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article image2Pac musical ‘Holler If You Hear Me’ headed to Broadway

By Yukio Strachan     Mar 2, 2012 in Entertainment
Rumors that slain rapper Tupac Shakur still walks among us rages on 16 years after his death. He's been spotted at basketball games; he's been spotted at rap concerts; he's even been spotted in Cuba. Shakur's latest sighting? Broadway.
Critically acclaimed Broadway director, Kenny Leon will be taking on the music of Shakur and featuring it in a musical called “Holla If You Hear Me.”
“The idea was always to make a musical inspired by his music and not to do an autobiographical approach to his life or anything like that," said Leon during an interview with PBS.
"And because I always thought that Tupac was a prophet and I thought if everybody could hear his words and hear his stories, they would see what I see.”
The musical tells the story of two childhood friends (John and Vertus) and their extended families as they struggle to reconcile the challenges and realities of their daily lives with their hopes, dreams and ambitions, reports broadway world.com.
Although a Broadway premiere date hasn't been set, the musical will start casting on March 4, according to Playbill,com.
SEEKING: African American Male and Female rappers ages 18 – 35. Additionally seeking one Caucasian actor ages 20 – 25 with a strong facility for rap and terrific guitar skills. Strong legit singing voices a plus for all, but not required.
The making of Tupac
Who is this man who inspired, "More than 15 books, four documentaries, three college courses, a play and countless Web sites have explored his brief life and undying legacy," the New York Times reported.
A former ballet dancer, actor, and rapper, Tupac Amaru Shakur spent time behind bars before he drew his first breath. "I was cultivated in prison, my embryo was in prison,” he once said.
On April 2, 1969, his mother,Afeni Shakur, a top ranking Black Panther activist, was arrested with 20 other Panthers for allegedly conspiring to kill police and bomb department stores, a railroad and the Bronx Botanical Gardens.
While out on bail, his mother got pregnant. Life got more difficult for Afeni "when I was five months pregnant, they put me back in jail," she says to XXL, a hip-hop magazine.
Jail, trial, and the acquittal
Tupac remembered the story well, police "put a match to the door and said ‘Fire, Fire!’ And you know it’s like five in the morning so my mother opened the door and they just burst in, put a shotgun to her pregnant belly and put a gun to her head and said, ‘Don’t move, bah, bah, bah, you’re under arrest.’ They treated them like less than humans."
"The jailhouse food wasn't fit for a pregnant woman, Afeni remembered, and so "I went and I got a court order so I could have a boiled egg a day."
"She was her own attorney. Never been to law school," Shakur said. "She was facing three-hundred-some odd years. One black woman, pregnant, beat the case."
After her closing arguments, it took only 20 minutes for the jury to reach their verdict: not guilty for all defendants on all counts.
"Tupac was born one month and three days after I was acquitted," Afeni said. On June 16, 1971 he was "born with my baggage. What he did as a human being was to try to make the best out of what he came here with."
In 1983, a man named "Leggs" came to live with the Shakur family and introduced, Afeni to crack. This combined with crippling poverty alternating with homeliness and absence of his birth father, helped to form the pain that Shakur put in the lyrics of his songs.
A situation experienced by so many young black men in the 1990's. His lyrics from his acclaimed hit "Dear Mama" talks about his father:
No love from my daddy cause the coward wasn't there
He passed away and I didn't cry, cause my anger
wouldn't let me feel for a stranger
They say I'm wrong and I'm heartless, but all along
I was lookin for a father he was gone
I hung around with the Thugs, and even though they sold drugs
They showed a young brother love
In 1993, he was arrested for fighting with a limo driver; spent 10-days in jail for supposedly beating up a rapper in Michigan; arrested again for shooting two off-duty police officers in Atlanta -charges were later dropped.
In 1994, Shakur was convicted of sexually assaulting a 19 year old women. In November 1994, Shakur, on trial at the time for the sexual assault and weapons violations, was robbed of $40,000 worth of jewelry and shot five times in the lobby of a Times Square recording studio.
"All we know is violence,'' Shakur declared in his song ''Trapped '' about what he saw growing up.
On Sept. 7, 1996, it would be violence that would kill him.
While sitting in the passenger seat –– with the Death Row Records founder, Suge Knight, beside the wheel –– Shakur was shot four times while waiting at a traffic light in Las Vegas, Nevada.
He was taken to the University Medical Center, where he died six days later, on Friday the 13th.
What do you think? Tell us in the comments below. Would you see a musical based on Tupac's life?
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