Changes: An Oral History of Tupac Shakur

Sheldon Pearce. Simon & Schuster, $26.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-9821-7046-2
Legendary hip-hop martyr Tupac Shakur is movingly captured as the people’s gangsta in this kaleidoscopic commemoration of his life, New Yorker writer Pearce’s debut. He interviews dozens of Shakur’s childhood friends, teachers, and fellow rappers, as well as journalists and ER doctors to garner reminiscences of the rapper, who was murdered by assailants, still unknown, at the age of 25 in a 1996 Las Vegas drive-by. In this admiring mosaic, Shakur is charismatic, kind (he did a free ad for a Black-owned fashion line), productive (he wrote the hit “Brenda’s Got a Baby” during a cigarette break), energetic (“He was laser focused—multitasking, smoking blunts, typing, and still talking to me A-1,” remembers fashion designer Karl Kani), and willing to walk the walk by actually shooting police (in self-defense, it was ruled) instead of just rapping about it. Shakur’s celebrated passion for social justice is much praised but little evidenced here, and is complicated by accounts the beatdowns he administered, an altercation involving gunplay that killed a child, and his conviction for sexual abuse. (A highlight of the book is a juror’s account of jury-room shenanigans that undermines that verdict’s validity.) There’s much hagiography here—“He had this light around him,” gushes a homeroom classmate—but also genuine insight into Shakur’s musical facility and the quiet, understated “genius” of his acting. Tupac’s multitudes of fans will eat this up. (June)
Reviewed on : 04/28/2021
Release date: 06/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-7971-2631-9
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-9821-7047-9
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-7971-2629-6
Audio Product - 978-1-7971-2630-2
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