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Gone but not forgotten: Columbus emcees celebrate Tupac Shakur's 40th birthday

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In 1994, Tupac Shakur famously posed the question of "How Long Will They Mourn Me?" on Thug Life's Thug Life: Volume 1. The answer to that question is fifteen years and counting. It's technically been fourteen years and nine months, since 2Pac's passing on September 13, 1996 but that hasn't stopped anyone from celebrating his music, life and legacy. Conspiracy theories aside, if 2Pac was still alive, this past Thursday would have marked his 40th birthday and many in the global hip-hop community saw fit to mark the occasion with memorial parties.

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In the City of Columbus, Club Chi was the place to be as several Columbus-based acts paid tribute to the fallen artist who captivated audiences with performances in films like Juice and Poetic Justice and entertained and inspired millions of others with songs like "Trapped," "Brenda's Got A Baby," "I Get Around," Me Against The World," "Dear Mama," "It Ain't Easy," "Str8 Ballin'" and "I Ain't Mad At Cha" among many, many others.

The show was hosted by Te'Mo and Wallabe while DJ Dommy Styles held down the turntables, almost exclusively spinning tunes from the vast 2Pac catalog of hits. To top things off, the bartenders even served up 2Pac's signature drink: Thug Passion. The tribute performance lineup included the likes of Lil Roc & Thunda, Big Bro GT, Te'Mo, Wallabe, Young Kutty, Hot Handz, Demari, Hodgie Street, Rikk Reighn, Young Sav and Unruly Records. As the crowd continued to file into the venue, patrons rapped along with "Temptations" from the Me Against The World album and the classic 2Pac & Notorious B.I.G. freestyle battle (which also featured Big Daddy Kane and Shyheim). Vintage 2Pac video clips could be seen on the flatscreen televisions that were mounted above the bar.

With the very recent developments that have come about pertaining to Jimmy Henchman and his involvement in 2Pac's 1994 shooting, it's easy to sit back and wonder about how things could have gone differently if the information would have been available years ago. Unfortunately we'll never be able to find out.

After the sound check, the performances got underway with Young Sav who hit the stage with his rendition of "Against All Odds" before getting into his original material. Hot Handz followed and opted to stick to Pac recordings, getting a rise from the crowd with "R U Still Down," "Keep Your Head Up," "I Wonder If Heaven Got A Ghetto" and Scarface's "Smile." Big Bro GT made his presence known with "This Life I Lead," "Rather Be Ya N*gga," and "Never Had A Friend Like Me," which he dedicated to a friend. In a metallic grey Ohio State jacket, Hodgie Street performed "Life Goes On" prior to jumping into his own songs. With DJ Hylyte backing him up, Rikk Reighn performed "Hail Mary" and then a few of his own tracks. Reighn has a mixtape, Bytch I'm Lokal slated for release in July.

In addition to their own songs, Wallabe and Young Kutty performed "Death Around The Corner" and "Brenda's Got A Baby," respectively. Following an intermission, the crowd had a five second moment of silence for Tupac Shakur before the final batch of performances from Lil Roc & Thunda, Demari and Te'Mo with "Breathin'," "Pour Out A Little Liquor" and "I Get Around." After their rendition of "No More Pain," the crew from Unruly Records went into a medley of their songs.

By the end of the night, even the most insatiable 2Pac fans appeared to be pleased with the festivities. In the VIP section there was a birthday cake that had been thoroughly devoured. The only thing that could have topped it all would have been an appearance from the man himself.

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