Synopses & Reviews
The life and work of rap pioneer Tupac Shakur, put in context by a noted cultural critic
-- Shakur died in September 1996 from wounds suffered in a shooting off the Las Vegas Strip
-- Shakur's fourth solo album, "All Eyez on Me", debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's album chart and has sold 6 million copies to date
Tupac Shakur has been deified as a Renaissance man in gangsta rags. This son of a Black Panther activist was equally at home on movie screens and music stages, playing prominent roles in Juice and Poetic Justice and putting West Coast rap on the musical map as part of the seminal hiphop group Digital Underground. Shakur's greatest commercial success came when he went solo. Paralleling his fame were a series of court and jail appearances and physical attacks on the rapper that ended when he was gunned down on a Las Vegas street.
Controversial critic Armond White tries to make sense of Shakur's life and death in Rebel for the Hell of It, the first full-length biography of the rapper. He details each crucial step in Shakur's development -- from his early exposure to racism and strategies of resistance, to his study of drama "in preparation for a life of projecting and romanticizing", to his move from New York to the West Coast and innovative work with early hiphop culture and music.
This is far from a simple fan book, however. White looks at larger issues of rap and ghetto culture, exploitation by the music industry, self-destructiveness, and the black struggle for self-expression, a struggle that, in the author's eyes, the self-deluded Tupac failed to further.
Includes discography (p. 209-211), filmography (p. 211), and index.
The ever-controversial Shakur offers a great occasion for a close, passionate reading of rap and ghetto culture. White's understanding of Tupac's art will uncork the bottled up rage and confusion that attends the way hip-hop culture is produced and received. Rebel details each step in Shakur's development, from his early exposure to racism and political activism to his move from New York to the West Coast and his innovative work with early hip hop culture and music. Through connections drawn between Shakur and Public Enemy, Notorious B.I.G., Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, and Sister Souljah, White examines Shakur's life as a prism for the hip-hop world. Photographs, a useful chronology of important dates in the life of Shakur, and an updated discography and filmography of his career as a rapper and actor are included. "Talk about diversity, talk about identity, talk about iconsand#151;White's in-depth look at Tupac Shakur talks about all of 'em."and#151;Booklist "White has written a nuanced, expansive and impassioned study of the life and art of Tupac Shakur."and#151;Tyrone Williams, Metro Times Literary Quarterly "Rebel ... is a means of analyzing the rage, fatalism and rootlessness of the contemporary rap scene."and#151;Select Magazine