Tupac Up On The Cross

Cover art from new Tupac album.

Even in death, Tupac Shakur has a way of getting in the last word. First,

there was the eerily prescient video for "I Ain't Mad at Cha," from the

quintuple platinum All Eyez on Me , in which Tupac is shown dying in a

hail of bullets and ascending to a players' heaven populated by Redd Roxx,

Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix and Sammy Davis Jr. Then, there was the unpublished

poem, "In the Event of My Demise," printed in this month's VIBE

magazine, dated 1992, that Tupac requested be shared with friends after his

death.

"When my heart can beat no more
I hope I die for a principle or

a belief
that I have lived for
I will die before my time
because I

already feel the shadow's depth
So much I wanted to accomplish before I


reached my death
I have come to grips with the possibility and

wiped
the last tear from my eyes
I loved all who were positive
in

the event of my demise."

And, now the final postmortem, the cover of

the first posthumous Tupac release, from his alter ego, Makaveli (a play on

16th century Italian politician/philosopher, Nicolo Machiavelli, who advocated

faking one's death to fool one's enemies), The Don Killuminati--The 7 Day

Theory , which finds Tupac making...



And, now the final postmortem, the cover of the first

posthumous Tupac release, from his alter ego, Makaveli (a play on 16th century

Italian politician/philosopher, Nicolo Machiavelli, who advocated faking one's

death to fool one's enemies), The Don Killuminati--The 7 Day Theory ,

which finds Tupac making both his boldest and most self-aggrandizing statement

ever.

The dark illustration on the cover depicts an image of the rapper

nailed to a cross, his hands and feet bearing the tell-tale bloody wounds of a

Christ figure, his midsection covered by the by-now-familiar black-and-white

"Parental Advisory: Explicit Content" warning sticker. Adding to the

conflicting/conflicted imagery is a legend across the bottom of the cover that

reads: "In no way is this portrait an expression of disrespect for Jesus

Christ." What to make of this and all the foreshadowing of death in the songs

on this album?

Perhaps 'Pac said it best himself when he told

VIBE's Rob Marriott (in what was allegedly his last interview, from the

set of the movie Gang Related , in which he plays a corrupt cop), "I

feel like Black Jesus is controlling me...How I got shot five times--only a

saint, only Black Jesus, only a nigga that know where I'm coming from, could

be, like, 'You know what? He's gonna end up doing some good.' I gotta do that.

People might be like, 'This nigga's conceited,' but fuck it. I feel like I

shine. And I don't give a fuck how many white people, the media, niggas, black

people , playa haters, police, whoever, try to darken my shine, I'm a always

shine through. They could lie about my words, but they always gonna ring true

'cause it's my essence; it's my essence, and that's what's always gonna come

through."

Maybe the video for the first single from this album, "Toss it

Up," says it best. It finds Tupac and various members of Jodeci singing into

mic stands with blow torches in place of microphones and 'Pac playing with

matches. 'Nuff said.