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Sunday, September 18, 2016

2Pac's Godfather Speaks

Writer/educator and former Black Panther Party organizer Jamal Joseph sat down with to discuss the legacy of Tupac Shakur, in an interview released on the 20th anniversary of his death on [September 13]. Having been one of Shakur's mother Afeni's comrades, and an elder whom Pac referred to as "uncle," Joseph, 63, had been in regular communication with the late icon prior to his death.

One of the looming questions among followers, since the murder that claimed Shakur's life at the age of 25, has been whether his death was the result of the lifestyle connected to his raw music, or a conspiracy to rid him because of his potential to become a revolutionary leader. According to one particular conversation Joseph shared, Tupac was aware that adversaries would plot his assassination, and it had all to do with him embracing a role as the later.

"He said 'Uncle Jamal, I realized something.' He said 'They're going to kill me.' He said 'They have to kill me because I'm a Shakur. My choice is, do I go out like Tony Montana from Scarface, or do I go out like Malcolm X? And I want to go out like Malcolm X," Joseph recalled being told while visiting Pac in Bellevue Hospital, following the Quad Studios shooting in November of 1994.

Joseph recollects becoming aware that Tupac had been making transitions in his life, ranging from a steady weening from alcohol and smoking to shifting his focus away from music, towards film, and looking to depart soon from Death Row Records and step his entrepreneurship up before he met his fatal end. Then there was his vision to build gains in the community, with a vision for community centers and the promotion of his Code of THUG LIFE platform to help direct gangs on a path towards transformation for the sake of community empowerment. It was a document which Joseph says, parallels the Black Panther Party's 10-Point Program by which he, Afeni, and many other of Tupac's Predecessors followed; which Joseph believes made him a target.

"Did he record so many songs because he believed he was going to die? I actually believe he recorded those many songs because he believed he was going to live ... I think he wanted to satisfy his contract and just go 'I promised you this many albums, here you go. I'm going to build this company, I'm going to do that.' So I do believe that that moment changed," said Joseph. "But yes, I think he was targeted because he was a Shakur, and because they know connected with that name is not just the legacy, but the activism, and the ability to organize millions."

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