At this point, you would think we'd all be used to Tupac Shakur's memory being exploited. After all, the late rapper has had more albums released since he died than within his lifetime. That being said, I guess I'm just not as jaded as I'd like to appear. My heart still beats, and it begs for someone to please just stop Tupac's mom.
This past week, Afeni Shakur, controller of her son's estate and thus his entire body of work, promised that all remaining unreleased snippets containing her son farting into a microphone will be released to ensure his legacy lives on in the minds of a new generation of fans.
That would all be well and good, if everything about those posthumous albums weren't so damn disgraceful to his memory. By trying desperately to mold Tupac's voice into tracks with modern production, running his vocals through an autotune filter, cut-and-pasting his words to form new verses, and every other attempt imaginable to keep the dead alive, they're not preserving his legacy for a new generation, they're spitting on it.
The new generation won't forget about Pac. These kids still listen to his old records and respect him. Go to any 15-year-old hip-hop fan's house, and he or she probably has a poster of the man who died the year before this kid was born. That's how powerful and influential Pac's music has been.
The old generation hasn't forgotten him either, which is evident in its refusal to let him go. From referencing Pac in lyrics, to straight-up biting those lyrics as an homage, to wanting to even be involved in these posthumous abominations, to that fucking hologram, Pac is alive in the hearts and minds of every hip-hop fan, young or old.
But nobody wants to hear new music from a dead man 16 years gone, especially when there's just not that much to wring out of him anymore. As we've learned, Tupac recorded a lot of music before he died. But he didn't record this much.
That's why you keep getting these cut-and-paste verses, little snippets of songs Pac had previously recorded Frankensteined into new songs. It would be one thing if his posthumous producers could build around the complete skeleton of a song, but at this point they're building songs out of a femur, part of the jaw and a few ribs.
And there's a difference between finishing a man's work and trying to intuit what he would have been wanting to do 16 years after his death. Tupac might have become a movie star and quit music altogether at this point. He might have been a monk. Who knows? But I can guarantee he probably wouldn't want to be on a track like this:
You know, there's a certain irony to mixing Pac into a track that popularized the phrase "YOLO," considering some people are determined to make sure that Pac lives twice, including his own mother. But nobody can live more than once, no matter how many awful songs you can assemble.
I think another zombie of our time that people just won't let rest in peace, the Simpsons, made this point better than I ever could in one simple joke:
Please, somebody stop Tupac's mom, stop everyone else involved in this stuff, stop whoever made that hologram, and just let go. Let the man rest. We've got enough Tupac to go around for every generation to come. We don't need any more.