The legacy of Tupac Shakur lives on.
In honor of what would've been the rapper and actor's 49th birthday today, we're looking back at Tupac's very first sit-down with E! in 1992. While promoting the cult classic Juice, the late star made several observations about topics that are still relevant today, from police brutality to systemic racism—the latter of which he refused to let prevent him from becoming an actor.
"When I was in the school for the arts in Baltimore, all they told me was there's no work for black actors," Tupac recalled.
He soon moved to California to pursue acting and music. There, he landed his role in Juice after a chance audition.The film tells the stories of four young Black men growing up amid gang violence in Harlem.
"The film is talking about very real problems that are happening today," he told E! "Whether we talk about them or not, whether we have a film about them or not, they're gonna happen...But it's not Ernest Dickerson's Juice that makes people go and fight."
Tupac continued, "It doesn't take a 20-year-old young Black man to tell the world to get off this violence at the theater thing. It's a double standard because every movie that's out today, there's a gun and nobody notices that except when it happens with a Black film. Nobody recognizes the red and the blue in the poster unless it's a Black film."
He went on to address a specific sort of violence—one that occurs by the hand of the police.
"Like Rodney King. Really, it's happened to me," Tupac alleges. "The police beat me up in the middle of the street for no reason—just simply because I cursed at them. 'Cause they were harassing me. And I cursed at them. Then they beat me up."
Instead of responding with violence against the police in real-life, Tupac explained that he did so with his music.
"In my rhymes, it vents that anger because I can fire back at the police and I won't go to jail for life," Tupac expressed. "My music, and a lot of this music, it's only talking about the oppressed rising up against the oppressor."
He continued, "It happens in the streets but us rapping about is not the violence. And a movie about it is not the violence. It's an adventure world that we are creating. What we're doing is using our brain to get out of the ghetto. Any way we can. So we tell these stories. And they tend to be violent because our world tends to be filled with violence."
Ultimately, Tupac said he wanted to be "a true role model," which meant showing the world his "faults."
"I only want karma. I only want what's mine, what's meant for me to have. I'm happy with what I've done thus far," Tupac told E!, adding, "I don't want for me; I want for my people. I want for young black males."
Watch the complete interview in the above clip.
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