BY ANDRES DIAZ
It has been 20 years since the death of Tupac Shakur and for some it is still a touchy subject. On May 2, we were once reminded again of his absence when his mother Afeni Shakur died in her Northern California home at the age of 69.
Though it feels as if with her death, our last connection with the rap legend has been severed, Afeni wasn’t just Tupac’s mother. She was a former Black Panther, political activist and a philanthropist. She also established a trust to guarantee that Tupac’s work would always be protected.
Which in return, Tupac’s fan embraced Afeni for her actions towards her son’s legacy. Throughout his career, Tupac shed light on the fact that his mother’s fostering and nurturing was a big inspiration in his music. In 1995, he released his single “Dear Mama”, the closest thing hip-hop has to a Mother’s Day anthem.
The song focuses on how Tupac and his mother had a complicated but loving relationship. He thanks her for all the love and consideration she gave to him even through the hard times:
“There are no words that can express how I feel
You never kept a secret, always stayed real
And I appreciate, how you raised me
And all the extra love that you gave me.”
Afeni reminds us that a mother’s love is forever. In 1997, she started the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation aimed at encouraging and empowering young people aspiring to work in the arts.
Afeni Shakur is an excellent example of the role mothers have taken in hip-hop culture. Her effort in maintaining Tupac’s work is not the only case that has taken place.
Voletta Wallace, mother of the Notorious BIG, launched the Christopher Wallace Memorial Foundation after he was shot dead in 1997. The organization provides scholarships and grants for students, and supplies schools and community centers with teaching materials.
It is not only the mothers of deceased hip-hop artists who have become to be known. Gloria Carter, Jay Z’s mother, in 2003 co-founded the Sean Carter Foundation. An organization that provides scholarships, college tours, and other programs to guide youth on a mission to higher education.
Drake has also mentioned that some of his songs have been inspired by his mother, Sandi Graham.
If it wasn’t for mothers, some of our favorite artists who have made a big impact on music would not exist. The death of Afeni Shakur is a true reminder that mothers will always have a special place in hip-hop culture.