Tupac Shakur's lyrics on his reflective ode to mortality, "How Long Will They Mourn Me," were steeped in prophetic poetry, but even he couldn't have predicted that he'd still be such an iconic force in pop culture in the year 2013.
Friday (September 13) marks the 17th anniversary of the day the Thug Life MC was fatally shot at the age of 25 after attending a Mike Tyson heavyweight championship fight in Las Vegas. And although that tragic event robbed hip-hop of one of its most promising and revered stars, Pac's indelible influence can still be felt in rap culture today. In fact, 2013 was a pretty big year for him.
Case in point:
Tyga Brings 'Pac Vocals To Life
Tyga used some of the late rapper's unreleased vocals on his controversial single, "Hit 'Em Up," from his third solo album, Hotel California. Although the Young Money representer told MTV News that his version was not a remake of the Notorious B.I.G. diss, the song drew the ire of Pac's die-hard fans.
"I had came across some 'Pac vocals from a friend," Tyga told MTV News back in May about how the track came together. "I was like, 'Man this would be dope,' but I didn't really know how to use it properly. A lot of people think it's a remake of 'Hit 'Em Up,' his song — which it's not a remake, it's original."
J. Cole Forgets His Beefs
One of Tupac's most devoted acolytes, J. Cole, name-dropped his lyrical idol in two songs on his critically acclaimed sophomore LP, Born Sinner. On "Let Nas Down," the North Carolina rapper spits, "Yeah, long live the idols, may they never be your rivals/Pac was like Jesus, Nas wrote the Bible." On "Villuminati," though, Cole admits that his "fanaticism" got the better of him, making him hate on Biggie Smalls and Jay Z.
"Pac had a n---- saying f--- Jigga, f--- Biggie, I was only like 11 so forgive me/ A decade later I be all up in the city trying to get Hov to f--- with me," the Roc Nation artist raps on the record.
Rih Rih Uses His Words Of Comfort
Pop Princess Rihanna showed her support of her embattled ex-beau Chris Brown during his probation violation hearing by standing by his side and tweeting him inspiration words from Pac's classic single, "Keep Ya Head Up," writing, "And even though ya fed up, ya gotta keep ya head up."
And even though ya fed up, ya gotta keep ya head up— Rihanna (@rihanna) February 7, 2013
Give His Regards To Broadway
The last place anyone would expect to see anything Tupac related would be on Broadway, but Kenny Leon, the theater director with a resume that includes versions of "A Raisin in the Sun" and "The Mountaintop," is preparing a musical called "Holler If Ya Hear Me," which will be an anti-violence, unconditional love story featuring Shakur's music.
"When you look at the lyrics of his music, he was always talking about universal things like honor, betrayal, family," Leon said. "[Tupac] was just trying to talk about life and say something about the country and being an American and raising a family here."
'Pac's Acting Chops Honored
In addition to destroying tracks with memorable, pathos-laden rhymes, Tupac was also quite the thespian. His jarring portrayal of "Bishop" in "Juice" and his surprisingly vulnerable turn as "Lucky" in "Poetic Justice" was enough to punctuate an acting career that will culminate in his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2014.
"If 'Pac had been in the movie he would've outshined everyone," Allen Hughes told MTV News back in January about Tupac's scrapped role in the cult classic film, "Menace II Society." "As wonderful a performance as Larenz was, I think Tupac... it would've thrown the whole axis of the movie off if Tupac was in it, because he was bigger than the movie."
Snoop Remembers A Close Call
Tupac was a lightning rod for controversy, but little was known about the man behind the headlines. Back in April, Snoop Lion recounted a parasailing incident he had with his "2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted" partner in rhyme while vacationing in Belize after he beat his 1993 murder trial.
"We take off in the air and the boat is rolling. We're in the middle of the sea and this n---a Suge Knight, pulls down [the lever] to make our parasail drop right in the water like where Jaws is at or Orca," Snoop recalled of Suge's panic-inducing prank while visiting "Rap Fix Live.
"To me, that was like the craziest story because we're both looking in each other's eyes like, 'This n---a could kill us right now if he wants too.' "
Releasing The Entire Collection
As much as Tupac's music (five solo albums and six posthumous projects) has served as the sonic blueprint for most of the rappers that ruled the radio this year, a new wave of MCs may find themselves inspired by the artist formerly known as Makaveli if his mother, Afeni Shakur, keeps her promise and releases to the remainder of her son's entire body of work.
"I believe it is our responsibility to make sure that Tupac's entire body of work is made available for his fans," Afeni Shakur said. "My son left many incomplete pieces and even more unfinished ideas. Using the blueprints he gave us, I am committed to fulfilling this duty."