It’s never been about hip hop.” –Kendrick Lamar
“Kanye West, on the other hand, has taken what was created by Tupac, and now he’s taking what was created by Tupac with him.” –Mark Ronson, The Ronson Album Review, The Ronson Project
“Kanye West is our generation’s Tupac.” –Kanye West, interview with Elle.
“Kanye West is the new Tupac,” proclaims a headline in The Los Angeles Times, before being corrected by the front page.
To say the least, this is an extraordinary story, with an unusual twist. The man credited with developing and releasing what might be called one of pop music’s more innovative genres is a man who was once accused of running a cult-like religion that turned a group of street kids into a musical force. He was once photographed in a robe and praying, standing in a crowd, flanked by two of the world’s most famous rap figures, Jay-Z and Nas. He was once arrested for punching a man so hard he broke his jaw. And now he’s standing in a crowd, surrounded by three rappers whose latest track combines hip-hop beats with West Africa rhythms.
It appears to be the latest chapter for West’s life and career. Here is the New York Times on the subject:
“In 1994, after three decades of silence, Tupac Shakur was released on probation and returned to prison. He spent 18 months inside, before he was pardoned by President Bill Clinton.”
By 2000, West had become one of the most recognized rap stars in the world, having released more than 100 albums, a successful television show and several movies. In 2001, he announced plans for a new album, a tribute to hip-hop’s first great figure, which featured “The Star-Spangled Banner”—and, with it, a brief but dramatic pause, as West began standing, looking around at the crowd, before returning to his song.
Soon after, a man named Charles Manson’s daughter, Lynette, began showing up at West’s concerts, and, for a while, the star began speaking directly to her — about music and the meaning behind the songs he’s singing. Lynette eventually turned up at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards, along with West’s wife and daughter, and was reportedly overheard talking to the man in the robe. “Kanye, you got to watch out for that chick named Lyn
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