RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Tuesday, May 15

EWA100 - #47. 2Pac - Keep Ya Head Up

47. 2Pac - Keep Ya Head Up (Interscope. 1993. From the LP Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.)

Raven Mack: Tupac is one of those guys who has reached legendary status within the rapping world, but more for his overall effect as opposed to individual tracks. I think this is one of the few singles he did you could consider being a monster jam, at least while he was for real alive, and not just fake Bigfoot Elvis alive. And I'm not much of a Tupac fan, as his style, though pretty melodic and always sounding as if it was double-tracked, becomes far too repetitive, which I guess is normal if you're doing like three songs a day or whatever ridiculous shit he was supposedly doing which has allowed there to be a Tupac-CD-of-the-Month Club ever since he died over a decade ago.
But for as much as Tupac underwhelmed me, I love this song. I don't care about any of that "he's a hypocrite for doing this song but sodomy raping some chick" argument, because this is a great great positive song, and the beat is ridiculously awesome - one of those beats I could play for hours while doing monotonous stupid work-a-day chores and get lost in my mind to forget how I waste the hours of my physical existence chasing dollars. I also don't understand the whole forcible sodomy thing always because the best line of defense for the victim seems to be, literally, right in front of your face.
But fuck all that seriousness. This song is about women and how a man is telling them to hold their head up and be strong, and it's empowering for women to hear this, but also serves the purpose of making the man seem like he's down with the most important aspects of feminism, like simple respect and washing the dishes once in a while and cunninglingus. These things are important to women. And when you show you are hip to these things, but not some poetry-writing, flute-playing, deflated-testosterone of a man, but an actual strong physical presence of a man with a twinkly-eyed smile who can kick an actual ass but still be down with the aforementioned simple respect and dishes and clitoris nibbling, then you are mad in. It is in our deeply buried DNA that dudes want to kick ass and have great sex and women want to take care of kids and keep things straight and in order, and that's how it is. But we've got brains that write books about studying brains, so we make up all these different justifications for how all sorts of unnecessary shit like gay marriage and women Presidents and satellite warheads and chunks of cement shaped in honor of dead soldiers are really necessary for us to be human in 2007. You know that shit, when someone acts all incredulous about something in the news, saying "I can't believe we're still dealing with this in 2007," as if the calendar turning another page means all of a sudden stupid-assed humans aren't stupid-assed humans.
So yeah, this song is the greatest thing Tupac ever did, and if there had been more of this Tupac instead of the gangsta pulling his shirt up to show off his THUG LIFE tattoo Tupac, maybe when I went to the flea market, instead of the framed pic of Biggie and Pac with a gun and fake $100 bills inside, there'd be the velvet paintings of a praying Tupac looking all Jesus-like that I've always wanted to own to be able to hang on my wall next to my Willie Nelson velvet painting and my crop art portrait of Socrates.

Mike Dikk: I don’t like writing about Tupac. I don’t even like talking about Tupac. He’s on my list of Things I’d Rather Not Discuss along with: Pantera, The Boston Red Sox, Meatloaf (the guy AND the food) and The Golden Girls. In fact, I got up and cleaned my apartment to put off writing this entry for a few hours.
Tupac is a guy that benefited from dying before everyone had the internet. I find it hard to believe in this fickle internet world, that Tupac’s legend status would have held up. The internet is all about deconstructing shit and making it lame, and Tupac has a LOT to deconstruct, mainly the fact that he changed personas almost as often as Madonna.
“Keep Your Head Up” was fortunately recorded during Tupac’s Conscious Rapper period - the only real period I can tolerate. I’m not necessarily bent out of shape because the guy was more a character than real person. I understand that music is nothing more than entertainment and you have to revamp your image in order to continue making money. What really bothers me is that he pulled that Gangsta shit and everyone just assumed Tupac had secretly been a Compton G his whole life despite living on the East Coast and going to ballet school or whatever fancy art shit he did when he was young. By the time Tupac was a gangsta, he was more Bishop from Juice channeled through Eazy-E’s AIDS-infected penis more than he was the real life Tupac Shakur. The most hilarious part of it is that he had no prior arrests until taking on this gimmick. That is fucking ridiculous, and I guess somewhat commendable that you would want to live your gimmick so much to the point of getting in trouble with the law to sell it.
I feel like I’m leading a one man hate parade right now, so I should say some positive things. I DO like this song, despite not liking Tupac as a person. I also think Tupac was the most poetic rapper that ever lived. I don’t particularly like poetry, and his real basic and redundant flow kind of took away from his more poetic lyrics, but honestly, if Tupac wasn’t a rapper he could have easily been some poet that nerds study in nerd poetry school. That’s what pisses me off about all these dudes who want to be Tupac. They steal the flow, but they don’t have the lyrics or talent to back it up. It’s probably why it was so easy for Tupac to record 18 songs a day and have 36,000 songs in the vault before his death. This dude was on some serious (insert famous poet name here... Robert Frost maybe) shit whether he knew it or not. Plus, I seriously doubt writing about shooting imaginary people and being an imaginary thug would be that hard for someone with that kind of gift. I’ve never listened to any Tupac A.D. material, but I assume there are more “California Thugg Ridaz” type songs as opposed to "Keep Ya Head Up"s. Writing that kind of content was probably as easy as taking a shit for him, and why bother challenging yourself from beyond the grave if you successfully dumbed down your music while you were still breathing?

Download: 2Pac - Keep Ya Head Up

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