Being an 80’s baby meant that I was a young teen when the hurricane that was Tupac Shakur was brewing over in the US. In fact hip hop was very much in its infancy as the gangster rap phase was taking a firm grip on the culture in the early to mid-90’s.
A mother of a Black Panther he was pretty much born in the trap. Rebellion was in his consciousness from the womb to the tomb. Arguably the best rapper to ever do it selling over 75 million records worldwide. His Death at the age of 25 is still shrouded in mystery and remains unsolved. A Biopic of his life has been long awaited and eagerly anticipated by his diehard fans and the wider hip hop community. Director Benny (Boom) Douglas who’s better known as an award winning video director completed this project after much a fair share of challenges including multiple lawsuits, a revolving door of writers /directors, and media scrutiny which ironically followed Tupac around during his short life.
The narrative is cleverly weaved from flashback perspectives from a 1995 interview from a time in Clinton Correctional Facility. We get to see his turbulent upbringing in East Harlem, New York. His mother Afeni Shakur who was part of the New York Panther 21, who were acquitted of 150 charges of “Conspiracy against the US government.” Harassment from the FBI ensues due to his mother’s strong links to the Black Panther Party, which finds him and his moving from New York to Baltimore then finally California.
The actor who plays Tupac is played by ‘Demetrius Shipp’ who has an uncanny resemblance to the man himself. Shipp skilfully builds his performance to mirror the trials and tribulations that Pac faces from an altercation with two off duty police officers to the fatal shooting of a 6 year caught in a cross fire of a scuffle between Pac’s entourage and some local rivals. Anguish is etched across his face in the court scene as the Judge reins down his verdict for his Sexual Assault charge.
Afeni Shakur is played powerful poise by ‘Danai Gurira’. Fresh off her role from the sensational TV show ‘The Walking Dead’. Afeni’s depiction by Danai is the foundation of this impressive movie. Challenging her children from day one and instilling a self-love and determinism that Tupac heads and embodies which elevate him to superstar epic proportions. This should be the movie which propels Danai’s career into the stratosphere. You really feel the connection between mother and son. The fear she has for his life is palpable and proves to be prophetic in the end.
The ultimate critique of this flick is that is doesn’t delve deep enough into the very crevices of Pac’s character. Its massive feat to accomplish whilst visiting most of the pivotal events of action packed life. The relationship he has with Biggie Smalls another Iconic New York rapper who died before his time is given admirable screen time. The whole West coast, East coast feud is carefully handled and again you’re thrown back into the conspiracy theories that they then evoke.
Tupac monster hits like “Brenda’s Got A Baby”, “California Love” & “To Live & Die In LA” are beautifully recreated within the storyline and really gives you the sense of Nostalgia.
“All Eyez On Me” is admirable retelling of the barn storming life of Tupac Shakur, warts and all. If you love hip hop you watch this movie without thinking twice.
Editor: Adrian Richard