By Andres Tardio
“How long will they mourn me?” Tupac Shakur asked on Thug Life’s first and only album, Thug Life: Volume 1. 18 years after the rapper’s tragic death, Jada Pinkett Smith reflects on ‘Pac’s passing and the lives of other friends she’s lost with a touching Facebook post.
"In this picture I'm flanked by two extremely close friends of mine,” she says in the photo's caption. "Tupac and Maxine. They both died tragically not too far apart from one another.
"I flipped through more pictures of my youth only to come across at least 6 other friends who had been taken from this world...violently. I can't even count acquaintances. There was a time all that loss felt like the norm; today it felt unnatural, strange, downright wrong.”
Smith’s heartfelt and moving post also offers gratitude for what she’s been able to overcome and attain in her career.
"Half of my life was surviving a war zone…genocide,” she explains. "I'm grateful for what I have survived. GratefuI that I can spend an evening with Fallon playing a pie in the face game. Grateful I didn't become a statistic like I often thought I would. Grateful that my own children don't have to confront the loss and violence in their neighborhood in the way their parents had to.
"But, I also feel helpless, a bit depressed that there are so many of us who still do. And it feels like it's only gotten and getting worse.”
Smith and Shakur met at Baltimore School of The Arts in their high school years, where they became close. “'Pac was probably one of the first male figures that I had in my life that saw the beauty and the talent and my intelligence separated from sex,” Smith said during an interview with Arsenio Hall earlier this year.
"That’s something a young girl usually gets from their father. I didn’t have that. 'Pac was the first one that, it wasn’t about sex. It was about, ‘You, you’re a beautiful woman. You’re talented. You’re strong and I respect you and you are my girl. You gon’ sit right here and I’ma protect you. I’ma make sure, if nothing else, you get what you need. That’s what our relationship was like. We kind of did that for each other.”
Shakur died in September 1996 after being shot several times in Las Vegas. He was 25.