He Got Around: Tupac & the Fierce Women in His Life
It was no secret that Tupac was a casanova of sorts. Outside of his day-to-day entourage, he had an adoring fan base of women, which combined his status as a popular and an influential emcee with a status as a sex symbol.
Although clunky and sometimes confusing, Tupac's 2017 biopic "All Eyez on Me" chronicled his life and the major moments that resulted in some of his most popular and influential singles. Songs like "Dear Mama" and "Keep Your Head Up" highlighted women in his personal life who helped him grow into the man he was. Simultaneously, however, the songs stood as his response to older generation of women who critiqued his views of women embedded in his lyrics. From Madonna to Rosie Perez, Shakur was with and rumored to be with multiple famous and infamous women throughout his career.
In "All Eyez on Me" his relationship with his mother Afeni Shakur, best friend Jada Pinkett Smith and fiancé Kidada Jones is highlighted. Although he undoubtedly had more women in and out of his life, these three were the most prominent.
The song "Dear Mama" along with where it was placed in the movie (after Shakur's conviction of sexual abuse in February 1995) pinpointed Tupac's relationship with his mother Afeni. Although the mother and son duo did not always see eye to eye, Tupac acknowledged the struggles and obstacles that his mother endured to provide both him and his younger sister, Set, with the best life possible.
"Keep Ya Head Up", released in 1993, gifted both hip-hop and pop culture with one of its most prominent lines: "The blacker the berry the sweeter the juice." It also provided the public with a behind-the-scenes look into how Tupac appreciated the women in his life. Throughout his career, women made up almost half-of his fan-base and propelled his career forward. However, some of his lyrics were considered incredibly misogynistic and demeaning towards women. "Keep Ya Head Up" was an answer to his critics.
In an unreleased interview with radio DJ Angie Martinez in 1995, Tupac discussed the difference between "women" and "b******".
Although this women vs. b******* topic wasn't and still isn't very enlightening, it was a striking look into his thought process at the time.
However, this did not keep, Shakur from appreciating both his best friend Jada Pinkett Smith and fiancé Kidada Jones. In several interviews about the late rapper, Smith mentioned her love for him and how their friendship was passionate as it was hilarious.
Kidada Jones on several occasions referred to Shakur as the "love of her life," albeit, their relationship had a rocky start. Shakur said several nasty things about Jones' famous father Quincy Jones in a 1993 Source Magazine interview which insulted the family and provoked an equally biting response from the youngest Jones daughter, Rashida. Eventually, Shakur apologized and they began dating.
Although "All Eyez on Me" was not necessarily a commercial success, it gave a window to how one of the most influential rappers of our time was also a generous and loving individual of Black women. Tupac Shakur, although not perfect, was one of a handful of rappers, in a short amount of time, to appreciate black women not only through his actions, but through his lyrics as well.