Afeni Shakur
Hip-Hop News: Afeni Talks Upcoming Tupac Projects and More
"If my son was alive, I wouldn't be doing this. My son took care of all of his business, all of our business. So the fact that I'm here doing this every day that I do this, I know that my baby ain't here."
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Posted by Robert
Rap News Network
11/12/2003 12:12:56 PM

Tags and topics realted to this article include 2Pac and Afeni Shakur.

Afeni Shakur, the 56-year-old mother of the late rapper Tupac Shakur (news), does not fit the image of a savvy record executive.

 

She lives on a farm in North Carolina. She prefers to spend her time overseeing her garden, attending to her grandchildren and taking naps. Yet Shakur is the executive producer of the new documentary "Tupac: Resurrection," as well as founder and CEO of Amaru Entertainment/Amaru Records, which has released several million-selling Tupac albums.

"I'm not a filmmaker. I'm not a music producer by choice," Shakur says plainly, wearing a velour sweatsuit during an interview in a New York hotel suite. "Whatever it is I'm doing I do because my son was murdered, and he was not able to complete his work. So as his mother, my whole job and responsibility is to see to it that that happens for him, and I do that with love."

Yet as Shakur talks about upcoming projects, soon-to-be completed deals and other tasks, it's clear she's much more than just a grieving mother.

"I read every agreement of every contract. Anything I put my signature on, I really do read them. And I find things," says the former Black Panther, laughing about an incident where a company tried to get paid for a photograph they hadn't even taken.

They didn't get away with it — Shakur, noticing something amiss, had the situation investigated and the proper person credited.

But savvy? Please, she says.

"That's not savvy — that's your mama. That's how your mama does it as opposed to how they do it," she says.

Certainly, that motherly instinct has helped keep Tupac's name and legacy vibrant in the seven years since Tupac Amaru Shakur died, gunned down on a Las Vegas street corner at age 25.

Tupac was already one of rap's greatest talents — and certainly its most dynamic, charismatic and controversial figure — when he was killed. But since his unsolved 1996 slaying, Tupac's allure and mystique have grown exponentially.

"Tupac: Resurrection" is just the latest example of Shakur's star power after death. The film is being released in conjunction with a picture book and a soundtrack featuring new Tupac material.

Although there have been several documentaries produced on her son's life, this is the first to have a major theatrical release.

"I think from the time it's released, it will always be the reference material that anybody uses about Tupac," his mother says. "And that's because this is a documentary feature film that has Tupac talking about Tupac."

Indeed, the most remarkable aspect of the movie is that the slain rapper serves as narrator of his own short life. Filmmakers created this eerie effect by poring over more than 40 interviews, then splicing them together to create one seamless narrative.

"It was just very important for the story to be told in his own words," says Sue Pelino, rerecording engineer for the film, who spent a year editing the interviews. "The only way it could have been better if he had been sitting there next to us."

Although Shakur oversaw the content of the film, it isn't a glowing tribute. It deals frankly with the many controversies that made Tupac such a contradictory figure. For example, he talks about his deep respect for women, then defends himself against sex abuse allegations that would send him to prison. He promotes themes of black power, yet later appears frustrated and overwhelmed by the idea of being a role model.

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