"He was, and still is, the true definition of a 'Soldier.'"
Eminem once wrote these words in a letter to Tupac's mother, Afeni Shakur, accompanied by a sketch of the fallen rapper wearing his iconic bandana. It hangs in The Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts in Georgia, opened in 1997, but it recently received a resurgence of interest when a photo of it appeared on Reddit. The sentiments Eminem captures should ring true for anyone who has ever been moved by a Tupac album.
While apologizing for the sloppiness of the accompanying drawing, he thanks Shakur for being a "true Queen" and tries to express just how deeply her rapper son affected his life. "When I was feeling at my 'worst' (before fame, before Dre), I knew I could put that 'Tupac' tape in and, suddenly, things weren't so bad," Eminem writes. "He gave me the courage to stand up and say, 'Fuck the world! This is who I am! And if you don't like it, go fuck yourself!'"
The letter first appeared in the 2008 book Tupac Remembered. It's undated, though its truths feel as important today as they were when the world first read them. Tupac's legacy, which Eminem says "inspired [his] whole career," is alive and well throughout the hip-hop world.
This year has been especially big for both rappers. Eminem recently scored the upcoming brawler Southpaw and appeared as the first interview guest for Apple Music's Beats 1 Radio, while Tupac was featured heavily on Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly. Back in March, Afeni Shakur also entered a new deal with the legacy management company JAM Inc. to release new music and poems from the family's vaults. We may have a lot more Tupac in our lives very soon. It's welcome news, as hip-hop has always thrived under his influence.
h/t Rolling Stone