Grade A Certified

Tupac vs. The F.B.I.

Posted by J. Tinsley on June 18, 2010

One of my favorite pictures of all time. For various reasons.

When Tyrell asked me the other day about why I hadn’t penned a Tupac dedication for his birthday, the answer was simple. Over the years, countless articles towards the most controversial artist ever have been created on my part. His birthday. The day he passed. Random days. It comes a point in time when another Pac  tribute on my behalf becomes cliche’. No disrespect and I miss the dude like I actually knew him, but buddy has been dead for well over a decade. Will I ever lose appreciation for his music? Not in a million years, but it’s only so many ways to express what Pac meant to my matriculation as a lover of Hip-Hop.

He was such a polarizing figure that attempting sum it up in one article is unfair. Unfair to the writer and unfair to the young man Afeni cultivated in prison. One thing people fail to realize was his impact. His impact on society was probably more apparent than any artist who ever lived. By 1992, he had the Vice President (Dan Quayle) referring to his music and soon after found himself labeled “public enemy #1.” He spoke his mind and people listened. They hung on to every word. This type of control was the exact reason John Potash believes the FBI tried on numerous times to undermine his influence on Black America.

“What I think it was was that he had become the most influential black man in the black community in the country,” Potash told The Baltimore City Paper. “The CIA and U.S. intelligence, what they have to do is win the hearts and minds of the people. They don’t want to control us by force, they want us to control ourselves by having us believe in a certain way–that we don’t need national health care, for example. And here, Tupac was threatening to win over the hearts and minds of people, he was able to counter so much of the propaganda in the black community.”

The FBI War on Tupac Shakur took ten years to research, utilizing court testimony, FBI documents and a number of previously unseen documents provided by The Black Panthers to Potash.

Now how true all of it is, I have no clue. That said, there probably is some validity. Hell, maybe even a lot. Pac always had a political mindset and was never afraid to speak on what he perceived to be injustices. Hindsight is always 20/20, but I’ve long felt his worst career move was signing to Death Row. He was stuck between a rock and a hard place – accept Death Row’s offer to bail him out of prison or stay there until 1999. The Death Row Pac was prolific (his work ethic is unquestioned), but he was just as paranoid as well.

Listen to the music that he released around that time. He spoke about death and he spoke about it almost as if he knew his days were numbered. Listen to his interviews, you can hear the frantic nature in his voice and the rumors of him being unhappy on the label still circulate to this day. If I remember correctly, he was signed to Death Row for three (or four) albums – which he satisfied with All Eyez On Me (double disc) and The Seven Day Theory. However, according to Potash’s book, Death Row was apart of the reason for his eventual downfall.

“I believe that Death Row Records, which included dozens and dozens of police officers at all levels, according to a high-level police officer that investigated them, was a front company and was trying to continue penal coercion and mess up [Tupac Shakur’s] head,” Potash said.

What actually happened during those days, none of us will ever really know regardless of how much research is performed. The person who actually lived it passed away nearly 15 years ago (time flies, especially in the days of the Internet).  God-willing when I make it to heaven, that’ll be one question I ask. The story of Tupac Shakur will probably never really have a close though. Like the music, his life was so complex. So layered that the intrigue to get inside the mind of one of the most powerful artists ever will never lose its luster. Anyway, I’m rambling and doing exactly what I said couldn’t be done – attempting to summarize Pac in one article.

But, yeah, Happy Belated, big dog. Pour out a lil’ liquor.


One Response to “Tupac vs. The F.B.I.”

  1. what is a wedgie…

    […]Tupac vs. The F.B.I. « Grade A Certified[…]…

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