The 90′s seemed to be shaped by the historic domination of a young musical experience known simply as Hip Hop. From movies, television shows to radio air play Hip Hop can boast it was center stage in it all. What began as an expressive opportunity for inner city youth in New York blossomed into a full blown movement by mid 1990. And right in the throw of things was rapper turned activist Tupac Shakur; otherwise known as 2Pac. Born in 1971 to parents involved in controversial civil rights movements, Shakur seemed to fit into the model of a person totally rebellious of the status quo of society. He not only moved crowds, but with a crude urban vernacular reported what it felt like to be the community’s outcasts. As well 2Pac revealed the struggles of growing up with a mother addicted to drugs and constant despair from your surroundings. It was raw, but it was also very real.
This is why the world fell in love with him. Then in February 1996 Shakur released All Eyez On Me, what is held as one of rap’s most influential albums of all times. Considered the quintessential blue print for what Hip Hop is all about. Certified platinum five times over in just two months, and would eventually go on to sell in excess of 20 million; currently All Eyez On Me is a classic. What I recently discovered however is the wisdom in this legendary body of work. Behind the rough rap moniker, Shakur was known also for his poetry and passion for community development. This constructed a brand that lives on today. Hidden in his brief span of sharing with us is a plan for building a brand that can influence long after you are gone:
Don’t stop until you breakthrough: It’s funny how people view what they consider an overnight success. What they do not see is the hours of preparation and behind the scenes labor that it really takes. All Eyez On Me was Shakur’s fourth studio album. Until this one, he was considered only marginally ‘mainstream’. This CD remained on Billboard’s top 10 so long it broke records. What I learned is that it does not matter how long it takes, or how much follow up I have to do, success is just around the corner.
True success requires collaborations: If you think you are going to make it by yourself you are crazy! That just doesn’t happen. It takes a specific circle of people to network their skill sets with. Until you connect with others, you will never know the magic of synergy. 2Pac made sure on his fourth album endeavor to maximize the collaborations of heavy hitters like Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg and George Clinton. Who knows how well it would have done without the addition of these artists? If you want to win games, go alone. If you want to win championships go with a team.
You need short term memory loss for your failures: What many didn’t know about All Eyez On Me at the time was that Tupac had to be bailed out of jail to make it. Legal issues stemming from a previous charge found Shakur sitting in jai. Shakur found himself in jail anxious to make music and a business associate, Suge Knight created a contract outlining for his release; Shakur would deliver three albums under Knight’s record label. This means Shakur was literally rapping for his life and freedom. If you and I will be successful, we will need to wash our minds from the previous season’s failures and get on with our passions.
Long after Shakur was murdered in Las Vegas, his potent and controversially charged lyrics continue to spark the hip hop domination. Whether you are a fan or not, his name, influence and presence has crossed your path. Like many other personalities from history, there are lessons for life and successes to be gleaned from his career. He obviously was on to something, because nearly 18 years after his untimely passing, we are still debating his philosophies.