Tupac’s Influence on My Adolesence

Tupacs Influence

Throughout my life, I have suffered from Asperger Syndrome. It is a relatively mild form of autistic retardation. Despite its ‘mildness’, it still brought many demons into my life: loneliness, rejection, anger and frustration. All these feelings were doubly reinforced during my emotionally charged adolescent years. One of the few beacons of light that helped me cope through these turbulent times were the inspirational lyrics of Tupac Shakur.

Before Tupac, I was not even aware of the existence of hiphop. Every so often, I would cruise over Black Entertainment Television (BET) and catch a quick glimpse of a hiphop video. It did not really make sense to me, so I would flip to another channel. Back then, I was more in tune with Seal, Collective Soul and god forbid, even Celine Dion. I was hopeful for better days and felt the loving caress of their music sooth my soul.

As I started growing up and becoming more aware of the harsh realities of life, I discovered Tupac. I was being driven home by a 20 something co-worker from Wendys. He had Tupac bumping through his ride. My knees were shaking, I had a headache, and I had no clue what the guy on the CD was saying. Then suddenly, Tupac blurted out, “Only God Can Judge Me“. Tupac’s words struck a chord with me, a chord that is still humming to this day.

It’s funny. I was anything but ghetto. Tupac and I had about as much in common as a giraffe and an elephant. I lived in the suburbs, I got exceptional grades and I had a loving family. Yet, my mind immediately attached itself to the violent and gloomy lyrics of Tupac’s “Only God Can Judge Me“. It was a harsh song depicting Tupac’s life after being shot. Where is the nurse? Who has it in for me? Why do my tears feel like they aren’t being heard? Tupac spoke directly to my soul. Although our situations were different, the pain was still the same. I felt as alone and miserable as him.

Intrigued by Tupac’s unique and fresh perspective, I began to study his music. In “Me Against the World“, Tupac sang, ‘With all this extra stressing, the question I wonder, if after death, after my last breath, when will I finally get to rest? Through this suppression, they punish the people that’s asking questions. And those that possess, steal from the ones without possessions. The message I stress: to make it stop, study your lessons, don’t settle for less, even the genius asks questions.’ I felt like I was the genius he mentioned. I was a bright, intelligent kid. Yet, I got no respect for it. My peers viewed me as a loser-boy nobody. I felt as if Tupac could relate to me. He was just like me, except he was living in the ghetto and I was living in the suburbs. We both were full of questions, raging against the world to find redemption.

Then came Tupac’s “Shorty Wanna Be a Thug“. It was the story of a ‘nice middle class nigga, only sixteen, yet convicted as a felon’. He was so young, yet already immersed in the dangerous hell of the streets. In my eyes, I was Shorty. Except, I was trapped in a mental hell instead of a physical one. Whereas Shorty braved the dark corridors of the ghetto, I had to find my way through the lonely halls of autism. As I burrowed deeper into the bowels of loneliness, the tears began to run down my cheeks.

Consider Tupac’s “So Many Tears“. ‘Back in elementary, I thrived on misery, left me alone, I grew up amongst a dyin breed, inside my mind couldn’t find a place to rest, until I got that Thug Life tatted on my chest’ I was a very lonely teenager. I felt almost dead inside. Without friendship and love, who was I but just a stranger walking in the darkness? Just as Tupac grew up with Thug Life tatted on his chest, so I grew up with loneliness tatted on my chest.

To Live and Die in LA” was the next Tupac song I heard. LA was a city that Tupac loved and hated equally. Although raised in LA, he suffered countless years of misery and pain there. I understood this. Although I was a bright lad with a promising future, I was not happy. I had it all, but it just was not enough. I sought more. I wanted to experience friendship, love and happiness. As the years gradually passed, I started to believe that I was not meant to ever feel these things.

From there I went to “No More Pain“. It is a very malevolent song toting Tupac’s ability to bring death and the end of pain. “Come put your mouth on this pistol, nigga. Come put your mouth on the pistol, no more pain. Close your eyes, nigga, do it. Die in the dark, no more pain.” I would close my eyes and imagine putting my mouth on the pistol, awaiting the end of all the misery and pain. Nothing could be so sweet as escaping the misery life constantly fed me.

Would they even notice me gone? If so, “How Long Will They Mourn Me?” I suppose similar minds think alike. Who cares if I die. I am a nobody. If I do die, am I going to heaven? Does heaven even exist? I ask… “Who Do You Believe In?” Ironically, I heard this song four years after Tupac’s flame was extinguished. But, it still left a lasting impression on me. ‘Went from the chosen one to outcast, unforgiven, and all the Hennessy and weed can’t hide, the pain I feel inside, you know, it’s like I’m livin just to die, I fall on my knees and beg for mercy, not knowin if I’m worthy, livin life thinkin no man can hurt me, so I’m askin — before I lay me down to sleep, before you judge me, look at all the shit you did to me, my misery, I rose up from the slums, made it out the flames, in my search for fame will I change? I’m askin’

By now, my heart was full of rage. I had been expelled from HS, I was carousing the streets in the middle of the night seeking cheap thrills, and my hatred for the world had blossomed into an all out war. “Fuck the World” seemed the most appropriate Tupac song for me. ‘When I was comin up, rough… that wasn’t even what you called it. That’s why I smoke blunts now and run with alcoholics.’ All hope had been lost. I was headed nowhere. Then came a stint in prison.

It was during my time in prison that I encountered Tupac’s most memorable song, “Changes“. To end this piece, I want to quote his entire song. R.I.P. Tupac Shakur. Thank you for being there with me during rough times. I will never forget your influence on my life and who I have become. God Bless.