Poet Al Letson recalls the life of Tupac Shakur, a conflicted African American folk hero. The son of a black panther, Tupac Shakur, trained as an actor, posed as a street thug and became a best selling rapper. He continues to be mythologised, revered and highlighted like no other. He was shot and killed 18 years ago, yet he is still the third biggest selling hip hop artist.
A restless revolutionary he led a conflicted life, causing moral outrage in one verse and capturing the voice of the disenfranchised in another. He continues to inspire the disenfranchised around the world and has even been chosen by the Vatican, as someone who 'aimed to reach the heart of good minded people.'
He carried the conflict between community struggle and personal gain. He wrote the feminist elegy "Brenda's Got a Baby" and the abusive "Wonda Why They Call U Bitch."
His music is still the most requested on UK prison radio. Exploring the the complexity of Tupac's life and the contending identities that defined him, Al will ask what is it about Tupac's life that still resonates?
Producer: Barney Rowntree
A Tonic Production for BBC Radio 4.