What I Learned from 2Pac’s Letter to Sistah Souljah

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What do we really know about 2Pac? Or what do we really know about ourselves? Human beings are layered; What’s on the surface doesn’t always represent the furnishings of our inner core. Seeking and finding information on my own is the only good that came from seeing the lackluster All Eyez on Me film. We tend to make the dead bigger than life, more myth than meaningful. Some tended to focus on Pac’s thug activities and his penchant for “riding on his enemies” totally negating the negative energy that it drew to him. Others believed him to be a leader, a voice of the voiceless, a poet in word and action but it seems that those that knew him intimately, understood that his Gemini ways placed each of his feet on both sides of the fence. We had a man that never caught footing on balanced ground.

During much of 1995, Tupac Amaru Shakur spent the year incarcerated. Not only was he in jail protesting his innocence, he also had been shot 5 times in an attempted robbery  (set-up!) in November 1994 in the lobby of Quad Studios in NYC. That’s a lot for a then 24 year old man to ingest. He wrote many letters to friends and family during this time but my favorite is his correspondence with Sistah Souljah. For those that don’t know, Sistah Souljah was an emcee and activist in the early 90s that also found prominence as an author with her memoir, No Disrespect (the book that Pac refers to in his correspondence) and The Coldest Winter Ever, a “hood classic”. In his letter, Pac discusses his admiration for Souljah, screenplays that he’s worked on during his incarceration, being a victim of the Quad Studios shooting, the rape charges and relationships.

“Now back to me controlling my sexual desires. Now be honest, as a woman, how could you love a man that couldn’t satisfy you? Since men are born totally inept sexually we only learn how 2 please a woman from pleasing a woman. So as rotten as it seems practice makes perfect. Every woman I have been with has not only taken what I learned from the last woman but taught me and prepared me for the next and since I am not married and yet to find the perfect woman you described I am forever in search of her. I have been with many married women from wives of powerful drug lords to the wives of broke everyday Joes to the wives of quite a few very famous and rich singers/actors and seeing their wives hungry for someone else has shown me that only by being able to completely satisfy a woman in every way, shape, and form can I truly find a happy and trusting faithful relationship.”

Yesterday afternoon, while on the phone with my best friend Chris, we discussed our experiences and since he’s now married, it’s interesting to hear how our perspectives on love and relationships have changed over the years. I mentioned this passage from Pac’s letter and we both found ourselves in awe of how relatable this was. As a single man, this hits me each time that I read it because I found myself in similar positions throughout my romantic life.  I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I’ve been with married women or anyone associated to a “powerful drug lord” (my lack of street credentials would set me up for the worst fail!) but I know what it’s like to be in those kinds of spaces. There are some guys that view it as some sort of badge to strengthen their machismo to be with women that are spoken for but there are some connections that run deeper than the given appearance. We are all in search of something. There’s a percentage of the population in need of “perfection” while others are content with whatever allows them to be satisfied in every sense. Everybody wants to happy just asked Mary J. Blige.

When we inflate our icons and place them upon golden corinthian pillars of fame, we rob them of their humanity. Of all of the rappers in Pac’s era, I’ve witnessed none express themselves like he has with in his series of prison letters . Some of the writing had much of the anti-Bad Boy jargon that he would mercilessly unleash upon his release from jail, but I paid no attention to that. I put more focus into the human side of his world which makes for greater conversation and presents better opportunities of reflection.

“Okay there’s that chapter where you were contemplating sharing this man with another woman. I’m in that position now. I love one woman (A) because she’s dependable, loving, supportive, and she’s young and open to me guiding her through this crazy life (Who am I 2 guide?) Anyway woman “A” is from the streets and that’s all she knows but I can see and feel how much she loves me. Woman “B” on the other hand is famous, rich, and able to assist me financially, loving, and very sexual. She’s known me since before I got into the business and she’s been there from the jump. However, she’s bisexual and so into her career that we don’t have much time together. So I’m literally torn between an old friend who went from being of a platonic nature to a potential wife and a new friend who has been there through the whole gunshot/rape/near death experience. I have rejected them both but then reconsidered and got ’em both back. They know of the other and I have tried to make it work as a threesome. Not sexually but commitment wise. Had I not read your book I would have continued living and juggling with all of these other women but between them both I completely satisfied. I’ve always felt that when I love someone it is so intense that I drive them away but with “A” and “B” it evens everything out. I can satisfy both of them and not because I’m a “Supermanlove” but because I truly love them both and the intensity and passion I feel for them keeps me driven to please them. Can u feel me?”

I would’ve never have thought in a million years that I’d be getting advice on love rather an insight into managing love triangles from 2Pac. I mean after all, he would create anthems for women’s welfare (“Keep Your Head Up”) and then would all the way left (“Wonder Why They Call U Bitch”) throughout his ephemeral career. But that’s the thing about humanity; it’s the ability to understand that you won’t be one way all of the time. People change and that’s due to our experiences and the environments in which we live. Like I said, I’ve been in Pac’s place before but I couldn’t articulate it like he could during my moments of confusion. If All Eyez On Me had a bit of the reality versus attempting to placate the masses of overzealous Pac fans, we would’ve had a greater, more well rounded film.

Read the entire letter here

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