you of a screen shot, from the HBO series “The Wire.” As I drew closer, I became aware of the looming police vans occupied by Charm City’s finest.

Finally, I parked and walked up to the residence, snapped a picture of the outside, and took in the landscape for a moment. The outside infrastructure was made of bricks with a couple folding chairs on the porch. I was hesitant to knock on the door, concerned with who was waiting on the opposite side. Putting my nerves aside, I knocked on the door to find a frail African American woman around the age of 50, wearing a pink tank top and pajama pants on the other side. I was immediately put at ease.

I explained who I was, and the purpose of my visit. Without hesitation she welcomed me in. The more we talked, she explained to me how it was a normal occurrence for people to come by, tour her house, and ask to take pictures. As I walked into the house, the resident gave me a tour while I took pictures. Although this experience was far from an MTV Cribs Tour, I was elated she was generous enough to open up her home to me. As I was on my way out of the house, she asked me for $2 to get something to drink. I knew Drink meant an alcoholic beverage. Although, I could think of over 200 ways $2 could be spent productively, I did not hesitate to provide her with the money she requested.

Later on reflecting on the pictures, they revealed a story. They unveiled a narrative of human progress and self-evolution. What gave Tupac the drive to aspire for more after living in and out of homeless shelters and less than ideal housing as a youth? What gave him the inspiration to dream of a better life? I believe we all possess this phenomenal ability. I’d dare say our sole purpose in life is to grow and continually evolve. If a painter ever needed a muse to illustrate drive and determination, he wouldn’t need to look any further than, Tupac Amaru Shakur. Anyone who has ever achieved anything great has come from humble beginnings. We all should have the audacity to dream, for bigger and better and want more out of life.

Arlene Culpepper, Asst. Editor-in-Chief
Arlene Culpepper, Asst. Editor-in-Chiefhttp://www.mikodreamz.com
Vice-President & Asst. Editor-in-Chief of The Heat Magazine, Arlene is a Louisiana native, Certified Paralegal, Publicist, Owner of MIKODreamz PR, co-owner of 504Diffusion, writer, producer, and jack of all trades, who is heavily involved in her community as well as serving as Media Advisor for New Orleans Union for Entertainment (NOUE), Member of the NOLA Music Awards from 2012-present & Member of the Press Club of New Orleans. Her work is published across the web. Her PR work has been highly recognized & awarded. She was/is publicist for the late great BTY YoungN, 0017th and more. She is also working on her first novel & aspires to turn it into a film & is currently writing the authorized biography of the legendary Pimp C of UGK. She can be reached via email at Arlene@theheatmag.com. Follow her on Twitter - @CategorySeven & Instagram - @hurricanearlene.
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