A review of “Tupac, Resurrection” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ***

Rating: R for language, violence, sex, drug use

Run Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

 

 

Tupac Shakur is the controversial gift that keeps on giving.  Since his untimely death from a bullet wound in 1996, the divisive rapper has become a global icon, inspiring books, poetry, films and records.

Shakur was born in New York City but grew up hard on the streets of Oakland. He was trained in the arts – ballet, literature, theatre – and inherited a stubborn pride from his Black Panther mother Afeni Shakur.  As a member of the group Digital Underground, Shakur metamorphosed into a “gangsta rap” wizard.  He drew rave reviews for his performances in “Juice” and “Poetic Justice”.  The man had it all.

Never one to shy away from speaking his mind, this charismatic leader became an icon of radical chic.  Between jail terms for assault and battery and sexual assault, Tupac released angry recordings (“2Pacalypse Now”, “All Eyez on Me”) rife with explicit lyrics about cop-killing, sexual exploits and misogyny.

With one foot in the gutter and the other planted firmly in a world of fame and fortune, Tupac was a conflicted soul whose songs were a battle cry to America.  Was he a menace or a martyr?  A poster child for egalitarian rap or a heinously gargantuan ego let loose on the industry?

“Tupac”s documentary style is loosely based on last year’s Robert Evans tell-all “The Kid Stays in the Picture”.  TV clips, old photographs (given the 3-D treatment), music video and a smooth Tupac voice-over are infused with a snappy energy and impending doom. 

I have a grudging admiration for Tupac’s cause; his sensitive warrior stance and me-against-the-world obstinacy.  “Tupac” skims the worst of the violence and the legal altercations, but allows its subject’s fury over the injustice of it all (“Stop trying to beat us down!”) to flow freely. An unfortunately cheesy climax suggests that Tupac continues to ply his trade from the heavens.

Valentine or propaganda?  No matter how you swing it, “Tupac” is an energetic introduction to the Godfather of Gangsta.