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Tupac; Resurrection (2003)Tupac; Resurrection (2003)

In this documentary Tupac Shakur—gangsta rapper, movie star, rape convict, and murder victim—narrates the story of his own life and work. And what a work, with 36 million albums sold (most of them since his death in 1996 at the age of 25), and 150 songs still unrecorded. As I watched this film I moved through successive waves of fascination, even admiration, empathy, and then anger and revulsion. Born to a crack-addicted mom who was in prison when she was pregnant with Tupac, with no father around, Tupac insisted that he spoke for the many hopeless people he grew up with who were trapped in chronic unemployment, police brutality, hunger, poverty and racism. Just as the news media shocked viewers into the horrors of Vietnam with their gruesome images, so, Tupac insisted, he was only chronicling the ghetto "war zone" most Americans would otherwise never see: "All my songs deal with the pain I experienced in childhood." But you know you have big problems when your own community censures you, including the likes of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Dionne Warwick. With his trash-talking vulgarity, misogynist lyrics, and rage, Tupac made himself an easy target. In his better moments he admitted he was "young and dumb." In the end, you can only lament the self-destructive life and tragic death of an immensely talented artist.

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