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DOUG STUBBLEFIELD

Television production assistant, West Hollywood

Tupac was known as a thug, and sooner or later that catches up with you. If you live that lifestyle--[angering] people through lyrics and behavior--it catches up with you. It’s a karma thing. I think it was terrible because it seems like he turned himself around. He said he wanted to be the John Wayne of the ‘90s and I think he had the potential to be just that, because he was a very talented guy.

When I heard Kurt Cobain died, it didn’t affect me that much. I felt much worse when Tupac died. I think Cobain had a lot of problems and he took the easy way out. Kurt Cobain’s fans didn’t go out and try to kill themselves after he did, so I don’t think Tupac’s fans will be more attracted to the thug life.

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BRANDON WEST

Windsor Hills, clothing salesman

I don’t think I’ve ever felt so bad about the death of an entertainer. I wasn’t the biggest Tupac fan--in fact I would off every Tupac song that came on the radio--but it just hit me. Tupac was a vibrant kind of person.

When Kurt Cobain died it was portrayed as “Oh, God! Another legend passes on,” like a Jimi Hendrix type of thing. I liked Kurt Cobain, but this man was a heroin addict and he shot himself. Tupac did his dirt, but his life was taken and there is a definite, obvious difference. People are really acting like Tupac deserved it. I think that’s because people were really offended by the things Tupac said.

They were afraid of his words, the harsh reality in his music.

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DORAL FIELDS

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Los Angeles, counterman (“barista”) at a coffeehouse

I figure Tupac’s murder reflected his life. He portrayed the thug mentality, the thug lifestyle, and he acquired a lot of thug friends. I consider it stupidity.

But when I found out he was dead, I took it real personally. A martyr is a person who dies for his people or a cause. He did die for his cause. Not for our cause, necessarily, but he did die for his cause.

When Kurt Cobain died, the news had him plastered everywhere, all kinds of stories. Tupac dies, and they barely even show him. The media’s so corrupt. Cobain was a very sick man. I had more empathy for Tupac.

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In my view, gangster rap has been embraced because it’s black and it’s cool. I’m not a big listener of gangster rap, although I do listen to Ice Cube’s “Death Certificate” religiously.

The East Coast versus West Coast thing was a gimmick to make money. [Artists and record companies] realize that there’s a market for rivalries. People like to buy the raps and hear who’s gonna say what next.

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CRISTAL BROWN

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Senior, Fairfax High School, Los Angeles

Tupac deserved his success. He wrote and rapped and hustled all his life. I loved his music. I know all his songs by heart. It was inspirational to me because when I was growing up, my brothers were like Tupac. He knew how to express himself and what he went through. Not everybody can do that.

Some people write stupid stuff like, “I was walkin’ down the street and I saw a bank. Well, my name is Hank.” Tupac spoke from his heart, his experience and from what was real. I loved Tupac.

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VINCENT HO

Senior, Fairfax High School, Hollywood

Basically I have two feelings about Tupac’s death. First of all, I find it sad that an African American man who had so many problems died without resolving them. I would understand if it was a revered man who was educated and had died. Tupac died without resolving a struggle in his life.

Also, his death should show a lot of people who listen to his music that gun violence is wrong. Because of his popularity, I think it’s a chance to say, “Tupac died, so we should all stop using guns.”

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Rappers basically have the same message. They say the East Coast is more hip hop, but if you listen to Wu Tang Clan or someone like that and put a West Coast beat behind it, it’s the same thing.


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