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“For anyone who is serious about learning about hip hop, there are certain people whose music you have to deal with and Tupac is one of those people. You can’t say you are knowledgeable about hip hop if you don’t know about Tupac,” said Todd Boyd, professor of cinema and media studies at the University of Southern California. Boyd was one of the academics who first created the study of hip hop culture in the American university system in the early 1990s when it was often demonised by politicians for promoting violence and misogyny. He said Shakur had an emotional energy that distinguished him from many of his contemporaries and transcended his skills as a rapper or a lyricist. “When you listen to Tupac, you feel something. He has a strong emotional impact that I think speaks to the fact that here was a guy who, in my mind, was going perhaps to be a better actor than rapper, had he lived,” Boyd said. Shakur’s “appearance” in a hologram at the Coachella music festival in 2012 sent sales of his music soaring. He has also been the subject of several documentaries, a Broadway play, a June movie release, All Eyez on Me, and an upcoming TV series on Shakur and his friend-turned-rival Biggie Smalls. “Everybody loves a mystery. That’s a huge part of the mythos that surrounds his death, that it’s unsolved,” said Richard “RJ” Bond, who in March released Tupac Assassination: The Battle for Compton, his fifth documentary about Shakur.
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